Showing posts with label Music. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Music. Show all posts

Still Standing By

October 1, 2016
Posted by Jay Livingston

An op-ed in the Times framed the first debate, and by implication the entire presidential election, as “The Minivan vs. the Maserat.” I preferred David Plotz’s take – Bart vs. Lisa.


Like Bart, Trump is often the impish devil, the bad boy. He does things his supporters would like to do were it not for the stultifying forces of political correctness. He doesn’t care about being offensive. He lives to offend. He mocks and insults those who would try to inhibit him. He pranks the smugly superior. And he never apologizes.

This persona plays well to White working-class men. An ABC News poll from Sept. 22 shows that support growing.



If White working-class men were the only voters, Trump would be a shoo-in. Nothing can alienate them. As Trump himself said, “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose voters.” Well, he wouldn’t lose any of that core demographic.

But what about White working-class women? The ABC News poll shows them favoring Trump 52% - 40%, still pretty strong, but that poll was taken before the first debate. I have not found any post-debate data about those women, but I wonder how they will respond to Trump’s latest – defending his fat-shaming of Alicia Machado, the former Miss Universe, then tossing some slut-shaming on top of that.

Will the Wal*Mart women appreciate Trump’s views on a woman carrying few extra pounds? Or will they sympathize with Ms. Machado? Might they see this as Trump’s version of political correctness? In both cases, working-class people are being measured against the standards of some cultural elite, and they resent it. If men resent having their attitudes characterized as “racist,” maybe women will resent having their bodies characterized as “disgusting” (one of Trump’s favorite adjectives).   

I also wonder how they will react to the new anti-Clinton strategy Trump just announced.  “She’s nasty, but I can be nastier than she ever can be.” What is he going to be nasty about?


Will White working-class women appreciate nastiness the way men might? And will they support nastiness directed at a woman because her husband strays? Trump thinks so.

Trump defended his choice to bring up Bill Clinton's sexual infidelities by speculating it would steal away female voters from his opponent. (NY Times)

I have absolutely no poll data on how Trump-supporting women feel about other women whose husbands cheat. But I did find this document – a song that spent three weeks at #1 on the country charts and rose to #19 on the pop charts (behind, among others, “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” and “Build Me Up Buttercup”). That was in 1969, but in the song had many subsequent covers. I am referring, of course, to Tammy Wynette’s classic “Stand By Your Man.”

Sometimes it’s hard to be a woman
Giving all your love to just one man
You'll have bad times, and he'll have good times,
Doin’ things that you don’t understand.

But if you love him, you’ll forgive him
Even though he’s hard to understand.
And if you love him, oh be proud of him
’Cause after all he’s just a man.

Stand by your man, give him two arms to cling to
And something warm to come to
When nights are cold and lonely.
Stand by your man, and show the world you love him
Keep giving all the love you can.
Stand by your man.

Here is a very recent performance – Kellie Pickler at the Grand Old Opry last year.




Gone is the Tammy Wynette big hair and big mascara of nearly 50 years ago. But the sincerity of the performance and the reaction of the audience suggest that the underlying sentiment still resonates, especially in Trumpland.* Will Trump win votes by reminding women that Hillary stood by her man?

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*The song is such an emblematic cultural artifact that I have used it before in this blog here) and here.)


An Old Stand-by

August 30, 2012
Posted by Jay Livingston

In yesterday’s post about Ann Romney’s speech, I left out something important.  I had remembered a 1978 sociology article, but there was something else in the speech, something familiar that I couldn’t quite bring to the surface.  Then I read Amanda Marcotte’s Slate article, “Ann Romney Acknowledges, Embraces Sexism.”  Says Marcotte, Ann Romney
offered up a . . . list of the very injustices feminists have worked, with some success, to eliminate. . . .There Ann Romney was, acknowledging that even conservative women know it to be true: Women work harder for less pay and less respect. She described sexism in fairly blunt terms.
But while Mrs. Romney aptly described the sexist inequality,
she framed it not as a problem to be fixed but a trial that women have to endure. . . . Instead of demanding equality, she encouraged her female audience instead to take their payment in martyrdom.
Then I remembered.  Not a 1978 article but a 1968 hit song. 


Yes, just as Mrs. Romney says, sometimes it’s hard to be a woman. 

I blogged this song several years ago , making essentially the same point that Marcotte is making.  On the surface, the woman is offering support for the status quo.  But the text is actually a critique of the system.  (My post, including the full lyric, is here,)

The contradiction is clearer if we imagine a Saudi version
Sometimes it’s hard to be a woman,
Sharing your man with three co-wives,
And knowin’ that you ladies
Get lashed if you drive the Mercedes
And wearin’ clothes that only show your eyes.
Stand by your man, . . .
When I’ve mentioned “Stand by Your Man” to students, I get only blank stares.  But it might be big this week at the False Consciousness karaoke bar in Tampa.