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The Song 'Delilah' Tells Us Something About Our Attitude To Violence Against Women

11/04/2016 23:44

The Tom Jones song 'Delilah' is one of his best known songs and one of the most popular to sing at football and rugby games. It's popularity must be due - at least in part - to the music itself - to be fair it 's a big song to enjoy singing out loud.

I imagine most people also know it's been controversial in it's time with occasional calls to ban it for glorifying domestic violence.

I don't think it should be banned but I can't help thinking that it really does depict a very disturbing story. I can't help looking at it as an ex police officer - as if it really happened - thats because it has happened - all too often.

It tells the story of a man stabbing Delilah to death. Delilah was unarmed and not in a position to defend her self at the time of course. They have had some sort of relationship - but he sounds like a bit of a danger to women. This man sounds as if he considers her his property with the words 'she was my women' being a key part of the song.

He was stalking her - or at least waiting outside her house for another man to leave - having noticed a 'light in her window' - just passing by of course. Presumably our hero didn't fancy confronting them both - preferring to attack her when she was alone.

Delilah doesn't seem to be a particular sympathetic character since she laughs at him as soon as she answers the door - but at least she is not trying to kill him. From the sounds of him it might have even been a nervous laugh anyway.

The song tells us that he suddenly 'felt a knife in his hands' - presumably he would have picked up a knife from somewhere for some reason - in other words he could have gone to the house ready to do violence. Our hero seems to be in denial - preferring to pretend it just happened. Our hero seems to be emotional inadequate to say the least. So someone was unfaithful to you, it happens, get over it?

But our hero is a violent and possessive type - she belongs to him! Even after the violent and fairly sadistic killing he blames her 'why, why, why Delilah' he whines.

So the song is really about a a rather cowardly, possessive, and violent man who won't take responsibility for his own emotions, nor for the violent and cowardly act of killing a defenceless women. Perhaps Delilah had her reasons for not being faithful - perhaps she sensed that this man was dangerous or at least had an unhealthy attitude to relationships?

This is, of course, a bit of fiction, its a story, but it reflects what has happened to a number of women in real life. I can't imagine the families and friends of the real murdered women belting out this song.

I think that the popularity of this song says something about our attitude to this sort of crime - the type where an emotionally inadequate man turns out to be a violent killer and won't face up to his actions.

Of course there are songs about other crimes out there - but not too many - most are about love as I recall. But this song is not just accepted - it is celebrated and sung loudly, with pride.

I am fairly certain that these same singers would't enjoy a song about certain other crimes - child abuse perhaps - nor a song about a women in an abusive relationship who eventually kills her man. I can imagine the outrage if a group of women adopted a song about that happening.

We shouldn't ban the song - it would be futile to try and we should be very slow to ban anything. But we could use it as an indicator of how we see this type of crime. There is, I think, an element of accepting that is really is alright to kill a women in this cowardly way judging by the way this song is used.

Perhaps this lack of sympathy is why many women victims of domestic violence have not received the support they needed over the years and have ended up being killed by a stalking partner? Is there an acceptance that it's alright that this happens? It's not the song that's to blame - but it's glorification and acceptance by so many that says something about us.

Of course men can be victims of violence by women but there aren't too many songs about that - not ones sung out so often over the years with such gusto.

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