If I Was a Boy
Kestle GauthierOption 2 When reading the lyrics to “If I Was a Boy” by Dar Williams it left me caught up in my own thoughts about my own experience with gender socialization and how society expects us to fall in either a masculine or feminine category. This is not a typical song compared to songs produced now a days. These lyrics really make you have to analyze the message the writer is trying to portray. Dar Williams does a good job getting the point across about genders stereotypes without having to say the message in written context.
At such a young age children aren’t socialized into thinking that there is a right or wrong for each gender. The song is told through the eyes of a little girl growing up and eventually being socialized into a certain gender. The beginning of the song she was topless riding her bike, playing outside climbing trees without any care in the world, then the end of the song she was talking to her husband about her childhood and just like her he was also gender socialized.
Agents of socialization are, “Individuals or groups that influence our orientation to life-our self-concept, emotions, attitudes and behavior” (Pg, 72). The reoccurring agents in the song, “If I was a Boy”, is Peers, The Neighborhood and Media. In the beginning of the song, she started out innocent and then the gender socialization occurred when she was told she needed a “nice man to walk her home” stereotypical thing to say, the man being masculine and being able to keep her safe and walk her home, this is an example of the agent “Peers” by someone telling her that she needs a man to walk her home to keep her safe.
Next in the song she was riding around on her bike topless the neighbors were yelling at her to, “Get your shirt”. The next agent shown in the song is the media, when she goes to the store and there’s a sign that says, “Less is more” This is stereotypical for a teenage girl growing up, for any clothing store, magazine and on the tv you always see people were less and less clothing and it really influences being feminine.
One thing I noticed through out the song was that Dar Williams didn’t use the agent of family that I could tell. This may have been because she thinks family should let children have keep there innocence while they have it, and family shouldn’t be the reason there kids are socialized into a gender. The beginning of the song starts out as socialization we get when we are children, as we get older though we let certain aspects in life resocialize us, you get many examples of ocialization in the song starting out with her friend telling her she needed a boy to walking her home to keep her safe, to riding her bike around her neighborhood and being told she needed to put a shirt on, to going to a clothing store and being told less is more each one of these examples in the song shows resocializtion all the way to the ending, when looks back on a picture of herself “as a boy with grass stained shirt and dusty knees, and all i know things have gotta change”. This was an important quote from the song because she reflects back on her younger self and you can tell she changed.
One of the concepts talked about in chapter 10 that relates to the song, “If I was a Boy” is the gender stratification, “males and females unequal access to property, power and prestige. We also explore the prejudice and discrimination directed to people because of there age” (Pg, 248). Each society has a certain way of viewing gender, this relates to the song in many ones, for example when she needed a “Man” to walk her home and keep her safe gives her the impression that men are supposed to be strong and take care of us.
Another concept talked about in chapter 10 is why there are gender differences, why can’t she ride her bike without a shirt on ? Why can’t she wear boy clothes that are comfy ? Biology is what makes us a “boy” or “girl” but nature vs. nurture is what shapes our behavioral traits. We are placed in a category and we are expected to act a certain way, and anything that is different from that we are looked down upon. This relates in the song because at the beginning she had not a care in the world, did whatever she wanted then as she got older society took a bigger impact and started to shape her into what we call a “girl”.