I was the Beastie Boys’ “Girl”

Growing up in a house with two older brothers, both of their teenage years, my parents had little to no control over what sorts of media I consumed. Not only did David and Nate control the stereo, radio, and TV, but also our house was “home-base” for all of Nate’s friends. As a six year old, I was convinced that a few of his friends actually lived in our house in a “secret room” that he tried to convince me of. Basically, there were always a contingent of teenage boys in my house, and I wanted to be EXACTLY like them. Two things got in my way of this: I was six, and I was a girl. Because of these two hindrances, I looked for anything that would get me on the “cool” list of these boys.

Me with my oldest brother, Nate

Me with my oldest brother, Nate

The solution turned out to be the Beastie Boys song, “Girls”. For those of you who have never heard this song, I posted a video below that also has the lyrics, which is something I completely ignored as a kid. I specifically remember the first time Nate’s friends were over and I heard them playing this song. The opening is a xylophone-like melody that is very reminiscent of the Rugrats theme song, which was very appealing to the mind of a six year old. The first line of the song is, “Girls/All I really want is girls”. This is when it clicked for me. I was a girl. They were not. In my mind, them listening to this song meant that “all [they] really want” is to hang out with me. I assigned myself to the role of the “girl” in the song. This song became my invitation to come running into his room, no matter who was in there, what I was wearing, or whether I was actually invited, and dance and sing every time they said “girls”. When I was allowed in, I would hopelessly beg him to play that song, until he determined me so annoying he would do anything to get me to stop talking.

I would do just about anything to get my brothers to notice me...

I would do just about anything to get my brothers to notice me…

When I called my brother to ask him about the Beastie Boys and this song in particular, he pretty much encompassed the entire point of this post in 10 seconds.
Me: “Do you remember the song, ‘Girls’?”
Nate: (singing) “Girls/To do the dishes/Girls/To clean up my room/Girls”.
The first thing he remembered from this song was the exact opposite of what I took from it. He was at an age where he understood the sexist undertones and objectification of women, but of course “it was all a joke”. Of course if my brother’s asked my to come clean up their room, I would be quick to run away and probably tell on them. The ideology that girls are supposed to be there for men when they need them, never once crossed my mind.

In the article, Kings of the Wild Backyard: Davy Crocket and Children’s Space, Griffin mentions that “children’s play is not ideologically innocent; it is the primary means by which children absorb the values of their society and master both their own bodies and other culturally-significant materials”. I believe that this is true for media such as Davy Crockett, that obviously has multiple audiences and the aspiring ideology is one of an “upstanding family man”. The Beastie Boys, although as my mother would say are “nice Jewish boys”, are not presenting a positive ideology. This childhood innocence was the only hope I had at getting anything positive from this song. I would assume that most parents in this day and age would not want their six-year olds listening to a message that is demeaning to women, and possibly “dangerous to the innocent child” (Griffin 107). No matter what the Beastie Boys are telling me, I was naïve enough never gave in to cleaning my brother’s room, nor mine for that matter.


One thought on “I was the Beastie Boys’ “Girl”

  1. I’m so interested in the naivite here — and its function. First of all, it made you feel invited in an otherwise male space. Second of all, despite its clearly sexist messages, you didn’t have ears to hear them, because you were too busy being excited about being invoked. How do you think the “child’s play” of your experience with this song – and ignorance of its lyrics – extends to teenage consumption of similarly sexist songs? Are girls still just happy to be invoked?

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