Yael is a 28-year-old marketing coach and former Jewish communal professional. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Islamic and Middle Eastern studies and a master’s degree in integrated marketing communication. Yael lives in Melrose with her husband, Jeff.
Last week, I hit my breaking point. It was after I had been personally insulted by a stranger with whom I share a mutual Facebook friend. Until that point, I had tried to engage others in productive, respectful conversation about the situation in Gaza. I found myself falling down a rabbit hole of hateful spin and vilification. Feeling emotionally exhausted, I chose to take the night off from socio-political commentary and instead focus on a fun, creative endeavor. I needed to distract myself. I needed to laugh. Holed up in a hot room, I spent four intense but cathartic hours putting together the following parody video:
For those of you who don’t recognize the original song, it’s a parody of “Rude” by MAGIC! In the original song, the singer is rebuffed after asking his girlfriend’s father for her hand in marriage:
Can I have your daughter for the rest of my life?
Say yes, say yes, ‘cause I need to know.
You say I’ll never get your blessing till the day I die:
“Tough luck, my friend, but the answer is no!”
Why you gotta be so rude?
Don’t you know I’m human too.
Why you gotta be so rude?
I’m gonna marry her anyway.
Marry that girl, marry her anyway.
Marry that girl, yeah, no matter what you say.
Marry that girl, and we’ll be a family.
Why you gotta be so rude?
The song itself is currently a pop-chart topper in the U.S. and has inspired myriad parodies, most notably Benji and Jenna Cowart’s “Father’s Response” video. Feeling there was one specific voice missing from these parodies, I took it upon myself to provide a more egalitarian perspective.
When I posted the video to my Facebook page, I was flooded with positive feedback. Facebook friends (of all genders) shared the love:
“This is the best.”
“Rock out girl, love it!!!”
“I can definitely relate! Girl, u can sing!”
Despite the overall rave reviews, I did get some negative feedback. Aside from the few “dislike” votes on YouTube, I saw one commenter left a particularly obscene comment that women like me “poison everything with feminism.” Although that comment annoyed me, it didn’t upset me nearly as much as a comment on another “Daughter Cover” that reframes the story as the daughter asking for her father’s blessing:
“This cover is A LOT better than the other ‘daughter’s side of the story’ cover that my daughter and I have just watched…a big THANK YOU for putting up a RESPECTFUL and TASTEFUL version of this song.”
When I read that comment, I was stunned. I could understand why someone might prefer another version of the song, but to call videos like mine “disrespectful” and “tasteless”? The whole thing smacked of condescension. I felt as if I were being chastised by my own father for misbehaving. He was proving the very point of my video, and he didn’t even see the irony.
The other irony of the situation is that I actually like many of the traditional marriage rites. Before I got married, I wanted an over-the-top, elaborate romantic proposal. I craved an intricately choreographed flash mob, an epic video montage, a gaggle of pugs. I wanted something BIG, something YouTube-worthy. In the end, I didn’t get my “fantasy” proposal. Instead, I got something much better: a partner whose values align with my own.
My husband, Jeff, and I got engaged in January of 2011, just after our third dating anniversary. The day I arrived home from leading a Birthright trip, Jeff greeted me at the airport and drove me home. When I walked in the door of our apartment, our dog, Tilly, ran over to greet me. Around her neck was a piece of red yarn with a tag that read, “Delivery Service.” I spotted the engagement ring dangling from the yarn and immediately starting crying. As flashes started going off in the apartment, I realized we weren’t alone—both sets of our parents stood in our kitchen! Jeff had flown in his parents from Kansas City to celebrate with us and to deliver his grandmother’s ring, which she had set aside for us before she passed away. Armed with cameras and flowers, our parents cheered as he removed the ring from Tilly’s collar, got down on one knee, and asked me to marry him. I’m not sure how I managed to squeak out a “yes” through all the heavy sobs, but I accepted his proposal.
I believe in both feminism and family. So does my husband. When he spoke with my parents prior to proposing, he asked them to share in our simcha—not to approve of it. Some may argue that there’s a difference between asking for parents’ consent and asking for their blessings. While I admit that may be true, I feel that both partners’ feelings should be at the center of the process. In “Rude,” the daughter has no voice and no agency over her relationship. She’s a plot device rather than a developed character. While others might assume her consent is implied, I see the disregard for her desires as the very definition of “rude.”