In a male-dominated industry, TRAKGIRL has been a vessel of positivity and empowerment for other women.

Weeks ago, I was reminded of how much TRAKGIRL cares about females in the industry when she tweeted: “We can say you are for women empowerment, but are you pushing towards getting more women into the ‘system’?” Well aware of the challenges faced by many women in the music industry, Shakari Boles aka, TRAKGIRL continues to prove she is a role model to those who can relate to the struggle. TRAKGIRL, is a dynamic and talented music producer, songwriter, and entrepreneur. She broke into the music scene during her sophomore year in college. That was when she produced “Ode to Tae”, a track on Omarion’s EP, “Care Package”. Since then, she has produced for other artists like Luke James, King Chip, Belly, and Jhene Aiko. Other than her outstanding productions, she’s also passionate about encouraging female creatives to reach their full potential, and get what they deserve in the industry. This passion lead to the creation of her brands, “PAY US TODAY”, and “The 7% Series”. TRAKGIRL created The 7% Series to uplift female creatives like producers, engineers, and mixers. The percentage of such women in the industry is less than 7%, but the goal of the brand is to honor them. While launching the program, she stressed the need for women to lift each other up as a means to increase opportunities in the recording studio. At the event, she said, “We have to create a pathway for other girls. They have to see there are role models.” Through speaking engagements and producer clinics, she has been a mentor to females who aspire to get into the industry. Motivated by the goal to support creatives, she also launched a fashion brand, PAY US TODAY that promotes fair and equal pay for creatives regardless of gender. In an interview with Forbes, When asked about how she is breaking stereotypes for women within the music industry she said: “I really want to continue to use my voice and be an advocate for women who wish to become a music producer. I really want to share my knowledge and inspire people. I’m just an advocate for women; I’m all for empowerment.” She continues to expand her brands to promote self-awareness and women empowerment in the music industry. TRAKGIRL is not only changing the music industry, but paving a way for future aspiring female producers and creatives.

Written by Tommy Monroe (Twitter: @TommyMonroe_)

Photo: Bruce Fields

 

 

 

‘Slay In Your Lane’ Is An Inspiring Book For All Intersectional Feminists.

In a world where stereotypes shape a lot of reactions, black women are often seen through the distorting lens of prejudices about race, gender, and class. From childhood, black girls and boys are told by our parents that we have to work twice as hard and be twice as good in order to get the same opportunities as our white peers. Once we get into the real world, we learn that “twice as good” isn’t enough, and we really have to be extraordinary.

Meet the two successful black women, Yomi Adegoke, and Elizabeth Uviebinené who have highlighted the racial issues surrounding black people in the UK with their book, Slay In Your Lane: The Black Girl Bible. In this book, they focus on Black women—the easy targets. Yomi Adegoke is a journalist and senior writer at The Pool. Even back in 2013, when she wrote articles like ‘A Rose By Any Other Name May Leave You Unemployed’ and ‘Hipster Racism: The Bane of Higher Education’, she expressed nothing but love and support for black people. Elizabeth Uviebinené is a marketing manager who brings brands to life, increases engagement and drives growth in her marketing campaigns. She is committed to increasing the visibility of diverse perspectives, by creating campaigns that are culturally progressive and commercially impactful.

Slay In Your Lane is no ordinary book. It is like a bible for black women that offers advice on how they can navigate their way through the rough road set by racists to prevent them from being as successful as they should be. This book would be 10 times bulkier if they focused on the numerous challenges of being black in general. Nonetheless, it is a book every member of the black community can learn a lot from and relate to. This is the book everyone who has ever been enthused about “Wakanda” should hold on to. The lessons aren’t just for black people, it extends to people of color, and even caucasians. As Yomi Adegoke said, “I think non-black people should read it to understand the experience of what it means to be a black woman.”

From education, to employment, dating, representation, money, and health, Slay In Your Lane explores the uniquely challenging experiences black British women face every day, and offers advice on how to rise above them. In addition to their own experiences, the best friends interview some of the UK’s most successful black women, like Florence Adepoju, Amma Asante, Afua Hirsch, Dawn Butler, Cynthia Erivo,  and  Vanessa Kingori. In this book, they talk about the “concrete ceiling”, “impenetrable glasshouses”, the “long, back-door route into success” and such bias at work places that drives some black candidates to send in job applications using aliases. They also tackle issues around health, dating and representation that are specific to black women.

 

Since its release, it’s been the number one Best Seller under “Business Ethics” on Amazon. BBC lists it as a “top book for 2018”, while ELLE UK mentions it among “12 addictive books to get you through 2018.” With Slay In Your Lane, the two successful black British women continue to add bullet points to their already rich resumé.

 

Get a copy: Slay In Your Lane: The Black Girl Bible

Learn more: Slay In Your Lane

Written by Tommy Monroe (Twitter: @TommyMonroe_)

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.)

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.

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).

The Ones to Read: March 2018

Here is this month’s Girls Against reading list – the best writing on women, gender, music, and art from all over the internet.

The 8th of March saw International Women’s Day celebrating women all over the arts, media and public sphere. Why choose just one day? Let’s celebrate creative women every day.

And we’d love you to let us know what we’ve missed. What was your favourite article, published in the last month, that discusses women and gender in music and the arts? Tweet us @girlsagainst and share what you’ve been reading!

  • Kim Deal: ‘Misogyny is the Backbone of the Music Industry’

Barbara Ellen, The Guardian, 3 March 2018

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2018/mar/03/kim-deal-breeders-misogyny-pixies-cobain-rehab?CMP=share_btn_tw

 

  • The male glance: How we fail to take women’s stories seriously

Lili Loofbourow, The Guardian, 6 March 2018

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/mar/06/the-male-glance-how-we-fail-to-take-womens-stories-seriously

 

  • A different take on that viral sexual advice letter in the Guardian

Bertie Brandes, i-D, 8 March 2018

https://i-d.vice.com/en_uk/article/evm3xm/a-different-take-on-that-viral-sexual-advice-letter-in-the-guardian?utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=dlvr.it

 

The Spice Girls

 

  • An appeal to the Spice Girls, from little girl of the ’90s, to actually go through with the reunion

Helen Meriel Thomas, NME, 8 March 2018

http://www.nme.com/blogs/nme-blogs/spice-girls-reunion-2018-personal-appeal-2257744

 

  • Little Simz: Terms and Conditions

Yomi Adegoke, March 2018

https://crackmagazine.net/article/long-reads/little-simz-terms-conditions/

 

  • 100 Easy Ways To Make Women’s Lives More Bearable

Dani Beckett, 8 March 2018, Broadly

https://broadly.vice.com/en_us/article/bj5ex8/how-to-help-gender-equality-international-womens-day?utm_campaign=sharebutton

 

  • ‘I wouldn’t want this for anybody’s daughter’: Will #MeToo kill off the rock’n’roll groupie?

Thea de Gallier, 15 March, The Guardian

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2018/mar/15/i-wouldnt-want-this-for-anybodys-daughter-will-metoo-kill-off-the-rocknroll-groupie

 

  • A Slightly Embarrassing Love for Jack Kerouac

Amanda Petruisch, 15 March, The New Yorker

https://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/a-slightly-embarrassing-love-for-jack-kerouac

Taylor Swift

 

  • The Dollars and Desperation Silencing #MeToo in Music

Andrea Domanick, 15 March, Noisey

https://noisey.vice.com/en_us/article/9kzex7/inside-music-industry-sexual-misconduct-harassment-problem-and-metoo

 

  • We Shouldn’t Ask Art to be Emblematic of the #MeToo Movement

Hazel Cills, 18 March, Jezebel

https://themuse.jezebel.com/we-shouldnt-ask-art-to-be-emblematic-of-the-metoo-move-1823720689

 

  • Two directions: Why Harry Styles’ new song is a breakthrough for bisexual music fans

Owen Myers, 22 March 2018, The Guardian

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2018/mar/22/both-directions-why-harry-styles-new-song-is-a-breakthrough-for-bisexual-music-fans

 

  • Why Does Music Sound Better When I’m Ovulating?

Daisy Jones, 29 March 2018, Noisey

https://noisey.vice.com/en_uk/article/ywxwb5/music-sounds-better-ovulation-hormones-science

 

Kate Nash

 

  • The Second Coming of Kate Nash

Lisa Wright, 29 March 2018, DIY

http://diymag.com/2018/03/29/kate-nash-yesterday-was-forever-interview-2018

 

  • Rae Morris review, Heaven – This ray of  light deserves more recognition

Alexandra Pollard, 29 March 2018, The Telegraph

Rae Morris

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/music/what-to-listen-to/rae-morris-review-heaven-ray-light-deserves-recognition/

 

Written by Ellen Peirson-Hagger (@ellen_cph on Twitter).

‘The Magic Gang’ – Album Review

On 16th March 2018, The Magic Gang released their long-awaited self-titled album, gratifying their fans with an incorporation of old and new, heavy and dreamy but an all-round beautifully constructed record.

The Magic Gang are currently number 15 in the UK album charts.

We are super enthusiastic about The Magic Gang because they are openly supportive of fighting against sexual assault at gigs. It is extremely important that this is recognised by musicians from all genres, orientations, styles and so forth. By openly supporting Girls Against, The Magic Gang are supporting the fact that intersectional feminism is relevant, appropriate and (almost) as cool as their stage presence when performing their bangers live!

As I strolled down Mount Street in Liverpool with Your Love playing through my headphones, I could have easily been on the way to the Cavern in the sixties.

To me, the album feels like it was made for live performance. Hearing the re-worked versions of All This Way and Jasmine, for example, creates a desire for the atmosphere at a Magic Gang gig because of the memories that these songs have brought fans over the past few years. By including these in the album, the record still has a feel of the bands’ hard work and determination that has lead them to this point in their career – they have been solely committed to their music and it has most definitely payed off. Although, the track list does seem like a trip through the eras because their music could easily fit into the plethora of influential styles and bands that have crafted indie music of today.

I wanted to focus on some of the newer tracks for a deeper analysis – starting with an energetic opening to the album – Oh, Saki. The Motown drums and melodic bass line give an upbeat vibe to the song, leading to an interesting guitar solo to give the track a flare. However, this compliments the beautiful harmony in the second half of the song.

This is also evident in Caroline, where harmonies and grungy guitars blend seamlessly, producing yet another catchy chorus with brilliant vocal arrangement. The bass locks in with the bass drum in the verse which creates the solid beat which we can’t help aimlessly bopping to…

A personal favourite, Take Care has Gus on lead vocals. The Abbey Road piano sound with a reminiscent start leads to the modernised feel of the drum sound. The bass development through the song builds it perfectly, and the well-written lyrics including “take good care of yourself” compliment the new dynamic to the song, whilst ending where it started on piano and vocals.

Finally, Bruises has an interesting vocal sound that compliments the chord progression in the song. There is some great lead guitar throughout, which is reminiscent of Oasis.

The Magic Gang have an incredible summer lined up, playing at various festivals such as Reading and Leeds and TRNSMT Festival. They have also just finished their UK tour; you can find some snaps from supporters on our Instagram @girls.against – keep sending us pictures!

Ultimately, this debut album has impressed, inspired and enriched the music scene. Not only is it an easy listen, but an intricately crafted piece that deserves the upmost success.

Written by Megan Ryder-Maki.
Twitter: @ixxmcmxl | Instagram: @bbtalkz

Powerful Words From Girls Who Galvanised The World At The ‘MARCH FOR OUR LIVES’ Rally

Led by students and survivors of the shooting which left 17 people dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the world watched and supported the demonstrations that took place in Washington, D.C. and other parts of USA. The ‘March for our lives’ rally is a call to action on gun violence and the importance of students’ safety. With so many shootings and deaths in the first quarter of 2018, students, activists and survivors of shootings expressed their frustrations in compelling and emotive speeches. However, some women stood out as they eloquently presented their speeches while they elicited various empathetic and sympathetic reactions from the audience.

NAOMI WADLER

Naomi Wadler, an 11-year-old fifth-grader from Alexandria, Virginia, who led a walk-out at her elementary school was on the stage to give a voice to African-American women and girls who had been silenced. In her speech she said, “I represent the African-American women who are victims of gun violence, who are simply statistics instead of vibrant, beautiful girls full of potential.” She also added, “I urge everyone here and everyone who hears my voice to join me in telling the stories that aren’t told – to honour the girls, the women of colour who were murdered at disproportionate rates in this nation.” Although, she acknowledged how young she and her friends were, the words she spoke made the crowd go wild like she was a younger embodiment of Oprah.

EMMA GONZÁLEZ

Emma González spent 6 minutes, 20 seconds on stage. Each second representing the time Nikolas Cruz spent aiming at her schoolmates. “No one could comprehend the devastating aftermath or how far this would reach or where this would go,” González said. “For those who still can’t comprehend because they refuse to, i’ll tell you where it went: right into the ground, six feet deep.” During her time on the March for Our Lives stage, she listed her slain classmates in a poem which she composed. For over 4 minutes, she didn’t speak but her silence said a lot and remains one of the most impactful statements at the protest. According to reports, she’s responsible for the loudest silence in the history of social protest in USA.

YOLANDA RENEE KING

The 9-year-old granddaughter of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King, made a surprise appearance on the stage. Just like her grandfather, she also had a dream to share with the audience. She said, “My grandfather had a dream that his four little children will not be judged by the color of the skin, but the content of their character. I have a dream that enough is enough and that this should be a gun-free world, period.”

EDNA CHAVEZ

Edna Chavez who is an activist and youth leader in Los Angeles, spoke passionately about the need not only for gun law reform but also for drastic cultural change in schools. Edna, who lost her brother to gun violence, commanded the stage to give a moving speech about the trauma survivors face and the urgent need for change. She said, “I have lived in South L.A. my entire life and have lost many loved ones to gun violence. This is normal. Normal to the point that I have learned to duck from bullets before I learned how to read.” In her speech, she emphasized that more guns and more police on campuses is not the answer while stating that cops in schools are more likely to “profile and criminalize” black and brown students than to make them feel safe.

SAM FUENTES

Sam was one of more than a dozen students injured last month when Nikolas Cruz attacked Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. “Our mission is simple and our ambitions are unbeatable”.“Let’s keep the guns out of the hands of
the wrong people and keep them in the hands of the safe and reasonable.” she said. Fuentes ended her address, asking the crowd to join her in signing ‘Happy Birthday’ for one of her classmates, Nick Dworet, who died during the February 14 massacre and would have turned 18 on March 24. Unlike many Happy Birthday songs, this was too difficult to sing as tears rolled down and voices quivered.

DELANEY TARR

The 17-year-old survivor of the Parkland, Florida, massacre, stood before thousands at the ‘March for Our Lives’ protest in Washington, D.C., to vow, “We are not here for bread crumbs. We are here for real change.” Her words were firm and unfeigned as she addressed the real purpose of the “movement”. She spoke passionately about gun control and the 17 people killed by Nikolas Cruz.

 

 

 

AALAYAH EASTMOND

Before the day of the protest, the 17-year- old said she will be marching not only for tougher gun laws — but for the classmate whose body she hid beneath during last month’s massacre at her school. In her speech, she said “Yes, I am a Parkland survivor and an MSD student, but before this, i was a regular black girl and after this i am still black and I am still regular and i will fight for all of us.” More than anything, Aalayah sounded determined to fight for “her angels” to stop gun violence.

 

 

 

Written By: Tommy Monroe (@TommyMonroe_ on Twitter).

Problematic Song Lyrics

As young women growing up in a world where music surrounds us, whether that’s on the TV, radio or played in clubs and bars, the misrepresentation and degradation of women is constantly echoed around us.

Even thinking about this song enrages me. Blurred Lines peaked at number one in at least 25 countries, becoming the number one song of 2013 in several of them. Yet, this highly misogynistic song celebrating the ‘blurred lines’ of consent, should not have been given this spot in the charts or in my opinion even produced. If the song title is not enough to cause concern, the lyrics ‘I know you want it’ suggests a complete lack of consent and is full of assumption that is extremely problematic. This not only perpetuates a toxic stereotype of male dominance and female submission but is actually celebrating the rape culture that for so many women across the world is terrifying and dangerous.

Music is a very important thing for many, and we need to start to question the content of the lyrics in the songs all around us:

1. Blurred Lines- Robin Thicke

Even thinking about this song enrages me. ‘Blurred Lines’ peaked at number one in at least 25 countries, becoming the number one song of 2013 in several of them. Yet, this highly misogynistic song celebrating the ‘blurred lines’ of consent, should not have been given this spot in the charts or in my opinion even produced.

Throughout the entire song, references to what could be interpreted as a rape scene are made ‘Do it like it hurt, like it hurt’ ‘Baby, can you breathe?’ this not only suggests that while he hasn’t been given any direct consent but chooses to believe he has, he is now endangering the woman by forcing himself upon her. Theses lyrics are extremely explicit and the visual imagery that is seen in the music video also provides a problem regarding the sexualized female form that can be evidently seen. This song was extremely accessible for many teenage boys and girls on platforms such as YouTube, not only causing a problem regarding their individual safety and to what they are exposed to in the lyrics, but it also shapes their views and opinions regarding consent.

By idealising these issues through the music video it teaches young boys that consent isn’t important and that ‘no doesn’t always mean no’. This is a highly toxic message to provide as organisations such as ours are constantly trying to combat issues regarding sexual assault, so I don’t understand how a song with lyrics as harmful as these can be praised while trivializing sexual assault.

2. U.O.E.N.O-  Rocko featuring Future and Rick Ross

A second lyric where by rape culture is again celebrated is in the song U.O.E.N.O by hip hop artist Rocko featuring Future and Rick Ross. Ross raps the lyric ‘Put Molly all in her champagne, she ain’t even know it I took her home and I enjoyed that, she ain’t even know it’. Suggesting that he used a drug and then took her home to take advantage of her in a vulnerable position. By making subjects such as sexual assault and ‘date rape’ drugs normalized, it not only encourages these kinds of actions but it makes assault survivors feel less validated. These song lyrics are completely harmful for women and men as they encourage the violation of women and the fact that it is seemingly acceptable.

3. ‘All About That Bass’-Meghan Trainor

This familiar, catchy, char-topping pop tune  also raises a cause for concern. While celebrating the ‘boom, boom that all the boys chase’ it suggests that if you have curves or a larger bottom or boobs then men are going to view you as beautiful. Although this song prides itself on body positivity and acceptance with lyrics such as ‘skinny bitches’ it seriously degrades those who are skinny or aren’t as curvy as figures like Kim Kardashian or Nikki Minaj who possess the iconic ‘hourglass figure’.

Meghan Trainor also sings ‘boys like a little bit more booty to hold at night’ while this message not only suggests that your beauty is defined by how males feel about you, it again marginalizes those who are thinner. Why can’t this pop tune celebrate loving every single size and figure of our bodies not dependent on how others view our worth but how we regard ourselves? Does this song really have to make those who are curvier feel better by calling those who are thin ‘stick figure Barbie doll’? Instead of encouraging self -doubt and knocking self -esteem of those women who don’t fit into this ideal of ‘all the right junk in all the right places’ let’s embrace body positivity of ALL shapes and sizes because we are all individually unique and that is what makes us beautiful.

4. Taylor Swift – ‘Blank Space’

This catchy pop tune has been a worldwide hit, but unfortunately, the tale behind it seems to promote the over-generalised stereotype that all women are insanely jealous, destructive beings. It also solidifies the idea that it’s acceptable for women to be both physically and mentally abusive in relationships, therefore making society believe that women can’t be domestic abusers. The lyrics, combined with the video released for this song portray that idea perfectly.

One example of this is in the video where Taylor gets progressively angry at her boyfriend for being on his phone and messaging other people while he’s with her. Yes, it’s annoying when you’re not being payed attention to, but the video implies that she’s angry because he’s speaking with other people that aren’t her, which shows clear signs of an unhealthy and mentally abusive relationship. This is further backed up through the line ‘oh my god, who is she? I get drunk on jealousy’, which shows how Taylor is unhappy with him speaking to other females, again showing signs of controlling within the relationship.

Taylor also, unfortunately, shows evidence of physical harm in the video – pushing him away and throwing a vase in his direction, as well as stabbing a portrait of him with a knife, burning/cutting up his clothes and attacking his car with a golf club. It’s safe to say that if this was the other way round, and there was in fact a man carrying out these actions towards Taylor, it would be deemed much more unacceptable by society and fans alike. Unfortunately, this implies to society that every woman is ‘crazy’, even if they don’t show it.

Although this is just my personal interpretation from the song/video, I think it’s important to see how important it is that women represent women well. Yes, it’s okay to show unhappiness/anger in a relationship, but it doesn’t have to be done in a way that might not only imply that women are always likely to act in an unacceptable way, but also upset victims of domestic abuse that may have had similar things happen to them.

Written by Samantha Hall and Emma Randall (@_samanthahall_ and @emmarandall99 on Twitter).