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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Track 3: A woman, naturally.

Natural Woman
Composed and Performed by Carole King

In one of her best known and loved songs, Carole King sings that her lover makes her "feel like a natural woman." This sentiment, however romantic, reminds me of the selection from Judith Williamson's book we read entitled "Decoding Advertisements."  One of Williamson's main points in the article, (in case you need a little refresher...) is the transformation of Nature into "The Natural" through technology.  Williamson argues that society "cooks" Nature with the careful application of ideology and the appropriate technology.  

In the case of this song, King presents the "nature" side of the woman, (i.e before the application of ideology / lover)  in the opening lines of the song;

Looking out on the morning rain
I used to feel uninspired
And when I knew I'd have to face another day,
Lord, it made me feel so tired.
Before the day I met you, life was so unkind, 
Your love was the key to my peace of mind.  

Before she is "cooked," so to speak, this woman is uninspired and worn-out by the cruel world.  However, when she finds her lover and gets "cooked" through the ideology of love, she feels at peace, complete, natural.  The connotation of "natural" for Williamson  is an object associated with an inherent quality, an innateness about its existence, when it has, in fact been manufactured.  Of course, Williamson uses this terminology to talk about advertisements for products, but the rhetoric can be applied with a feminist spin here as well, with the woman becoming the object transformed into "the natural." 

In the world of the song, King has been transformed into a "natural woman" by the forces of love.  She continues to describe her transformation upon meeting her lover;

When my soul was in the lost and found, 
you came along to claim it.
I didn't know just what was wrong with me
till your kiss helped me name it.

Now I'm no longer doubtful of what I'm living for, 
and if I make you happy I don't need to do more.  

King describes such a complete rebirth- her lover returned her very soul to her, and when he kissed her, she could find herself.  His presence gives her life meaning and purpose, and she now exists to ensure his happiness.  These lyrics seem to outline and define the modern ideology of love for women.  The relationship she describes here positions the woman in a subservient role to that of her lover- if she can make him happy, then she is a success. 

In the last verse, King describes the payoff of such a relationship;

Oh, baby, what you've done to me, (what you've done to me)
You make me feel so good inside (Good inside)
And I just wanna be (wanna be) close to you,
You make me feel so alive.

You make me feel, you make me feel, 
You make me feel like a natural woman.  

This final verse solidifies the ideology King presents in the previous verses.  She gives her listeners a reason to feel this way, a reward for complete dependence on a man.  It is difficult to argue with such simple and powerful rewards as feeling "good inside," "so alive," and, best of all, "natural."  What more could a girl want? 

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