internet poptimism and i broke up and i got all the records.
there’s something, i dunno, weird to me about this current “TEEN GIRLS ARE SACRED AND WE MUST LISTEN TO EVERYTHING THEY SAY” meme, occassionally invoked by popcrit types. i know it originates from a good place, and so i don’t mind it as a corrective to the monstrous disdain for young women’s opinions our society undeniably has, but too often these ideas, idk, misrepresent actual real life teen girls who are still kind of immature and figuring out who they are, etc etc. i guess my real issue here is when “stop being awful to [young] women” turns into “teen girls have the best taste in everything!” especially when this idea is invoked by men in their 30s. because it is so often divorced from real life teenage girl’s experiences and opinions, because it is only applicable when teen girls like something that we want them to like, because most of those teen girls will grow up into women with completely different tastes who you will not care about. because most ‘teen pop’ is actually consumed BY CHILDREN, NOT TEENS.because I bet there are as many (probably more) american high school girls who listen to Drake than listen to fucking One Direction but that doesn’t fit the poptimist narrative so nobody ever talks about the fact that his fanbase skews young & female (nodisrespectozaynmalik, alldisrespecttodudesontheinternet). because when I was a teen girl my favorite bands were The Cure and Modest Mouse and I hated every non-rap song on the radio and I would have kicked out your poptimist teeth if you’d suggested that Britney Spears was “my” music. because i was wrong about pop music and i needed time to grow up and figure shit out just like anyone else. i was not a fully formed oracle of pop culture wisdom, i was a kid.
the idea that poptimism is somehow inherently more feminist literally disgustsme, as a woman and as a music fan. there are about 50,000 reasons why pop music is great, but the fact that some folks perceive pop music to be better because it’s more ‘feminine’ or it’s ‘what women like’ or some shit like that is downright insulting to me. we all know rockism was rooted in chauvinistic ideas, but that doesn’t mean the polar-opposite perspective is immediately feminist. if anything, when poptimism tries to get political, when poptimists (dudes usually) make this argument that liking pop is somehow more progressive than liking male-dominated forms like rock, it mostly only serves to reinforce stereotypes about women, that we are frivolous and shallow and inauthentic and obsessed with spectacle over meaning. this whitewashes the fact that women have been fighting for equal space in less commercial, more masculine genres of music for decades. it posits that pop music has better gender parity for both performer and audience than a lot of other genres because women chose pop, when in reality we were just banned from every other clubhouse.
i realized a couple weeks ago that a lot of self-described feminist men on the internet are a lot more interested in elevating femininity than they are in the welfare of real life actual women. the denigration of femininity is a crucial part of sexism, but it’s not the only or even the most important part. and selfishly using the literal oppression of women to argue why you think a record is or isn’t great is gross and unhelpful. i haven’t got a problem with women explaining why they think a record is sexist or exploring how those themes affect their enjoyment of said record—that shit is awesome and important, even when i disagree with it. but sometimes I feel that for a lot of men these ideas (“but the women [don’t] like it! here’s a link to one woman’s blog I read once!”) are simply another weapon in the arsenal to use against other dudes when arguing on blogs and forums and twitter. idk, maybe i am being too cynical here, but liking pop music (or hating dudebro indie rock) doesn’t make you a feminist. To suggest that it does is a disservice to both women and pop. YOU MFS WILL NEVER BE MORE FEMINIST THAN ME AND I OWN ‘LIFE IS… TOO $HORT’ ON CD.
"i realized a couple weeks ago that a lot of self-described feminist men on the internet are a lot more interested in elevating femininity than they are in the welfare of real life actual women." For sure, and how troubling is it to see the trappings of the "teenage female experience" lauded as great art/great music by people who, in a lot of ways, have no meaningful interaction with teen girls? Like, I’m not saying that older male music bloggers should have a bunch of teen girl friends to validate their interest in pop music or whatever, but isn’t there something a touch gross and insidious about people creeping on the teen girl experience via cultural products and talking about how culturally pure and authentic it is? Spoiler alert - for a lot of people, being a teen girl fucking sucked and was denigrating and horrifying and really brutally upsetting & it just kind of feels gross to hear dudes who never lived through that experience to talk about how teen girls are taste makers and artistic national treasures or whatever.
It’s been awhile since I was a teen girl, but I didn’t forget what it feels like to be ignored and heckled and talked over and told that what I liked didn’t matter and who I was didn’t matter… because when you’re a teen girl you grow into an adult woman and realize, “Oh, this is just going to keep happening forever in various areas of my life,” unless randos on the internet are fetishizing you for liking something they think you’re supposed to like anyway, which just means you’re fulfilling their stereotypical ideal of teen girlhood (or adult womanhood) which is, spoiler alert #2, still sexist.
Idk, I’m probably just going to delete this anyway because who on earth wants to invite further conversation on sexism and music blogging. NOT ME.
"i guess my real issue here is when “stop being awful to [young] women” turns into “teen girls have the best taste in everything!” especially when this idea is invoked by men in their 30s. because it is so often divorced from real life teenage girl’s experiences and opinions, because it is only applicable when teen girls like something that we want them to like, because most of those teen girls will grow up into women with completely different tastes who you will not care about.”
i have not been keeping up with poptimism but the above two pieces capture a lot of what bothers me about Rookie and the like—being a teen girl was NOT COOL for me and it is really hard to watch everyone clamor all over themselves about ideas of being a teen girl that feel so divorced from any reality i knew (like, most of those cool teen girl pieces are not written by teen girls but by women in their 20s and 30s who are holding on to an idea of what they wish being a teen girl had been for them and at some point i wanna say IT IS OK! IT IS NOT A GREAT THING TO BE A TEEN GIRL IN OUR WORLD AS IT EXISTS maybe we should address like, institutional sexism instead of focusing on bandaids like consuming flower headbands or doc martins or whatever is supposed to make teenage girlhood feel better). but also i am probably just a h8r.