Category Archives: Music

Do you Love Yourself Enough? By Olivia Atkins

Valentine’s Day is typically a celebration of love. What better way to celebrate this national holiday than to attend an event that stresses the importance of loving yourself?

London’s One Billion Rising did just that. On Friday afternoon at London’s iconic Trafalgar Square, a stage was set up ready to host an array of inspirational speakers and powerful musicians.

Lynne Franks, coordinator of the London event, introduced herself and unveiled the day’s programme, adding that the event was “owned by no one and directed by everyone”. A crowd quickly gathered around the stage, keen to participate and listen to the empowering words being spoken.

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Following on from the introduction, Leyla Hussein took to the microphone. Ms Hussein is a psychotherapist and a self-professed survivor of female genital mutilation (FGM). She used her personal and professional experiences to talk with the crowd. She claims that 66,000 British women have undergone FGM and that over 20,000 girls are currently at risk of being sent abroad for circumcision. Ms Hussein was born into a family where FGM was important and considered culturally significant. She too underwent the surgery but instead refuses to be acknowledged as a victim. She speaks on behalf of those who cannot or will not speak out, and for those who are ashamed of what has happened to their bodies. Ms Hussein now recognises the importance of education and works on campaigns to protect the female body. Although she did not originally think of the operation as violent, as it was accepted and encouraged within the family, now she realises it was child abuse. Responding to Ms Franks’ opening question asking participants why they were here, Ms Hussein says:

“I’m rising today for my grandmother who was married off at twelve; I’m rising for my mother, for myself, for my children and for my future grandchildren.”

Whitney Iles, aged only 26, was applauded onto the stage where she introduced herself and her job with Project 507. The project aims to dispel violence amongst youngsters aged between 8-18 by creating workshops and challenging the way they relate to one another through education. From her experience, she had encountered women as second class citizens. For, even if women are not subjected to physical violence, they can fall victim to self-judgement, psychological violence and social stereotypes, which contribute to damaging self-esteem. Ms Iles admitted: “we don’t see ourselves how we deserve to be seen” and urged the audience to improve their personal outlook. She demanded the audience to chant that they would not accept mistreatment of women any longer, and shout: “I will not be anything less than Brilliant!” Ms Iles asked the audience to look past their imperfections and to love themselves…arguing: “After all it is Valentine’s Day”.

She said, “I will rise for love because when we love ourselves we love each other” and “we become an unstoppable force.”

Wannabe Girl-band SHE17 consisted of TV personality June Sarpong, Baroness Patricia Scotland and local MP Stella Creasy. As a trio, they spoke about the importance of ending violence against women in society. They claimed that cooperative responsibility can eliminate violence, particularly in domestic violence cases where victims often seek an ally to support their decision. The audience was encouraged to do the thing they were most scared of, despite the difficulties that come with questioning patriarchy. She rallied that only through determination can gender-equality become a possibility. Ms Creasy said:  “Speak out and dance, regardless of the possibility that you might sink.”

Next up, Jude Kelly walked onto the stage and introduced herself as the artistic director of Southbank’s Women Of the World Festival (WOW). Since starting 4 years ago, she has acted as a pioneer for advocating feminism, believing that the only way to succeed is through re-educating the younger generation. WOW festival is a collection of workshops and talks spanning the International Women’s Day weekend in March, where people come together and exchange ideas about what feminism means. Ms Kelly claims that no society has achieved complete equality as of yet, but this should remain a goal to strive towards. She encourages men to become feminists too, reminding the audience that this is true equality and the reason for her rising: “Lets rise as women and men, and come together as humans.”

Human Rights Journalist and BBC Special Correspondent Sue Lloyd Roberts stressed the importance of bringing media attention to gender-related issues. She believes this would increase public awareness and improve female mistreatment through education. She claims often “we women are” treated as “another minority, when actually we make up 51% of the world population.” Ms Lloyd Roberts encouraged a greater demand for female coverage in the media, saying that if there is an interest, it would be possible to “get violence against women on the top of the news agenda” and talked about more openly.

Rahela Siddiqi, a human rights activist in Afghanistan spoke about her time working with incarcerated female asylum seekers. She claims that despite their sentencing, offenders are often not treated with the respect and dignity they deserve. Instead, women that have faced trauma in their home countries and sought asylum abroad are met with further problems. Ms Sidiqi said that they can be offered indefinite detention, half of all victims are subjected to rape and two thirds face prosecution. Furthermore, they can be detained during any stage of their prosecution process, and are often exploited as they lack legal assistance. Female asylum seekers are rarely given time or sensitivity towards their cases. Ms Sidiqi urged the audience to rise up for female solidarity in Afghanistan.

The last speaker of the day was Marrissa, who spontaneously spoke out about domestic workers. Although she was not scheduled in the programme, she spoke about exploitative employers, who submit their workers to atrocious conditions. Her friend Lanee read out a poem which challenged the rights of undocumented workers. She attended the event to rise against ongoing slavery in the UK workforce.

Ms Franks returned to the microphone and introduced the bands Skin and Black Voices who collaborated and provided a soulful backdrop for the audience to dance to. Despite the rainy weather, there was a lot of people smiling and beginning to love themselves!

One Billion Rising Official Website

Leyla Husein advocating an end to FGM

Whitney Iles & Project 507

Jude Kelly’s Women Of the World Festival

 

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Hollie McNish – A Poem About Flo Rida’s Blow My Whistle

Have you ever sat and wondered what the hell is going on in Flo Rida’s Blow My Whistle video? Is it keeping you up at night even? That imagery is pretty cryptic, impossible even. Jokes aside, Hollie McNish is a super cool poet and we absolutely love her satirical parody about this godawful song. It’s like the best comeback imaginable to the most terrible insult imaginable.

However, you must listen to her poem under strict instructions!
1. Play Flo Rida’s video, ‘Blow My Whistle’ and Hollie’s poem at the same time, and
2. Mute the sound off Flo Rida’s vid

I can almost guarantee that she’ll make you laugh. So, win win for the feminists. And a big fat fail for Flo.

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Praising Laura Lee: Women’s Love Rights and Anti Slut Shaming by Leighann Morris

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Laura Lee is one of the most underrated feminists of all time. I’ve been listening to her music all day, and really believe that her vocalisation of women’s issues that advocate independence, freedom, and choice should make Lee and her music a defining part of 1970s America. It seems she has been more than a little forgotten about, so I would like to share her music and lyrics with you.

She was born in 1945 and grew up in Detroit, learning to sing in Gospel Group The Meditations Singers:

Eventually she embarked on a solo career in 1965, swapping biblically inspired gospel songs for soulful melodies that expressed personal experiences of the trials and tribulations of being a woman in the 70s. Her first hit was “Dirty Man”, a song that tells the story of finding out about a cheating partner whilst doing the cleaning:

In 1971 she wrote and recorded “Women’s Love Rights”, the lyrics of which I would like to bring your attention.

Lee’s introduction in the track calls on women to liberate themselves and learn about their “love rights”:

“Hey, hear me girls
Oh, stand up
To all the women liberators
And men sympathizers
I thank you
For I’m Laura Lee
I’m starting a new movement today
For women’s love rights”.

The chorus echoes the same message, implying that women should break free from the “one man only” mould, and “love” multiple men, like men are socially accepted to do with women.

“Stand up and fight
For your love rights
Love who you wanna
‘Cause a man is sure gonna”

Lee’s verses go into more detail about the double standards of men, and the repression of women: 

“We do the washing
We cook and sew
Babies tie you down
While your man is on the go
Girls
You gotta right
Go out at night
Sitter’s all around
To let you paint the town”

“Listen
We love one man
Trying to be fair
He’s got three women
A pair, and a spare
He loves who he pleases
While you’re at home in need
That’s unsatisfaction
A piece of the action”

Lee’s pained lyrics voiced a frustration with stay-at-home women; women who were expected to cook and clean instead of enjoy their lives. To paraphrase Lee: why can you go out and fuck everyone and I have to stay in and be a “woman”? Am I less of a “woman” if I do the same as a man? She encourages women to “love who you wanna, cause a man sure is gonna”, in other words: liberate yourself, fuck who you want, and don’t be ashamed.

The movement of women’s “love rights” is still topical today, exemplified in the recent sway of hipsters praising rapper Brooke Candy for her empowering feminist messages in Das Me:

Brooke’s first verse calls on women to reclaim the word “slut”:

“I’m a super bitch, I fuck it up, I do this shit
You say that I’m a slut
It ain’t your business who I’m fucking with
A dude could fuck 3 bitches and they’d say that he’s the man
But I get it in with twins, she’s a whore
That’s what they saying
It’s time to take the back “Slut” is now a compliment
A sexy-ass female who running shit and confident
Lady who on top of it, a female with a sex drive
Lyrically don’t fuck with me, the greatest in the world
Live living on my pussy, all my ladies let me hear you
I’m a CEO, Dream girl, Drug Dealer
Real just like my titties you can even cop a feel-a
Finger licking good, treat my pussy like a meal-a
Talk about my tit size I need to see your dick size
Show me what you’re working with I better win a big prize
Next time they call you a slut
Brooke Candy tell you not to give a fuck”

Brooke, your freaky-ass dreads and gold plated catsuits aren’t turning me on, but your lyrical content is on point. I’m probably not going to shout about my pussy whilst writhing on top of a car, looking like a character from a Japanese anime movie, BUT you’re promoting a positive anti slut-shaming message.

Lets all remember that Laura Lee was spreading this message in 1972 (with way better songs and no close ups of her pussy). ALL PRAISE LAURA LEE!

 

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Grimes is the coolest female on the planet…

Let’s round up this Sunday upload with a little musical treat: meet Grimes. I only discovered her a few days ago, yet this song as been on repeat pretty much ever since. It’s upbeat, energetic and I love the way she dances like she truly doesn’t give a shit…

Enjoy this breath of fresh air female talent, and a happy Sunday to all from Behind the Curtain.

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Shad- Keep Shining.

Let me introduce to a lovely and empowering rap song by the Canadian hip-hop artist named Shad. Shad sings about women in a respectful and positive way. I hope he brings a smile to your day.



It’s funny how words like consciousness and positive music
can somehow start to feel hollow.
its become too synonymous.
We’re polishing soft collagen lips, on the face of grace politics.
Well you can’t be everything to everyone, so lemme be anything to anyone.
The world turns and their’s clouds sometimes but there’s no such thing as a setting sun.
It always keep shining.

Keep Shining.

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I speak because I can- Laura Marling

My husband left me last night
Left me a poor and lonely wife
I cook the meals and he got the life
Now I’m just old for the rest of my time
For he, oh he, oh my

I speak because I can
To anyone I trust enough to listen
You speak because you can
To anyone who’ll hear what you say.

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Joanna Newsom- Go Long

Joanna Newsom is enchanting. She makes me wish I had be taught to play the harp. This song has been on repeat for several days now and I recently stumbled upon this live perforamnce. It is so rich, complex and eloquent; levels and levels of emotion and melody building upon each other. The lyrics are both haunting and reflective and strike a chord that resonates deeply within. I feel that I can relate to Go Long on a deeply emotive level.  Newsom appears heartbroken, struggling with her own identity yet unable to understand that of the person she is speaking to (Who made you this way? Who made you this way?) Yet, fundamentally I think the message of the song is strong, defiant and clear:

What a woman does is open doors,

And it is not a question of locking and unlocking.

Doors. Barriers. Masks. Hearts. We all hide behind them as taught by society, behind our forged identities: clothes, make-up, layers and layers of fabric and paint. Digging deeper, behind the curtains, is not as simple as somebody handing us a magical key that unlocks all binaries.

I have discovered a really interesting blog called Blessing All the Birds: allthebirds.tumblr.com  which presents some inspiring and varied discussions about Joanna Newsom’s work in regard to feminity, sexuality and feminist identification. I feel this blog, and many of the links on it, explains and expands in greater depth and length some of the issues I have lightly touched on here. More to follow…

Enjoy this beautiful, beautiful video.

Ruth.

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