There’s nothing I love more than songs that talk about how beautiful women are, which is precisely how “Man’s World,” a song Marina Diamandis released on Nov. 18, begins. This, however, is not at all what the song’s focus is. The rosy cheeks, lashes raised to Heaven, and stars in her hair are all a prologue to a story about women’s rights, and a satirical way to begin speaking to men — since that’s all the typical man really cares about.
I was excited for “Man’s World” to drop as soon as I saw the preview Marina posted on Twitter. The lyrics, the sound, the diversity, and the simplicity of this teaser were all factors that contributed to how thankful I was that my 9:30 a.m. class was cancelled, as that’s when Marina released her video. I watched it right away, of course, and Marina, as always, met all of my expectations.
All of her fans know that Marina is very outspoken about her beliefs, and very supportive of human rights. She uses her Twitter account to gracefully criticize political figures and retweet important information about current social issues, and her songs reflect the issues she talks about. Most of her songs focus on the relationship between women and men, but “Man’s World” removes all the romantic aspects that she has sung about in the past.
Marina brings the flowery descriptions of herself, representing the ‘ideal image’ of women, to a screeching halt with: “Burnt me at the stake / You thought I was a witch centuries ago / Now you just call me a b—h.” The music video temporarily switches to black-and-white visuals at this part of the song. Barely 30 seconds later, we see Marina filming herself with the newest iPhone. This switch from ‘back then’ to ‘right now’ highlights just how long this — women being subjugated — has been happening. Even the time lapse in the music video itself emphasizes this point. It starts off in the early morning, but fades into night over the three-minute duration of the video. Every day, women wake up to this idea of what they are supposed to be, and go out into the world trying to break this mold.
The second verse is where, in my opinion, Marina packs the biggest punch. This is where it became clear, lyrically, that this song wasn’t just about women; it’s about anyone who isn’t a heterosexual man. She sings, “Marilyn’s bungalow, it’s number seven / In the pink palace where men made her legend / Owned by a sheik who killed thousands of gay men / I guess that’s why he bought the campest hotel in L.A., then.”
Marilyn, in these lines, is Marilyn Monroe — the everlasting image of what women should be, and we all know it was men that decided upon this. Marina shifts the song away from herself — a White woman — following this discussion of Monroe. The “sheik” Marina sings about refers to Hassanal Bolkiah, the Sultan (an authority figure, akin, but not exact, to the president of the U.S.) of Brunei — a place where homosexuality is still illegal, and punishable by death. Marina points out the irony of him owning the Beverly Hills Hotel (which, by the way, is where Monroe used to live), one of L.A.’s “campest” (a reference to the typical mannerisms of gay men, and a word reclaimed primarily by those in the drag industry) hotels, given his position as a homophobic leader. In the music video, Marina winks as she sings this part, a gesture to her viewers: you and I both know this man is stupid, right?
Marina even makes a subtle jab at the value of women depending on their age. As she sings, “Spring appears when the time is right / Women are violets coming to light,” the camera pans to who appears to be the oldest person in the video. This alludes to the idea that women are always in their “spring” season — always blooming, never not beautiful. She briefly mentions the COVID-19 pandemic, too, first by having the actors wear masks at the beginning of the video, and then by singing, “The planet has a funny way of stopping a fight.” The pandemic has prevented people from meeting at the same rate we used to. Is that what it takes for women to live with some form of peace: to not meet men at all?
The chorus of “Man’s World” calls for men to listen to Marina’s words. “If you have a mother, daughter, or a friend / Maybe it is time, time you comprehend / The world that you live in / Ain’t the same one as them / So don’t punish me ‘cause I’m not a man.” These lyrics speak for themselves, but they encapsulate the overall message of the song: heretosexual, White men live comfortably in the world, while everyone else suffers in one way or another, and it’s time for that to change. If the men she’s speaking to actually care about their mothers, daughters, friends, they should work just as hard as the rest of us to change the state of the world.
I adore this song, personally; I’m responsible for about half of the views on the music video at this point. Many of the comments underneath the video on YouTube also praise Marina for her lyrical and directional genius (because, yes, she did write this song, and she is responsible for the video’s creative direction), but many express how upsetting it is that she felt the need to write this song in 2020, when this issue should be solved. How have we managed to make so much progress, yet still remain so stuck in what should be the past?
Featured Photo Courtesy of Marina Diamandis