Michael Jackson's attitude towards women in his music

mj_frenzy

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In many of his songs, Michael Jackson portrays women in a rather negative light, to the point where he was even accused of exhibiting misogynist tendencies towards women.

For example:

- 'Walk Right Now'
- 'Working Day And Night'
- 'Billie Jean'
- 'Leave Me Alone'
- 'The Way You Make Me Feel' (in particular, the music video)
- 'Streetwalker' (outtake, even the song's title is derogatory)
- 'Abortion Papers' (outtake)
- 'Dangerous'
- 'Give In To Me'
- 'Who Is It'
- 'Superfly Sister'
- 'Blood On The Dance Floor'

It has been said that this attitude mainly stems from his experience when witnessing his brothers crying a lot because of certain things that women did to them.

One can say that he did release also songs that portray women in a positive light, such as 'The Lady In My Life', 'Baby Be Mine', 'P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)', 'You Are Not Alone', 'Butterflies', etc, but these songs were not written by him.

Discuss.
 

Nite Line

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What's there to discuss?

There are female singers who portray men in a negative light in their songs. Is that an issue? if not, then why is it an issue if Michael (a man) portrayed women in a negative light.

Also, it's not like he portrayed all women in a negative light. In all of these songs, he was singing about one particular woman.
 

rolerprod

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actually an interesting point something i didn't notice before, isnt she's out of my life and Elizabeth i love you written by him? anyways im just going to chuck this up to being a different time in history
 

SilkySnare

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You forgot Invincible, haha.
He explored many different subjects and situations, so what.
Romantic relationships is surely the most used topic in music in general and singing only about the good stuff is really one dimensional.
Women betraying men is normal as is the other way around. But since Michael was not in romantic relatinships with other men, of course he sang about women, lol.
There are more topics and songs that you didn't mention, such as In the Closet, Remember the Time, She Drives me Wild, Can't Let her Get Away,...
We all know Michael drew from his own personal experience. "I don't sing it if I don't mean it." And one can only imagine all the girls that wanted him because of his fame and money, not because of him.
I personally enjoy such complex topics much more than your everyday "I'm so in love" songs.
 

filmandmusic

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It doesn’t need much to be called a misogynist these days. The only controversial song in there is “abortion papers”.MJ is all about melody and vocal delivery/arrangement I think often lyrics were almost an afterthought in his music.
 

mjchris

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In many of his songs, Michael Jackson portrays women in a rather negative light, to the point where he was even accused of exhibiting misogynist tendencies towards women.

For example:

- 'Walk Right Now'
- 'Working Day And Night'
- 'Billie Jean'
- 'Leave Me Alone'
- 'The Way You Make Me Feel' (in particular, the music video)
- 'Streetwalker' (outtake, even the song's title is derogatory)
- 'Abortion Papers' (outtake)
- 'Dangerous'
- 'Give In To Me'
- 'Who Is It'
- 'Superfly Sister'
- 'Blood On The Dance Floor'

It has been said that this attitude mainly stems from his experience when witnessing his brothers crying a lot because of certain things that women did to them.

One can say that he did release also songs that portray women in a positive light, such as 'The Lady In My Life', 'Baby Be Mine', 'P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)', 'You Are Not Alone', 'Butterflies', etc, but these songs were not written by him.

Discuss.
🙈
 

Hiker

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This is interesting that many of the women-centric songs that Michael wrote are negative, though I won't read too much into it. He might have drawn inspiration from something he heard or experienced, but that does not mean it reflects his whole belief system. Those are just words that fit the melody. Its the same as writers, they make up stories but they don't always mean they lived that story. Michael says something to that effect in Moonwalk.

It has been said that this attitude mainly stems from his experience when witnessing his brothers crying a lot because of certain things that women did to them.
I thought it was the opposite. He saw his brothers disrespect female fans and cheat on their wives (maybe it was just one of the brothers), that changed his attitude.
 

KOPV

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He's spoken candidly about the subject of women; he clearly had a complex view of women as most men do. Both men and women generally have a view of the opposite sex that can be full of contradiction. That's why we drive each other nuts lol! (Kidding... kind of)
 

DuranDuran

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In many of his songs, Michael Jackson portrays women in a rather negative light, to the point where he was even accused of exhibiting misogynist tendencies towards women.
You must have not listened to much music (or watched old TV shows and movies). What do you think about Run For Your Life by The Beatles? :ROFLMAO: Anyway the songs you listed are pretty mild compared to all the "b---- & ho" in the average gangsta rap song.
 

mj_frenzy

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actually an interesting point something i didn't notice before, isnt she's out of my life and Elizabeth i love you written by him? anyways im just going to chuck this up to being a different time in history
'She's Out Of My Life' was not written by him.
You forgot Invincible, haha.
He explored many different subjects and situations, so what.
Romantic relationships is surely the most used topic in music in general and singing only about the good stuff is really one dimensional.
Women betraying men is normal as is the other way around. But since Michael was not in romantic relatinships with other men, of course he sang about women, lol.
There are more topics and songs that you didn't mention, such as In the Closet, Remember the Time, She Drives me Wild, Can't Let her Get Away,...
We all know Michael drew from his own personal experience. "I don't sing it if I don't mean it." And one can only imagine all the girls that wanted him because of his fame and money, not because of him.
I personally enjoy such complex topics much more than your everyday "I'm so in love" songs.
This seems to come also from his mother Katherine Jackson who used to tell him (when he was still very young) to avoid trusting women because they would approach him only because of his fame and wealth.
This is interesting that many of the women-centric songs that Michael wrote are negative, though I won't read too much into it. He might have drawn inspiration from something he heard or experienced, but that does not mean it reflects his whole belief system. Those are just words that fit the melody. Its the same as writers, they make up stories but they don't always mean they lived that story. Michael says something to that effect in Moonwalk.

I thought it was the opposite. He saw his brothers disrespect female fans and cheat on their wives (maybe it was just one of the brothers), that changed his attitude.
Michael Jackson stated to his personal spiritual advisor Rabbi Shmuley Boteach that women can do some things that make guys very unhappy.

He then became more specific by stating that he saw it with his brothers when they were in tears and crying because of their wives.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach came to the conclusion that the singer also had a deep-seated fear towards women.
You must have not listened to much music (or watched old TV shows and movies). What do you think about Run For Your Life by The Beatles? :ROFLMAO: Anyway the songs you listed are pretty mild compared to all the "b---- & ho" in the average gangsta rap song.
It is not just these songs, but his overall way of life and attitude towards women.

For instance, he never seemed to have a true, genuine romantic relationship with a woman.
 

filmandmusic

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What a monster he was. Drug addict, alcoholic, eccentric, pedophile, racist (he wanted to be white, right) and now he is also a misogynist.
The natural next step is wife beater?

I know it are slow days but c’mon celebrate the artist and acknowledge the fact that he was a philantrope, don’t feed the tabloids with more junk.
 

Themidwestcowboy

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What a monster he was. Drug addict, alcoholic, eccentric, pedophile, racist (he wanted to be white, right) and now he is also a misogynist.
The natural next step is wife beater?

I know it are slow days but c’mon celebrate the artist and acknowledge the fact that he was a philantrope, don’t feed the tabloids with more junk.
He wasn't a misogynist. I think someone would have to do incredible mental gymnastics to come to that conclusion but there is a legitimate discussion that can be had about the way he wrote and sang about women in his songs.
 

somewhereinthedark

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This topic was brought up by a Prince fan on the Prince forum. He/she started an entire thread to spew negativity toward Michael by calling him misogynistic because of some of his songs. I responded by saying that Prince had songs that could really be called misogynistic like Darling Nikki and many other songs. Of course Prince disagreed and continued to try and push Michael as misogynistic. Anything to push something negative on Michael and ignore what their favorite artist is doing. Same Old story.
 

filmandmusic

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Does MJ have support on the prince forum or does his name only pup up there to ridicule him or diminish his artistry?
I hate this generalization that certain snobbish music fans (mostly people who post on music forums) have that an artist can only be a genius when he plays an instrument or writes all his music himself.

This is why MJ working in the studio could really surprise a lot of people about how good he was. Michael didn’t just turn up to sing and even if that was all he did it would still be a major contribution after all what is a song without a voice?
 

staywild23

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This is an interesting discussion and I definitely don't want to argue with anyone about it. But I don't see Michael as a misogynist at all, whatsoever. Does he have some old fashioned views that are perhaps based in some patriarchal values passed on to him from his upbringing and the time period he grew up in? Absolutely. I would suggest he does in the same way that everyone does. But he also had so many completely unique life experiences that next to no one can relate to, given how young he was when he started, and what he witnessed all of his life. I believe more than anything he was writing about his life experiences, or the things he observed. I don't think he was ever disrespectful about it though and I believe he had the right to express his feelings about those situations however he wanted to. If you look at most of the songs referenced here, the "anti-women" theme is actually fairly benign and seem largely about specific women, rather than women as a whole.

Let's put it this way. I am a writer, myself. I have experienced a lot of trauma at the hands of men. I write about this in a lot in my essays, poetry, and short stories. I don't exclusively present men in this way, of course, but my lived experiences have reinforced that men are dangerous (ha! no pun in tended lol). Do I apply that to all men? Absolutely not. I have plenty of healthy, loving, wonderful relationships with men, romantic, friend, and otherwise. But does that change the trauma I experienced? No. So I work through a great deal of that through writing and creation. I create characters that are horrifying representations of people I have known, not because I hate men (I absolutely love men), but because there are unique ways in which men can hurt women (and vice versa) that I have experienced. In the same regard, Michael (presumably) experienced unique relationships with women his entire life due to being famous from the time he was a child. By writing about those experiences, he was not only exploring and expressing that pain, but he was showing other people what it was like to feel it. That's the beauty of being an artist.

I don't believe Michael was ever degrading in his music, though. That to me is part of the difference here. He writes about women being predatory at times, because he had experienced women being predatory, in the same way I experienced men being predatory. He writes about women breaking his heart, because he experienced that. He writes about things that people of any gender or sexuality can relate to (I mean...who here who has been cheated on does NOT relate so painfully to "Who is it?"). But he doesn't degrade, dehumanize, or diminish women.
 

mjfan05

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IMO, Michael definitely had misogynistic notions on women -- not saying he acted on them, I wouldn't know. But he had troubling notions about women probably reflecting his strict religion, upbringing and things he saw around him, growing up. He probably had a binary view on women, rather than a complex one as people are saying.
 

Themidwestcowboy

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IMO, Michael definitely had misogynistic notions on women -- not saying he acted on them, I wouldn't know. But he had troubling notions about women probably reflecting his strict religion, upbringing and things he saw around him, growing up. He probably had a binary view on women, rather than a complex one as people are saying.
This is what being misogynistic means

Misogyny (/mɪˈsɒdʒɪni/) is hatred of, contempt for, or prejudice against women. It is a form of sexismthat keeps women at a lower social status than men, thus maintaining the societal roles of patriarchy. Misogyny has been widely practiced for thousands of years. It is reflected in art, literature, human societal structure, historical events, mythology, philosophy, and religion worldwide.

MJ never expressed any of these ideas, ever. MJ was all about empowerment and inclusivity. MJ hired female dancers, female singers, female photographers, etc. He never said anything that would even suggest of him being a misogynist.


When MJ wrote songs he drew a lot from personal experiences. These were the experiences he had of the other sex since he was a child, so it’s no wonder he had a somewhat skewed view. Many of these songs aren’t even bad songs about women in general. For example streetwalker. I don’t see what the gripe is about the title becaus streetwalker is just another name for a call girl, which is legal in some places of the world, including US. so the title in itself isn’t bad. When you listen to the song it’s about a man being in love with a woman despite her profession. I don’t see how this song is misogynistic as it does not condemn this profession.

To frenzy
In what way is the way you make me feel a misogynistic song? Lol, so are we just calling love songs misogynistic now?
 
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mjfan05

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Hey Midwest, I do think Michael had contempt for women, as a sex. Not every single woman he came across, obviously. Nor am I saying he harmed women or refused to employ them or discriminated against them. There's no harm in admitting he has said rather troubling things about women. It could be a result of many things.
 

mj_frenzy

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How do you know this? Because he didn't advertise it like other famous people? A lot of people didn't even know that Janet was married to René Elizondo until it was reported that they were getting a divorce.
It has been confirmed by people who were close to him for many years.

For example:

"I've known Michael since he was fifteen. I've never seen him with a girl [or a woman] in the romantic sense. Not even one in all the years I've known him. Nobody that I know has ever seen him with one either" (quote from the 'Unmasked: The Final Years Of Michael Jackson' book)

The above quote comes from a musician who knew Michael Jackson personally, and he said that to Canadian investigative writer Ian Halperin who later included it in his book.

Also, staff at Neverland Ranch stated that the singer never spent a night with a woman in his bedroom.

Note also that these very few romantic relationships that Michael Jackson publicly claimed to have, they later proved to be non-existent.

He publicly claimed to have such romantic relationships apparently because record industry and show business dictated that.

For instance, American actress Tatum O'Neal revealed in her book that there was never any romance between her and the singer.

He only came to her house one day in order to see how a girl's bedroom looks like, and she described the singer as intimidated in their brief encounter there.

Also, female dancer Tatiana Thumbtzen in her 'The Way He Made Me Feel' book admitted that there was never any romance between her and the singer, as well.
 

SmoothCriminal1995

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You could say the same thing about Taylor Swift on the opposite side of the coin. I don't know her catalogue, but most of her singles on the radio for the last 10 years have been about how toxic men are.

I'm glad Michael wrote from the heart, it's the honesty in his songwriting that I find most endearing. You're not the hero in every story
 

mjfan05

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It has been confirmed by people who were close to him for many years.

For example:

"I've known Michael since he was fifteen. I've never seen him with a girl [or a woman] in the romantic sense. Not even one in all the years I've known him. Nobody that I know has ever seen him with one either" (quote from the 'Unmasked: The Final Years Of Michael Jackson' book)

The above quote comes from a musician who knew Michael Jackson personally, and he said that to Canadian investigative writer Ian Halperin who later included it in his book.

Also, staff at Neverland Ranch stated that the singer never spent a night with a woman in his bedroom.

Note also that these very few romantic relationships that Michael Jackson publicly claimed to have, they later proved to be non-existent.

He publicly claimed to have such romantic relationships apparently because record industry and show business dictated that.

For instance, American actress Tatum O'Neal revealed in her book that there was never any romance between her and the singer.

He only came to her house one day in order to see how a girl's bedroom looks like, and she described the singer as intimidated in their brief encounter there.

Also, female dancer Tatiana Thumbtzen in her 'The Way He Made Me Feel' book admitted that there was never any romance between her and the singer, as well.
His wife said on national tv that she slept with him. Why would I believe Ian Halperin over her?
 

filmandmusic

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Michael is shy awkward and uncomfortable around women in a romantic sense. He is not alone, there are thousands of men like him around the world. It is a sort of anxiety. I have read tons of interviews where it is stated that MJ is shy in general, it is a character trait. Some grow out of it, some don't. Some become incels others remain respectful and grounded. Some men can work professionally with women, laugh with them, drink with them, do everything with them but once romance gets in the way they choke. There are literally hundreds of books written about this subject.
Despite being hugely talented and kind to mankind even Michael had flaws and that's all there is to it. There is nothing to be ashamed of. Nobody is perfect.
 

Hess

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I think this thread is a bit weird...

Times change and the way men and women are portrayed/talked about change too. Had MJ still been alive, I guess he would write the lyrics different now compared to how he did in th 80's.

I must say I see nothing rude or sexistic or anything degrading about women in MJ's songs.
On the contrary I think MJ often portrayed great love/relationship towards women.
 
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