Silly Season Blog Post: Drake’s ‘Hotline Bling’ makes the CEDAW Shame List

By Adam Fletcher



This year I spent many hours in the car commuting, so I had a lot of time to listen to the radio. The problem is I have an unfortunate habit (so my partner tells me) of actually listening to the lyrics. To the ears of a human rights lawyer, there were at least a few songs which struck a sour note. Without any claim to comprehensiveness (or even accuracy), I present to you my ‘CEDAW Shame List’ of songs which single-handedly set back the cause of equality in 2015 (after the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, adopted in 1979 – yes, 1979).

Early in the year, Ghostface Killah’s Love Don’t Live Here No More was on pretty high rotation on Triple J. It’s a song about a guy who gets out of prison after nine years. Even though he hasn’t called or written to her, he expects his ex‑girlfriend to take him back as though nothing had happened. When told she’s moved on, he’s outraged:

Oh word, so you over it?
That’s absurd I never did a damn thing to deserve it
This is a man’s world, I go away come home lookin’ for you
Now you f*ckin’ up the plans, girl
You another man’s girl, that ain’t kosher
Once you see the kid’s face you’re supposed to

Drop what you’re doin’, show your loyalty and love
Step out on the porch with a kiss and a hug
Yo you buggin’

Oh well, I was listening to Ghostface Killah more than 20 years ago in high school. Surely newer artists have a better appreciation for the right to equality? After all, this is the generation which produced Same Love and which reveres Troye Sivan’s Wild and Beyoncé’s Beyoncé. Mostly I’d say they do, but Drake and The Weeknd seem to have missed the memo.

In Hotline Bling, Drake harangues an ex (theme developing here) for going out dancing and (shockingly) ‘hangin’ with some girls I’ve never seen before.’ Here is what he sings:

Ever since I left the city
You got a reputation for yourself now
Everybody knows and I feel left out
Girl you got me down, you got me stressed out
‘Cause ever since I left the city, you started wearing less and goin’ out more Glasses of champagne out on the dance floor
Hangin’ with some girls I’ve never seen before

You used to call me on my cell phone
Late night when you needed my love

It turns out I’m not the only one who thinks the movement for equality has passed Drake by – Facebook user Javetta Laster artfully translated the lyrics to something closer to the version I hear in my head. An extract:

You used to stay at home and be someone I saw fitting into the patriarchal expectations of women to be infantilized good “girls” which is some bizarre father/daughter husband/wife dynamic left over from women being considered adult children & property.

You should just be yourself, meaning the you I remember you as when I left you in this city by yourself even though I’m not here anymore, you should always remain that person. Right now, it seems as if you are someone else, like maybe you are your actual self and I’m not used to that.

You used to call me on my cell phone
Late night when you needed my love.
And now you don’t need me and I don’t know how to feel.

Oh well, I can’t actually blame Drake for writing the lyrics, and at least the man can dance.

Turning now to another talented but misguided Canadian, The Weeknd first started annoying me with his lyrics to Losers, but (a) he’s hardly the first to dump on school in song, and (b) I’m clearly biased since I work in an educational institution, so I’ll put my distaste for that song down to personal differences. No, it was Shameless which (ironically) made the CEDAW Shame List. Once again, it’s about an ex; this time one who apparently can’t make a clean break from our protagonist and keeps calling his ‘hotline.’ The refrain:

I don’t wanna hurt you but you live for the pain
I’m not tryna say it but it’s what you became
You want me to fix you but it’s never enough
That’s why you always call me cause you’re scared to be loved
But I’ll always be there for you,
I’ll always be there for you
I’ll always be there for you, girl I have no shame
I’ll always be there for you,
I’ll always be there for you
I’ll always be there for you, girl I have no shame

On first hearing the song, I couldn’t help feeling like a judge half way through a trial – I’d heard the man’s testimony, but I wasn’t at all sure the woman’s version of events would be the same. Also, the line ‘I’ll always be there for you’ gets a bit creepy after the first dozen repetitions (the radio edit has at least 18). I could be reading too much into it [you almost certainly are – Ed], but I get a stalkerish vibe from this one; especially driving home at night.

Anyway, that’s my CEDAW Shame List for 2015. Here’s hoping I don’t need to add to it in the new year (or I just relax and stop listening to the lyrics).

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