My song today is ‘Should I Do It?’ This song was composed by Layng Martine Jr, and in 1981 was a minor Country and Western hit for Tanya Tucker. It later became a Top 40 hit in 1982 for the ‘Pointers Sisters’. A chart disappointment for Tucker in the summer of 1981. Stalling at Number 50 C&W, ‘Should I Do It’ as recorded by the Pointer Sisters would reach the Top 20 of the ‘Billboard Hot 100’ chart in early 1982 although it would not rank among the group's very biggest hits being a Top Ten shortfall.
The subject and theme of this song by the ‘Pointer Sisters’ asks the question that every woman who has ever lived has to ask herself one day when the point of ‘no return’ appears on her love/relationship horizon. The age of the female answering this question, the length, and nature of her relationship with her partner, along with the circumstances of the moment when the question is seriously posed/entertained in her mind, can and often does determine how she will be viewed and responded to by her partner and others after the event.
I was born in 1942, and at that time, that question might have been answered much differently than say four years earlier, before the outbreak of the ‘Second World War’. From the Victorian Age onwards in Great Britain, very few well-bred girls would have engaged in full sexual activity with their boyfriend before their wedding night. All the young men would ‘willingly go with’ one type of girl ‘for a good time but would marry an entirely different type of woman. Having a virgin bride was always the expectation of marriageable men, and women who had not kept themselves intact were considered to be ‘soiled goods’. It is interesting to note the common phrase of ‘soiled goods’, which indicated that married women were still considered to be the exclusive ‘property’ of their husbands long into the 20th century.
‘The Second World War’ years brought about a significant change in the risks which a young female was prepared to take with her soldier sweetheart just before he was drafted for action overseas. Knowing that during these times of uncertainty that her soldier sweetheart might be killed in action, was often encouragement enough to persuade her against her usual judgment of ‘waiting for the wedding night’, and she might suspend her traditional moral upbringing.
Having been an ardent reader of British History since my teenage years, I've read many accounts where the young woman’s soldier sweetheart was subsequently killed in action on the battlefront and that she was literally left ‘holding the baby’ as a wartime souvenir of her past love. In such circumstances, the young woman concerned would invariably grieve in silence for the death of her soldier sweetheart, besides receiving little consolation from neighbours and society in general. Any offspring born as a consequence of her unmarried relationship would be usually adopted by a ‘respectable married couple’.
I recall whilst working as a probation officer in Huddersfield during the 1970s, being told by one of the older office secretaries that while many hardships were experienced during the 'Second World War' years, she had the best time ever with ‘the boys’ (American and British soldiers) on leave. She was essentially telling me that many a young woman who was brought up too strictly by their parents prior to 1939, used the war as an excuse to “let their hair and all manner of other things down.” She would tell us younger office colleagues about many wartime stories of daring-do ‘behind enemy lines’; a reference to kissing and cuddling (and whatever else) behind army barracks. She also told us what some British wives of serving soldiers fighting in France might get up to during their husband’s absence or would be prepared do to secure a nice pair of nylons from a GI stationed here. I will never forget her once telling me, “The war brought out the risk in a girl, Bill.”
Having been born in 1942, I can never forget living through the sixties. This was the age of rebellion where a third World War was feared if the bomb wasn't banned. In America, draft cards were being openly burned in public by young men who had been called up to serve and fight in Vietnam. It was a time of experimentation in all ways of life; living in hippy communes, exercising free love, joining cults, and breaking free from the chains of suburban restraint, long felt by the young.
Then came ‘the pill’. Once female birth control arrived on the scene and was placed in the hands of women and not men, the rules of the mating game changed forever. For the very first time in their lives, women began to sense the power they held over their own bodies. For the first time in their life, women started to exert themselves as individuals. Prior to the period of ‘the pill’ women had been regarded as being predominantly the property and sexual plaything of males. Just as the rebellious American men had burned their draft cards in public, the burning-bra feminists of the 1960s also took to the streets as they protested their equal rights. Before the 1960s, women were collectively seen solely by their husbands as being ‘housewives-mothers- baby machines-male sexual outlets’, and nothing else. This aggravated many women and made them feel grossly undervalued. They desperately needed to reform this stereotype, and the 1960s was the time to do this.
Beauty Contests were vigorously protested, and pornographic images that sexualised women on the top shop shelves of newsagents were deemed to degrade their individual worth and downgrade their contribution to society. This era witnessed increasing female protest against all sexual inequality in the areas of public office, political arenas, the church, and commerce.
Women were no longer prepared to be judged by different standards to their male counterparts. They vigorously started to question what precisely it was that denoted a young man as being a healthy ‘lad’ and a young woman being a ’slag’ for doing the same thing in similar circumstances? Women wanted the right to be sexual when they wanted to be, with whom, and in whatever way they chose to be.
Today, I must admit there is much confusion about the rules of courtship, what is allowed, and particularly who decides when to make the first move and in what manner such advances are considered permissible within relationships? In many ways, men have been overtaken and emasculated by modern-day legislation that places the power firmly in the hands of the woman within a relationship. Some men might even argue that the degree of power change that has happened between the sexes has effectively castrated all passionate spontaneity within all intimate relationships.
It seems to me that the question posed by today’s song, ‘Should I do it?’ applies just as much to the intended action of the male as it does the female in 2020!
Love and peace Bill xxx