What’s Sex Got to do With… Rude?

“Why you gotta be so rude? Don’t you know I’m human, too” Why you gotta be so rude? I’m gonna marry her anyway.”

Marriage as a social institution has existed since the inception of modern society. For reasons of procreation, finances, and simply convenience, marriage served as a way to unite individuals, and more importantly, families. This “traditional marriage” involved a man and a woman who were both virgins, with the woman being “given away” by her father to her new husband. To this day, marriages still involve the father walking his daughter down the aisle to “give his daughter away” to another man. The troubling aspect of the discourse surrounding marriage is the patriarchal construct which is interwoven into so many aspects of it. What if someone doesn’t have a father to walk them down the aisle? What if they have two mothers instead? Alternatively, what if two men are getting married? Who walks whom down the aisle in that situation? Institutions such as marriage directly reflect dominant social discourse. No matter how far society drifts away from using marriage as it was originally constructed, troubling patriarchal discourses still remain.

Marriage as a reflection of dominant discourses also plays into the concept of compulsory heterosexuality for all individuals within our society. According to Hunter in “Change and continuity in American marriage,” 90% of individuals in America get married at least once in their lifetime. Until fairly recently, the only type of marriage allowed legally in the United States has been between opposite gendered individuals. Marriage, then, serves as a reinforcement to compulsory heterosexuality in our society.

In the song popular song “Rude” by Magic, the singer (a man) is expressing his anger about his prospective wife’s father who will not “give his blessing” to their marriage. He then goes on to say “I’m gonna marry her anyway,” which does leave one to wonder whether she wants to marry him as well. The entire song reflects the societal notion that a woman must be “given” from one man to another as if she is property. Worse even is the song’s failure to mention her own consent in the matter, or really anything about her at all.

Would this song be better if the singer was a female but all of the other pronouns remained the same?

Why do you think the tradition of a father “handing” his daughter off to her husband has remained so ingrained in our society?

Would you expect your significant other to ask the permission of your father before asking you to marry them?

3 thoughts on “What’s Sex Got to do With… Rude?

  1. I really like your argument here. I never really thought of the father “giving” his daughter away like a property exchange, but when you really think about it, it is. We as a culture are so obsessed with getting the male approval. In the old day, and still now sometimes, the man would go to the woman’s father to ask permission without even asking the woman first. Having the family’s approval is important and honorable but isn’t having the woman’s permission just a little more important? Your question about switching out the gender’s is interesting. I think if the singer was instead a girl talking to another girl’s father the response would be completely different. I think if it was a homosexual couple making a plea for approval this song would be as big as Macklemore’s Same Love.


  2. I love that you’ve put this argument out on the blog. Since I heard the song, the idea that the singer (a man) felt the need to ask his (presumably) girlfriend’s father for the right to marry the girlfriend has angered me. It truly is perpetuating gender stereotypes in a way that flows into the minds of youth so easily. I worked as a camp counselor this summer, and my fourth grade campers would go around singing this song which was placing into their young minds the idea that their father had the right to control decisions about their relationships. Also, the singer sings “and we’ll be a family” but at no point does he discuss talking to his potential wife about whether or not she wants a family. The song reinforces the compulsive heterosexuality surrounding marriage and the assumption marriage is meant to allow for reproduction.


  3. You address some very interesting twists and situations about marriage that definitely got me thinking. The cultural idea of receiving the father’s hand in marriage is such an influential tradition in our society, and the first time I listened to this song, none of these questions even occurred to me. I do agree that the song could have implemented more of the girl’s wishes in the lyrics; however, it may also be implied that her love was consensual by her actions in the video (the couple hanging out together and her disinterest in the other man that the father has over for dinner). I believe receiving a father’s blessing has become such a common process in marriage because the father is seen as the protector of the daughter who needs to mold what is best for her. Often times society leaves out or minimizes the feelings of the female lover and the father’s decision often trumps the daughter’s. Is the father’s evaluation and judgement of the potential groom a right or an impulse? Being a straight male, I would expect myself to ask my future wife’s father’s permission to marry her after I know that she is definitely interested herself. I believe that showing respect to my lover’s father is a way of showing respect to her. If the father says “no” and we are both in love, I am unsure if I would “marry her anyway”…


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