GA Book Club #10: ‘Herland’ by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Welcome back to the Girls Against Book Club! During the month of May, we’ve been reading Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, a feminist utopian novel published in 1915. Before we move on to talking about that though, I want to mention that we’re coming to the end of the list of books I prepared for the first 6 months of 2018 and I will be creating a list for the remaining months very soon. So, if anyone has any recommendations please send them over to us by some form of social media! The books we read are centred around themes of intersectional feminism and issues within the music industry so if you can think of anything that you think might be a good fit, please let us know!

Now onto the novel! Herland was recommended to me by one of the founders, Anna, when we were first coming up with ideas for the book club and how it should be run and I’ve wanted to include it as one of our books ever since. It’s a fairly short novel- my copy is only 124 pages- with elements of humour and a first-person, reflective narrative, which makes it pretty easy to read.

Perkins Gilman was one of the earliest first-wave feminists, born in Connecticut in 1860, she spent her life writing poetry, fiction and non-fiction, all of which had feminist aims. Her short story The Yellow Wallpaper, published in the late 19th century, is considered one of the earliest and most important works of feminist fiction. I read this as part of my English A-Level and loved it, so I was really keen to read this novel. I enjoyed the novel and thought it was most useful for exploring the ideas of early feminists. Because this book was published over 100 years ago, I do think there are some gaps in it and some ideas that are problematic and, although I am going to discuss them, I’m very aware that Perkins Gilman is always going to inevitably be a product of her time. Despite this, I think the idea of the book is a really interesting way of portraying the backwardness of a patriarchal society and presenting the merits of feminism and Gilman’s ideas would have been totally revolutionary to a contemporary reader.

The most problematic element of this novel is the fact that it is framed as a utopia, as obviously a first-wave feminists idea of utopia is going to be different to that of a modern feminists’ version. Perkins Gilman’s idea of a utopia is an island of women who are able to give birth without having sex and are living in an advanced world without poverty, war or any other of what might be considered ‘the vices of society’. Through portraying three men who have entered this country for the first time, Perkins Gilman is able to debunk many contemporary myths about women. First and foremost, she deals with the rhetoric spawned by many at the time about the incompetency of women’s ability to govern and even work. This is depicted by the repetitive claim of the three men who enter the country that ‘There must be men’, because they are so impressed with the country.

However this utopia seems to also enforce contemporary, and maybe even current, myths about women, namely the one that women are naturally maternal and that their overwhelming purpose is to have children. In describing the women of Herland, one of the men’s mentors tells them ‘You see, we are Mothers’ and they are persistent in describing how natural maternity is to each and every one of the women. Their womanhood is so linked to their motherhood that it seems to suggest that women who are infertile or simply did not want to have a child, would not be considered as a woman in Herland. This is very much a case of considering the novel as a product of it’s time though, as obviously, I’d like to think, views around motherhood and maternity have transformed significantly over the past 100 years. But nevertheless, it’s an element of the novel that I found consistently problematic. Also problematic is the way in which the women are framed as having no sexual desire whatsoever, as this suggests, as many of Perkins Gilman’s contemporary’s would have believed, that women are naturally chaste beings. One of the Herlanders even describes sex as seeming ‘so against nature.’

There are some parts of the novel that are still relevant to modern feminism though, which I really enjoyed, especially because they were often presented in a humorous way. For example, when the men marry three of the women of Herland, the women are confused at the prospect of changing their maiden name asking, ‘Do the husbands then take their wives’ maiden names?’ Obviously now, there is much less pressure on women to take their husband’s names but for readers of Herland in the early 19th century, seeing how confused this female character is about this tradition would have really made them question it and the connotations of this element of marriage.

Another part of the novel I found really interesting was the men’s assumption that all of the women of Herland would be young, stating ‘Most men do think that way’. Obviously, this is a stupidly ignorant way to think but it made me think about the discussion around the use of the world ‘girl’ rather than ‘woman’ when describing a female adult. I’ve mostly heard this discussion around the term ‘Girl Boss’, as many believe it sub-consciously suggests that a boss figure is inherently male. Many have also commented on how strange it is that we are referring to women in their 20s, 30s and 40s as ‘girls’ when we would rarely refer to men of these ages as ‘boys’. This assumption within the novel really made me think of the reasons, connotations and consequences of defining the female figure as one of youthfulness.

An issue that I knew I would have this book is it’s lack of intersectionality. Gilman was a white woman writing before most feminists had began to consider intersectionality within feminism and so I assumed that her representations would be restrictive. As mentioned before, the women of Herland are portrayed as having no sexual desire, seemingly because of the fact that there is no men on the island, totally ruling out the idea of bisexuality or lesbianism. The fact that children and birth is described as the women’s ‘raison d’etre’ is also exclusionary of trans women. It is ambiguous as to whether there any women of colour in this country but the fact that there is no mention of any, to me, suggests that there isn’t or, if there is, there narrative is being silenced, as three white men from an American society that was inherently racist, surely would have commented on the appearance of women who were not white.

I realize that I have criticized the novel quite disproportionately in this blog post and that is because I feel a responsibility to pick up on some of the things that Perkins Gilman ignored, whether she did so sub-consciously or otherwise, and as a product of her time, there are many. But there are so many merits to this book and I hope this discussion of it hasn’t taken away from them. I’d really recommend reading the novel for yourself because I simply don’t have the word count to go through all of the things I liked about this novel as well as all of it’s problematic elements.

If you would like to hear a more balanced review of this novel, head over to our Instagram page tonight (Sunday 3rd June) at 6pm as Anna and I will be going live to discuss Herland and I’ll, hopefully, have time to go a little bit deeper in my discussion.

For the month of June we will be reading ‘Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl’ by Carrie Brownstein. This book has been highly recommended to me by another GA rep, Sophia, and although I don’t know much about the author, I’m really excited to read it! GoodReads describes it as ‘From a leader of feminist punk music at the dawn of the riot-grrrl era, a candid and deeply personal look at life in rock and roll.’

Speaking of GoodReads, we have a group page over there where everyone is free to discuss the book of the month! I’d love to hear your thoughts on ‘Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl’ before, during and after you’ve read it over there but if you’re more comfortable contributing your views privately, you can send them to girlsagainstbookclub@gmail.com. To have your views included in next month’s book club post, please send them over before Sunday 1st July! You can also send us your thoughts via Twitter (@girlsagainst) or Instagram (@girls.against).

 

Written by Alice Porter (@aliceporterx on Twitter).

The Ones to Read- May 2018

Here is this months list of recommended reading – the best writing on women, gender, music and art taken from all over the internet.

During the month of May we have been blessed with new music from female fronted band  ‘CHVRCHES’,  Harvey Weinstein has been charged with rape and sex abuse and the Irish referendum vote leaves women with the freedom that they deserved long ago.  This month holds many achievements we can celebrate, here are a few articles celebrating them:

Bjork’s First TV Performance In 8 Years Is Breathtaking

Shaad D’Souza, 23 May 2018

https://noisey.vice.com/en_uk/article/qvnk35/bjork-courtship-jools-holland-the-anchor-song-watch

The Pop Goth Gospel Of CHVRCHES

Image result for chvrches

Sarah MacDonald, 22 May 2018

https://noisey.vice.com/en_uk/article/3k4bwv/chvrches-interview-new-album-love-is-dead-2018

Irish Abortion Referendum: New laws by the end of the year

BBC news, 27 May 2018

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-44270098

Tracking the Gender Balance Of This Year’s Music Festival Lineups

Rob Mitchum and Diego Garcia-Olano, 1st May 2018

https://pitchfork.com/features/festival-report/tracking-the-gender-balance-of-this-years-music-festival-lineups/

Harvey Weinstein Is Charged With Rape and Sex Abuse In Cases Involving 2 Women

Brynn Gingras, Sonia Moghe and Dakin Andone, 25 May

https://edition.cnn.com/2018/05/25/entertainment/harvey-weinstein-to-surrender/index.html

This UK jazz prodigy’s music video is a beautiful ode to single mothers

Image result for Mela Murder and her baby daughter, Emma-Jean Thackray's

Fankie Dunn, 22 May 2018

https://i-d.vice.com/en_uk/article/ywevjy/this-uk-jazz-prodigys-music-video-is-a-beautiful-ode-to-single-mothers

‘I’m not sorry I said it’ Erykah Badu on music, motherhood and wildly unpopular opinions

Lanre Bakare, 24 May 2018

t’: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2018/may/24/erykah-badu-interview

Meeting Ireland’s new wave of pro-choice rebel music

Stephanie Costello, 22 May 2108Repeal

http://www.dazeddigital.com/music/article/40108/1/meeting-irelands-new-wave-of-pro-choice-rebel-music

How mainstream pop music is finally embracing bisexuality

Annie Lord, 1  May 2018

http://www.dazeddigital.com/music/article/39924/1/bisexual-visibility-in-pop-2018

‘I don’t call myself an intersectional feminist’: Slumflower on dating, race and self-love

Miranda Larbi, 8 May 2018

https://metro.co.uk/2018/05/08/dont-call-intersectional-feminist-slumflower-dating-race-self-love-7527501/

Why A Royal Megan Markle Matters

Afua Hirsch, 22 May 2018

http://time.com/5281096/meghan-markle-multicultural-britain/

Charlie XCX Responds to ‘Girls’ Criticism

Braudie Blais-Billie, 27 May 2018

https://pitchfork.com/news/charli-xcx-responds-to-girls-criticism/

 

Written by Emma Randall.

Every Woman Should Listen To Janelle Monáe’s ‘Dirty Computer’ Like An Audio Bible.

Being from a hard-working family and a musically bland city, Janelle Monáe has always highlighted the under-appreciated and the outsider with her lyrics. What sets her apart is the willingness to speak and deliver multilayered analysis of complicated social issues. She isn’t just a feminist who gives powerful speeches, the topic is a resounding feature in her music. Since her mixtape days, she has, sonically, lyrically, and aesthetically articulated a vision for the liberation of women and black People.

On ‘Dirty Computer’ she tackles some interdisciplinary construct of black feminism, which embody womanhood, queerness and racism. Her most uplifting and inspiring songs on the album are ‘Crazy, Classic, Life’, ‘Django Jane’, ‘Pynk’, ‘I Like That’ and ‘Americans’.

On ‘Crazy, Classic, Life’, She promotes self-freedom, self-confidence and independence for all women as she sings “I am not America’s nightmare, I am the American Dream”. The intro on this song is an excerpt from the ‘Declaration Of Independence’ which beams a spotlight on the need for equal rights for men and women. With her lyrics, she paints a picture of what it’s like to live a crazy, classic, life in a world where everyone is equal.

‘Django Jane’ is the all-rap track, in which Janelle talks about the power of women and her accomplishments as a woman. In an interview with The Guardian, she described this song as a response to threats being made to her rights as a black, sexually liberated woman.

With lines like: “Black girl magic, y’all can’t stand it. Y’all can’t ban it…..” and “We gave you life, we gave you birth, We gave you God, we gave you Earth” she puts women on the pinnacle of the world. After noting the contribution and importance of women to the world, she poses the unchallengeable rhetorical question “If she the G.O.A.T. now, would anybody doubt it?”. Indeed every woman is the G.O.A.T. 

She uses the lyrics on ‘Pynk’ to declare the supremacy of the color and links it to women using it as a euphemism and simile for the vagina and other parts of the body. Stereotypically in Western culture, boys are associated with blue and girls with pink. Janelle fits in an uncomplicated female empowerment message into this song as she sings: “Cause boy, it’s cool if you got blue We got the pynk“. This line leaves men in the shadows of jealousy as the color they constantly avoid turns out to be the most supreme color. ‘Pynk’ isn’t just a reference to female body parts, but also a reference to everything around us that shares the color pink. With this song, she creates a great argument for Pink as the best color in the world. Many women will feel self-love as they listen to this song and appreciate the beauty in being female.

On ‘I Like That’, she cant be judged for showing interest and being attracted to whoever, or whatever she likes. Her second and third verse contain lyrics that describe a lady who is confident and knows her worth—that’s how every woman should feel! As she sings: “I don’t care what I look like but I feel good. Better than amazing, and better than I could” in her second verse, psychologically, it creates the highest feeling of self-confidence and self-esteem.

‘Americans‘ is not only unshackling for females, but for every American. Janelle mentions the infamous gap in pay between men and women in the line: “Seventy-nine cent to your dollar”.  

In a Trump-era, Janelle Monáe has created an anthem not only for black women, but for every American. In addition to her empowering lyrics on this song, she adds a ‘Not my America’ speech in the bridge that hits home.

An excerpt from the spoken words in the bridge:

“Until women can get equal pay for equal work, this is not my America

Until same-gender loving people can be who they are, this is not my America.”

The chorus serves as an American anthem for the underrepresented and underprivileged.

The most important thing about this album is the message. With the lyrics, she addresses serious issues like sexuality, feminism, politics, and love. Her lyrics are poetic, metaphorical and rhythmic. With her lyrics, she shows strength, passion, pain, love, aggression, confidence and fear. She presents her lyrics like a mediator between  the oppressed and the oppressor. She’s like the Archangel in the Bible, and what Neo represents to the Matrix. For feminists and people of color, this album will elicit strong emotions. Most importantly, every woman should hold on to this album like a bible.

Written by Tommy Monroe (@TommyMonroe_ on Twitter.)

GA Book Club #9: ‘Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches’ by Audre Lorde

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/audre-lorde

Welcome back to the GA Book Club! It feels like I haven’t written a book club post in a long time because the first Sunday of the month has fallen a little later than usual. But that’s good because it’s given me time to really get stuck into April’s book, Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde.

Before I talk about the text, I’ll tell you a little bit about Lorde herself as she is truly a remarkable woman. Born in New York City in 1934, Lorde was predominantly a poet throughout her life. In everything she did, she voiced issues of gender, race and sexuality. Lorde herself was a black, female, lesbian feminist, something she discusses throughout many of the essays in this book, and so, obviously, these issues were very close to her heart. After a long battle with cancer, that she documented in The Cancer Journals (1980), she passed away in 1992 shortly after taking on an African name, Gamba Adisa, meaning “she who makes her meaning clear.” She is viewed as an important figure in the twentieth century feminism movement and, in my opinion, is one of the few second-wave feminists who consistently advocated intersectionality within feminism.

The essays and speeches within this text are both academic and personal but each and every one of them felt like a really important read. Unfortunately, I don’t have time to talk about every essay within the book but I will discuss some of my favourites.

Moving through chronologically, I’ll start with ‘Poetry Is Not a Luxury’, one of her shorter essays. In this essay, Lorde discusses how essential poetry is for women’s existence in a world where they are restricted in so many ways. She states, ‘Poetry is the way we help give name to the nameless so it can be thought.’ She also describes the power of poetry in bringing freedom and revolution to women. As a lover of literature and a believer that culture really can bring about change, I loved this essay so much.

In ‘An Open Letter to Mary Daly’, Lorde discusses what is today referred to as ‘white feminism’ and portrays the dangerous problems of exclusionary empowerment. She discusses the importance of white women, who are inherently privileged by the very nature of their race, speaking up for black women. She addresses white women in saying, ‘The white women with hoods on Ohio handing out KKK literature on the street may not like what you have to say, but they will shoot me on sight.’ This anecdote is the perfect example of why it is so important for everyone to make use of their privilege. It also reminded me of the recent incident of two black men being arrested at a Starbucks in America   for no other reason than that they were there. If you watch the video, it’s clear that the black men know they cannot speak up for themselves in fear of further accusations, whereas the white man is`able to do so without caution. This is a great example of how to use your privilege but also a harrowing representation of the extent to which racism still exists in America.

In a further discussion of the importance of intersectionality within feminism in the essay ‘The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House’, Lorde points out that it is not just necessary to value intersectionality but extremely beneficial. She states, ‘Difference must be not merely tolerated but seen as a fund of necessary polarities between which our creativity can spark like a dialectic.’ Lorde’s discussion of feminism is so ahead of its time and, despite the fact that it was first published in 1984, it’s still a really important book for 2018 because of this sophistication.

‘A room of one’s own may be a necessary for writing prose, but so are reams of paper, a typewriter, and plenty of time.’ This quote from the essay ‘Age, Race, Class, and Sex’ might just be my favourite from the entirety of the text. By referencing Virginia Woolf’s book about the disadvantages women face in the cultural sphere, particularly the literary one, Lorde portrays how there isn’t just one level of oppression. It may have been hard for white women to break into the literary world because of societal attitudes and disadvantaged education but many black women may not have even had the privilege of any education  and the societal barriers that faced them meant that maybe they couldn’t get a seat on the bus, never mind admission to university. I am not degrading certain types of oppression in this discussion but rather portraying just how many different levels of oppression there are, which is why we must consider women as a group as varied and diverse and cater our feminism as such. As Lorde states, ‘Some problems we share as women, some we do not.’

Finally, Lorde’s essay, ‘The Uses of Anger: Women Responding to Racism’ is so great and extremely thought-provoking. She explains why angry responses to racism (and all other issues of discrimination) are totally justified. Today, we are told to talk about feminism and oppression in a ‘calm and collected’ manner in order to be ‘taken seriously’- but this essay made me think, why should we? We have a right to be angry about the oppression women, people of colour and the LGBTQ community have faced. We shouldn’t have to smile and calmly dismiss sexist comments in order to be taken seriously. We should be taken seriously because these issues are real and affect millions of people every single day. Lorde states that dismissing black women’s arguments purely because they are angry ‘is merely another way of preserving racial blindness, the power of unaddressed privilege, unbleached, intact.’ So the next time someone tells you that they will not listen to you if you are angry, tell them that you won’t listen to them unless they ARE angry, because they should be.

One of our reps, Emma Randall, is sharing her views on ‘Sister Outsider’ this month:

‘Audre Lorde’s  ‘Sister Outsider’ is filled with inspirational and eye opening passages. Whether it being in her anecdotes during her ‘Trip to Russia’ and ‘Grenada revisited’ or in the transcript of an interview with Adrienne Rich, Lorde teaches us what it is like to be a black lesbian feminist through the powerful use of words in this collection.  For me,  ‘Sister Outsider’ amazed me in the way in which she used language to convey her thoughts and opinions. By writing almost poetically, Lorde was able to question the representation of black lesbian feminists and tackle issues regarding racism, homophobia, ageism and sexism in such a powerful way.  In the essay ‘Poetry Is Not A Luxury’,  Lorde explores the power of poetry and that it is ‘the vital necessity of our existence’ as it allows us to conceptualise ideas. Poetry provides Lorde with the ability to challenge society and the racism embedded into the system.  Through poetry, those who have been oppressed are strong, she explains there is power in such differences and these must empower us.  The oxymoron in the title ‘Sister Outsider’ suggests that Lorde doesn’t fit into any group in society and that she  must create a sense of belonging for herself. The struggles faced by Lorde are presented in ‘An Open Letter to Mary Daly’. In this letter, Lorde writes to the white feminist author Mary Daly asking her about the absence of black goddesses in her book ‘Gyn/Ecology’.

‘Why are her goddess images only white, western European, judeo Christian? Where was Afrekete, Yemanje, Oyo and Mawulisa? Where were the warrior goddesses of the Vodun, the Dahomeian Amazons and the warrior women of Dan?’

Lorde shows that a Eurocentric scope dealing with only the ecology of Western women has been included in the book. In excluding black female heritage from the book Lorde suggests that a lack of understanding about the history of the black female is evident. This again marginalizes Lorde, deeming her as an outsider. It is important to take this message and apply it to our own experiences.  Is the representation of all women included? Her letter received no reply from Mary Daly and was subsequently opened up to the community of women.

This collection has influenced many of my current thoughts and opinions, Lorde is able to inform the reader of the institutional dehumanization that oppresses minority groups in 1970 and 1980 America. Yet, this collection expands to all areas of society and it is timeless,  I would recommend it to all.’

Emma and I will be going live on the Girls Against Instagram this evening at 5:30pm to discuss more about our views on Lorde’s essay collection so keep an eye out on our Instagram to join in the discussion and ask us any questions!

For the month of May, the book club will be reading ‘Herland’ by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Published in 1915, this is the earliest novel we have read so far. It’s a utopian novel describing an isolated society composed entirely of women. Perkins Gilman was a feminist writer of the 19th and early 20th century and she also wrote the well known short story ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’. ‘Herland’ is a fairly short novel so there’s no excuses not to join in and read it this month! You can join our GoodReads group to keep up to date with the book club and contribute to the discussion of all of the texts we read. You can also email us with your views on ‘Herland’ at girlsagainstgiggroping@gmail.com and, with your permission, we will include them in next month’s post! The post on ‘Herland’ will go up on Sunday 3rd June so please send any opinions over before then.

Hopefully see you over on our Instagram this evening for more discussion of ‘Sister Outsider’!  

For Men Like Bill Cosby And R. Kelly, Time Is Up!

After decades of lawsuits, investigations and close calls, Bill Cosby has been found guilty of sexual assault. The comedian was convicted last week for drugging and molesting a Temple University employee, Andrea Constand in 2004.  He faces up to 30 years in prison. Cosby’s image as a wholesome sitcom dad and moral exemplar has been irremediably tarnished in the past few years by dozens of women who accused him of drug-induced sexual assault. However, this conviction will redefine his legacy forever. The ruling was hailed as a turning point in the ‘Me Too’ and ‘Time’s Up’ movements. It is also a vindication for the multitude of women who doubted anyone would ever believe their words against that of the comedian and sitcom star once known as “America’s Dad”. 

A few of his victims exited the courtroom after the verdict was announced, and broke down into tears inside the courthouse. These women, some who testified in court that Cosby sexually assaulted them, had been waiting for that moment for a long time. “Today, this jury has shown what the Me Too movement has been saying: that women are worthy of being believed.”, said Lili Bernard, who accused Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting her in the 1990’s. The leading voice for the ‘Me Too’ movement in Sacramento, Christine Pelosi described Bill Cosby’s verdict as a boost for the movement. “And to the next Bill Cosby out there, we’re coming for you”, she added.

There are so many men that fit into the description of “the next Bill Cosby”, but for all of them, time is up! Amongst the long list of men who have been accused, it seems the next Bill Cosby will be R. Kelly.  In recent years, as more women have come forward to allege sexual misconduct, protests against R. Kelly have increased. Women of Color (a subcommittee of the Time’s Up organization) issued an open letter in which they condemned R. Kelly and joined the #MuteRKelly campaign on social media. In the letter, they asked multiple companies like Ticketmaster, Spotify, and Apple Music to cut ties with Kelly in the wake of recent allegations of physical and sexual abuse levied against him. The social media campaign #MuteRKelly has sought to stop the playing of his music and the cancellation of his concerts, and Time’s Up has joined that call. The Time’s Up letter addressed to Women Of Color (WOC), started by saying, “We see you. We feel you. Because we are you.”

The Me Too movement, which has destroyed the careers of numerous powerful men after a wave of sexual misconduct allegations, has helped women to be believed rather than attacked when making such accusations, even in cases when victims avoided speaking up for years, as in Cosby’s case. Today, once you’re found guilty of any sexual misbehavior, your contribution to the entertainment, business , political or media industry becomes irrelevant and this tossed into the trash bin. It’s an era of transparency, where more women appear less afraid to call out anyone for abuse and gender inequality in many different forms, and even re-examine accused abusers who thought they had escaped from the iron hands of this social movement.

There are many men like Bill Cosby and R. Kelly who quiver in fear whenever they read the news of one of their kind being convicted or sentenced. However, in the meantime, men like Harvey Weinstein and James Franco have a short time to prepare for the judgement day in court because time is up.

Written by Tommy Monroe.

The Ones to Read: April 2018

Here is this months list of recommended reading – the best writing on women, gender, music and art from all over the internet.

During April we have seen the importance of empowerment through Beyoncé’s performance as the first black woman to headline Coachella. Yet, reports from the festival highlighting the  sexual assault that took place during the festival shows the importance of creating awareness about these issues- something we are passionate about at Girls Against.

Sexual Harassment Was Rampant at Coachella 2018

Vera Papisova, 18 April 2018

https://www.teenvogue.com/story/sexual-harassment-was-rampant-at-coachella-2018/amp

From Kendrick’s Pulitzer to Beychella : How the Mainstream Woke Up to Black ExcellenceImage result for beyonce at coachella

Kyla Marshell, 19 April 2018

https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/culture/2018/apr/19/kendrick-pulitzer-black-artists-excellence-beyonce-grammys-creativity-equality

The Rugby Rape Trial Demonstrates That Victims Will Be Punished, But Women Will Rise.

Agnes Robakiewicz, 11 April 2018

http://www.feministcurrent.com/2018/04/11/rugby-rape-trial-demonstrates-victims-will-punished-women-will-rise/

One Year of Filipino Punk Feminism and Rebellion

Vincent Bevins, 11 April 2018

The Male Gaze

http://www.dazeddigital.com/music/article/39633/1/grrrl-gang-manila-one-year-of-filipino-punk-feminism

Ariana Grande’s New Song Quenched Thirst I Didn’t Know I Had

Daisy Jones, 20 April 2018

https://noisey.vice.com/en_uk/article/xw7p93/ariana-grande-no-tears-left-to-cry-video

School Tells Braless Pupil: ‘Cover nipples with plasters’

Sabrina Barr, 7 April 2018

https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/student-not-wearing-bra-nipples-cover-plasters-school-braden-river-high-school-florida-a8293671.html

Amber Mark Knows a Thing or Two About Using Music As Therapy

Alim Kheraj, 19 April 2018

https://noisey.vice.com/en_uk/article/kzxy9a/amber-mark-conexao-love-me-right-interview

SZA Is the Pop Star of the Future, Long Live The QueenImage result for SZa

Shaad D’Souzza, 16 April 2018

https://noisey.vice.com/en_uk/article/qvxnvm/sza-coachella-2018-review

 

Meet  Halima Aden, The First Hijabi Model On The Cover Of Vogue

Ellie Pithers, 19 April 2018

http://www.vogue.co.uk/article/halima-aden-interview-2018

Know their Names: Women Composers Neglected By History

Mary Sharratt, 4 April 2018

https://catapult.co/stories/know-their-names-women-composers-neglected-by-history

Get to know : Dream Nails

The Tung, 25 April

https://www.thetung.co.uk/thetunghome/get-to-know-dream-nails

This Photographer Takes Intimate Photos of People With Scars

George Douglas Davies, 24 April

https://i-d.vice.com/en_uk/article/wj7akz/this-photographer-takes-intimate-portraits-of-people-with-scars

 

Coachella 2018: Beyoncé’s Empowering Performance Will Never Be Forgotten.

Finally, Coachella answered the call for wider representation of women of colour! After a year-long wait, Beyoncé blessed the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival with her presence on Saturday night. It was a historic night, as her show-stopping performance marks the first time a black woman has headlined the music festival.

Backed by an army of dancers and band members, Beyoncé honored women and herself with a two-hour set of electrifying and empowering performances. From ‘Formation’ to ‘Feeling Myself’ and the feminist anthem ‘Run the world (Girls)’, Queen B received a worldwide standing ovation from the audience. Her performances left women all over the world energized and empowered. She called on the women in the audience, asking if they were strong and smart and if they’d had enough. The souls of many women in the world screamed “YES!” in unison. She continued by commanding women—“Show me” and then enacted ‘I Ain’t Sorry’. During Sorry she emphasized on the line: “suck on my balls” with furious wrath.

She also played a sampling of Malcolm X’s famous quote that starts, “The most disrespected person in America is the black woman” as well as an audio by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, in which the Nigerian writer says: “We Should All Be Feminists!” (Yes, we should). Her performance of ‘Run the World (Girls)’ was a powerful salute to feminism where Beyoncé gave a shoutout to every woman.

The reunion of Destinys Child was like a spiritual moment for everyone who viewed it live. The audience at home weren’t left out, as the rousing performance by the musical sisters created a ripple effect that supports the statement, “There is power in female unity”. The effect of Beyoncé’s stimulating act on stage lead to a social media movement for Coachella to be renamed “Beychella”.

Beyoncé is a force in more than one sense of the word. Other than her success as an artists, the most intoxicating thing about Queen B is her empowering persona. While graciously inviting us to bear witness to her historic feat, she also showed a lot of support for women all over the world. She continues to preach about black excellence, female power and the unrelenting possibility of self-belief. Beyoncé has become the embodiment of modern feminism for a society that has been reluctant to claim the word. She is a hero! She is a performer! She is a queen!

Written by Tommy Monroe (TommyMonroe_ on Twitter).

10 Songs That Will Make You Feel Empowered

Music is one of the many empowering, influential, and motivational tools in life. These 10 songs contain lyrics that address the strength and courage of every woman. Hopefully, they inspire you to become the best version of yourself.

Alicia Keys – Superwoman

The combination of Alicia’s vocals and her deep-rooted feminist lyrics, makes this an empowering song for all women. She likens herself and other women to superheroes. Women go through a lot, but this song is a reminder of how strong they are.

Little Mix – Power

Power is a sassy, female-empowering anthem! From the beginning to the end, this song is energetic and infused with lyrics that clearly define the power of women. This song is a bold statement that says “Yes! WOMEN HAVE THE POWER!” The electric sound in the chorus makes it a feminist anthem any woman would like to blast any time of the day.

Hailee Steinfeld – Most Girls

Hailee uses this song to celebrate all kinds of girls, and hits home with a chorus that declares girls as strong and powerful. On this track, Hailee encourages women to do whatever they want in life as long as they feel like Queens.

Daya – Sit Still, Look Pretty

Daya’s lyrics are for every girl who would like to make her own rules and choices in life especially when it comes to men. Daya paints a picture of a girl who does nothing to please a man. She would rather chase her dreams and have “7 men to do the chores, cause that’s not what a lady’s for”.

Hailee Steinfeld – Love Myself

Who says a woman needs a man to feel beautiful or strong? Never! This song describes finding self love without a man’s presence. The lyrics address coping after a breakup and realizing self-value, while also functioning as an implicit sexual-anthem. The chants of “I love me” and “Hey” in the chorus reinforce a feeling of self pride and inner beauty.

Alicia Keys – Girl Can’t Be Herself

‘Girl Can’t Be Herself’ alludes to the expectations of women in the media and in society. To a lot of people in society, female beauty is defined by material things such as weight, makeup, and clothes. With her lyrics, she redefines the meaning of “beauty” and sprinkles some insightful words about inner beauty. Her words on this song are so powerful and empowering that they’re sure to make you feel like the most beautiful girl in the world.

Demi Lovato – Confident

It’s hard for women to walk through the thick forest of insecurities that life presents, but “Confident” is the song every woman can have on repeat as she continues that journey. The lyrics in this song apply to women who feel held back from doing certain things with their life. It is also a charge to do anything you want with your life.

Kesha – Woman

‘Woman’ is a funk-infused country/rock jam, lyrically exploding with female empowerment. Men often exaggerate their significance in a woman’s life.  However, Kesha reverses and redefines gender roles on this track with seriously empowering mantras.

Keith Urban – Female

‘Female’ is a ballad that urges respect for women. The lyrics on this song questions the definition of “Female” by the society, while praising female figures for being strong. The lyrics are thought-provoking and function as a call to action for women to be respected in the world. In the bridge, Keith Urban sings:

“She’s the heart of life
She’s the dreamer’s dream
She’s the hands of time
She’s the queen of kings”

Those lyrics present love, respect, support for females while eliciting a feeling of pride, and strength from listeners.

Beyoncé – Run The World (Girls)

On this song, Beyoncé stretches the theme to nothing short of a new world order lead by females. She makes it clear that she and her female compatriots (Everywoman) can not only “make these millions” and “bear the children”, but persuade men to simply do “anything” they ask. Also, on this high-energy anthem, she gives no room for other opinions on who runs the world — GIRLS! Beyoncé mentions “Girls” 52 times in this song; that’s empowerment at its peak.

Written by Tommy Monroe (@TommyMonroe_ on Twitter).

GA Book Club #9: ‘Americanah’ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Welcome back to the Girls Against Book Club and Happy Easter if you celebrate! If not I hope you’re enjoying a long weekend (if you’re in the UK). The extra time this bank holiday weekend has provided has been necessary for me in order to finish this month’s book, Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Its the longest text the book club has read so far at 477 pages and I ,admittedly, finished it very last minute. It has also been one of my favourite books we’ve read so far, although I am partial to a long novel so I suppose a bit biased, and I’m excited to discuss it in this post!

Its difficult to summarise the plot of the novel as it has so much going on but I’ll give it a go for the benefit of those of you who haven’t read or finished the book yet. Americanafollows the lives of the Nigerian-born childhood lovers Ifemelu and Obinze, the former who moves to America for further study at University and the latter who moves to Britain in order to improve his life. Ifemelu is hugely successful in America, launching a popular blog about race, whereas Obinze spends his time in the U.K. in fear of being deported, which eventually happens when he is on his way to get married, which, if he was able to have gone through with, would have allowed him to legally stay in the U.K. Ifemelu and Obinze eventually reunite in their hometown of Lagos and rekindle their romance after many years apart in separate continents.

In describing the structure of this novel, I suppose it sounds like a love story, which it is. But its so much more than that. This book is an eye-opening commentary on race, immigration and black identity but moreover it provides an important insight into the experience of black women. A quote from The Guardian is printed on the front of my novel which states, ‘Some novels tell a great story and others make you change the way you look at the world. Americanah does both.’ I couldn’t agree more with this statement as the novel was not only enjoyable and engrossing for me to read but really provided me with a better education on the struggles that black people face and how each and every one of us can help to tackle them.

The novel describes the lives of Ifemelu and Obinze both separately and together but mostly focuses on Ifemelu’s teenage years and then her experiences in America. There are also excerpts from Ifemelu’s blog ,”Raceteenth or Various Observations About American Blacks (Those Formerly Known as Negroes) by a Non-­American Black”, which I thought were so great. Including these excerpts that very overtly discuss and confront many of the issues that Ifemelu and the other black characters face forces the reader to think about the political implications of the novel and ensures that it is impossible to read this text without considering its significance.

One of my favourite blog posts was ‘What Academics Mean by White Privilege, or Yes It Sucks to Be Poor and White but Try Being Poor and Non-White’. In this post, Ifemelu discusses white privilege as well as Peggy McIntosh’s ‘test’ for white privilege. This as a great example of how the novel forces the reader to consider their own political awareness.

Another blog post that I enjoyed was ‘Friendly Tips for the American Non-Black: How to React to an American Black Talking About Blackness.’ In this blog post, Ifemelu explores how important it is for white people to listen to POC’s stories and accept what they say, rather than disputing them or comparing their experiences to their own, which, of course, are totally different. In addressing the ‘But black people are racist too’ argument, Ifemelu gives a clear-cut explanation of why this is not true, ‘racism is about the power of a group and in America it’s white folks who have that power.’ This is such a simple but effective way of explaining the difference between racism and prejudice and I hope Adichie’s ability to explain this so coherently helps people understand this vital difference.

Americanah explores many societal issues within western society regarding both race and gender. Adichie, in this novel, is particularly interested in the perceptions of black people in America compared to Nigeria, as Ifemelu is consistently surprised at how much people’s actions are, sometimes sub-consciously, sometimes not, influenced by the fact alone that she is black. After a strange encounter in the supermarket when the cashier goes out of her way in order not to describe an employee as black, Ifemelu asks her friend, Ginika, who is also Nigerian, why she would not describe the employee by her race. In reply, Ginika states ‘Because this is America. You’re supposed to pretend that you don’t notice certain things.’ Seemingly here, Adichie is portraying that one of the real problems with race in society that there is no open discussion about it. To be ‘colour-blind’ is not productive in a society where systematic racism has been enforced until fairly recently;people’s perceptions towards Ifemelu because she is black, and particularly because she is a non-American black, prove that no one really is ‘colour-blind’ to race anyway, as Ginika states, they just pretend to be.

Ifemelu is in America during Barack Obama’s presidential campaign  and a significant portion of the novel is spent in exploring the significance of such a presidency. A really touching moment is when Ifemelu is with her boyfriend, Blaine, who is a black American, and his friends and they discover that Obama has indeed become the president of America. Adichie describes their overwhelming happiness in a touching passage that proves how important his presidency was to black people in America. While they are celebrating, Ifemelu’s younger cousin, Dike, texts her saying, ‘I can’t believe it. My president is black like me.’ I felt like this moment in the novel proved not only how significance this presidency was for progress for POC but also portrayed the importance of representation, whether that’s in arts, the media or, in this case, politics.

If you haven’t read this novel, I would 100% recommend it. The only thing I didn’t enjoy about it is that sometimes it felt like it didn’t need to be as long as it was as there was a lot of, sometimes unnecessary, detail. However this didn’t stop me from constantly picking the novel up and enjoying every bit of it. Moreover though, I would recommend it because it really does provide an education that goes further than I’m assuming most white people have on what it is to be black and I do feel that its fair to say that this novel has changed the way I think.

During the month of April the Girls Against Book Club will be reading Sister Outsider: Essays & Speeches by Audre Lorde. Lorde (1934-1992) was a black lesbian poet and feminist writer who grew up in Harlem. In this collection of fifteen essays and speeches, she considers issues of sexism, racism, ageism, homophobia and class. I think this is going to be a really interesting and insightful read and I’d love it if you joined me in reading it.

Send us your thoughts on the text on Twitter @girlsagainst or, if your thoughts don’t quite fit into 280 characters, send us an email at girlsagainstbookclub@gmail.com. You can also join our GoodReads group to keep up to date with the book club and join in the discussion on this months text. Please send your thoughts over before Sunday 6th May which is when the next book club post will go up.

We also have a list of the books we’ll be reading up until July which you can take a look at here if you want to get ahead of the book club or spend some extra time on a particular book!

You can purchase Sister Outsider here.

Written by Alice Porter (@aliceporterx on Twitter).