Feminism, Pop-Culture | Posted by Talia on 08/31/2010

Allison Iraheta and the Glamorization of Violence

Alison Iraheta

Alison Iraheta

When Allison Iraheta was on American Idol, I really liked her, and was upset when she got voted off. One of my friends fell totally in love with her. “You gotta hear her single, ‘Friday I’ll Be Over U,’ it rocks,” she kept hocking me. I finally looked it up on YouTube and was unimpressed. When my friend kept insisting that I had to listen to the whole album, I got it from the library.

Since this isn’t an album critique, I won’t go into detail about how Allison sold her soul to the Music Industry Devil by singing teenybopper songs when she has more of a Janis Joplin appeal. What I will go into detail about is the plain old anti-woman offensiveness on the album. The songs “Friday I’ll Be Over U” and “Don’t Waste the Pretty” are being touted as girl-power anthems, and I admit that they do contain weak positive messages. The offender on the album overshadows any positivity, though: “Beat Me Up.”

“Beat Me Up” was PAINFUL to listen to. My Allison-obsessed friend did warn me about it. “There’s this really weird song at the end called ‘Beat Me Up’ that I don’t even know what it’s about,” she said.

I don’t know, but to me, it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out the topic. The title itself screams “I support domestic violence!” It’s not like a hidden message or anything. “You like to keep me on a chain…You beat me up…You hit me up…You always make me do those things…You get your fix out of causing me pain…” To me, it’s pretty obvious that she’s singing about a boyfriend who abuses her, physically and sexually.

When I first heard the song and the first verse ended, I expected the song to begin going on a “Never Again” by Nickelback track, where she “pulls the trigger as fast as she can” on her abusive husband at the end of the song, but no. “Beat Me Up” says, “I’ll never let you go…I still love you cuz you heat me up…I come running cuz you fix me up…Oh baby just beat me up…I really don’t care what they say about me / Cuz he gives me everything I want.”

Music Choice, a series of music channels on television, has an oldies channel that my family watches, and they often play a song called “Johnny Get Angry” by Joanie Sommers. In summary, it’s a watered-down sixties version of “Beat Me Up.” I hate that Music Choice plays it and have complained to them about it in the past (file a complaint to help me get it banned from the channel here), but I can excuse it, as the song was recorded in 1962. That was before The Feminine Mystique was published and before people even heard the term “women’s rights.” But in this day and age, for Allison Iraheta to release a song that promotes domestic violence?

I looked into the song and found an interview of Allison Iraheta online. “It’s a pretty rad song. This chick likes being mistreated by her guy. A lot of girls out there, they like that! And it’s kind of sad, but y’know, that’s just the way she is. Not that I’m like that because I’d beat the hell out of whoever the hell mistreats me! I put myself in another girl’s shoes, so it’s a pretty cool song,” she said. While she at least said that she would never personally take abuse from a guy, I sincerely doubt any of the thousands of 10 – 16-year-olds who listened to “Beat Me Up” are going to read that interview.

According to the American Bar Association, 25% of women were raped or assaulted by a current or former spouse, living partner, or boyfriend. 1.3 million women a year are sexually assaulted by their partners, and 33% of female murder victims are killed by their partners. Approximately 85% of spouse and dating abuse victims are female. These are TERRIFYING statistics. Many cases of domestic abuse aren’t ever reported, making a lot of these statistics much too low. In books like Burned by Ellen Hopkins, no one in the family ever divulges their father’s abuse. “It’s embarrass[ing]. You can’t show your face in public without feeling like you’ve done something wrong. Something you need to be punished for. Not only that, but…you’ve been bad,” one of the abuse victims says in Burned.

So, Allison Iraheta, is that what you’re supporting?

Talia also blogs for Star of Davida

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  • Liz @ at 11:18 am, August 31st, 2010

    Ugh! Allison! I liked her a lot too on AI… but this song is just despicable. Clearly she does not understand the implications of such a song, and the music industry is clearly taking advantage of her ignorance. Girl needs to read some F-Bomb blog.

  • Lizbeth @ at 11:55 am, August 31st, 2010

    That’s just disgusting.

  • typhonatemybaby @ at 12:58 pm, August 31st, 2010

    arg. and i used to like alison iraheta.

    oh well back to L7 and the donnas then

    best we could hope for would it being some kind of iggy pop rip-off, but no, it appears that even that option is out.

  • Pat @ at 3:14 pm, August 31st, 2010

    Hi. I love allison, but I took this song a bit differently that you, but I do respect your opinion…

    Allison stated on an interview with Michael Slezack on Realite, that this song is not about physical or mental punishment, but in its basic form, this song is about sex.

    It’s about being so physically attracted to someone they they instantly fuel and eventually gratify your deepest sexual desires. She “screams his name” he causes her “pain.” Though not a literal pain, but rather a pain that is desired from being a bit more physical in bed.

    This is the way that i gauged the song from the beginning, and though in that interview she doesn’t elaborate (what can you expect she was 17 trying to sell records), but this song is definitely geared towards to pleasures and pitys of sex.

    Enjoy it

  • Erika @ at 3:18 pm, August 31st, 2010

    Yes that is who I’m supporting and I’m proud of it! And she has said it herself that the song isn’t literaly about phisical abuse, but more of an emotional and mental abuse. And i wouldn’t call all of her songs poppy. For example, Holiday, D is for Dangerous, and Still Breathing don’t sound all that poppish to me but thats just my opinion. Also if you go see her live she really takes all the pop out of her songs, making them more rock. Ok i’m done. Those were just my two cents.

  • Nope @ at 6:15 pm, August 31st, 2010

    You clearly have a mission in mind and are just using selective information to make your point.

    Allison addressed this right from the start. You have only one sound byte piece of it and missed or didn’t look for the rest. She has been very clear about this song. It does not advocate any thing physical. She chose the song because it is about the emotional struggle in some relationships. That is a theme that runs through the album. She doesn’t control the media or the edits they do. Normally people consider this album a girl power album because it very clearly is. You can get the real info on her website. Follow this link and scroll down to the video where she talks about all of the songs on the album including Beat Me up at 6:45

    http://www.allisoniraheta.com/us/backstage

  • Read Between the lines @ at 7:39 pm, August 31st, 2010

    You can’t take this song literally, it has a double meaning that isn’t about physical violence and Allison has said many times that the song isn’t about literally beating anyone up. It’s a figure of speach, same as when you tell someone “don’t beat yourself up over that”.

    I’m with Pat on this one, this song is really at it’s core about sex between two people in a very intense relationship.

  • Talia @ at 8:51 pm, August 31st, 2010

    It’s the author of this piece here…

    What the song may mean after serious interpretation and what the song means at first hearing have totally different significances. A 12-year-old girl who hears this song isn’t going to hear about how it’s really about a complex relationship, they’re just going to hear about how Allison is in love with some guy who beats up on her.

  • Hope Springs Internal @ at 7:24 am, September 1st, 2010

    I get that the song could be taken as emotional abuse, not physical — but either way the message is wrong. If someone is bringing you down in any form, that person shouldn’t be someone you go back to again and again. The emotional abuse of women is just as bad (and sometimes worse!) than the physical abuse and too many young women continue to fall back into the same patterns with the same men who tear them down. No matter how you look at this song, it’s not a good message for women.

  • Kali @ at 12:32 am, September 2nd, 2010

    I totally agree w/ Talia. Maybe there is some ‘deeper’ message (It’s in my opinion that this song is about as shallow as my shower, but I digress) but can you tell that from a first hearing? No.

    Is a kid going to be able to interpt deeper meaning from the lyrics “cause even though you beat me up, beat me up, beat me up/you still heat me up…” Yeah, NO.

    There are ways you can write and sing a song that uses violence as a metaphor of really sucky relationships, but those are HARD to pull off and its ussually a throw-away line. This song is not one of those instances and it kinda grossed me out the first time I heard it.

  • kisswithafist @ at 12:53 pm, September 2nd, 2010

    This is…very weird. Part of me was going…”This can’t REALLY be what this song’s about.”

    Part of me was trying to justify…maybe its about a girl who’s into S&M and likes to be dominated?

    Then I read her comments about the song and was like…Yeah. Okay. Where the hell are you getting your information from?!

  • rose selavy @ at 2:44 pm, September 5th, 2010

    it’s about S&M?

  • Heather Aurelia @ at 9:48 am, September 9th, 2010

    There is a surpising amount of song made by women about abuse and how they like it. Like the song from Rihana(?) and Enimenem “Like the Way you lie” etc.

  • Sophie @ at 11:28 am, December 15th, 2010

    Dang it. I was hoping this would be a song about why domestic violence is wrong. Guess I’ll never find one of those.

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