Consultation, Empowerement, Gender Identity, Gender Studies, Marriage, Personal Development

What Did He Mean? Some Thoughts on Justin Bieber’s Latest Track

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Let’s be honest, ladies; we do experience mood swings that take us completely by surprise. It’s so confusing, irritating, and frustrating to not understand what is going on in our own bodies and minds. I can understand that it’s also irritating to those around us to live through a mood swing; but what is needed is for all parties to ride the wave together and make the most of the situation.

Video clip aside, Justin Bieber’s “What Do You Mean” has captured my attention because it feels like the beginnings of such an attempt. While its sticky factor is bound to make this earworm settle in for quite some time (and a great workout track, as well), what makes it particularly interesting to me is the message I get of the desire to understand his partner.

I don’t know what Justin Bieber had in mind when he co-wrote and recorded this song; but what I get from it is a positive message about the importance of communication. First, the melody; it’s a cheerful, upbeat one, with a piano leading into the track using a relatively high range, starting things off with a feeling of optimism. The background beat thumps its way in and around Bieber’s confused and at times frustrated breathy vocals, giving the track a throbbing life quality reminiscent of blood flowing through one’s body. The lyrics seem honest and even raw as they seek to understand the meaning behind the mixed signals Bieber’s partner is giving him: “What do you mean/when you nod your head yes/but you wanna say no” and “What do you mean/when you don’t want me to move/but you tell me to go.”

It’s such a different take from songs in which men (and women!) pretty much rage against female hormones and their ensuing mood swings. We are often made to feel ashamed of a natural phenomenon occurring in our bodies because it is so hard to understand. But what if instead, we held an ongoing, joyful conversation about the ways in which mood swings can enrich our lives? I know of a couple whose husband is so aware of the strength behind his partner’s mood swings that he plans things around them. When he knows she will be particularly emotional, they have conversations that require the insights of emotions to advance them. When she is in an anti-social mood, they plan date nights in. When she is in an energetic mood, they plan to host events or go out. They have been told he is being condescending and that she is letting her hormones control their lives, but they have told me, over and over again, that this has enriched their lives in many ways they had not anticipated.

And how did it start? With him asking her what she meant when she was being contradictory.

Picture courtesy of Death to the Stock Photo.

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