Tuesday 20 March 2018

The shame of being a traitor to my kind

Music to me is powerful, personal and one of the great joys of life. Songs that I love, I really love, songs that I hate, I really hate, certain genres feel like they scratch against my soul and make me feel wonky. For instance, sacrilege in some circles though it be, I don't like much reggae, may the guardians of ganja have mercy on my soul.

No surprise then that since first discovering the joys of the Walkman in the 1980s, I have been a passionate devotee of portable music. I see people who walk around with no tunes and marvel because I can't really walk, let alone achieve any level of briskness, if not amped up by a soundtrack. I do disconnect when interaction is inevitable, like in shops, because it seems rude to be in front of people and tuned to something else, so to speak.

All these things were at play when I stepped into a suburban branch of an American chainstore to be greeted by a pulsing soundtrack of some kind of R&B. I didn't like the music, the volume seemed slightly overwrought for a shop but it was the song content that grated most. Some bloke was rapping in detail about the sexual practices he wanted to indulge in with a passing female. He didn't want her to chat and was offering erm, a kind of silencer, as prelude to another activity he was keen on. And he wasn't using either the Latin or biological terminology. It was loud, repetitive, graphic and misogynistic. And apparently an entire album of the same sentiment, not just a random escapee from someone's music library.

I'm not overly sensitive to sexual references or swearing. I didn't have a child with me and anyway my kids are of an age to fully understand the songs. But it felt weird and wrong to have that screamed at me in a shop. It was almost like a challenge, a staff dare to anyone who might like to take offence. And I buckled. I didn't want to be the middle-aged frau who tutted loudly and made a show of stomping out. I didn't want to be the one who asked for the manager. But I did mind and I did leave. And afterwards I felt like a traitor to my kind, the middle-aged frau.

Sunday Independent

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