Thursday, July 16, 2009

Shush Girl

“I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat…”

Rebecca West

Sometimes I need to just lighten up. But this one has really set me off…set me off so much that I’ve got to write about it.

3OH!3, a duo pop band from Colorado is making the Top 40 rounds with a song entitled, Don’t Trust Me. I have to admit that I’m a pop radio listener. If you pulled some songs off my I-Pod you would find everything from the Weather Girls, Jonas Brothers and a few Britney Spears hits.

But this one…this one has gotta go. “Shush girl, shut your lips. Do the Helen Keller, and talk with your hips.”

Where do I start? With the Helen Keller comment or the implications that girls should just shut up and be nothing more than sexual objects, conquests or empty, soul-less shells.

Do I start with my Girls on the Run friend Shelley? When Shelley entered fourth grade, she was embarrassed so badly by the response of her peers to a question she said in Math class, that she stopped talking.

Or do I begin with Sharkira…my fourth grade friend who was beaten and neglected so badly by her parents that she stopped speaking. Speaking where she lived only got her cigarette burns, a slap across the face or “time out” for hours, in a dark closet.

What about my smart friend Britney, sexually abused by her father through middle school. The voice of that pain remained dormant until the pattern repeated itself with her husband and beautiful daughter. The fear even then of speaking up on her daughter’s behalf was overwhelming…requiring weeks to overcome and even more weeks to gather the courage to seek help.

What about Joanie, a Girls on the Run coach. Two-thirds of the way through our program she mustered up enough strength to collect her belongings, her two children and leave an abusive husband.

Then there is Rebecca, who cried out no, so many times that her rapist permanently silenced her with a gun to the back of her throat.

What about Sarah, only now at age 35, is recovering from her experience as a victim of sex trafficking--only now able to talk about the fear, pain and brutality of her captors. Purposely addicted to drugs by her abductors, she spent her teens and early twenties, silenced by the drugs and beaten by her owners.

Or maybe I talk about Natia, raped in her small Ethiopian village at age 13. She was too young to birth a baby, torn from the inside out, reeking now of urine and feces and discarded from her community for speaking out against this heinous crime…by simply begging for medical treatment.

Yeah…maybe I do need to lighten up, but right now, right this minute, if you go on the internet, google the lyrics to this song, you will see literally hundreds of videos of little girls, teens and young women, dancing, performing and shouting out this phrase, either unaware or uncaring of its implications.

Women make up at least half of the population. We also have fathers, brothers and other men in our lives that would cry out in anger if any one of us were silenced, deafened or blinded by abuse, violence or any institutionalized form of sexism.

But we don’t see the connections, between lyrics and words like this and the continuum of circumstances that demoralize us, demean us and leave us without our voices.

I won’t watch 3OH!3 , listen to them, or talk about them ever again and invite you to do the same. Our power comes not only from our increasing awareness of how sexism is institutionalized in our music, videos and entertainment, but the building momentum, I see through my work with Girls on the Run, to consciously and intentionally turn it off.

So now, it’s done. I’m done. Story over, book closed. These lyrics are no longer.


  1. Well said my friend, as always you are my inspiration!

  2. Not to mention the fact that Helen Keller was an outspoken activist throughout her life for equality and social justice. The popular mythology about her life tends to leave all this out--in reality she was never afraid to ask tough questions and speak out for what she believed in. Example--in 1912, she wrote about the USA: "Why in this land of great wealth is there great poverty? Why do children toil in the mills while thousands of men cannot get work, why do women who do nothing have thousands of dollars a year to spend?"

    The actual Helen Keller is a great role model for Girls on the Run. It's too bad that this horrid song just perpetuates the myth of her life.


  3. Thank you Wendy! Well-said and needed to be said! She was an amazing and strong woman.

  4. Thank you for pointing this out. I'm joining the moratorium on this song

  5. Thank you so much for posting this molly!! I definitely think it is important for girls and young women to understand that these lyrics are just HORRIBLE! The song is catchy but you need to realize what it is suggesting women should do. Just shut up and look sexy? Of course not that is the thing about society. In magazines, on the radio on TV and on the internet girls and young women get the idea that oh I'm supposed to be dumb and oh I'm just supposed to look pretty, but they need to realize that is such a lie! We need to stand up and say you know I'm smart I'm beautiful and I'm not going to allow some guy to tell me otherwise! I can't stand to listen to this song anymore. A lot of girls just sing it because they think its cool and like the band but you need to think and understand the lyrics! As a 13 year old i love pop music but this song just is a horrible message!! ~Sophie~

  6. Sophie. I am so lucky to know you. You are teaching me so much!!!