Dear Cody Simpson,
I will openly admit this. I have rarely listened to your music. I only know about you from magazines and well, Dancing With The Stars. But here are some simple facts I know. You are a pop singer. You are a teen heartthrob. And, you recently released a song called “Thotful,” a play on words involving the derogatory term “thot,” meaning “that hoe over there.” I had no desire to listen to the song, but I did take the time to listen and learn the meaning of the song, considering the title is so intriguing. I honestly chose to find out what the song was about before I made any judgments, as I am extremely against terms such as “slut,” “whore,” and yes, “thot.” My first thoughts were that it’s an extremely catchy, laid-back song with a great vibe. But while listening, I found that the song is about a girl who seemingly betrayed you or didn’t give you what you needed, with the lyrics in the chorus stating “she’ll be anything to anyone, woah, but she gives nothing back to me.” You then go on to say “she’s so thotful.”
Allow me to explain why I have such a problem with this. My disappointment with your song title goes so much further than a guy using that term. Songs with demeaning lyrics are nothing new. You are not the first, and you certainly won’t be the last. There’s even a song by Drake with the same title. But, here’s the difference: his fan base consists of older teens and twentysomethings, who are adults or close to it. Now, I’m not saying that this makes it any better; it’s just that these people are at a much more stable point in development than younger people. Your fan base consists of younger girls, ones who are still developing and just learning about all the demeaning things that happen to women in this world. In the Always “Like A Girl” campaign, the director states that girls’ confidence is pretty stable as kids, but takes a serious plunge once they hit puberty. Many of your fans are in that delicate stage. Therefore, every word they hear is affecting their development. Now, you may think that because they are young, they won’t know what this means, and therefore it won’t matter. Unfortunately today, kids have incredible access to technology, and they can learn. Don’t discredit them just yet.
You want to know what the even bigger problem is? In your interviews, you see nothing wrong with the title. You seem to justify it by saying that it’s okay since you aren’t talking about a specific woman or calling anyone out. You also say that as a storyteller, it is your job to start conversations, with this particular song referencing something relevant in pop culture right now. Let’s recognize something. The conversation having to deal with slut shaming has already started. You are not starting something new, you are negatively contributing to a conversation. Also, you say that you are not calling anyone out. And that is a complete lie. You are calling out all the women that you have problems with just because they can’t focus all their attention on you, or are toxic in some way. We all deal with toxic relationships. That in no way means that whatever group of girls this is based off of deserve to be called a thot.
Young girls are growing up in a world where they unfortunately have to be taught to be immediately cautious of every action they make with the possibility of being viewed in the wrong light by men, and instead of helping to fix this image, you are contributing to the problem. You are a role model to young girls. So many pre-teen/teenage girls have your poster hanging on their walls, your songs playing on repeat on their iPods, and so on. Yet, you decide to go ahead and tell YOUR FANS that because they may not treat a guy just how he imagines it in his mind, that they deserve to be called a hoe? You’re trying to tell your fans that they deserve to be treated this way by any man? Let’s face it, we all make mistakes when it comes to our family, friends, and people we like. We hurt people, many times unintentionally. That in NO WAY means that we deserve to be called sexually derogatory terms simply because we are growing up and learning how to love. And for those of you who will choose to criticize me by saying “it’s just a song” or “it doesn’t mean anything,” think about how much music affects YOUR life. Lyrics from love songs and break-up songs resonate with us every day. There is no telling that this will be any different.
This letter isn’t solely towards you or your song. This is for all the men who degrade girls because we don’t always agree with you. It’s for all the men who harass girls and make their lives miserable to no end just because we don’t give you exactly what you want. And I see no reason to discriminate, because I know that girls do very similar things when it comes to guys, so it’s also for all the girls who unfairly call out guys. Men have no right to define a woman using these terms, and women have no right to try to define a man, either. The only person who has any right to define her is herself. Think before you speak (or write) and think about what it actually means. Think about who you may influence and who listens to you. It has a bigger effect than you may think.
Photo Credit: 1