Sunday, May 25, 2008

WTF, internet?

In the course of researching for a paper, I needed to think of as many synonyms for "woman" as possible. I figured the intertubes would help me with this, so I googled woman and synonyms.

Several of the resultant websites included the following list, in various permutations:

cleaning lady, charwoman, womanhood, cleaning woman, woman, adult female, fair sex, char

Now, I am as willing as the next feminist to believe that there is sexism lurking behind every tree, but even I had no idea that the internet thinks all women are cleaning ladies. I was hoping for words like "girl" or "female" or "lady," but ones I hadn't thought of yet.

Since the internet has failed me, I must ask real people for help. I am compiling a list of show tunes written by men that claim to define womanhood. So far my list includes a ton of obscurities and the following flawless gems of representation:

I Enjoy Being a Girl (from Flower Drum Song)

Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend (from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes)

How Lovely to be a Woman (from Bye Bye Birdie)

These three may end up being all I need for my paper, but if anyone has any additions, I am happy to take suggestions. Any thoughts, mysterious blog readers?


Aaron said...

You HAVE to do "I Feel Pretty" from West Side Story. She is defined as a woman because she loves a boy, right? Or because a boy loves HER.

Off the top of my head there is also "Thank Heaven for Little Girls" (which I always thought was creepy) from Gigi and "Pretty Women" from Sweeney.

lfryer said...

Scrolling through my musical theatre genre on itunes, I run across possibly semi-related songs such as:
"The Spark of Creation" from Children of Eden
"The Ladies who Lunch" from Company
"Who's that Woman" from Follies
"Luck be a Lady" from Guys and Dolls
"A Girl Worth Fighting For" from Mulan
"Why Can't A Woman" from My Fair Lady
"Kind of Woman" from Pippen
"When You've Got it, Flaunt It" from The Producers

Well, that's a lot, and probably some of them are only somewhat relevant. If you want me to explain why I mentioned any of these, let me know - I'd be happy to say, although I'm sure you know these shows better than I do.

Alexandra said...

This paper sounds exciting and wonderful! Yay! I second "I Feel Pretty." I will try to think of more.

Oh! "I Am Sixteen Going On Seventeen" has some pretty notable things to say about womanhood.

And "Rainbow High" from Evita addresses performances and constructions of femininity and glamour - and, arguably, how those performances can be sources of power, for better or worse.

CelloShots said...

"I Feel Pretty" is totally going on the list! "16 going on 17" might too, but I have plans for a whole separate Sound of Music paper, so maybe not...

Of the other suggestions so far, several were on the list in an earlier version, but were cut as I narrowed the topic. This includes all songs sung by male characters, as I feel they don't imply that the view of women they present is accurate, while songs sung by women DO imply that. The songs that were cut include "Thank Heavens...", "Pretty Women", "Luck Be a Lady", and "Why Can't a Woman". I also cut "Ladies Who Lunch" at the last minute because it wasn't quite fitting the theme in my head, but it might go back on. "Kind of Woman" is already on there, but I forgot to list it before. To summarize, great musicotheatrical minds think alike, and thank you all for the thoughts! Keep them coming!

Miss Kate said...

Hmm... not sure if this will fit for your paper...

"Unworthy of your love" - Assassins
"Adelaide's Lament" - Guys & Dolls
"I Know him so well" - Chess
"At the ballet" - A Chorus Line
"A Little Brains, A Little Talent" - Damn Yankees
"Six Months out of every year" - Damn Yankees
"The Revolutionary Costume for Today" - Grey Gardens
"In the light of the virgin morning" - Jane Eyre
"The Finer things" - Jane Eyre
"Painting her portrait" - Jane Eyre (wonderfully depressing song sung by Jane Eyre about Blanche Ingram)
"I hate men" - Kiss Me, Kate
"Whispering" - Spring Awakening
"The Dark I Know Well" - Spring Awakening (incest, sexual abuse)
"Mama Who Bore Me" - Spring Awakening
"Big spender" - Sweet Charity
"Come to your senses" - tick, tick...BOOM!
"A boy like that; I have a love" - West Side Story

Hopefully at least one or two of these will help. I need to reorganize the CD collection at work on Wednesday, any musicals you want me to keep an eye out for?

Claudia said...

This is a stretch, and perhaps more inspired by songs listed in the comments than the original ones you menioned, bu "Happily Ever After" and/or "Shy" from Once Upon a Mattress comes to mind...which come to think of it might have been writeen by a woman...but wikipedia tells me that the lyrics were by a man.

"Luck be a lady" also came to mind, but you say you've ruled that out.

"Aldonza" from Man of La Mancha (although I suppose that only refers to one woman)

(Yes I am on a "musicals Huntington High School has done" them, Guys and Dolls they did when I was teahing there.)

"Motherhood" from Hello Dolly (a stretch but following in said theme).

Ok, done now.

at_resonance said...

I've had a problem with "16 going on 17" since I first saw that movie, when I was like 10 years old.

I'm thinking "Matchmaker," but pretty much any song from Fiddler fits the bill. Also, "Waitin' for my Dearie" from Brigadoon. And that exhausts my high school musical memory.