On its face, Srbuk’s Walking Out seems like the type of song that I would normally stan and stan hard. It’s got a woman with a distinctive voice! In a song with a beat! That you can dance to! With a female empowerment theme!
But oh no. Oh no no no no no no. I hate this song, because it’s fallen to the curse of the Eurovision oversimplification.
I get that it’s hard to put a social message in a three minute song, so Armenia goes waay overboard to make sure we know that her song is about domestic violence.
The song, which is written by a man who did apparently zero research about domestic violence, includes lyrics like the following:
First you said, you would die for me
But in the end I was the one
Bleeding all alone
(A side note – the first time I heard this, I thought that she was saying ‘bleeding on the rug’ which is a much scarier lyric)
And it also features a very uncomfortable looking video where Srbuk is surrounded by a group of men – hot men without shirts under their blazers, granted – who eventually close the circle around here and bump into her with increasing force. It’s not an easy thing to watch.
But what galls me the most is the chorus of the song, where Srbuk delcares that she is walking out and “at last I feel proud”?
Oh, is that it? Did Armenia just solve domestic violence? Yes! Apparently, ALL a woman needs to do is simply walk out of a bad situation. So simple! Thanks for clearing that up, Armenia!
Songs like this are dangerous in that they pretend to be empowering and centered around women’s experiences, but in reality, perpetuate the stereotypes that women who are on the receiving end of domestic violence should simply leave – which grossly oversimplifies the situation that many of them find themselves in.
Let’s not forget that many abusers isolate women from their family and friends, so they may feel like they have nowhere to turn. Or that abusers can control the finances upon which the woman depends, meaning that her choice is staying with an abuser or heading to a unknown shelter. Maybe the woman has children that she wants to protect, and staying in the relationship means that they don’t get hurt.
And what happens when a woman does leave? What then? Well, abusers often come looking for the women who have left, and many of them are armed. Restraining orders don’t work ifa person is willing to violate them to hurt someone else.
Women’s aren’t stupid. Women in a situation of danger are rapidly calculating how to minimise the danger and manage their abuser so as not to end up dead. And sometimes, that calculation means that walking out can be the worst possible solution to a situation.
I haven’t even touched on the emotional aspects of these relationships, where a woman is often juggle both feelings of love and fear with her abuser.
So the next time you hear someone ask, “Why didn’t she just leave him” remember that she probably had a very good reason to stay that you, as someone not in an abusive relationship, can’t even begin to understand.
So, take the advice of Azerbaijan and shut up. And Eurovision, stop letting female empowerment be directed by men.