See any similarities?
Please watch both of these musical numbers. The first Is Nancy Kwan singing “I enjoy being a girl” in Flower Drum Song (1961) and the second is Ann Margret singing “How lovely to be a woman” in Bye Bye Birdie (1963). These films came out only two years apart from one another and both of these songs are incredibly similar.
Both of these musical numbers feature a girl/woman in her bedroom singing about her sexuality. They both sing about their curvy features, loving clothes, makeup, dancing and most importantly men. Their songs both They both sing about loving to be whistled at by men, going out with men and being doted upon by men. What struck me the most was how in both songs they sing about their future and both of their ideal futures revolve around a man.
Nancy Kwan sings
” I’m strictly a female female and my future I hope will be. In the home of a brave and free male. Who’ll enjoy being a guy having a girl… like… me.”
Ann Margret sings
” How lovely to be a woman, and have one job to do: To pick out a boy and train him, and then when you are through, You’ve made him the man you want him to be…”
Both of these songs illustrate the overwhelming sexism of the 1960s not just twords white women but Asian American women as well. Women were seen as objects of male lust who’s entire identity and self esteem revolves around men. However, one distinction that should be pointed out is that the Asian American is referred to as a “girl” while the white is referred to as a “woman”. This shows that Asian American women in the 1960s were still viewed as inferior and childish compared to white women.
I hope you found this as interesting as I did. Please comment and let me know what you think.
posted by Megan Kilroy
Entry filed under: Uncategorized.