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).

I’m a backing singer for a band that is playing a couple of festivals this year and feel so strongly about this campaign as a victim of sexual assault at a festival, is there anything I can do while at the festivals to help the campaign?? -Molly

Hi Molly,

The best thing you can do is raise awareness. Talk to artists, members of security, people who are working at the festival, people who are attending the festival about the issue of sexual assault at gigs and about what is being done to stop it! We would always say to look out for people who look uncomfortable in crowds too and check if they’re okay, if they are, they’ll still think it was a nice gesture that you asked and if they aren’t, you could help someone to get out of a bad situation, possibly one involving sexual assault within the crowds. Hope this helps, good luck with the festivals!

Hi, Since I feel so strongly i was looking to become an ambassador or rep or anything? But i saw that you werent recruiting so i was wondering when you would be as id love too? Thanks- Chantelle

Hi Chantelle! We haven’t got any plans to recruit more reps in the near future but keep an eye on our social media as when we do decide to take on more reps, we will post about it on there. Have a look at our reply to the previously asked question on this page about how to get involved with the campaign as doing some of the things we’ve suggested there will definitely mean you have a better chance of becoming a rep when do recruit!

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).