Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

01May13

Just the other day, I was in the kitchen cooking dinner wearing a pink lace shirt. Little did I know I resembled the image of a female “passive piece of meat” as described by punk rock band 7 Seconds in their song, Not Just Boys’ Fun.

Do not get the wrong idea of Straight Edge band 7 Seconds. Not Just Boys’ Fun is actually a feminist condemnation of men who see women this way. “Man you’ve gotta problem,” the song begins. It then goes to attack mysogynistic men who deprecate women: “You feel so fucking threatened,” “You fucking moron, your brains have run amuck.”  The punchline of the song is when there is a call for revolution: “It’s time to change that attitude, and quick.” One would think this song would be performed by a female lead singer or an all-female punk band, but 7 Seconds is actually made of four men: brothers Kevin Seconds Steve Youth and brothers Tom Munist and Dim Menace. Kevin Seconds sings these berating lyrics:

Man you’ve gotta problem, who made you fuckin’ king
A macho pig with nothing in your head.
No girls around you, their place is not at gigs,
Don’t want ’em on the dance floor ‘cos they’re weak.
A woman’s place, the kitchen, on her back,
It’s time to change that attitude, and quick.
Showing us your phobias, you’re scared to see ’em think,
You’d rather dress ’em up in pretty lace,
All nice and colored pink.
You feel so fucking threatened,
When they stand out in front,
A stupid, passive piece of meat is all you really want
But it’s
Not just boys’ fun
Not just boys’ fun
Not just boys’ fun
Not just boys’ fun
There’s girls who put out fanzines, others put on shows,
Yet they’re not allowed to get out on the floor.
Some make the music, well that you can accept.
Hell, maybe live you’ll get some tits and ass
You fucking moron, your brains have run amuck,
A girl’s only lot in life is not to fuck!

The one minute and thirty seconds of this song just might be a feminist’s dream.  Here is a man standing up against his own sex for the sake of protecting female dignitiy.  But appearances can be decieving.  In this criticism we will look at Not Just Boys’ Fun through a feminist lens and a deconstructionalist lens to reveal the underlying messages communicated by 7 Seconds to the Straight Edge community.

This song is not a piece of rhetoric that privileges patriarchy on the sly.  It is a straightforward display of feminist angst towards discriminatory men.  A feminist rhetorical critic would look at this piece approvingly.  Every statement in the song supports feminist arguments, though rather brutishly.

According to the Encyclopedia of Communication Theory by Stephen W. Littlejohn and Karen A. Foss, feminist rhetorical criticism recognizes that the symbolic construction of women and gender is central to the study of communication.  Feminist critics aim to explain and explore that construction.  In rhetoric, the symbols that generate this social construction are the very words used in an artifact.  Those symbols combine to create “the assumption that, historically and currently, women and men often have different access to channels and positions of power,” says the Encyclopedia.  Basically, in this society of today there are two forces that contrast as starkly as black and white: men and women.

In Not Just Boys’ Fun we see the worlds of men versus women in the descriptive symbolic language of Kevin Seconds.  On one side man is “fuckin’ king” and a “macho pig.”  The Man portrayed in such flattering terms here is the patriarchy that females face in the realm of equal rights.  The other side of the spectrum is society’s perception of women as “weak,” dressed in “pretty lace, all nice and colored pink,” “tits and ass,” and as “passive piece[s] of meat.”  But Seconds goes on to describe a more redeeming image of women, Straight Edge women in particular: “There’s girls who put out fanzines, others put on shows… some make music.” Clearly Seconds is biased in favor of women.

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