As a fresh-faced high school blogger over at deadjournal, I was too busy reporting on my super-exciting life in God's Country (AKA- RANCHO FUCKING PENASQUITOS) to reflect sufficiently on what was happening in popular culture at the time. And boy was a lot of fuckery going on in popular culture during those halcyon days of the early aughts. Since I will never have the time to chronicle it all, I am prioritizing fuckery-aimed-at-the-ladies for what I hope are several posts. You might wonder what impact this will have, as these pop culture moments have come and gone, what's the use? To you, sir or madam, I say "This is the Internet. There is no use." Exhibit A: City High's classic "What Would You Do?"
Now, since I was an asshole in high school I thought lines like "I know about pain cause, me and my sister ran away so my daddy couldn't rape us!" were hilarious cause GROSS! DAD SEX! I realize now the folly of my youth and am appropriately horrified by this lyric, despite it being really ill-placed and rhyming with approximately nothing in the song. But I digress.
Upon adult reflection of this song that I happened upon in a Youtube wormhole and NOT by directly purchasing from iTunes so I would get the best quality version possible, I am rightly appalled by what goes down in this song.
As you all know, it starts at a party:
"They had the liquor overflowin' the cup
About 5, 6 strippers tryin' to work for a buck
And I took one girl outside wit me
Her name was Lonni, she went to Jr. High wit me
I said, "Why you up in there dancin' for cash?
I guess a whole lot's changed since I seen you last."
So as a person named "Alana" and nicknamed "Lonnie" since infancy, I already have a natural inclination to like and defend this girl. She explains in a classic chorus that everyone already knows so I won't copy here, that like, she has a fucking kid and the dad is in prison and smokes rocks when he's not. For the record, I don't think anyone needs an excuse to be a stripper but as far as good excuses to be a stripper go, IT IS UP THERE. But apparently, the male singer came to the party on his HIGH HORSE since he replies:
"Girl, you ain't the only one wit a baby
That's no excuse to be livin' all crazy"
Please recall at this moment that dude hasn't seen this girl since high school and has the fucking gall to be all righteous about her career choices. She goes onto explain, rightfully, that she has been through some shit (see Dad Sex above) and like, he doesn't get it so back off, bro. But no, that simply won't do. And then we get "Hold Up, hey" interlude in which they ask this fucking dude what HE would do. Oh please, I can't fucking wait for what you would do. Pray, tell.
"Get up on my feet and let go of every excuse
What would you do?
'Cuz I wouldn't want my baby to go through what I went through
Come on, what would you do?
Get up on my feet and stop makin' up tired excuses
What would you do?
Girl, I know if my mother can do it, baby, you can do it"
At this point in the song my lady brain explodes, my bra catches on fire, and my loins spontaneously wither. Occupational hazards of a humorless feminist, I guess.
There is the always guilt-inducing "Think of the children!" line of argument. Yes, yes we must always think of the children. Your hungry, crying baby is totes embarrassed that you're a stripper. He totally cares. First, you wrecked your maidenhood out of wedlock then have the audacity to provide for the subsequent children it produced with such a sordid profession. A hex on you, harlot.
And then we learn that it is a "tired excuse" that you're a victim of rape and incest, mother to an abandoned child, and the ex-girlfriend of a criminal and addict. He's heard it before sweetheart, and he's just not buying it! Besides, HIS mom overcame.
Listen dude, if your mom managed to raise you on some minimum-wage job at a big box store that put food on the table and gave her the time to tuck you in and kiss you goodnight, then God bless her. But the probable truth is, that she was all strung out on quaaludes to make your ass bearable and her side piece was probably buying some of the bologna for your sandwiches. Didn't you read (the highly problematic but still eye-opening) Nickel and Dimed? No one actually makes it in America working minimum wage. So stop harping on about the moral fiber of women of yesteryear and let Lonni do what she needs to do in peace.
If you want to talk to a lady who has had a rough go of it, take some cues from the master:
But alas dear friends, there is justice in the world:
Current City High "What Would You Do" View Count: 2,010,685
Current 2Pac "Keep Ya Head Up" View Count: 28,370,123