Music and Men’s Issues: Domestic discord, contrition and Anita Baker’s “I Apologize”

As men in the Red Pill multiverse, we can fall into the trap of conflating the predictable outcomes of perverted incentive structures with congenital character flaws inherent in “the other.” While there are differences between men and women and yes, hypergamy is a natural force, it’s still important to recognize capacity for agency and accountability, and not be fallaciously reductionist in our outlook.

Of course, our popular culture reinforces said structures, whether it be the most influential female singer (and self-proclaimed feminist) of her generation promoting a caricatured manhood as the ideal:

…to other singers justifying relational vengeance in the form of larceny (Blu Cantrell’s “Hit Em Up Style”) to rationalizing infidelity (TLC’s “Creep”), to campaigns to end women’s prisons, there’s no shortage of messages telling women they can behave badly without suffering adverse consequences to themselves. You almost can’t blame teacher Megan Denman for her confusion.

The most compelling example in recent years is how the Tiger Woods story went from a textbook case of female domestic violence to “where did Tiger stick his dick?” Never that feminism was supposed to teach us that realtionSHIP does not mean ownerSHIP; Elin Woods’s payoff, literally, was $500 million, zero days in jail, and openly expressed heroine status.

Indeed, in matters of domestic discord, female hypoagency and male presumptive guilt are increasingly codified into policy or law, regardless of the level of physical violence, who initiated it, or even if there was no physical contact at all (“coercive control,” “verbal abuse”). What is “domestic violence” is increasingly (and unfortunately) less about what is done, but the genitalia of the person doing it. This piece linked on the AVFM “Hot on the Web” sidebar (and a comment by Paul in another article I cannot recall) reminds us that despite the popular reinforcement of plausible deniability, hypoagency afforded to modern women, introspection is more common than we think.

Indeed, it’s how we get so many women in the MHRM. Neither physical nor emotional bullying know gender in the real world, and it’s refreshing to hear women in public space query aloud, “why am I treating my partner like this?”

Which brings us to Anita Baker’s “I Apologize” immediately to mind. Despite what we all know (that women are just as likely, and probably more so, to singe their partners with fiery words), few and far between are melodic expressions of female contrition for a fight. Indeed, the catalogue of “I’m Sorry” songs is overwhelmingly male, which corresponds with the male trait, socially reinforced, of taking the blame, whether it was all his fault or not. The apologetic woman is not a common trope in popular music, which makes Baker’s unvarnished self-repudiation all the more exceptional.

Quite possibly the most distinctive voice in R&B, the veteran chanteuse is used to breaking the mold. The song doesn’t recount a physical altercation, per se, but does accurately reflect the origin of plurality of the physical disputes, based on the available research from those not in thrall to the Duluth Model Hive-Mind model of scholarship. Particularly, misplaced indignance and “bringing home problems” are not the sole province of “patriarchal oppression.” The device Baker uses as port of entry into her confessional is the phone operator, whom she implores to connect her to her man, melancholy and regret palpable in her voice.

Operator, get my baby on the line Just the other night/We had a horrible fight I admit that I, I was out of control

The subtext of the device is the novel conceit of the telephone operator as confessional priest. She unpacks her burdens, but not to relieve her guilt, but rather as a trial run.

Operator, it was like a bad dream Lord, you should have heard The way he shouted and the way that I screamed I regret it, because I was unfair I took it all out on him Just because he was there.

The allusion is a circumstance familiar to anyone who has ever been in a relationship – using a loved one as an outlet for misdirected anger

When the road gets rough, we say things we should not say I never meant to treat my baby that way

What makes the song most effective and sincere is the absence of the Passive Voice. The persistence of the personal pronoun “I” is like a metronome, punctuating the confession. In the chorus it’s uses no less than eight times, counting background vocals.

I apologize (Believe me I do)/Believe me I do I apologize (Honest and true)/Honest and true Because I know I was wrong/So I sing you this song And I’m tryin’ to get through/And make it up to you

No dissembling, no half-measures, no passive-aggressive narcissism, no reversals (“but if you hadn’t”) Just a pure, unvarnished penitence. Implicit in the song is the recognition that nothing hurts more to someone than biting, acerbic words from the one they love. Baker sets an example that should be emulated by all in relationships, but is sadly only socially, morally and legally reinforced for one. Enjoy, for you are unlikely to hear its type in the near future.

 


 

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