There are plenty of songs where singers (men and women) sing about unrequited love due to the parent(s) not understanding their partner. But there’s an overwhelming amount of songs where it’s the girl’s parents that are the "problem." She either has to runaway from them, sit quietly waiting for her prince to come, or her lover fights with her parents on her behalf. This can be attributed to the long-standing view that women are her parent’s property, only to be sold off as a burden to another man. Women were only valued if they were virgins and chaste, if they ruined that chastity out of wedlock, then they were subject to sever punishment or outcaste from society as a worthless. Thus, a woman’s parents would keep short reigns on their daughters to control her sexuality and their personal freedom. Though we have come a long way from these feudal practices, remnants of seeing women as property of their parents are rampant in today’s pop songs. There's some sort of romantic notion that a parent’s overprotectiveness could somehow equal love, rather than seen as a problem of adultism and sexism. Not to mention, women are only seen as desirable when the answer is no (whether it’s coming from the parents or themselves), which adds to rape culture. It tells others, that when a woman says no, she really means yes, and to chase after her (literally) more than ever.
Here’s a list of songs and lyrics where women have to runaway from their parents to be with their lover, wait for their lover to come, or wait for the guy to fight for them.
Paris by The Chainsmokers “We moved to Paris to get away your parents.” “They’ll think that I was clever.”
Rude by MAGIC! “I’m gonna marry her anyway.”
Love Story by Taylor Swift “And my daddy said stay away from Juliet/And I was crying on the staircase/Begging you please don't go…I talked to your dad, you'll pick out a white dress.”
Steal My Girl by One Direction “I got it all/'Cause she is the one/Her mom calls me 'love',/Her dad calls me 'son.'” The title alone is triggering, but this lyric actually says that the parents are okay with their daughter dating their partner. So, I guess the song does have one positive aspect?
Perfect by One Direction “I might never be your knight in shining armour/I might never be the one you take home to mother”
Treat You Better Shawn Mendes “I won't lie to you/I know he's just not right for you.” And you are? I guess it’s a song with good intentions, but it’s weird to think he only wants you out of an abusive relationship so he can have you? This one isn’t even about the guy’s parents, but rather a jealous (presumably male) friend.
But I have a question, where are the man’s parents in any of this? Do they care what kind of woman he’s bringing into their family? Do they want to meet her? Do they not think she’s of good standing? I haven’t heard a song yet where the guy or girl is complaining about his parents not approving of the girl, unless you count Love Story, but that doesn’t really count because she’s just copying Romeo and Juliet. And even in that song Romeo is able to have autonomy and reason with her father, while her own father doesn’t even listen to her! I guess the only reason a man’s parents wouldn’t want their son to be dating a woman is if her social standing was less than theirs? Or if she was deemed a “slut.” That’s the only time when his parents would intervene, I’m guessing because I have yet to hear a song where the guys parents are like "no." If you can find a song where a guy’s parents are disapproving or not letting him marry/co-habitate with who he wants, please comment below!
21 year old English major and ESL Teacher. Currently living in Fortaleza, Brazil. Feminist and kill joy with a cause.