Literally, I Can’t.

Play-_-Skillz-feat.-Redfoo-and-Lil-Jon-Literally-I-Can_t-videoLiterally, I can’t.

Lil’ John’s latest single dropped and it belongs on a compilation album of “most offensive songs ever” with Robin Thicke’s ‘Blurred Lines’. ‘Literally I Can’t’ is a song about girls who say no, and the men that coerce them into saying yes. It’s a song about women shutting up and doing what men want them to do. It’s a song that uses the lyrics, “You got a big ol’ butt, I can tell by the way you walkin’. But you an annoying slut, because you’re talking.”

Literally, I can’t.

The video depicts a group of women from the sorority of Literally I Can’t arriving at a frat party, and it’s at this party that the women are asked if they want tequila, or vodka, or a little bit of girl on girl action, to which they reply, “literally, I can’t.” The way these women are presented to us paints them as annoying, prudish and as the video goes on the no turns to yes, and the women dance suggestively, take their clothes off, and drench themselves in alcohol. Let’s talk about that. Let’s talk about no, meaning no. Let’s talk about the fact that when a woman declines to take a drink, or take their clothes off, or dance, or kiss another girl, it doesn’t say something negative about them. It’s a strength to be able to say no in a world where we so often bend our will to please others, and do things that compromise who we are. These women are portrayed as free when they say yes, when in fact freedom is found in the ability to say no when accosted with pressure to say yes. Freedom is making a choice to say yes or no based on your own convictions and not the voices of others pressing you to budge.

Let’s think about that especially in terms of rape culture. Let’s talk about the shame rape victims feel and the way they’re so often made to feel that it’s their fault. When a woman says no to sex, it means no. It means no. They should not be badgered. Asking again and again does not constitute an appropriate way to coerce a woman into having sex. Pressure applied by these men causes these women to do things that they don’t want to, and so many women experience something similar, if not so dramatic. They relent when pressured and then feel dirty because of it. This isn’t okay. This cannot be accepted and it cannot be glorified in song.

safe_imageLiterally, I can’t.

The song depicts women’s value as their appearance, and nothing else. Lyrics like, “Shhh … I said jump on the pole; I didn’t need your opinion … I’m trying to see what you got, not trying to hear what you think.” As a woman, I often feel this strange pressure to be someone other than who I am. I like to be covered up – jeans, t-shirts, and gym clothes. That doesn’t say anything about who I am or my worth, just as a woman who chooses to wear tight clothes or short clothes or revealing clothes has no less worth than I do. The way we see our value is too often presented in the media to be all about appearance, but that isn’t it. That isn’t who we are. The advertising agencies are full of crap. The world needs women’s opinions. The world needs what we’ve got in our minds, just as it needs what happens in men’s minds. All of our worth – men and women – lies in who we are, not how we look.

Literally, I can’t.

Here’s the thing about this song. There’s outcry about it. People are angered by it. People are frustrated by it. I dare say those who wrote it and produced it are simply trying to shock in order to gain popularity and publicity, and it’s working. They’ve got their publicity, but it wont last long, and the current swing against music that pushes women down in worth will continue. It will add fuel to the fire and as more people speak out, more people will have their eyes opened to what’s happening and perhaps, something will change long term. Perhaps we’ll see more songs like Sara Barielle’s ‘Brave’ popping up, perhaps we’ll see more music like Yellowcard’s ‘One Bedroom’ that presents deep abiding love rather than one night stands. Perhaps with another negative example, the backlash will cause more positivity.

Literally, I can’t.

I can’t link you to this song. Go look it up if you must, and see for yourself. This song stirs up anger in me. It leaves me feeling dirty. I think it’s an appropriate response to a disgusting song, and I’m glad so many are speaking up and speaking out.

Women can say no, because they have freedom to, and when they exercise that freedom it is a positive thing. Women are more than the way they look, and their minds are valuable to the world.I hope this song crawls into the same hole ‘Blurred Lines’ died in and stays there forever.

Literally, I can’t.


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