Unraveling the toxic masculinity in The Weeknd's music (2023)

When asked about his tendency to spread misogyny in his music and his inability to refrain fromcalling women bitches all the time, The Weeknd, also known as Abel Tesfaye, defended the content of his lyrics by stating that in his songs he is representing a character: the two people (The Weeknd, the musician and Abel Tesfaye, the man behind the art) are separated , and as such, any toxic behavior he brags about should be attributed to his personality and not the singer himself.

In an interview with Esquire, as the magazineseptember cover starThe singer revealed, “It's definitely a character. 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 it's me singing the words; it's my writing. It's like you want people to feel a certain way. You want them to feel angry. You want them to feel sad. You want them to feel it. It's never my intention to offend anyone." But spreading such toxic messages about masculinity and identity makes the artist wary. A man so concerned with his brand and intent on preserving the painstakingly curated mystery associated with his persona must find The idea of ​​reducing women to mere caricatures, sex objects and accessories is offensive.

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After all, lyrics like "I just fucked two bitches before I saw you" from the 2015 smash hit "The Hills"; "Who gon' love you like me, like me? . . . Who gon' touch you like me? . . . Who gon' fuck you like me? from "Shameless"; "Girl I'm on top, I'm just tryna stay on top from you" from "All I Know"; "Hope You Know This D— Is Still an Option" from "Wasted Times"; "I'm Used to Bitches Coming From the Right" from "Acquainted"; "I've Been Running Around , I need a kennel / A hundred models disappearing in the compound" and "I never need a bitch, I'm what a bitch needs" from "Heartless"; and more don't exactly scream respectful or understated. In fact, they sound liketoxic masculinity.

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The good man projectdefines toxic masculinity as “a narrow and repressive description of masculinity, designating masculinity defined by violence, sex, status and aggression”, in which masculinity is defined by emotional toughness and showing emotional vulnerability is considered a weakness. The Weeknd's music is rife with references to invulnerability, apathy or emotional numbness, distrust or disinterest in love, and coping with fears of abandonment, rejection, and insecurity through hard drugs; when he's not bragging about being a “Starboy,” bragging about cars ––how he just “bought a new Mercedes”–– or celebrating escapism, he seems to fall back on traditional vices and symbols of male power (women, cars , wealth ). 🇧🇷 , stardom/fame) when emotional numbing doesn't work.

In songs like "Hurt You" and "I Was Never There", he laments the emptiness of his self-inflicted loneliness and emotional pain, reflecting on his desire for no-strings-attached sex on "Hurt You", singing "Girl, I'll come get in between." your legs / Don't enter your heart”, all while simultaneously and cruelly praising himself for making his partner commit suicide during the song's pre-chorus: “All the nights you slept alone, dryin' your eyes (by my blame, baby) / And all the nights you thought about taking your life (because of me, baby) / And if it's love you want again, don't waste your time (don't waste) / But if you call me, I'll fuck you up view".

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This rich behavior is juxtaposed on "I Was Never There," in which the singer laments his own suicidal feelings and the misery produced by the lack of genuine romantic companionship. He sings explicitly and miserably: “What makes a grown man want to cry? (Cry, cry, cry, cry) / What makes you want to kill yourself? (Yeah) / Her happiness is never real (real, real, real, real) / And stupid sex is what she feels, ooh, what she feels. These songs reveal the truth about The Weeknd: the singer leads a dark and vapid life, perhaps the price of the fame and emotional immaturity he loves to sing about.

What's more, in songs like "Nothing Without You" and "Die for You", he professes "when I feel love girl I doubt it" in the former and "Can't say I don't love you". Because I love you" in the latter, while protesting his convictions, proclaiming, "I don't want this feeling / I can't afford love". His manipulative streak is confirmed in "Die For You" when he writes, "I'm finding ways to manipulate the feeling you're going through." How romantic. At least your partner knows that no matter how much he resists loving her, for sure for her, she needs your love to survive, message that he communicates in "Nothing Without You" when he sings “Don't stop your lovin' / It's todo lo que eu tem.”

It is clear that the singer personifies this toxic masculinity and, what is worse, considers it a force. Snarky lyrics like "I need drug to love you" from "Smile" featuring the late rapper Juice Wrld, "Put that coke on a plate / Molly with the purple rain" from "Faith", "And for that b—-, you know I'm a slave.. All LA girls look the same / I can't recognize / The same work done on your face" from "Escape from LA" proves it. Therefore, it is strange that the singer has so much distance from her offended and bored musical personality, even referring to herself in the third person in the aforementioned interview,saying:: “I have a whole vision of the Weeknd”.

Who is the Weeknd then? And whose vision is he projecting? Is this really how you want the world to see you as an artist? Is the mystique derived from being considered pop music's resident anti-hero worth the decadence depicted in his art? Also, where does the cocky personality end and how real is it? To what extent does this reflect The Weeknd's true personal character? How affected is Abel Tesfaye by the world of debauchery and sin that surrounds The Weeknd? Surely many of his followers would like to know.

The Weeknd, to many of his fans, seems relatively removed from his persona, acting as if he really is a separate person to the extent that readers and listeners can truly believe him, blaming his dubious content on his diabolical alter ego.

But they would be wrong to do so, as theirsexist lyricsthey are so famous that many people have expressed concern about their harmful connotations, even rendering them unacceptable for public consumption. The Dallas Observer recorded some of his most vile lyrics, including the following lines from "Initiation": "I've got a test for you / You said you want my heart / Well baby you can have it all / There's something I need you / Is to meet my boys / I have a lot of boys.” This song seems to suggest that a woman who wants to win The Weeknd's love and affection should degrade herself by participating in a sexual orgy like a certified groupie.

Another song, "High For This", equally involves sexual coercion and invitation; Lyrics like "Open your hands / Have a glass / Don't be afraid / I'm right here / Even if you don't roll" are very disturbing, considering that she is encouraging her object of desire to use supposedly illegal drugs in order to relax her, to potentially have sex with her, even though you know and have already indicated that she's not the drug-using type. The singer also reveals that he has no problem using deception to achieve his goals when he sings "lying comes naturally to me" in "Montreal".

The idea that someone is coaxed, invited or urged to do this, eager or not, calls into question the idea of ​​informed consent, as the singer asks the woman to do sexual favors in a way that reflects gender inequality and manipulation and can. dynamic. It is as if the woman were willing and prepared to perform sexual acts as a service doll, a toy or a sacrifice, which is unhealthy and morally distorted.

These letters are evidence of sexual coercion, sexually aggressive behavior that involves the use of pressure, alcohol, drugs or emotional manipulation to convince someone to have sex. Forced consent is not consent in many states, andvictims of sexual coercionThey have been found to suffer from PTSD, anxiety and depression at considerable rates, according to the American Psychological Association (APA).

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Other crude lyrics describe the mechanics of sexual conquest and demonstrate the singer's satisfaction with a woman's sexual prowess, such as the following lines from "Glass Table Girls": "She gave me sex in a bag / I got her wetter than a wet nap. However, songs like “Lost in the Fire” cross the line into biphobia, especially when The Weeknd sings “baby you can bring a friend / She can walk in your face / While I f— straight (While I f— you directly)." The song essentially victimizes its partner by perpetuating compulsory heterosexuality and the myth of being able to "fix" one's sexuality through conversion or renewed male attention or attraction. female sexuality and marginalizationbisexualwomen, as well as serving as a slap in the face to the LGBTQ community, whose members are disenfranchised enough in society without the added stigma attached to such ignorant rhetoric. Her statement also weakens and degrades women by dismantling women's notion of sexual choice and freedom.

In general, the singer's music is full of questionable references to drug use and using women as a way to feel less empty inside. In the process, her self-destruction is channeled into a strange kind of revenge against women that hides behind a mask of confidence, mixed withintense self-loathinge inseguridad This is evident in songs like “Call Out My Name” and “Wasted Times”, when he channels the pain he feels for the woman who abandoned him (with reason, apparently) to indifference, passing from saying “Casi me cut a piece. of myself for your life” in the first song to disparage the same woman in the last song, commenting that “she wasn't half of you” –– the elusive “you” is the couple he now regrets having left for the aforementioned girl.

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In the song "Over Now" with Calvin Harris, he tries to tear down his original woman by saying "I really don't care if your tears fall down your face / You know you play the victim every time", a far cry from his desperate pleas for that she returns in songs like "Try Me" or "Nothing Without You", as well as his loving feelings of unconditional love in songs like "Die For You", where he sings about his will. kill for your partner and be ready to let your love stand the test of time and distance. “Nothing Without You” carries a sharper edge due to its underlying touch of emotional manipulation. The singer engages in emotional blackmail, essentially threatening his partner with suicide or immense guilt when he pleads with her, “Pick up your phone. I have a question. Oh, if I die tonight, will you be sorry?

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Somehow it becomes even more toxic on songs like "Faith," where the singer reflects unthinkably selfishly and explicitly on the death of his beloved, singing darkly: "If I overdose, I want you to overdose right around the corner. by my side / I want you to follow right behind me. Because there's nothing more romantic than wanting your partner to overdose on you. What a modern Romeo: this is a love story, not a Shakespearean tragedy! Maybe the singer is telling the truth when he sings about having an emptiness and trying to replace it by having "meaningless sex" and chasing women who chase an emptiness in songs like "Hurt You", "I Was Never There" and "Off the Table" - on this particular song, he admits his faults, saying, "I was toxic, and then I was toxic to someone else."

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He constantly justifies inflicting emotional pain, injury or distress on women, stating "I don't mean to hurt you, but you live for the pain" in "Shameless", justifying what appears to be emotional sadism and cruelty by invalidating his victims for appearing so emotionally damaged. and stunted like him. For example, in "Echoes of Silence", he flippantly sings "Girl, you're such a masochist", to make his former partners sound like overly possessive, jilted, or crazy lovers, rather than emotionally traumatized women. He does this to absolve himself of his mistakes, but by demeaning his previous partners in his music, he further mistreats them.

The Weeknd brags about getting cars and girls and money because it's easy and he's a Starboy, so why not? But the lights aren't so blinding when you realize that his lyrics contain a great deal of misogyny and outright sexism, and are so saturated with a thinly veiled contempt for women that they sometimes seem on the verge of emotional abuse and rape.

In his music, women aren't just women, they're whores, they're his for one night (and only for one night, as he sings on “Party Monster”), they're merchandise for sale, they're bodies – they're just good mouths to suck , or sometimes they are the reason for their lives, which, far from making these women saints, imposes an extreme responsibility on them. This begs the question: Is The Weeknd really just a character, or is Abel Tesfaye's alter ego the embodiment of his true feelings towards women? Maybe the man behind the character and the man behind the music are the same after all.

Perhaps The Weeknd really is the man he warns us about in his music: someone to avoid and run far, far away. We should be running for the hills if we accept and, even worse, normalize the predatory and misogynistic nature of his music. He himself tells us in "The Birds, Pt. 1": "No one needs to fall in love / I swear I'm just a bird." Perhaps we should look at Abel Tesfaye the same way we look at The Weeknd, and what we know about The Weeknd is this, as he himself admitted: "I'm a prisoner of my addiction / I'm addicted to a life so empty and so cold / I'm a prisoner of my decision.” Let's not be prisoners of his music.


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