Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo

We’re All Screwed: Everyone Needs to Sit Down and Listen to Janelle Monae

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Columbia Barnard chapter.

Recently, I was reminded of the song “Screwed” from Janelle Monae’s masterful album, Dirty Computer; I’ve been unable to stop thinking about it since! First of all, it’s incredible to listen to. It has a fun rhythm, catchy melody, and a chorus that makes you want to sing (or shout) along — but the lyrics are truly the star of the show.

Monae deftly addresses government corruption, violence, the gender pay gap, sexual liberation, female agency, as well as other critical social issues in this triumph of a song. I have selected a few lyrics which I find particularly impactful:

“Let’s get, let’s get screwed / I, I don’t care / We’ll put water in your guns / We’ll do it all for fun / Let’s get screwed”

Monae directly acknowledges systems of oppression, forcing those in power to know that they will be stopped. Additionally, her lyrics make it clear that the knowledge of her own oppression will not beat her down or cause her to stop living life to the fullest. I love Monae’s use of double entendre here — she uses “screwed” to indicate both her position of sociopolitical disadvantage while also expressing her sexual liberation … the power that that has …

“Everything is sex / Except sex, which is power / You know power is just sex / Now ask yourself who’s screwing you”

Is this a pop song or a philosophy of gender and sexuality seminar? Yes.

“Hundred men telling me cover up my areolas / While they blocking equal pay, sippin’ on they Coca Colas”

This lyric reminds me of The Hunger Games when protagonist Katniss Everdeen is told to remember who the enemy really is. This line ensures that the listener is well-aware of the  hypocrisy and corruption running rampant in our government. In conclusion: Janelle Monae 2020, please and thank you.

In addition to the fact that her discography is stacked with certified ~bops~, Monae’s music is filled with intellect, confidence, and power. Her voice should be heard by more people, not just because of her pitch, but because of her pride, her perspective, and her power. 

Bannon Beall

Columbia Barnard '22

Bannon is a Barnard College junior studying history and education. She hails from Topeka, Kansas, and loves vegan cooking, bullet journaling, playlist-making, and thrifting.