John Mayer – Guitar Pickin’ Sexist?

Ever since pop icon John Mayer released the hit single “Daughters,” there have been mixed reactions to his song. Many have praised Mayer for addressing the vital role men play in their daughters’ lives. And when one considers the plight of the female protagonist in the song, it’s easy to see how such a tear-jerker would be a smash hit for a pop culture mired in gynocentrism. In other words, it’s more of the same “girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice” and “boys are made of snips and snails and puppy dog tails” (so let’s kick Junior to the curb and see if he wails).

But there are some women who apparently do not appreciate “Daughters.” One example that comes to mind is Meghan Hunter, whose open letter to John Mayer has been floating around on the Internet. In Ms. Hunter’s opinion, Mayer is a sexist for portraying women as weak creatures unable to cope without men. Perhaps Ms. Hunter takes umbrage at the verse: “On behalf of every man, looking out for every girl/You are the god and the weight of her world.” An objection to this sentiment is understandable, given the degree of self-worship among many contemporary women.

Anyway, Ms. Hunter would have us to be believe that women are self-reliant. I would like to believe that, too. Or at least I would like to see women put up or shut up. I am tired of incessant bromides about how “independent” and “self-reliant” women are, when they are the beneficiaries of myriad legal and cultural privileges that men do not enjoy. If Ms. Hunter and her sympathizers think John Mayer is condescending to women, then they ought to direct a generous portion of their ire at leftists. Why? Because for many a woman, Joe Taxpayer is most certainly the “weight of her world.” But no, the feminist chatter-heads do a collective one-eighty when the welfare state is considered.

Self-reliance, indeed. What about the double-standards concerning how each sex is supposed to deal with their emotional pain? From talking to other men, I got the feeling that we, as males, are expected to just repress our past experiences when dating or getting married. Go to any online matchmaking board and you’ll find plenty of women whining about how they don’t want any man who is “bitter,” “has issues,” or is “negative.” Yet men are expected to be patient and understanding with a woman still “healing” from some “trauma” in her life due to some “insensitive man” in her past (whether it be her father, former boyfriend, or ex-husband). In short, when a man enters into a relationship with a contemporary female, he is expected to stop the car, get out, drop his baggage in the middle of the road, and suddenly lug all six pieces of hers on his back. So much for female self-reliance, or equality for that matter.

Now let us address the greater sexism in John Mayer’s song that Ms. Hunter, of course, ignores:

Boys, you can break
You’ll find out how much they can take
Boys will be strong
And boys soldier on
But boys would be gone without warmth from
A woman’s good, good heart

What a reassuring thought for our society. We don’t have to worry about men. They have no particular needs, feel no pain, and therefore cannot be seen as innocent victims with regard to any social issues that involve them. It’s a comforting message for many women, since they don’t have to reflect on their own behavior and how insensitive and demeaning they may be towards the men in their lives. But the pièce de la résistance is the final two lines, a leg of mutton thrown to the female ego: “But boys would be gone without warmth from/A woman’s good, good heart.” It plays to the conventional wisdom of how independent women can be apart from men and yet how, at the same time, women are God’s gift to men everywhere. Apparently, the idea of a man being responsible for his own happiness and sense of self-worth is too radical a notion for our society to handle at this moment.

In closing, it is clear that John Mayer is not a “sexist” of the male chauvinist stripe as some commentators claim. Rather, he serves as a foot soldier for the new “chivalry.” He reaffirms the values of a culture that has a disturbing habit of belaboring the problems of women while marginalizing men. Frankly, I don’t see why feminists would object to John Mayer’s song. It adds fuel to the victimology so central to their worldview. Perhaps it is because he denies them the luxury of maintaining, at the same time, the contrary notion that women are strong and independent. Who knows? The fact remains that the song “Daughters” won two Grammy Awards this last February. I’m certain that was in no small part due to the lavish adulation heaped upon Mr. Mayer by thousands of his young female fans worldwide. I guess when it comes to feminism, another song by John Mayer puts it aptly: “I found out there’s no such thing as the real world.”

8 Responses to “John Mayer – Guitar Pickin’ Sexist?”

  1. 1 sublimeade
    February 5, 2007 at 9:53 pm

    hey, I came across your website wayyyyy too late, almost 2 years before I first fucking listened to the lyrics of “Daughters” by John Mayer this January (instead of my usual humming of the melody). Don’t know how I could have been so fooled for so very long. I wrote an article about it, and found we had the same sentiments. Just glad to know there’s someone else out there picking his ears up. Thanks dude

    anyway, here’s my LJ article on it that I wrote about a month back: http://sublimeade.livejournal.com/206903.html

  2. April 10, 2010 at 4:54 am

    Indeed, males get the shaft in society.

  3. 3 shelby
    December 6, 2011 at 5:04 am

    You’re on to something pointing out he has a primarirly woman audience. John Mayer, along with other “heart throbs” have created an image particulary consumable to women. In his song “Your Body is a wonderland”, he expresses his admiration for his lovers body that is boarderline beauty worship. In daughters he creates an image of fathers who should treat their girls like princesses. He tells women what they want to hear. More so than any artist i can recall, john mayer puts women on a pedestool. Many women like myself realize this is not the meaning of equality. It’s the women who embrace his music that expect men to be as suave and caring as he is…suposedly.They love him because he’s that man who’d jump out of the car for her six bags. It’s these types of women who want a man to be an unworthy worshiping servant. Don’t blame a generalized population of woman for being dependent. I’m a straight female, and every relationship I’ve been in I’ve been the “man” you described, picking up the slack in my partners life. I’ve always been independent, and i know many many woman like me. Woman who dont expect any man to take her baggage, my bestfriend and I went to New Oreleans this weekend, yes we each had 3 bags with the heaviest being our school work, and laptops. Even when a man offered his services i knew they were my bags to carry. My friend did the same. Yes we each took 3 small bags, but when its needed I travel light. I went around Europe for 28 days with one bag of necessities, everything I needed on my back, not a man’s. So when you generalize woman, I hope you realize you merely adressed a materialistic type of girl. A girl that our pop-culture created, a pop-culture john mayer helped sustain. Also the lyrics you presented as empowering could be better termed as outdated. A women’s power is imbedded in a warm heart? Yes woman are known to be more nurturing, and caring, but I’d rather not be one of the woman behind every “great” man. A warm heart pocesses no power aside from supporting a man who can “solider on”. John Mayer presents a woman who’s been scared from daddy issues, as oppose to men who “you’ll find how much they can take” because “Boys, you can break.” Studies however, have concluded that woman overcome problems, like break ups, faster then men. We’ve also watched brain activity among the sexes in relation to stress, as well as done phychological research. A conclusion of this research has been stated in The Gale Encyclopedia of Mental Health, “Men are more likely than women to experience externalizing disorders. Externalizing disorders are characterized by symptoms involving negative outward behavior as opposed to internal negative emotions. Such externalizing disorders as substance abuse (both drugs and alcohol) and antisocial behavior (such as anger, hostility, aggression, violence, or stealing) are common to men.” So through actual research we can see that men under stress are more likely ignore negative emotions, as oppose to women. While women display patterns of talking about their problems to progress torward a solution, men more often emplode under stressful circumstances. They more so resort to drugs, and alcohol to distance themselves from real problems. So Mayer’s “Daughters”depiction of men being the ones who are able to “soldier on” doesn’t coincide with research. He may had a relationship with a woman who was fragile, and unstable in relationships due to daddy issues, but she was only one individual. Mayer thinks he can make the generalization that girls are delicate creatures with his suposed understanding of one woman. Pop-culture is a cycle we create it, and we allow it to create us. Mayer promotes generalizations through his music that promotes inequality for men, and women.

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