Political Flavors

« Previous Post: The Apathy Problem
Next Post: My Blue Heaven »

Garfunkel and Oates’ “29/31” Feminism Fail

Posted in Editorials on June 26th, 2012

I’ve been a fan of the comedy musical duo Garfunkel and Oates since discovering “Pregnant Women Are Smug” on Cracked.com in 2009. I follow them on social media and went to see them perform live in New York City. I think they are hilarious and I really like the way they talk openly about sexuality, (See: Go Kart Racing – Accidentally Masturbating, and I Don’t Understand Job) and I think that “This Party Just Took A Turn For The Douche” is brilliant. They’ve addressed medical marijuana, the Occupy Wall Street Movement and the absurdity of opposition to same sex marriage. So I was disappointed that their latest song “29/31” is really retrograde and sexist. I wouldn’t mind Ricki’s ear-bleeding shrieks if it was at lest either funny or not degrading to women.

To preempt the criticism that I can’t critique this because I’m happily married, and my wedding occurred when I was 27, that’s missing the point. I love my husband, but being married isn’t the total of my identity or my life. My relationship is important, but I reject the idea that it’s the only thing important or special about me – which is exactly the point of this song – that a woman’s marital status defines her, that being single is cause for despair. and being married is true happiness and contentment. Neither is correct.

I could understand a song about “the one that got away.” There are people that live with regret about ending or sabotaging a relationship they wish they were still in, and that’s genuinely sad. But the point of 29/31 is that you should get married to a man – any man, because otherwise you will be all alone and your life will be over at 31. Getting married just for the sake of not being single is not a wise decision. Basing a relationship on fear of being alone isn’t healthy and is insulting to your partner. I don’t think any man would want to hear his wife say that she married him just because he was there. In fact, that exact sentiment was something Kate parodied in 2008:

So which is it? Marriage as an only goal is depressing and empty? Or marriage is your only goal or else you are worthless?

The other insulting thing about “29/31”, was that it assumes a man cannot love a woman once she is over the age of 33/34. Ricki sings,

In two short years I’m gonna be 33. Who the hell will want me then? I’m disgusting.

If a 33 year old woman is disgusting and unlovable, why get married at 29? Won’t your husband divorce you when you are 33 anyway? Because you are so “disgusting“?

I understand that women are fertile for fewer years than men are, but I think that women who want to have children are aware of this fact and plan accordingly. Women aren’t stupid. That’s why “Oops! I forgot to have children” is a joke. No one actually thinks like that.

I don’t know if I should be bemused of angry that Men’s Rights Activists are using this video as “proof” that feminism is “wrong.” When I put this question to Amanda Marcotte, she said,

That they’re pinning all their hopes on convincing women that they’re a slightly better option than never having sex again tells you a lot. MRAs see themselves as the McDonald’s you resort to when the restaurant is closed. Doesn’t sound like women are desperate ones here, I have to say.

On the positive side, Garfunkel and Oates recently performed at Dan Savage’s fundraiser for Washington United for Marriage. I’m going to make a donation, go reread, “How to be a fan of problematic things” and hope that their next song is better.

« Previous Post: The Apathy Problem
Next Post: My Blue Heaven »

7 Responses to “Garfunkel and Oates’ “29/31” Feminism Fail”

  1. George Newman Jr. Says:

    You still have not commented on the plight of lesbian hookers abducted by UFOs and forced into weight-loss programs. Is this because of your political differences with some of them?

  2. Elizabeth Says:

    Nice UHF quote 😛

  3. George Newman Jr. Says:


  4. Claire Says:

    G & O might not be entirely feminist all the time, but I still think they are making a point. The idea is that they are a reflection of people around them, that others think this way in society. This one isn’t my favorite of theirs, though. (Yay, pregnant women are smug!)

  5. mr.goats Says:

    Turn off the TV and the clutter piped in from the sewer known as entertainment industry.

  6. Michael Says:

    I believe you’re missing the point of the song. Our society, men and women, only value women until a certain age. The blind optimism that comes from being 29 and possibly still fitting the virginal expectation is extinguished by the time you reach 31 and start realizing that not only is our culture against you, but surprise, all the bullshit it fed you about what women are supposed to be or supposed to achieve is a lie too. If anyone feels as though ageism and “traditional female gender roles” DON’T go hand in hand, look at what’s considered sexy. Baby talk, barely legal teens, tight genitals, and TAKING HER VIRGINITY. Misogynistic expectations for women have an expiration date. It’s all propagated by the patriarchy that aims to own women before they have time to explore themselves or become infertile.

    P.S. There is nothing wrong with marriage, there is nothing wrong with having a family, and there is nothing wrong with not exploring your sexuality. There is something VERY wrong with doing it all because society wants you to. Know you culture, know yourself, and make your own expectations. *Mic drop*

  7. raven Says:

    This song is about a catch 22 situation for women. If you’re 29 and not looking to settle down you’re wrong but if you’re 31 and not in a relationship yet you’re wrong too. The song is as ironic as the rest of their material so I’m confused about how you could miss the feminist tone in this song.

Leave a Reply