Wednesday, April 9, 2008

"Before he Cheats" is a horrible song!

My sister really likes the song, "Before He Cheats" by Carrie Underwood.

After discovering that her boyfriend has been unfaithful, the Underwood character vandalizes his car. She smirks, pounding a "Louisville slugger" in the palm of her hand as the track plays "Maybe next time he think before he cheats." Underwood is clearly proud of herself for seeking revenge. A strong woman would have walked away from the situation. Instead, this woman is so insecure that she commits an act of violence she feels is justified because her boyfriend cheated on her. Are her actions empowering? Of course not. There is never an excuse for violence. It doesn't provide immunity against possible future acts of infidelity, nor does it help make the cheater aware of the pain his actions have caused.

Underwood sings "Before he Cheats", but what does that mean exactly? "Before he cheats on me again", "Before he cheats on another girl"? In the video, it seems that Carrie has ended the relationship, but if that is the case then what does it matter to her if he cheats again on someone else? I don't believe that she damaged his car to make him think twice about cheating on another girl (in case he dates another insecure bitch after Carrie). Maybe this is an act of sisterhood, with Carrie looking out for possible future victims of her boyfriend's infidelity. Or maybe Carrie isn't actually breaking up with her boyfriend, but is making sure that he is too afraid to cheat on her again.

In his blog, Glenn Sacks explains the double-standard in this song. If a man vandalized his unfaithful girlfriend's car, it would be considered abuse, but when a woman does it, it is considered empowerment. "Before he Cheats" is not the feminist rant it purports to be. Instead, it is an appeal to women to use violence to get back at their cheating boyfriends.


  1. I think this is a message that isn't stated enough... props to you for writing it Ashley. Far too often we think that women's violence towards their partners is either a myth, or (as in the case of this song) somewhat amusing...

    Thanks for writing this.

  2. I think the violence that she preaches in the song is actually empowering. What's the scenario? A partner cheats on a partner -- most people would agree that this is one of the highest violations of trust.

    We can make the (reasonable, based on Underwood's interpretation of events) assumption that the boyfriend feels no remorse or regret for his actions. Not only has he upset the current continuum of his now ex-girlfriend's life, but he has also thrown her (their) past away. This is a severe disruption and one that qualifies as emotional violence. His behavior is unjustified, irrational, aggressive and violent.

    There is an excuse for violence -- violence is justified in self defense. The boyfriend, willfully negligent towards his girlfriend, is acting violently.

    Violence in self defense is committed so that you can stop the attacker and thereby protect yourself. Attacking his car will heighten his emotional awareness and which will protect her.

    The song isn't about a double standard or her attacking his car. It's about her instability and inability to do anything about his behavior. Underwood is trying to come to terms with another human, who she placed trust in, rupturing that bond without even a casual thought. The song illustrates her grasp for comprehension and her lashing out. With her relationship destroyed the only thing left is closure and satisfaction and destroying his car is validated by her need to heal her mental state, a state created by his behavior.

  3. It’s obviously a very painful betrayal and I don’t expect Carrie’s character to act like a lady and pretend it doesn’t bother her or to try to be civil. No one has ever cheated on me, and I haven’t felt her thirst for vengeance, but it does make sense to me that she would be so hurt and angry that he did this and so frustrated that she can’t do anything about it, that she would lash out like that. I like your explanation of Carrie’s character’s compulsion to do something this violent and then feel good about it. Maybe Carrie wasn’t trying to argue that it’s the right thing to do, but merely depicting a believable and understandable reaction.

    Still, I’ll never be okay with vandalism. I disagree that this is justified. To me, Carrie’s just using the “eye for an eye” rationalization, even though cheating on your girlfriend is obviously a worse offense than damaging a car. I didn’t at all interpret this as self-defense. Her safety, reputation, possessions – none of these were at stake. To me, self defense is only a valid argument if there is an immediate risk that you are trying to protect yourself against. If he’s as insensitive as you say, I think the opposite effect of self-defense is more likely: he may come after her for her actions.

    “Maybe next time he’ll think before he cheats”? If he’s cheated once before, he clearly felt compelled to get attention from someone else. Will a busted up car make him think twice about doing it again? I doubt that. I don’t see him becoming more emotionally aware, just angry that his girlfriend busted up his car.