As I was walking through a store the other day, I found myself humming to the music playing in the background—one that I heard all the time on TV or the radio: It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World by James Brown.
I always viewed the song as empowering to women because although the lyrics say, “This is a man’s world,” it subsequently claims that “it would be nothing without a woman or a girl”. I remember a male finalist singing it on American Idol and the camera cutting to his wife, who was in tears of happiness and joy, as well as Christina Aguilera belting out the song on the Grammy’s and receiving a standing ovation. But honestly, is this song really honoring the female population?
“You see, man made the car
To take us over the road
Man made the train
To carry the heavy load
Man made the electrolight
To take us out of the dark
Man made the boat full of water
Like noah made the arc
This is a mans,mans,mans world
But it would be nothing, nothing
Without a women or a girl.”
Looking at the lyrics of the song from a new perspective after several readings and classes, I feel as though the song actually makes women inferior despite their “importance”. The lyrics imply that women are only the complementary item to men, who actually “made the car” and “made the train”. Women are simply there to support and assist the men, who are really the dominant figure that actually does anything to help the world. Although many women find this song uplifting, I actually think it just underscores Beauvoir’s point that we are “The Other”.
What is everyone else’s point of view on this? Are there any other songs that are similar?