NPR Prepares for Christmas With Snarky Feminist Satire Songs

Here’s how National Public Radio celebrates the week before Christmas, with cutesy ukelele songs about feminism. On Monday, the nationally distributed talk show Fresh Air with Terry Gross rebroadcast a 2007 interview with leftist singer Nellie McKay (pronounced to rhyme with rye), who has a new album out of Doris Day covers. McKay began the replayed segment by performing a song called "Mother of Pearl" that's sort of a cousin of "Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter." The lines in parentheses were usually spoken, as the voice of sexist conservatives:

Feminists don't have a sense of humor (Tsk, tsk, tsk)

Feminists just want to be alone (Boo, hoo, hoo, hoo)

Feminists spread vicious lies and rumor

They have a tumor on their funny bone

So far, so good, but then the feminist satire kicks in:

They say child molestation isn't funny (Ha, ha, ha, ha)

Rape and degradation's just a crime (Lighten up, ladies.)

Rampant prostitution, sex for money (What's wrong with that?)

Can't these chicks do anything but whine? (Dance break!)

After a ukelele solo and some da-da-das, it's back to the satire:

They say cheap objectification isn't witty (It's hot!)

Equal work and wages worth the fight (Sing us a new one)

On-demand abortion, every city (Okay, but no gun control!)

Won't these women every get a life

Then she brought the song to a finish:

Feminists don't have a sense of humor (Poor Hillary!)

Feminists and vegetarians (Make mine a Big Mac)

Feminists spread vicious lies and rumor

They're far too sensitive to ever be a ham

That's why these feminists just need to find a man

For her part, Terry Gross just loved it: "Bravo. That was great. That was really, really fun. That song just kind of sums up some of the things I like about you. I mean, it's really funny and trenchant, and you have a beautiful voice, and you're singing about a very contemporary set of themes here, but the style of music that you're playing, I mean, it was almost vaudevillian. Like tap dancing. Um, so you're bringing together these different eras, musically and lyrically."

McKay called herself a feminist, but also insisted she's a hypocrite. When Gross asked why she would say that, she proclaimed that her artistic ambitions are a betrayal of her ideology:

It's that political ideal and the personal reality. For instance, even, you know, having a career, you know, and being ambitious in that way is kind of, it's a capitalist ethos. It's not a, you know, all-for-all mentality. There's a lot of me there, and maybe you want to be big so then you can spread your communist message, but that in itself is a contradiction.

Gross didn't trip on the C-word, or ask about it. She just moved on to talk about whimsical songs about marriage. NPR also publicized McKay and her latest album on the December 13 edition of Weekend Edition Sunday.

Another sign of radicalism? McKay also sang her song at a 2008 Ralph Nader for President rally. At the end, she joked "I'm Sarah Palin, and I approved this message."

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis