Music

Pop Punk Puberty

Everything I Know About Being a Woman I Learned from Boys Singing Songs About Girls

Pop Punk Puberty

c.m. ruiz

I was 13 years old when Green Day released their breakthrough album Dookie. The song "Longview" was all over the radio, and I fell in love fast and hard. As a newly pubescent girl from the suburbs, I was on the verge of having the power to make my own decisions, and they represented something radical I could choose to be. The guys in Green Day had tattoos and dyed hair and an enviable "I don't give a fuck" attitude. I wanted all of it.

I went backward through Green Day's (very small) catalog and started listening to every other similar band I could get my hands on—Operation Ivy, Rancid, Blink-182, Screeching Weasel, the Mr. T Experience, the Vandals, Less Than Jake, even MxPx because I liked that their songs were polite enough for me to listen to while my parents were around. I would religiously read one band's liner notes to see the other bands they thanked or mentioned, then I'd go buy those band's CDs. That's how I learned about NOFX, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, the Hippos, Unwritten Law, Home Grown, and more.

Pop punk (and its musical siblings) was my life's main soundtrack at one of the most critical, fragile, and exciting phases of my life. These songs were what taught me what it meant to be a woman as I was becoming one.

It's a miracle I made it out unscathed.

From the Cootees telling me the most desirable figure was "36-24-36" in "School Girl Fantasy" to Screeching Weasel spitting, "As long as you don't have lots of zits or small tits or crooked teeth, then you won't be a freak or wildebeest," it was hard not to be constantly conflicted about the fact that I was a woman, a young woman at that, with an awkward body and delicate confidence. I thought the best way to deal with my insecurity was to focus on becoming the right woman.

Of course, there are similar (or even worse) misogynistic messages in dozens of other musical genres—rock 'n' roll, rap, hair metal, indie rock—but pop punk already had my heart on lock. I was a tomboy. I was trying to learn bass and to skateboard. I wanted to be friends with the guys, but I also wanted to kiss them, so I listened to pop punk as a way to decipher the code of the common man—attempting to find out what they liked, while trying to discover (and inevitably craft) who I was.

These are the things that dudes with spiked hair, a low-slung guitar, and a microphone taught me about what it means to be a woman (and the laughably embarrassing results).

On Being Attractive to Men: The most attractive thing a woman could do is want another man. There are literally hundreds of songs whining about unrequited love ("Even Hitler Had a Girlfriend" by the Mr. T Experience), the one who got away ("Every Night" by Screeching Weasel), and the heartbreak caused from seeing the woman you love with another man ("Why Do You Want Him?" by Green Day)—especially another man who treats a woman like shit ("Your Boyfriend Sucks" by the Ataris). Of course, I wanted to be that girl all those boys were singing about, so I interpreted this "advice" quite literally. As I started to flirt with boys, my game generally included me going on and on about the wonderful characteristics of other guys—especially other guys who were jerks. I can confidently say, after years of trying, that this approach did not work.

On Being a Good Girlfriend: Congratulations, you snagged a pop punk dude! Now, to keep him, all you have to do is be unrealistically perfect. There is no better "how to be a girlfriend" song than Blink-182's "Josie," which clearly lays out all the expectations. When your boyfriend gets too drunk, you drive him home. When he's on tour, you accept his collect calls. You're not jealous of his friends and you're not disappointed by his small dick. You bring him Mexican food (just because), you listen to the right bands, and you wait up for him on the off chance he needs you. But you're really smart and independent, too! You know, when you're not spending all your time doting on this very demanding boyfriend. You are a walking contradiction with nice legs and big boobs.

How to Have Boobs: None of the guys in my favorite pop punk bands had breasts, yet I still considered them experts. One time at (I think) a Blink-182 concert, a woman in the crowd flashed the band, and one of the band members said her breasts looked like fried eggs. My mind exploded. I thought having boobs was the only requirement! But now you've gotta have the right boobs? I kept my shirt on 24 hours a day, living in fear that I had the wrong boobs.

How to Have a Brain: You definitely want to be smart (a number of songs reference an intelligent woman), but if you're not smart, you'd better be hot. It's unlikely that you can be both. In "(But Then) She Spoke," the Vandals sing about an angel, a goddess, who, after opening her mouth, turned out to be "garbage wrapped in loveliness." The Mr. T Experience have a similar song but with a happier ending. "With My Looks and Your Brains" is about finding the perfect brainless woman to coexist with singer Dr. Frank's geeky, socially inept quirks. The lesson: It's okay to be brainless so long as you're pretty, and if you're pretty, you'd better shut up.

On Drugs and Alcohol: DO THEM! From Jawbreaker's "Chesterfield King" to the Ataris' "San Dimas High School Football Rules," undeniable bonding and/or romantic moments can happen with booze and cigarettes. (The exception: During my teenage years, I was also introduced to some straight-edge hardcore bands, so I decided I was straight edge, partly out of fear of mind-altering substances [such a wuss] and partly due to my burgeoning rebellious nature [up the punx!].)

On Mental Illness: HAVE ONE! As the Vandals sing in "F'd Up Girl," "I'm well aware that you are chemically imbalanced, but I'm the kind of guy that likes a challenge..." Guys love emotionally unstable women. A crazy girl is either (a) someone who they can help (manly!) or (b) someone who won't notice that they are fucked up, too (win!). Mental illness = romantic! Because of this, I actually basked in my unhappiness for many of my high-school years. I embraced the adversity depression offered me, honestly thinking it made me more attractive. (Please, humans, do not do this.)

On Forgiveness (If You're the Man): "Boys will be boys" runs rampant. When the man in your life fucks up, you forgive, forgive, forgive. He's sorry and he'll sing you a song to prove it! In All's song "Guilty," singer Chad Price croons, "I know I suck already, you don't even have to tell me/I'm guilty/I feel guilty all the time." Fenix TX took a similar approach in "All My Fault," where the fact that they fucked up makes for a catchy anthem of self-deprecation: "Tell me something that's sure to break my heart/'Cause everything's my fault/And I know I deserve to be alone/'Cause everything's my fault." Spin it to win it, jerks.

On Forgiveness (If You're the Woman): FUCK OFF. FOR-EV-ER. The list of songs where the woman is the enemy, the heartbreaker, the liar, the asshole is incredibly long. As the woman, you will be sorry. As the man, you're better off without that sorry woman. Less Than Jake sing in "Great American Sharpshooter," "It's okay, you didn't need her anyway (whoa-oh-oh-oh-oh-oooohhh)." Bros before hos, chicks are replaceable, etc. infinity.

On Life (In General): Be dissatisfied. Always. Pop punk singers are never happy with their station in life. Whether they're whining about girls, parents, jobs, or being misunderstood by the world—nothing is good, someone is always fucking them over, and there's always something brighter on the other side of the fence. The best thing you could do is get out of town and do what you want (see: every Less Than Jake song ever written). This is the one lesson that actually paid off. I took this advice quite literally, too, refusing to settle, and as I grew up, refusing to conform—especially within the unrealistic confines of one music genre's supposed expectations. I guess this is growing up. recommended

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Comments (78) RSS

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TVDinner 1
Oh, yes. I went through this too, only it was about 15 years earlier. When Perry Farrell announced at a show that he "likes my girls skinny! Like me," I didn't eat for three days afterward.

Perry Farrell had that much power over me when I was sixteen? GAH. I find this all the more disturbing now that I have a daughter. How on earth am I going to help her navigate the coming shitstorm? Rihanna? Oh, fuck no. Lady Gaga? Well, except she regularly "collapses" due to (rumored) semi-starvation. Katy Perry? Oh, definitely not.
Posted by TVDinner http:// on August 22, 2012 at 10:12 AM · Report this
gcm 2
I always thought the lyrics to Peter Brady were mocking those kids who only accept people based on no zits/big tits.
Posted by gcm on August 22, 2012 at 11:54 AM · Report this
alithea 3
<3 "i guess this is growing up" <3
Posted by alithea on August 22, 2012 at 12:15 PM · Report this
4
This made me feel lucky. I grew up in the late 80s/early 90s, arguably the best time ever to be a girl. It wasn't weird or tomboyish at all for girls to skate or play guitar back then and we had tons of women doing it to look up to. And Sassy magazine. And all those great punk teen girl protagonists in movies and books. I guess that says a lot about the importance of having a culture that values women for more than just their appearance.

Incidentally, if you mention that time to a lot of guys, they fucking hated it and considered it totally sexless, which cracks me up. I think someone wrote an article about that for the Stranger last year. It was probably the one time girls were truly autonomous people focused on their own interests (none of which included dressing for men), and guys just could not deal.
Posted by Ugh, Green Day.... on August 22, 2012 at 1:32 PM · Report this
5
The problem with pop punk songs is that they're usually written by one person, without a committee in place to ensure that they're appropriate even for shallow idiots who don't have the capability to interpret even the simplest lyrics.
Posted by Chadd Derkins on August 22, 2012 at 1:41 PM · Report this
6
You know when you read a news article and it says stuff like "The teen became violent after listening to heavy metal and/or playing violent video games." I would always think "I was a teen once, teens are not that stupid. They wouldn't model their lives after music or stupid shit that like."

Apparently you were the type of teen they were writing about.
Posted by Self on August 22, 2012 at 1:56 PM · Report this
Brandon Arkell 7
This is why I prefer dance music.
Posted by Brandon Arkell http://www.brandonarkell.com on August 22, 2012 at 2:31 PM · Report this
8
I try to live my life after Teenage gluesniffer by The Queers. After I heard their song "no tit" I've been more open to the idea that there are women of all kinds of breast sizes and it doesn't matter as long as they have ass!

-Not sexist, but sexy dude from Boogada street 27, Riverdale, Poppunkland
Posted by Sweatpants_Palmdude on August 22, 2012 at 3:01 PM · Report this
icouldliveinhope 9
Case in point for all of these: The Party Song.

Thanks for summarizing my gender neuroses so concisely!
Posted by icouldliveinhope on August 22, 2012 at 3:53 PM · Report this
10
The thing that sucks the most IMO, is half the bands you listed aren't even pop-punk. If you trace the roots from the Ramones and bands influenced by them (true pop-punk bands), you will see MANY songs that pro-homosexual, transgendered, woman's rights, and human rights in general. Especially The Queers, Green Day, Screeching Weasel, Descendants, The Adolescents, NoFX (technically not pop-punk) and multiple other traditional pop-punk bands. The fact that you're so focused on such a minuscule and trivial subject, shows that you are just like any other person ignorant to a genre and are quick to blame societies problems on an art-form. I don't get why you waste your time.

Posted by tobiascore on August 22, 2012 at 6:55 PM · Report this
metardtard 11
tobiascore - herpa derpa doo to you!
Posted by metardtard on August 22, 2012 at 7:05 PM · Report this
metardtard 12
Also "Megan has a voice and a platform to offer it and because it doesn't match mine or because I'm jealous whhhhhaaaaaaaaaaa!"
Posted by metardtard on August 22, 2012 at 7:06 PM · Report this
13
She appears to have the same platform all of us have to offer our voices on - the internet, where anyone can post anything any time. It's not like this article was printed in the New York Times, so get a grip dude. This girl could be awesome for all I know, but in this post she made an idiotic ass out of herself. It happens.
Posted by Chadd Derkins on August 22, 2012 at 7:20 PM · Report this
alithea 14
after this i remembered seeing blink 182 at BOARD STIFF or something, and they were like, "YOU KNOW! if a dude takes you out for dinner and a movie or a date or whatever, the VERY LEAST you could do is give him a blow job on the ride home!!!!!" and i, at 15 or whatever, was like "SURE!" and didnt even question it. adkhgskg.
Posted by alithea on August 22, 2012 at 7:31 PM · Report this
alithea 15
(ps my fucking impressionable play-doh brain has since questioned it JUST FYI OKAY dont get any ideas)
Posted by alithea on August 22, 2012 at 7:32 PM · Report this
Bree Mckenna 16
"Ursula Finally Has Tits" by the Queers just popped into my mind!
Posted by Bree Mckenna on August 22, 2012 at 7:50 PM · Report this
17
Where do you come off blaming the bands for your problems? First of all, they're songs. Likely, many of them were written in an emotional frenzy and don't represent how the writer actually feels on an average day. Also, being songs, they're open to interpretation and, from the look of things, you seem to have misinterpreted a lot of them. Second, two of the most common themes in punk rock, especially regarding many of the bands you mentioned, are "incessantly question what you're told regardless of the authority behind the words" and "be yourself", but it seems you missed both these themes...
Posted by bshoe on August 23, 2012 at 6:56 AM · Report this
18
lol you made screeching weasel mad
Posted by guitarkev15 on August 23, 2012 at 7:36 AM · Report this
19
this article was dumb and I couldn't even waste my time and bring myself to read the whole thing...this is the epitome of why I hated all my college literature classes...take an interesting/fun/good story (in this case, song) and pick it apart and interpret what your tiny little peanut brain thinks it says, until you've ruined what is so obviously good. Pop punk is good and you ma'am, are a turd.
Posted by burntoutandseasonal on August 23, 2012 at 7:42 AM · Report this
20
Ben Weasel is going to slug you. Watch out.
Posted by Helikestohitwomenhaventyouseenthevideo on August 23, 2012 at 7:44 AM · Report this
21
Dear Ms Seling,

I was also 13 when Dookie was released. I discovered it from winning a promo tape of it from a twist contest at a friend's Bar Mitzah party. Needless to say, the tape (of Longview, She and Basketcase) set me down a similar path.

I should say that I am a man, but I am also a hardcore feminist, and have lived as such for the past 16 years.

I'm also a stickler for the truth, which your article distorts due to your inability to understand lyrics. I'll agree that Blink-182 treats women as objects (and that's why I got rid of my Blink albums after Dude Ranch and never looked back). But Screeching Weasel? Come on.

""As long as you don't have lots of zits or small tits or crooked teeth, then you won't be a freak or wildebeest," it was hard not to be constantly conflicted about the fact that I was a woman, a young woman at that, with an awkward body and delicate confidence. "

The lyric is simply criticizing the way society attributes superficialities to a positive character. Anthem For A New Tomorrow, as a whole, ravaged against this notion.

I'm sorry for your insecurities. You're right, things like breast size shouldn't matter. And in the end it doesn't. But you have to admit that you are wrong to reinterpret these lyrics as to explain your insecurities. I believe that you legitimately listened to Peter Brady and were negatively affected by the lyrics. But you must also accept that you misunderstood the song, missing its point entirely, as the song fights for what you believe in.

This piece you wrote is unfair and a disservice to your readers who are unfamiliar with these bands.

By the way, Green Day's "Why Do You Want Him?" Is a song about the singer's mother.

Sincerely,

Michael Goodman
goodman0mATgmailDOTcom
Tokyo
More...
Posted by Michael Goodman on August 23, 2012 at 7:54 AM · Report this
22
This is total bull shit.... I am a punk rock girl and have been for the past 17 years.. My issues were my issues and I would never blame them on a band, or a song, or any of that. I was always proud of who I was and embraced my differences and still do to this day. Punk rock was the outcasts, the weirdos that did not fit in. Somewhere you got lost and went about everything all wrong. These are your issues and yours alone so own them and dont blame others.
Posted by lani138 on August 23, 2012 at 7:58 AM · Report this
23
"As long as you don't have lots of zits or small tits or crooked teeth, then you won't be a freak or wildebeest,"

You missed the lyrics surrounding that line saying that you shouldn't let people who think that influence you.

There's something ugly inside of you
There's a big empty hole inside of you
There's something creepy crawling on your brain
There's something in you
It's red white and blue inside of you
As long as you don't have
Lots of zits or small tits
Or crooked teeth
Then you won't be a freak, a wildebeaste
And people won't tape signs onto your back
Or beat the crap out of you
Or ignore your sorry ass
See, there's something vapid inside of you
There's a sweet little robot inside of you
So take off that silly moustache
Don't be a baby
There's a Pete Brady inside of you
ONE: You act your age
TWO: You don't try to be something you're not
Posted by Johnny Doe on August 23, 2012 at 7:59 AM · Report this
24
Dear Ms Seling,

I was also 13 when Dookie was released. I discovered it from winning a promo tape of it from a twist contest at a friend's Bar Mitzah party. Needless to say, the tape (of Longview, She and Basketcase) set me down a similar path.

I should say that I am a man, but I am also a hardcore feminist, and have lived as such for the past 16 years.

I'm also a stickler for the truth, which your article distorts due to your inability to understand lyrics. I'll agree that Blink-182 treats women as objects (and that's why I got rid of my Blink albums after Dude Ranch and never looked back). But Screeching Weasel? Come on.

""As long as you don't have lots of zits or small tits or crooked teeth, then you won't be a freak or wildebeest," it was hard not to be constantly conflicted about the fact that I was a woman, a young woman at that, with an awkward body and delicate confidence. "

The lyric is simply criticizing the way society attributes superficialities to a positive character. Anthem For A New Tomorrow, as a whole, ravaged against this notion.

I'm sorry for your insecurities. You're right, things like breast size shouldn't matter. And in the end it doesn't. But you have to admit that you are wrong to reinterpret these lyrics as to explain your insecurities. I believe that you legitimately listened to Peter Brady and were negatively affected by the lyrics. But you must also accept that you misunderstood the song, missing its point entirely, as the song fights for what you believe in.

This piece you wrote is unfair and a disservice to your readers who are unfamiliar with these bands.

By the way, Green Day's "Why Do You Want Him?" Is a song about the singer's mother.

Sincerely,

Michael Goodman
goodman0mATgmailDOTcom
Tokyo
More...
Posted by Michael Goodman on August 23, 2012 at 8:06 AM · Report this
25
ben weasel isn't mad and i agree you're a dumb ass
Posted by Fehks on August 23, 2012 at 8:06 AM · Report this
26
Wow. Way to misinterpret Screeching Weasel. Perhaps, (ironically) you were too caught up in trying to figure out how to be accepted by a subset of people who do not subscribe to a dogmatic criteria of how an individual "should" be (at least, in theory). Secondly, why were you listening to a bunch of whiny boys to figure out how to become a woman? Perhaps you should have spent more time listening to Naked Aggression or the Lunachicks. Maybe you wouldn't be such complete dingbat (pun intended) today.
Posted by DR1982 on August 23, 2012 at 8:20 AM · Report this
27
i cannot believe you have a job, must have nice tits, idiot
Posted by notit on August 23, 2012 at 8:25 AM · Report this
28
This woman understands zero about punk rock. And don't lump in Blink 182 with Look Out Record's bands. That's just irresponsible.
Posted by Will12 on August 23, 2012 at 8:25 AM · Report this
InkedUpShortGirl 29
Wow, your misinterpretation of most those songs still shine brightly through today. As a girl who grew up listening to the same lyrics I'm dismayed at what you took away from them. They tought my teenage self to be strong, be loud and F trying trying to fit into some unrealistic mold society set for teenage girls. These songs, these bands, helped teach me be my own woman with no regret. I highly suggest u go back and listen to those same songs minus your insecurities of yesteryear, you may just find those words mean something completely different when personal hang ups aren't doubling as earmuffs.
Posted by InkedUpShortGirl on August 23, 2012 at 8:29 AM · Report this
30
No wonder life seemed so sucky for you when you were a teenager: You were listening to nothing but shitty music from even shittier bands.

Yah, that would've messed up anybody.
Posted by ctmcmull on August 23, 2012 at 8:29 AM · Report this
31
This is probably the most ridiculous thing i've read all week, congratulations.
I was born 3 years after Dookie was released, I came out of the womb listening to Rancid and The Ramones and Blink-183, etc. I turned 15 last month, I have pink hair, i wear bondage pants and band shirts and Dr.Martens, i'm pretty much the closest thing you'll find to a punk in this part of Pennsylvania. In my 15 years of listening to music, never once have I thought "oh, Blink-183 like blowjobs, I should go suck off every boy west of the Susquehanna" as far as my body goes, i'm cool with not being a size 2 with DD breasts, and the music I listen to has always comforted me when I have any sort of identity crisis or feeling of unworthiness instead of what they seemed to do for you. I think you either took the lyrics too seriously or you just needed something to blame your feeling of not being good enough on. I think the moral of the story is that Mark Hoppus, Tom Delonge, and Travis Barker don't even take Blink-182 seriously, neither should you.
Posted by Abrielle on August 23, 2012 at 8:33 AM · Report this
32
Wow. Way to misinterpret the songs. Good job. You're an idiot.
Posted by Sheriff Heath on August 23, 2012 at 8:35 AM · Report this
33
People like you are the reason Beavis and Butthead got censored. Would you blame being gay on having listened to 'I wanna be a homosexual' by Screaching Weasel? Would you 'play' with corpses because you listened to TSOL's 'Code Blue'? If punk rock made you insecure, you did it wrong. Maybe you should stick to Adele or Britney. God help you if you listened to Morrissey... You'd ruin it for everyone by doing something stupid to satirical lyrics.
Posted by Sercerlpernk on August 23, 2012 at 8:46 AM · Report this
34
I was going to say something, but InkedUpShortGirl said it much more eloquently.
Posted by ConfuciousB on August 23, 2012 at 8:49 AM · Report this
InkedUpShortGirl 35
Thanks ConfuciousB and if I don't type *taught not tought it's gonna bug the hell outta me :P
Posted by InkedUpShortGirl on August 23, 2012 at 8:55 AM · Report this
36
The first sentence of the article sums up the writer's confusion. Jesus, I'm sorry you had a difficult, awkward puberty. For all the rest of us it was such smooth sailing.
Posted by Puberty was awesome on August 23, 2012 at 9:08 AM · Report this
37
The Writer of this article is a fucking Idiot .. You need to contact EVERY band you've referenced here and apologize .. You have little idea what you're talking about . People hear what they want .. seems you only hear negative .. Maybe its time you find something else to do for work.
Posted by dharmapunk242 on August 23, 2012 at 9:20 AM · Report this
38
Jesus. If I had (I was listening to the same bands at that age) worked my actions around the lyrics to these songs I'd be not only a raging alcohol, but also a rockstar/guitar player, homeless, struggling endlessly, masturbating non stop and be a hopelessly silly loser that hates everything. The lyrical content of early-mid nineties pop was depressing as FUCK. Like someone else had posted- many of these songs were written as reactionary/at the drop of a hat to situation happening right then and there. Not to mention- you (either then, in your youth, or still do) misinterpreted the living shit out of most of these songs and lyrics. Lots of people do...but lots of people don't write zine articles about them. Hell, if I had taken even some of this to heart I would be taking my vacations in Cambodia. By the way, double check the meaning of those screeching weasel lyrics...again, like someone else posted- not only weasel, but tons of people on facebook are blown away by the terrible misinterpretations. I understand that this was written in a now and then, before and after kind of tone....but your lyrical interpretation was wrong then and it's still wrong now. Don't mean to rain on your parade....just saw the opportunity to comment and couldn't help myself. Might be time to make a mix tape after work and listen to these songs again as an adult. Again- dont mean to play devils advocate here, but this was screaming for some clarification. Oh...and chesterfield king? Try again. - dave
Posted by Dave C on August 23, 2012 at 9:27 AM · Report this
39
Anyone who takes anything blink 182 says with complete seriousness doesn't have an accurate perspective on them. Blink 182 are jokers, they love to mess with people. Most punk bands are. Have you ever heard the Vandals' song Anarchy Burger? They don't really want you to walk into a deli and piss on everything, do they? I've loved punk music my whole life and it's never had a negative effect on my body image or behavior. If anything, punk music (even pop punk, sometimes!) is about thinking for yourself, not taking orders from the music you listen to.
Posted by Brandy G. on August 23, 2012 at 9:49 AM · Report this
alithea 40
haha oh my god what idiot punk board got the link to this article.

also LOLOLOLOL at a "hardcore feminist" saying screeching weasel is less misogynistic than blink 182 skdskghkdfh REMEMBER HOW BEN WEASEL IS FOREVER A SEXIST PIECE OF SHIT? remember???
Posted by alithea on August 23, 2012 at 9:56 AM · Report this
41
I think most of you people commenting need to chill out. Like Megan, you have an opinion, so go get on your own blog, write about it, and share it with the world. She doesn't have to be sorry for her opinion, or the fact that out of all the things in the world, this part of her adolescence is something she wants to write critically about. "You're wrong." "Go apologize." Really? Her interpretation of a Blink 182 song doesn't change the way YOU feel about it--so go write about your interpretation. The best thing about art is that we can all listen to the same song, stare at the same painting, and take away a thousand different significant details based on our experiences as people. That's really all there is to it.
Posted by cc000 on August 23, 2012 at 10:10 AM · Report this
42
Please don't write a story if you are an idiot that doesn't know how to interpret shit! Peter Brady is a sarcastic view of how society forces you to conform or be ostracizes you for it! He is actually on your side idiot! Please dont listen to my favorite bands as you are too stupid to understand them.
"I'VE GOT A MESSAGE FOR YOU! I FUCKED IT UP AND I STILL TURNED OUT OK! AND I'M HAPPY BEING EVERYTHING YOU HATE! I'M STILL WALKING LIKE A JERK OUT IN THE RAIN. I STILL WAKE UP WITH A SMILE ON MY FACE!"
Posted by alecto3 on August 23, 2012 at 10:27 AM · Report this
43
Please don't write a story if you are an idiot that doesn't know how to interpret shit! Peter Brady is a sarcastic view of how society forces you to conform or be ostracizes you for it! He is actually on your side idiot! Please dont listen to my favorite bands as you are too stupid to understand them.
"I'VE GOT A MESSAGE FOR YOU! I FUCKED IT UP AND I STILL TURNED OUT OK! AND I'M HAPPY BEING EVERYTHING YOU HATE! I'M STILL WALKING LIKE A JERK OUT IN THE RAIN. I STILL WAKE UP WITH A SMILE ON MY FACE!"
Posted by alecto3 on August 23, 2012 at 10:32 AM · Report this
44
I'm not sure that you actually get it. I was also once a 13 year old female getting into pop-punk. Of course I let some of those things shape me but it's not the music; it's the world in general that makes women feel poorly about themselves. It's the world in general that makes MEN feel poorly about themselves. It's just how you interpret and deal with it. I think you misinterpreted some of those lyrics... and you have to remember that these lyrics are written from one person's life experiences and train of thought. It's so individualistic (as it should be) so you can't corn-hole everything in pop-punk as misogynistic. I feel it's less of a mass attempt to send messages to adolescents and more of a "this is my experience and wants and needs as an adolescent". I too struggled with "should I or should I nots", but it wasn't pop-punk's doing, it was just me being a fucking 13 year old girl. EVERYTHING around us made us as awkward, budding teenagers made us question ourselves and feel vulnerable. Now I'm a 22 year old woman and I've got *some* things figured out, but the most important thing I learned was to not let others shape how I feel about myself. Pop-punk actually *got* me through high school. I feel more accepted in pop-punk than I'm sure I would have without it.
Posted by Sickie on August 23, 2012 at 10:35 AM · Report this
45
Oh man. Can't believe I got pulled into this conversation but here goes.

Megan - Your article is good. I say that both as a writer and a long-time Screeching Weasel fan btw. Obviously it pissed off the band. But that's ok too. Whatever. The thing is, it's pointless to debate the "intent" of lyrics because most artists know that the majority of people either don't a) really listen to them or b) understand them.

The reality is that what you're looking for you're looking with. You were an insecure 13-year-old (like all the rest of us) and you loved the music. But the music is going to give you whatever message you're searching for. You *could* have taken away the empowering, the independence, the fuck you part. And you probably did to some extent.

But if you're a pre-teen girl trying to derive self-worth as a female from ANY band's lyrics, you're gonna be messed up. Period. We aren't emotionally and psychologically capable of carving up the healthy parts and dumping the rest. You're brain can't even distinguish between the two at that age.

So I guess what I'm saying is that it's not the songs' - or the bands' - fault that you resonated with those particular lyrics. It's like looking through the bible for 3 passages against homosexuality and then ignoring the other 500 pages on loving all equally. The whole picture is much different than your personal snapshot.
Posted by MaggieQuale on August 23, 2012 at 10:44 AM · Report this
46
Oh man. Can't believe I got pulled into this conversation but here goes.

Megan - Your article is good. I say that both as a writer and a long-time Screeching Weasel fan btw. Obviously it pissed off the band. But that's ok too. Whatever. The thing is, it's pointless to debate the "intent" of lyrics because most artists know that the majority of people either don't a) really listen to them or b) understand them.

The reality is that what you're looking for you're looking with. You were an insecure 13-year-old (like all the rest of us) and you loved the music. But the music is going to give you whatever message you're searching for. You *could* have taken away the empowering, the independence, the fuck you part. And you probably did to some extent.

But if you're a pre-teen girl trying to derive self-worth as a female from ANY band's lyrics, you're gonna be messed up. Period. We aren't emotionally and psychologically capable of carving up the healthy parts and dumping the rest. You're brain can't even distinguish between the two at that age.

So I guess what I'm saying is that it's not the songs' - or the bands' - fault that you resonated with those particular lyrics. It's like looking through the bible for 3 passages against homosexuality and then ignoring the other 500 pages on loving all equally. The whole picture is always different than your personal snapshot.
Posted by MaggieQuale on August 23, 2012 at 10:49 AM · Report this
47
I could forgive a lot of this misinterpretation except that Why Do You Want Him? is about the singer's mother. So then I feel like you can't be trusted to understand the meaning of any song.

And seriously, punk is about questioning authority, of any kind. So to ironically take a bunch of songs by mostly teenage boy bands so seriously is just confusing as hell to me.

In any case:
Girls aren't desirable because they want other dudes. They were desirable BEFORE that and that's why the singer is upset.

Having the wrong breasts is pretty analogous to fearing a girl's judgement on your dick. So that's just normal fear about being judged for your body, and not pop punk's fault.

As for forgiveness, a lot of people in counter culture's are attacked as being wrong and fucked up by society so they know they are "messed up", some aren't of course but if you listen to anything more serious than blink 182 adult's think you are messed up no matter what.
Being accepted even if you are fucked up isn't saying that mental illness is COOL. Typical suburbanite totally misunderstanding everything. That's such intense ableism that I can't even understand how an ostensible feminist hasn't been made to understand how unacceptable that is. They didn't choose to be fucked up or WANT to be fucked up. They were just already fucked up and pretty upset about it. And then you decide its cool??? Who is the asshole now?

As for forgiving the women, have you ever been in say a highschool or college cafeteria or a bar? So many conversations among girls about how that guy was a loser anyways. That's a gender neutral human coping mechanism where you focus on the bad in the other person to avoid some of the pain. Female punk bands do the same thing. The bands you happened to listen to were all guys so of course it seemed like women were not to be forgiven. Now go listen to some Riot Grrl and see the same thing but directed at boys/men.

Ben Weasel turned out to be relatively misogynist true, but that is one guy. Are all Christians murderers and rapists because of the crusades or the behavior of the evangelicals?

Alithea, I saw this article because I have Screeching Weasel liked on facebook. Presumably that is where a lot of people posting here come from. Also a lot of us just read the stranger already and saw this. I have to say, I thought the Stranger had more class than to publish something like this.

Seriously I just can't get past Why Do You Want Him? being used as dating advice. You read the liner notes religiously but you never understood the band well enough to know it was about his mother? Are you sure you were an actual fan and not just some privileged suburbanite trying to be edgy Megan?
More...
Posted by MattSS on August 23, 2012 at 10:56 AM · Report this
48
If there's one word that comes to mind, it's "Discernment". When you listen to music (or read someone's angry blog for that matter) you have to use common sence and discernment was to what TRUTH is. Some of these songs were written about girls or life, not wanting all of those certain kind of girls, but writing about them because it was what was on their mind. Not all of those songs listed were possitive about the girls. It seems to me that because that girl was in his attention span (good or bad) you wanted to be any of those girls just to get their attention, not seeing that it was negative attention. All that was seen was that it was attention. I'm sorry you went through the negatives of the situation. You cannot simply write off an entire genre of music just because you had bad experience with some of them. You can't just throw out the baby with the bathwater.

Also, this article shows why you were so against playing my band's music on the locals only show and, in turn, made sarcastic comments about my band when you actually got around to playing it. Thanks for writing us off.

I hope you learn to be happy with yourself and not take your identity from everyone else around you.
Posted by Seattle Pop Punk on August 23, 2012 at 11:08 AM · Report this
49
I wish I could go through and "Like" all these comments. I'm 35. I listened to Rancid, NOFX (my brother had all the posters for Heavy Petting Zoo.. so gross but funny!) I discovered Me First through NOFX My now husband toked it up with Less Than Jake on their tour bus in Houston when we were teenagers and we still go see them as often as we can!
All I can say is FUCK BLINK they are over-rated radio shit!

My parents were dicks, I got picked on all through school for being what the kickers referred to as "hair fucks" and I was told by everyone in my family that the best I could hope for was to find "a good man to take care of me." and I believed it! I did it!
I married well, had 3 kids and at 30 I woke up and said "I didn't want any of this" I divorced my husband, my parents told me it was the biggest mistake I ever made. They told me I was selfish and not thinking of my children's well being and that they would suffer for my decision. Nevermind that I was so very unhappy that I had, lets just say, done some things I'm not proud of. All out of desperation. No one cared!

Shortly after I got all my shit together I got laid off. I lost everything. Kids had to go to dad, I lost my place to live and my car. Instead of loving open arms from my family I got a big fat "I TOLD YOU SO" and a door to the face. I lived in a shed in a friend's back yard!

3 months later, I had a job, an apartment, my kids AND my car back. Everyday I was determined that I would prove them all wrong with one great big FUCK YOU!
When I got that job and got into my car and turned on the radio the same song played, and still does. Message in a Beer Bottle. It was my drive, it pushed me to do everything on my own because when I could look my mother in the face and say "I've done ok IN SPITE of you!" I felt my heart beat for the first time. I became who I always wanted to be and never believed I could.
I live my life how I want. I don't have a lot of money but we have everything we need, a lot of what we want and do my kids care that we don't have what we had 6 years ago? NOPE they care that they have a happy mom who is able to be their friend and have fun! I have learned how little I truly NEED to be happy, and even more surprised at how few of those things cost money.
As a teen, as woman, as a mother I would like to say THANK YOU TO SCREECHING WEASEL for being my "Eye of the Tiger", forever pushing me. I didn't want to just prove them wrong I wanted to say FUCK YOU! I never saw it their way and I always walked the path that I was told I shouldn't walk. Above all I DO wake up everyday with a smile on my face! That song inspired me to change my life and I always felt like Screeching Weasel had my back pushing me to do what had to be done!
More...
Posted by alecto3 on August 23, 2012 at 11:34 AM · Report this
Emily Nokes 50
HA HA HA HA HA! Dear angry punk board, THANKS FOR TELLING US HOW TO LISTEN TO MUSIC!! NOW I TOTALLY GET IT!!! I WAS DOING IT WRONG THIS WHOLE ENTIRE TIME!!! Tell it to your live journal, ding dongs.

Ben Weasel should stop crying and be thankful anyone even remembers who he is. Don't worry Ben, we remember who you are! But if anyone forgot, I can repost the video of you HITTING A LADY IN THE FACE because she threw an ice cube at you!
Posted by Emily Nokes on August 23, 2012 at 11:55 AM · Report this
ArtBasketSara 51
Good golly gosh! I read it as a humorous piece about adolescent/teenage insecurity (with "laughably embarrassing results").

Maybe needed a better conclusion to clarify intent?...maybe people should just relax...
Posted by ArtBasketSara on August 23, 2012 at 12:06 PM · Report this
McGee 52
Why would anyone care so much about a woman beating weakling and his teenage mongoloid army?
Posted by McGee on August 23, 2012 at 12:07 PM · Report this
53
If the article doesn't make Mr. Weasel out to be "a jerk", his facebook post certainly does. What a baby - get a thicker skin, "punk".

(Same goes for all the posters here who thinks that punk could not, by definition, support any status quo, and think they question all authority via their particular tastes in music and fashion)
Posted by Jude Fawley on August 23, 2012 at 1:10 PM · Report this
54
LOLOL you know what?

This article made my day. I'm not going to pick it apart and scrutinize why I think Megan is wrong (I don't). Because this article 100% encompasses my teenage years. These bands provided the soundtrack for every awkward, romantic, heartwrenching, angsty and god-damn-fucking-happy moment I experienced from the age of 15 up until, well, NOW. I will never forget listening to my Dude Ranch cassette over and over again, wanting to be some guy's Josie and being jealous of my aunt in San Diego who ate at Sombrero all the time. Less Than Jake's records got me through the most painful breakup of my life at 19 (and I still consider them a favorite band). I wanted to cut my hair short after hearing the original version of "Move to Bremerton" by MxPx ("I'm a sucker for a short-haired girl with a pretty smile). My HIGH SCHOOL YEARBOOK QUOTE was a line from "Dammit" by Blink 182. I think people are looking to this article way too deeply and misinterpreting it. I read it and smiled. I'm still a ridiculous pop-punk teenager at heart, and I'm 28 now. No shame.
Posted by Kelsie on August 23, 2012 at 5:04 PM · Report this
Posted by Geraldo Riviera on August 23, 2012 at 11:07 PM · Report this
56
Wow. That's a real shit selection of music right there. I'm terrified of 90's nostalgia. Except for the old-school gangsta rap, I just don't want to hear that shit again.
Posted by LMNOP on August 24, 2012 at 1:10 AM · Report this
57
Really. I see very little difference between Blink 182 and Justin Bieber, except for the died hair and the occasional penis joke.
Posted by LMNOP on August 24, 2012 at 1:24 AM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 58
"Some journalist wrote a short story about how her interpretations of my music informed her thoughts at a young age. But she got my intent wrong, so I better whine, cry, and impotently lash out through the internet."

PUNK AS FUCK!
Posted by Theodore Gorath on August 24, 2012 at 7:20 AM · Report this
Salad 59
All of you people are missing the fucking point. Selling isn't judging the bands or the musicians PERSONALLY. She is writing a cultural commentary about one aspect of a genre of music. She's not condemning it as a whole either, you nitwits. It's not you either love every single aspect of pop punk and can't think of anything slightly nuanced to say about it or you hate it. This piece is what good cultural critiques are: she's getting at the dynamics of a scene where the voices and perspectives are overwhelming male and a large base of the fans are female. You can talk about that without denying the existence of more progressive parts of the music or accusing the whole scene of unrepentant sexism. You pop-punk fans are simultaneously over sensitive and incredibly dense.
Posted by Salad on August 24, 2012 at 10:12 AM · Report this
IsabellaByersKerr 60
The most attractive thing a woman could do is want another man.

haha, good lesson, still true.

Be dissatisfied. Always. Have a mental illness. Do drugs and alcohol, and lots of both.

Of course.

This was a clever blog. I might do one for my era, I wonder if it would be similar.
Posted by IsabellaByersKerr on August 24, 2012 at 11:10 AM · Report this
Megan Seling 61
@59 I don't know who you are, but I think you're wonderful. Thank you.
Posted by Megan Seling on August 24, 2012 at 11:15 AM · Report this
62
How on Earth could you have misinterpreted some of the simplest, most easy to understand lyrics on the planets???? I like this piece, but only because your own deep-seated psychological problems become so glaringly obvious based on your far-fetched assertions. Your problems existed long before pop punk came along.
Posted by NickIshere on August 24, 2012 at 12:13 PM · Report this
Salad 63
@61 Wow, thanks! So sorry about mis-spelling your name Megan. Please keep writing pieces like this. Yeah, we've never met, but I've been reading the stranger forever. Every once and awhile y'all will publish a gem narrative about pop culture and formative personal experience.
Posted by Salad on August 24, 2012 at 12:39 PM · Report this
64
I loved this article. It made me realize things I never thought about growing up -how songs I listened to growing up totally shaped how I thought boys wanted me to be like and what I thought they thought was attractive. To people saying if you want to know what's attractive to boys, you shouldn't have been listening to men, you should have been listening to Lunachicks why would that have made sense? To a straight teenage girl who wants to understand boys, you go to what BOYS are saying. You don't listen to what your girl friends are talking about. And to everyone coming in and saying what a terrible article this is and attempting to mansplain over the author, for most of you as men YOU don't know what it's like growing up as a woman in the punk scene. We get messages directly from men in the scene about how we're supposed to be one way and when we're not, we get crap for it. So we listen to these songs so we can learn the rules better before we make mistakes. I find it funny how so many of you are saying punks about thinking for yourselves, there's no set ways to be punk! But why are you listening to THESE bands, everyone knows THESE bands are better! No rules to being punk but then there you go, briefly listing your own rules, huh?

To the girls commenting about how this article totally misses the mark and you never thought you had to give everyone bjs because it was in a song no, maybe you didn't pick up on THAT message specifically. But you picked up on the messages that you're not supposed to complain, you're not supposed to get annoyed with your man, and hes allowed to do whatever he wants while women are held to a different standard didn't you? You're doing that right here with how men are allowed to say whatever they want but women are not allowed to comment on it.

No ones saying everyone has to like this article or that it's a set in stone rule for everyone. But there's no reason to insist NO IT'S TOTALLY NOT LIKE THIS FOR ANYONE YOU ARE WRONG. Maybe examine the points first, ask your other female friends who grew up in the punk scene their opinions, and think for yourself before having a knee jerk reaction. After all, isn't punk supposed to be about thinking for yourself?
More...
Posted by supersoygrrrl on August 24, 2012 at 11:35 PM · Report this
65
wow is all i can say. now, can you say "poser"? doing all the right things for all the wrong reasons. wtf ever...
Posted by suckit 182 on August 24, 2012 at 11:48 PM · Report this
A.S.Sexton 66
Are we really as easily influenced by this stuff? I think I was a lot when I was younger...so there's a point there...Hmmm...makes my blonde head think.
Posted by A.S.Sexton http://www.alwayssexsurrender.webs.com on August 25, 2012 at 10:33 AM · Report this
67
At 64 as a dude I'd like to say we're all jerks and we suck! but that's probably not true so I won't say that! But no matter if a dude is a total creep-o or a nice gentleman I'd say he'd be attracted to a girl when she's herself other than getting lost in subcultural dillusions and popcultural references. An individual is always shaped by society and its surroundings, but I think using songs a reference point to how others want you to be could turn out terrible!

I feel like I just repeated bunch of old cliches and talk about things I have no knowledge on, but I was bored.
Posted by Sweatpants_Palmdude on August 26, 2012 at 10:52 AM · Report this
ean 68
Dear Megan, you may also recall how the "punks" of this period could go on trying to (a) out PC each other and (b) tell you that you like the wrong pop punk bands. I enjoyed your article. - Ean Sicko
Posted by ean on August 26, 2012 at 9:42 PM · Report this
69
#64, not all punk girls grew up that way, and to some of us the author of this article sounds pretty pathetic. I actually got into punk because I'd been one of the popular girls, but in seventh grade all those girls could talk about were boys and clothes, and I found it really fucking boring. I had an older sister who was a college DJ, and I wanted to be like her.

I joined chorus which was where all the punk girls were, and finally met a group who were obsessed with music and weird movies and skating and shit and had actual interests beyond, "What does HE want me to be?" If it sounds like I'm bragging about how much cooler I was than you, I guess I am because to this day I feel really lucky to NOT have ended up one of those cases and to still be a total girl's girl.

But also, luckily for me, I grew up in the late 80s/early 90s, when there were tons of women to look up to. In Seling's case, I think there was a real lack of female role models. I think that matters more than anything.
Posted by I get it - it's depressing, not empowering on August 27, 2012 at 10:38 AM · Report this
srslywut 70
@62 Hey, how do you know that other planets don't have simpler lyrics? R U A SPACEPUNX?????????!!!!!!!!!???????????? ~I want 2 believe~
Posted by srslywut on August 27, 2012 at 2:56 PM · Report this
srslywut 71
(On a more serious note: big ups to you Megan, this made me smile)
Posted by srslywut on August 27, 2012 at 3:07 PM · Report this
Cascadian Bacon 72
Pop punk was the nail in the coffin for punk rock

I remember seeing Greenday open for Rancid pre-dookie, they were throwing shirts and CDs in the crowd and the crowd was throwing them back saying "you guys suck!" because they suck.

These smarmy dicks now have a musical, nothing less punk than that.

I also remember drinking all of Blink 182s beer and throwing the cans at them.
Posted by Cascadian Bacon on August 27, 2012 at 6:47 PM · Report this
73
of course that Weasel lyric you quoted is totally sarcastic in its place in the song, but nevermind that.

Screeching Weasel was definitely telling you to be perfect, not that they were celebrating the weirdness in everybody or anything...
Posted by the eyeroller on August 28, 2012 at 12:56 PM · Report this
74
#59 is absolutely correct. Take note, poppunky crybabies.
Posted by Jesusito Wept on August 28, 2012 at 3:07 PM · Report this
75
Haha, I didn't have that interpretation of "Peter Brady," but I remember listening to My Brain Hurts at age fourteen, my very first punk album, and thinking "really? 'Kamala's Too Nice' and 'Veronica Hates Me' are the kind of songs I'm going to be listening to from now on?" Because I loved the music, but even at that age I recognized how sketchy the lyrics were.
Posted by sunqist on August 30, 2012 at 9:35 PM · Report this
76
SHIT STARTER RECORDS!!!!
Now that I have your attention, I am 33 and it was the mid-90's punk revival that is what converted me to full on punk rocker. I have played in different punk bands, but the scene (if you can call it that) in Lexington, KY is small. Mainly a collection of friends going to see each others bands, but when touring groups come to town we show them that good ol' southern hospitality. They usually say they have a blast and come back even if they don't really make any money, just because the people are great fans and appreciate touring acts. I am trying to get a new band going, but a lot of my energy has gone to helping to get shitstarterrecords.com going. We have great bands from all over the U.S. including Seattle's own The Badlands!!! They have a new 7 inch out on electric blue (looks sweet). You can only get the blue 7 inch from the band or from Shit Starter Records and our partnership with Bandcamp.com. Go to our sight and you can link up with all The Badlands sites. If you download the mp3 version you get 2 bonus tracks!!! So, support a local band and help us get a label by musicians for musicians going. GET SHIT STARTED!!!
Posted by shitstarterrecords on November 11, 2012 at 8:42 AM · Report this
77
oof
Posted by poppunkdotcom on January 19, 2013 at 6:11 AM · Report this
78
As the person responsible for introducing a number of these bands to the world, and (obviously) as a longtime fan of some of these bands, I think this article makes some extremely valid and valuable points.

Pop punk always was a totally male dominated scene (thankfully this is becoming a little bit less true today). Although the males dominating it tended to more toward the nerdy, dysfunctional side of the social spectrum rather than the full-on headbanging, knuckle-dragging neanderthalism that characterizes some other music genres, they're certainly not free of the sometimes subtle and sometimes blatant sexism that still permeates the larger culture as well this particular subculture.

I'm glad Megan wrote this article, and I hope other women will weigh in with their opinions. God knows we've heard enough about it from dudes. Myself included, so I'll shut up now.
Posted by Larry Livermore on February 17, 2013 at 2:07 PM · Report this

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