An Interview With…Idle Frets

First, can you pitch your band to people who haven’t heard of you before?

Dave: Imagine if ‘Imagine’ by John Lennon was actually written by Post Malone fuelled by two litres of Monster energy drink. We sound like the opposite of that.

Erin: Get yourself a ticket, come see us live! Of course we love our records and are really proud of them, but I would deffo say – and I think the boys would agree – that we’re all about our live shows. We love performing shows that are lively, all about singing along, and getting your bev and groove on! We’ve got influences from all over the shop, but relatable indie-pop-rock bangers are our thing!

Luke: If you’re a fan of lively performances, slick guitar hooks and good times, then get to know Idle Frets.

What have the highlights of this year been for you?

Dave: We played the main stage at 110 Above Festival, that was insanely good. It feels good to be moving up the ranks.

Luke: For me, playing the main stage on the Saturday on 110 Above Festival was incredible. It was absolutely chucking it down and we had an amazing turnout. We went on our first headline tour in May/June, too, going to so many places for the first time and having people showing is a great feeling.

Which songs do you get most pumped up to play live?

Erin: I love playing ‘Glow’ and ‘Now You’re Back’ live; strong drum game in those songs! They’re big sounding and need a lot of energy to play live, and I think that’s what live shows should be all about.

Dave: My personal favourite to play is ‘Glow’, I think it works the best live, and it means I get to push the magical fuzz button.

Luke: Our new single ‘Talk About You’ is big and ‘Now You’re Back’ always goes off.

What’s your favourite part about performing your songs up in front of people?

Erin: I enjoy it all. Playing live is my favourite part of being in a band. I was never a performer when I was younger, I don’t like public speaking particularly and I get quite nervous. But I enjoy this so much, and when I look up in front of the kit and my three best mates are having the best time too… it’s super cool. Being able to have fun together for that time, and not think about anything else, [that’s my favourite part].

Luke: Seeing people dancing, singing along and enjoying themselves, for sure. We just hope people enjoy our music as much as we do.

What’s your favourite gig memory?

Erin: From our shows, he will be fuming at me for this, but Ben fell over once a few years ago on stage, and it was one of the funniest things I’d ever seen. He tried to disguise it as dropping his guitar pick and picking it up again but everyone noticed, and I was howling! As a crowd member, my second Glasto I saw Frank Turner. At my third, I saw Biffy Clyro. They’re both my favourite acts and I will never forget – the happiest I think I’ve ever been, in a field full of dirty and gross, open-minded people, singing my favourite songs in the sun and rain with my best friends! Cheesy, right?

Luke: As a member of the crowd: Arctic Monkeys at Don Valley, Sheffield was spectacular. Even though I lost my shoes.

Is there anything you’d like to change about the music industry?

Erin: So much! I love it dearly but my god, people need to begin to see things differently. Number one for me would be from the perspective of a young artist entering the industry, and a young booker/agent entering the industry. I will never understand how people expect people to work for absolutely nothing in return. I don’t always expect money in return for my work, as I understand experience, gig tickets, contacts etc. are valuable. Favours here and there when arranged are also fine, and all part of having passion for the industry and helping people involved, but how people expect musicians and young graduates to make a living on ‘experience’ is a joke, and it’s a battle I face weekly as a young professional.

Luke: People who are working in the industry just to make money, rather than doing it for the passion.

In terms of feminism, who do you look up to within the music industry?

Erin: P!nk, 100%. I think she is an incredible person. I have always loved P!nk since I was small, and growing up I have come to understand her, her music, and her outlook on life more and more. She has battled a lot in her life, people have tried to take of advantage of her in multiple ways because she is a woman. She has had prejudice thrown at her left, right, and centre, yet she is one of the most open minded, strong, independent womdn at the minute trying to champion change – especially for her little girl!

Luke: Frank Turner, he’s an ambassador for Safe Gigs for Women and he’s doing a stellar job campaigning and raising awareness.

Have you witnessed sexual assault at live music events – that being your own or anyone else’s?

Ben: Not often, but have been to gigs with mates and had to pretend to be the boyfriend to get a girl out of a difficult position. Also been to a gig when girls have been drunk going round squeezing lads asses.

Luke: Unfortunately, I have. I’ve seen people who have a little too much to drink and think that gives them the right to act in an inappropriate and unwarranted manner.

Erin: Of course. I was a 15 year old young gig goer myself, and it happened then and it still happens now. Sexual assault sounds like a very aggressive term, and that’s why I think people don’t believe that it happens. If anyone purposefully touches you inappropriately without your consent that counts. I think this is what people need to be made more aware of. To my knowledge it has never happen at one of our shows but if it did and we as the band knew about it, I really would stop everything and have people removed from the venue before continuing the set. No one should leave a gig with that as their lasting memory.

Do you have a message to those who have had that negative experience?

Erin: Speak up! To a bouncer; bar staff; people in the crowd around you; make sure they don’t get to do that to someone else. And always remember to take something positive from the gig that you enjoyed. Don’t let the perpetrator ruin your fun experience with your friends or family. They don’t deserve that satisfaction!

Do you have a message to the perpetrators?

Ben: Don’t be a dick.

Erin: Gigs are places for people to enjoy themselves, and putting someone in an unwanted negative position for your benefit is selfish and goes against everything that the next generation of the 21st century are working towards. Get out of our happy places.

As a band, what do you think you can do to help combat the issue?

Erin: As a band on our own… speaking up about it is all we can do. The more people that speak up about it, the more perpetrators know that they won’t get away with it.

Luke: Interviews such as this and discussing it to raise awareness will go a long way. And of course, we always make sure everyone is comfortable and having a good time during our shows.

Finally, what’s coming up for Idle Frets?

Luke: We’re currently halfway through our Talk About You Tour! [And] you’ll be able to feast your eyes upon our music video soon.

Erin: So many exciting things! Studio sessions, music videos, gig announcements… all to come!

Idle Frets’ latest single Talk About You is available now: https://soundcloud.com/idle-frets/talkaboutyou

You can follow the band on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Idle_Frets

Interview by Sophia Simon-Bashall

An Interview With…Beyond Recall

On 25.09.17, in Manchester, GA rep Sophia sat down with Zaid – lead singer of the band Beyond Recall – to talk about their music, their message, and more…

First, can you pitch Beyond Recall to people who haven’t heard of you before?

I’d say we are the love-child of All Time Low, Don Broco, and nu-metal. We come at you from all angles. They’re pop-punk tracks at their core, but then there’s rapping and screaming too.

 

You’ve been on tour with Young Guns recently – how’s that been?

The tour has been a dream come true. Josh (drummer) and I have been best friends since 2010, and we first hung out at a Young Guns show. So it’s come full circle. It’s been amazing – the artists that we look up to I can actually call my friends. [Young Guns] have been the nicest guys, and playing in front of their crowds every night really is an honour.

What’s your favourite gig memory?

My favourite gig memory is from when I went to see Enter Shikari in Bristol, and letlive. opened the show. It was – wow, it probably would’ve been 2011/2012 – and it felt like I was the only one in the room who knew who letlive. were. Jason Butler didn’t care whether anyone knew who they were, and he controlled the stage, he controlled the audience. He just took over the room and I just remember thinking, “this guy right here, he’s killing it”. That’s probably my best memory of being in the crowd.

What about from one of your own shows?

It’s probably from when we were in Edinburgh, on tour with our good friends in THE AFTERPARTY. We’d never been to Edinburgh before, and honestly I thought about 10 people would come to the show. But then we got this half-packed room – and sure, it was a small room – and they all went crazy. That night, I felt like we had ‘made it’. It’s still one of my top 5 shows.

Which songs do you get most pumped up to play live?

I think my favourite to play live is ‘Almost’. There’s a part that’s just so fucking catchy and new people can sing along easily. Also, I love playing ‘Tomorrow’, because I get to let everybody know how I feel about the world.

What inspired the lyrics to ‘Tomorrow’?

I had a mum come up to me at a show once, and she thanked me for giving her daughter a safe place. That same night, her daughter came up to me too. She hugged me and started crying. I was a bit taken aback for a moment, thinking “shit, what do I do?” But then I realised all I had to do was be there, be me, be in this band, perform and connect with people. That’s what ‘Tomorrow’ is about for me.

Could you tell us about your new single ‘Wonder’?

‘Wonder’ is all about trying to find a place for yourself. I was feeling unsure and outside of life, and I used that to create a character. I wrote about that person for this song. It’s also a great one, for me, because it shows the more pop-punk side of the band. It’s a fun track with a serious message.

You play a lot of shows and do talks at schools. How did that start and what do you talk about?

We started an anti-bullying campaign in March [2017], because we knew that there was a lot going on at schools and on the internet between young people. We go into schools to talk to kids about online safety, bullying, and to give them a safe space to open up.

You speak very frankly on stage about the issue of suicide in young people – why is that a topic you speak about?

We speak about it because it’s a huge issue. It’s the number one cause of death in young people in the UK, and yet people overlook and dismiss it. People think it’s a joke, like something that’s a goth or emo ‘trend’ – but it’s not. It’s serious. Everyone ignores it until it happens to someone they know – and the response is always “I didn’t know” or “but they were always smiling”. And that’s a problem because suicide doesn’t have a face.

Before becoming aware of Girls Against, how aware were you of the sexual harassment that goes on at shows?

I knew that sexual harassment went on at shows, but I’ve never witnessed it at our shows – though it may happen. I unfortunately can’t see beyond the first three rows, so I don’t know.

But I have had a girl grab my penis once – she kept doing it throughout the show. Afterwards, I didn’t want to talk to anyone, I was so annoyed and so uncomfortable.

I don’t understand why people think it’s an okay thing to do.

By the way, I am so happy that this campaign exists, and I want to thank you for doing what you do.

Do you have a message for those who have had that kind of negative experience at a show?

Speak to the appropriate people – the security at the venue. Make it public [if you feel comfortable to].

What would your message be to the perpetrators of that behaviour?

You’re idiots. That is so inappropriate and wrong. You may feel like you can get away with it, but you can’t.

Finally, what’s coming up for Beyond Recall?

With the anti-bullying campaign, we’re really excited too. When we started it 6 months ago, we decided we wanted to reach 10,000 students by 2018 – but, as it stands, we will hit that number in November. We want to get out and tour more too, because we haven’t been able to do that enough lately – doing this tour has shown us how much we’ve missed it. Mostly, we just want to make people feel better.

You can follow Beyond Recall on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Interview by Sophia Simon-Bashall

An Interview With…Nick Murphy (Chet Faker)

Not only is he an incredible visionary, with a talent for synth-based, electro-jazz tunes, but he is also a humanitarian- helping us combat sexual harassment at live music events. We had a chance to sit down with the international star, Nick Murphy (previously working under the name of Chet Faker), following his first night at the Metropolis in Montreal, Canada. Here’s his views on sexual assault, the music industry, feminism, and the conformity to masculinity as part of an artist’s identity:

Q: Have you witnessed sexual assault at live music events- that being your own or anyone else’s?

A: No, I never have seen that… violence at gigs sometimes… It’s not always easy to tell the difference between the two, because it happens so quickly. Things break out at the most inappropriate times as well- not that it’s ever appropriate-, but it’s like… what the fuck are you doing? But it’s definitely not something that I haven’t seen.

Q: Do you have a message to the perpetrators?

A: (laughs) where do I start? It’s complicated, and it’s hard to understand where that’s coming from. It’s obviously a place of confusion, and not really understanding someone’s emotions. First and foremost, it’s completely not appropriate and not right. So, that’s the first message. But, I would say that if that’s something that someone is leaning towards doing, talk about it with people and figure out where that’s coming from and why you think that’s appropriate, because it’s obviously an emotionally driven act.

Q: As a figure in the music industry, what do you think you can do to help combat the issue?

A: Well, talk to you (laughs), for starters. I mean the reason why I agreed to meet with you is to see what you would suggest. Sometimes these issues are so pervasive and big, it can be hard to understand how to do that. There’s so much wrong going on in the world- it can be kind of confusing and complicated to figure out what responsibility, or how a responsibility should be applied to that. And that’s something I’m interested in. Sorry, that’s not really a direct answer… but I’m interested in answers.

Q: That’s really great to hear. For starters, I would suggest spreading awareness and of course discussing the issue. That is, speaking to the security teams at venues, as well as your own management team. Of course, I wish that issues of sexual assault or harassment won’t happen at any one of your shows, but if they do, it’s important to speak up about it. I’ve seen some bands and artists stop mid-show to address the perpetrators and ensure a healthy, safe environment during the gig.

A: Yeah, speak out about it, absolutely.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to change about the music industry?

A: Oh, so much, I couldn’t even begin. This is a great start! It’s supposed to be about togetherness, that’s why people come to live shows, it’s about getting along. It’s the reason music exists; so that people can communicate with each other, beyond their differences. People need to remember that, it’s not like an accessory, like buying a ticket for something just so you can say you were there, or buy a jacket or some shit. You go there because it means something. If it doesn’t mean something- don’t go, don’t buy a ticket! I’m not interested in playing for people that think it’s just a thing, you know?

Q: How much do you think feminism, and the treatment of women is discussed within the music industry?

A: At the moment more than it has been before, which I think is amazing. It’s definitely a male dominated industry, and I think that needs to change. How? I don’t know. It’s something I have been trying to figure out for the last couple of years, even if it’s something like getting amazing artists like Charlotte Cardin, to support us. I think it is such a complicated issue, and equality is not really a scoreboard, but a state of mind. It’s just talking about it, and keeping it in your mind at all times, when it comes to decisions. Really, there are no laws about it, it’s just applying it to decisions you make, and at least that’s where I feel like I’m making a difference. Just being aware of it, and open about it.

Q: That’s it, exactly. How much do you think masculinity, and the conformity to that stereotype affects the way that artists present themselves?

A: It’s a huge issue! And I think the issue concerns the industry and labels, and things like that. With music… there’s less money involved now than there used to be, so larger labels are less likely to risk this stuff. My ex-girlfriend was a musician, and she was always looking for a manager. You know, this was years ago, but they were always trying to sexualize her. And that’s not what her music was about! It baffled the shit out of me, because she is talented, and she’s doing really well now, but it’s just this extra hurdle. You know, no one came up to me and said, “you have to be sexy on stage”. It’s not something I had to deal with. Fuck, I wouldn’t even know where to start. There’s people not being open to new ideas, or just resting on talent.

Q: How much, and how often do you think other social issues- like racism or classism- are discussed within the music industry?

A: In the industry, it’s hard to tell. I don’t deal a lot with the actual industry heads, because it’s not something I’m interested in- because it is so close minded, it’s like this fucked up little community. But I think socially, it’s being discussed more. For example, we’re talking about it now. I’ve been touring for five years and it’s the first time someone has asked me these questions. It’s definitely on the radar of the youth’s social awareness, which is great. I think it’s moving in the right direction, but there is still a long way to go with that.

Q: Since it’s your first night playing in Canada, how is it like being back?

A: It’s nice being back! I’m a little sick, so I’m drugged up on everything I can take. But it was really enjoyable… an amazing crowd. I had fun.

Q: How is the crowd different from festivals versus your own shows? I remember seeing you at Osheaga a couple years back, and the crowd was very different from your show tonight.

A: Well, hopefully no one comes to the show if they don’t want to see your music. Whereas at a festival, you might get dragged on by a friend or whatever. And that’s cool, because people can get excited. That’s the difference- at your own shows people have a connection to the music and want to be there and hear it.

Q: Do you have any highlights of your summer? Any specific shows or funny stories?

A: I took a road trip this summer, as a holiday, and drove across the United States, which was amazing, I really enjoyed that. I got to see the country.

Q: That seems incredible. Thank you so much for taking the time to speak to us!

A: Thanks, it was really nice to meet you, and we love what you’re doing!

image

Interview by Ania Buksowicz

An Interview With…The Regrettes

I meet The Regrettes at what feels like 100 miles underground. Islington’s O2 Academy’s backstage is buried deep beneath the room where the band will play to 1000 people shortly after, and is something of a labyrinth. Their dressing room is cosy, and I sit on the floor with frontwoman Lydia Night as we chat and everyone gets covered in glitter.

image

Photo: Alan McCarthy

So, who are The Regrettes? “We are super honest people who make super honest music about things that we care about and things that we go through”. The LA-based four-piece is made up of Lydia (vocals/guitar), Sage Chavis (backing vocals/bass), Genessa Gariano (backing vocals/lead guitar), and Maxx Morando (drums). The music is youthful, energetic, and fun – whilst also tackling misogyny, broken friendships, and more.

Talking about the European tour with SWMRS, it’s evident the band have all had a great time. “It’s been the best fucking time of my entire life”, Lydia tells me, as Genessa beams and gushes “we are so lucky!” They insist it’s been their favourite tour they’ve ever been on, both from the perspective of fans and as a band. “This is the first time I’ve really been able to let loose in the crowd since we became a band”, says Sage. “It’s been so fun to be with all these people who really care about the music that’s being played”. Lydia laughs, adding “we’ve been going fucking ape-shit!” They also appreciate the support fans have given their own band. “At every show, there have been people who know our lyrics. That’s so special.” Maxx points out that “people are singing along to the guitar” and instrumental parts, too. I admit that is my favourite part of every show, which excites Genessa who feels the same way.

When I question them about their feelings on being labelled as a ‘girl band’, their response is mixed. “We’re not an all-girl band”, Lydia points out – at which point Maxx waves, smirking – “but being called girl-fronted is fine because that’s what we are”. Sage disagrees. “Even that term bums me out”. She explains that it feels like they’re being put into a box, and it prompts ignorant questions about being a girl in music. Lydia reassures me that they “want to talk about [being women, and feminism] but in a particular way – like this!” The band understand that being girls in a band IS, at this moment in time, ‘special’. “We want it to get to a point where it doesn’t matter!”

image

(l-r: Maxx, Genessa, Lydia, Sage) Photo: Chad Kamenshine

They are, however, willing to talk about the issues that are faced by women who make music. “We play festivals and we’ll be the last girls in a band playing – it won’t even be dark yet, and there will still be tons of bands after us playing!” Genessa gets particularly frustrated reflecting on her time at music school – which is where the band met. “[Throughout] my musical education there was a lot of dudes getting better treatment than I was getting. They told me I could ‘sing background vocals and finger pick’, they wouldn’t let me play main lines. I would really have to fight for it and then when I WOULD get a lead line, some dude would get a guitar and solo all over the top of my riffs! It was very…” – she takes a deep breath at this point – “annoying”. That’s a polite alternative to what I’m thinking.

In regards to safety at shows, the band are adamant that there should be no violence or harassment. “We are very aware when we’re playing”, Lydia begins. “We try to make sure that everyone is good. If we were to see [abuse] going on, we would make sure that person is kicked ou”. Maxx adds that it can be difficult for them to see everything that happens in the crowd, and that people who notice it need to say something. “They can yell to us for help”. Genessa pleas that people “come to [them] after the show and let [them] know” if something happens to, and they feel able to speak about it. “We will publicly write about [incidents which occur] if that can help”. When I ask them how they feel about security’s role, Sage ponders how easy it is for them to watch out for sexual harassment. “These things often happen in closed
spaces…” Lydia jumps in. “But if someone comes up to them and tells them that something has happened, they need to listen. They need to take that seriously”.

And their message to the perpetrators? It’s simple. “Stop”. Lydia adds that “they need to not put themselves in a public situation [such as a show] if they can’t be respectful and not a fucking asshole”.

The Regrettes are on tour with SWMRS in the US for the rest of 2017.

Interview by Sophia Simon-Bashall

GA Newsletter: September 2017

Hi everyone!

Welcome to September’s (and our first) issue of our newsletter! I’m hoping this will be the first of many and a really good way of letting you all know what we’ve been up to, and what drives us as a campaign.

We intend to bring you news and updates of our antics this month as well as band and artist recommendations and just other general stuff our reps would like to share with you. We really hope you find this useful, we hope it helps you keep up with what we’ve been doing and shows what we’ve been listening/reading/singing along to this month.

GA UPDATES – SEPTEMBER

So, what have we been up to this month? I think the best way to start is the massive success of our Reading and Leeds main stage appearance! Our rep Isabella Ward successfully managed to make us stars by having our video shown on the big screens as well as having it introduced on stage by Huw Stevens (!!). We hope that people managed to catch a glimpse of this amazing thing for us, we were so proud that we got that opportunity and want to thank everyone involved!

Our poster appeared in Derby this month. Sitwell Tavern joined us in fighting sexual harassment and showing as a venue, they do not tolerate it.

image

Image courtesy of Sophie Arnold

International 

Our Washington DC rep Andrew Koh got Mac Demarco to follow our Twitter account this month which is crazy but also really lovely to know that we have someone of a high profile supporting what we do.

There’s also an interview conducted by Andrew with the incredible Slowdive coming very soon – look out for that!

image

Image courtesey of Andrew Koh, Amanda Lee & Pamela Ayala

 

Our rep Ania Buksowicz got the amazing Nick Murphy to follow our campaign! Videos and pictures can be found on our socials, he seems very passionate about what we do and helping with the issues we’re trying to tackle – interview with him coming soon.

NEW!

Exciting news! Wild and Kind Studio are hosting an exhibition to raise money for all the charities we support. It is happening on the 2-8th of October and
they are open from 10-4 every day so try and pop along if you can. Find them on instagram at @wildandkindstudio for all the deets and their address (based in Glasgow).

Book Club

This month for the Girls Against Book Club we have been reading ‘We Should All Be Feminists’ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. She developed this essay after giving a TED Talk with the same title and both the text itself and the talk have received much acclaim. In this month’s Book Club we discuss how this
pocket-sized text works as a ‘beginners guide to feminism’ and its importance
in bringing the discussion surrounding feminism to the mainstream, whilst also
touching on its drawbacks because of the restricting nature of its length. We
have also announced October’s book, which is ‘The First Collection of Criticism By A Living Female Rock Critic’ by Jessica Hopper. The title is pretty self-explanatory and we are hoping that reading this book will allow us to discuss feminism, the music industry and how they are linked in more depth. To read more about ‘We Should All Be Feminists’ head over to the book club post on the Girls Against blog and make sure to get your hands on a copy of Jessica Hopper’s collection of music criticism so you can take part in the book club during the month of October.

This piece was written by our rep Alice Porter; Alice writes and picks the book club books so please get involved with that and send her suggestions for the
following months book.

MUSIC

September tends to be a good month for new music – it’s ahead of autumn tours and it’s a time when people need cheering up. For me this month, the stand-out release has undoubtedly been Architects’ unexpected new track ‘Doomsday’. I could talk about this song forever, but I’ll try and keep this short. It’s a song about grief and one that captures that journey so eloquently, so honestly. Its brutal, it’s beautiful and it’s brilliant. I want to promote music made by women here, but that felt like a worthy exception. Please, please go and listen to it.

My other favourite is the new MUNA song, ‘In My Way’ – and it’s accompanying video, which is adorable and wonderful. It’s far more positive
than anything from the bands debut album, About U, which is always nice to
hear. It’s about the euphoria of falling in love and putting faith in a relationship and sonically feels like a perfect summer to autumn transition song.

Other grrrl fueled jams can be found here:

Spotify September
2017

This Spotify playlist and piece was written by our rep Sophia Simon-Bashall.

A Word From The Founders

Hey everyone! We’ve had a busy summer with many festival appearances and collaborations with other campaigns, such as the Safer Spaces campaign coordinated by AIF.

As we transition into autumn, and with more and more gigs cropping up as gig season approaches, we want to push artists to talk much more openly about the topic and our campaign. A more hands-on approach collaboratively from venues and artists is what we’re seeking for towards the end of this year – as a campaign we have raised awareness if the issue, and now it’s time for an active effort to crack down on sexual assault at gigs.

As ever, our Twitter DMs are open for anyone who has fallen victim and needs support, or wants to ask any questions about our campaign, or even if anyone wishes to help us out in anyway or has any suggestions!

I’m so proud of what we’ve achieved as a campaign thus far – this newsletter is an amazing way of showing people what we have been up to, and shows how as a campaign we are a collaborative force to be reckoned with!

Big love, Anna x

So that just about sums up our month, we’re so proud of the Reading and Leeds appearances and everything else our reps have managed to achieve! Catch us back in October!

Lots of love,

The founders and the reps x

Contributers
for September:

Alice
@aliceporterX        Book Club

Sophia
@hurricane_phi   Music

Ellen
@iimmortals            Editor and
Coordinator

Anna @L0VESlCK          Founder

Twitter:
@girlsagainst

GA Book Club #3: We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie

The month of September is over which means it’s time to discuss ‘We Should All Be Feminists’ by Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie. I hope you’ve been able to get involved with the book club this month either by reading the essay or watching Adichie’s TED Talk.

What I like about this essay is its accessibility. It’s accessible first and foremost because of its length; I’d have a much better chance of convincing someone who isn’t particularly interested in either reading or feminism to give this text a go than I would offering them a chunky and thick hardback. Its pocket-sized design is really great in this way, and the relatively short length of the text does not take away from its quality either as it moves quickly, covering many different aspects of feminism, making it the perfect text for the aforementioned purpose. Adichie also creates accessibility in her writing style through combining anecdotal stories of her life with a humorous tone and limited use of subject-specific or low frequency lexis.

However, the essay’s length and style also had some drawbacks
for me personally. After watching Adichie’s Ted Talk, I was surprised to
discover that it was almost identical to the essay I had just read and I felt
like some aspects of the text could have been expanded on more as it almost
moved too quickly for me. Although, this is coming from someone whose main
interests are reading and feminism and would happily read hundreds
of pages on the things Adichie discusses. This essay would have been absolutely great for me a few years ago when I was first discovering feminism and although this meant it was lacking in some ways for my current self, I can appreciate it’s worth as a ‘guidebook’ or ‘introduction’ to feminism and I am glad it exists as it does! Anna, one of the founders of GA, described the text in a similar way when I told her we would be reading it this month for the Bookclub.

Despite the fact that reading this essay didn’t completely blow me away, there were some parts of it that I found really interesting. For example, Adichie’s consideration that physical strength was the defining factor that made men the more powerful and important gender one thousand years ago. Through
discussing this she highlights the absurdity that this could ever be used as an
argument to promote gender inequality in our world today where, amongst other things, intelligence and creativity are valued much more highly. She puts it nicely stating, “We have evolved. But our ideas of gender have not evolved very much.”

Adichie’s forgiveness of the people who have been unintentionally misogynistic towards her throughout her life is also important. In describing her experiences of being on the receiving end of misogyny, for example in describing waiters who greet the man she is with but not her, she states “The waiters are products of a society that has taught them that men are
more important than women, and I know that they don’t intend harm’. Even though the way in which the men act anger and upset Adichie, she understands that they are not acting in such a way out of spite but rather because this is the way society has taught them to act. Although Adichie telling these men that they should also greet her might have made her feel better, it probably would not have changed the way they view gender and specifically women in society, but watching her TED Talk or reading her essay might have. It can take a great deal of energy calling out people every time they make a misogynistic comment and Adichie shows the importance here of picking and choosing when it is most productive to react. That said, of course sometimes it is totally okay to call people out when they are being blatantly and intentionally misogynistic and you’re always justified in doing so!

Even before watching the TED Talk, I read parts of the text in my head in Adichie’s voice and was confused why I recognized the line, ‘You can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful but not too successful, otherwise you will threaten the man.’ I soon realized that part
of Adichie’s essay/talk is included in Beyoncé’s song ‘Flawless’ which is why I
recognized what I was reading. For me, this reflects the accessibility of this
text because it is an example of how Adichie really brought this discussion into
the mainstream. I feel as if this text is really important for our generation
as it has been represented by many different forms of media and in a world
where media dominates, it is necessary that a message can be received on as
many platforms as possible and it is Adichie’s straightforward prose that allows for this to be the case.

Another aspect of the text I enjoyed was Adichie’s statement that women are portrayed as ‘inherently guilty’. This portrayal hugely affected me when I used to find excuses for the misogyny I experienced, particularly when I was groped and particularly when no one else knew about it because I was in a packed environment such as a gig. This victim-blaming mind-set was so harmful for me because society has taught us to ‘close your legs’ and ‘cover yourself’ as Adichie comments on in the text. I want to use this as a reminder to never blame yourself for being on the receiving end of misogyny.

Although Adichie has come under some controversy recently for her comments about transgender women, her discussion of gender in this text is seemingly pro-LGBTQ. She states ‘The problem with gender is that it prescribes how we should be rather than recognizing how we are.’ Although I wish Adichie would have further discussed the transgender community in this text, she regularly rejects stereotypes and traditional views of gender throughout. Again, it seems that she does not go into too much detail on the subject because she does not go into too much detail on anything in this text, it’s main drawback for me, but these subtle references help the reader more easily understand the experience of transgender people.

I think my favourite part of the essay is Adichie’s rejection of the so-called evolutionary argument. She states ‘Some people will bring up evolutionary biology and apes, how female apes bow to male apes- that sort of thing. But the point is this: we’re not apes.’ Simply put, this sounds so obvious! But I am regularly surprised about how when I express my thoughts on anything that people tend to disagree on, someone says ‘well, apes do it so it must be natural’ or ‘well, that’s how cavemen lived so it must be right’. We have evolved for a reason! We are supposed to be making progress socially and intellectually so it baffles me that people refer to our primitive ancestors or
to apes, who we can all agree are not as intelligent as humans, as a point of
reference.

Overall, I would recommend this essay. It wouldn’t necessarily be my first recommendation for someone who takes great interest in reading and feminism as I think, if you have the time and the want to do so, there are better and more informative texts to read. I would however recommend this to someone who has considerably less interest in either reading or feminism or both. Considering the short amount of time it takes to read though, it is worth a read for anyone who has the best part of an hour on their hands, maybe not even that if you’re a fast reader!

For the month of October, we will be reading ‘The First Collection of Criticism By A Living Female Rock Critic’ by Jessica Hopper. It was recommended to me for the Bookclub by a fellow GA rep, Sophia Simon-Bashall, and the title immediately caught my eye. It seems like a great fit for our campaign and although music criticism is not something I am particularly well read on, I am very much looking forward to giving this collection of essays a go!

If this book sounds like something you’d be interested in I hope you’ll join me in reading it over the next month. You can send us your thoughts on the text either on Twitter using the hashtag #GABookClub, email us at girlsagainstbookclub@gmail.com 

or join our GoodReads group and contribute to the monthly discussion by following this link- https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/230714-girls-against-book-club

The post discussing Jessica Hopper’s essay collection will be up on Sunday 5th November so keep an eye out on our Twitter page for the link then. And if you do have any thoughts on any of the essays then make sure you send them in before this date for a chance to be featured in next month’s post!

Written by Alice Porter (@aliceporterx on Twitter).