2013 Week Songdown!* “Strife” by Savages (from 2013’s Silence Yourself)
It feels like 2013 was the year of my great feminist undoing, and it started with Carrie Brownstein. She was one of my idols back in the day- Sleater-Kinney was my introduction to feminist music, and my babytown frolics with riot grrl stuff were shallow but fundamental experiences that drove me towards the work I want to do with policy and culture. Their lyrics made me feel empowered and important because they questioned things like empty consumer culture and societal expectations for women. I felt like there was a voice out there for people who felt like I did, and I spread their gospel everywhere I could. And now she’s cashing in by selling consumer debt for American Express and making fun of the hilarious idea that someone my size might want to take a pedicab somewhere on her lame-ass, tired cable sketch show. (Yes, I am a fat person who uses pedicabs. I’m also an excellent tipper.)
I think it’s fair to say that I’m getting more disillusioned of pop-culture girl power by the day, and exhausted by the people who manufacture it. I’m so bored by the easy, lazy ways that we’re encouraged to engage with women’s issues. There’s a lot of enthusiasm but a lack of substantive critical engagement. It seems like every other day there’s a debate on Facebook about some gray-haired jackass saying women ought to get back in the kitchen, which is followed by a 20-post debate on whether women should be tolerant of people and opinions that actively demean them. (Spoiler: no they shouldn’t, and Bill Maher/Dan Savage/Richard Dawkins/whomever else is an asshole.) We criticize Rush Limbaugh for calling a woman a slut but we ignore the voices explaining why every woman can’t participate in a Slut Walk. We romanticize our riot girl “girls to the front!” past while conveniently ignoring the ways that ethos alienated people who weren’t young, able-bodied and white. We can be comfortable we’re doing good as long as we write checks to the right organizations and re-post angry stuff on social media and show up to the right events wearing a pin shaped like a vulva. I don’t want to have to hand-wave my idols selling me out and then go to a hipster bar and drink a $12 cocktail named after a suffragette to be a good feminist. I want a deeper connection to a movement that informs the work I’d like to do in the world, and it is up to me to seek out new voices and perspectives and re-build it.
(To be clear: I still do consider myself a feminist and I will always support other feminists and feminist issues. But the more I honesty engage with those issues, the more I see valuable voices of dissent and criticism ignored, and I have to be honest about my disappointment with that. 2014 will be a year of re-education and re-engagement for me, and I am looking forward to it. MRAs are still idiots.)
This is a long-winded way of saying that I spent a lot of this year listening, and seeking out new music and idols to celebrate. I also spent a lot of this year angry. Savages are a great band for this kind of anger, because they are ladies that make furious music. They sound like very early Siouxsie and the Banshees gone angry and unplugged. I love the simplicity and anger of their music, and the artifice of their weird post-punk severity. I like that they’re pretentious and furious in equal measure. I also like that I know virtually nothing about their politics and they haven’t had the chance to disappoint me yet. We’ll see.
Listen To This Next: Siouxsie and the Banshees, obviously.
*What the hell? There was just way too much good music released in 2013. In celebration, I’m going to spend the week leading up to the New Year sharing some of my favorite releases. These aren’t the *best* songs that came out this year, but they are the ones I liked the most, and I hope you like them too. Also, I realize this should have started earlier in the month, but I was sick so get off my back.
1. “Oh God” by Those Darlins
2. ”Goodbye Gemini” by Blood Ceremony
3. “If I Could Change Your Mind” by HAIM
4. “Demon Dance” by Surfer Blood
5. “Strife” by Savages