Welcome Back! (The news entry)

It’s been an exciting time…New albums by some grrrl-friendly artists have been coming out at rates hard to keep up with and summer concerts are just around the corner. SXSW came and went, and so did WAM!

Wait. What’s WAM!?

Don’t tell me you don’t know? WAM–Women, Action & the Media is a conference held by the Center for New Words in Massachussets and brings together journalists, activists, and media consumers for a weekend discussion on the state of women in the media and what we can do about it. This conference had the biggest turnout in its five-year existence (600+ attendees, which was about twice the turnout from two years ago).

And I was there.

In addition to being a great opportunity to meet people and get effective strategies for change, it proved to be inspiring. So don’t be surprised if  entries posted over the next couple weeks are derived from WAM! sessions, the keynote speakers (Helen Thomas and Haifa Zangana),  and converstions brought up during the WAM! party.

In addition to new entries, you should’ve noticed the layout change. The photo in the headline image was brought to you by Lovelyss Photography (check her Myspace site out for more of her work), an all-round cool grrrl with interests ranging from music to art and photography.

Several of the other pages on this blog will be updated including the about me section (The Story of a Rebel Grrrl) and the Hark! the music section as some contact information has been made exclusively for this blog. In addition, keep an eye out for changes at the page that began my foray into the blogosphere, the original RiotGrrrlRevolution page. I will begin updating that page with spotlights on the bands of the riot grrrl period as well as riot grrrl precursers (the slits and the raincoats, to name a few) and some of the r-g friendly bands that came after. Don’t be surprised to find an entry or two looking closely into issues critically and from new perspectives.

Other than that…this update is finished. Keep a lookout and be happy. and if you’re anywhere but New Hampshire, be happy…it’s snowing here. And not just little flakes. Lots of them. Brrr. (how’s that for spring weather?)

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How CosmoGirl! saved my life

CG! February 2008As unbelievable as this may sound–there’s a lot more to Cosmo Girl! than fashion, makeup and selling body images to teen girls.

Take the February issue. On the back cover (there’s a special end section featuring Fall Out Boy Pete Wentz) there’s a teaser for “THE NEW F-WORD (AND WHY YOU SHOULD USE IT.)”

Could it be?

An article on feminism?

In Cosmo Girl!?

The little sister of Magazine?

No Way!

But, there it is on page 102 with a bold headine “The F-Word.” The article is unabashedly feminist and features two viewpoints. That of the Mom (Leslie Bennetts, author of The Feminine Mistake) and the Daughter (Emily Gerard). The article is accompanied by pictures of teens–both girls and boys–wearing “This is What a Feminist LFeminists–invading a town near youooks Like” t-shirts.

Really. Who would’ve thought? And–get this–the article on feminsm is not necessarily the most revolutionary article in the magazine.

Thumb through a few back issues and you’ll find discussions on racism (“Could You Be a Racist?” November 2007), saving energy and the environment (“Stay Green, Young Woman! December 2007/January 2008), and the ever important gender (“The Gender Spectrum”, October 2007).

FOUR different issues within a four month span–each containing extremely important subjects.

Could Cosmo Girl! be Ms. jr.? Well…probably not. There’s still far too many emaciated/scantily clad looking women in perfume ads.this…is selling perfume? really?

Could Cosmo Girl! be a good influence on young women?

Yes~most definitely. In addition to the extremely important articles I’ve already mentioned, each issue of CG! is packed with sections that not only encourage health and well being, but also ones that encourage teen girls to be active outside of her immediate environment and make a difference by volunteering. In other words–in the world of Cosmo Girl! there’s more to life than makeup, hair, clothes and, ohmigod, boys.

Speaking of boys, Cosmo Girl! definitely doesn’t go by the “abstinence only” sex-ed fed to most teens thanks to the Bush administration. In the Nov 2007 issue a small article under the Health section called “Condom Conundrum” gave some necessary information on having safe sex.

So bottom line–if you know a teen girl who needs reading material with a little dose of empowerment every month, CG! might not be a bad magazine to go for.

It’s not perfect by any means–but it’s got enough of what matters to really make a difference to young women, possibly impacting not only their futures but also the future of our society.

p.s.: It really doesn’t hurt that each CG! comes with an action packed manga, “The Adventures of Cosmo Girl!” It’s a surprisingly addictive manga. 🙂

The Adventures of Cosmo Girl! Tokyopop manga
(for more info on the manga: check out the CG! manga site

The British Are Coming (Quick! Lock up your daughters!)

Something’s going on in the UK, and it has nothing to do with the Queen.

British pop stars like the Pipettes, Lily Allen and Kate Nash are breaking the foundations of pop music. Once upon a time pop music was the primary domain of romantic ballads-of girl meets boy, falls in love and finds herself in a splendid world she never knew existed. Or ballads of unrequited love-girl meets boy and falls deeply for him, only to find that her feelings won’t be returned. Or, as of more recent (recent in relative terms), girl sees boy and she declares that he can do anything he wants with her (“Slave 4 U”)…

The current Billboard chart reflects the pop-ridden love song with songs like Alicia Keys’ “No One,” Fergie’s “Clumsy” and Rihanna’s “Hate That I Love You” (feat. Ne-Yo). Though each one could be judged on different merits, it can’t be argued that each is-in theme-a traditional romantic pop song.

double standards…how fun

Over in England, another type of pop song is forming. It’s not about falling in love. If the theme of these songs could be described by using lyrics, 7 Year Bitch’s “In lust we trust” would be adequate.

Pop in England has become a forum for women artists to declare their independence in a way that’s just a step further than Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.” Their independence isn’t just personal, it’s sexual.

Let’s start off with the Pipettes. The polka dotted trio includes Riotbecki (the self-confessed riot grrrl of the group), Gwenno and Rosay. Though the album was recorded and released in the UK in 2006, it didn’t come out to the US ’till fall ’07. One of the major tracks from that album: “Your Kisses Are Wasted on Me” which (like all of the tracks on the album) has a 60s girl group sound with a distinctly different message. Also present on the album is the standout track “One Night Stand” (this is the track that makes the album worth the $10 you spend on it).The Pipettes

It’s message is clear from the beginning:
“I left you alone at four in the morning/
not a stitch to wear cuz you ignored my warning.” (cue the sha-la-las)

after a few “I don’t love you/I don’t want you” we get the stellar (not great, cool or awesome–it’s stellar) line about how this one night stand even occured:
“I saw you cross a crowded room
You smiled at me and made my heart go boom/
I looked at the score sheet and saw a 7
so I walked up to you and said
‘baby did it hurt when you fell from heaven?'”

Now anyone who hasn’t heard *that* pickup line from a guys mouth must be living under a rock, and to see that used in a song like that–amazing. With this song alone the Pipettes are making it clear that guys aren’t the only ones who are allowed to have fun in the sheets and *not* feel guilty about it.

Then comes Lily Allen. A pop star who combined several of the best genres and put clever lyrics behind the music, she proved to be more than the typical pop star. In her single “Smile” she proved that-when it comes to relationships-her partner should think twice before trying to screw her over. But two of her album‘s shining tracks are “Knock ’em Out” and “Not Big”-both of these songs feature a sexual independence unheard of in most of the pop world.

Lily Allen“Knock ’em Out” starts off with Allen talking in a very dry voice backed by a jazzy beat:
Alright so this is a song about anyone, it could be anyone.
You’re just doing your own thing and some one comes out the blue,
They’re like,
“Alright”
What ya saying,
“Yeah can I take your digits?”
And you’re like, “no not in a million years, you’re nasty
please leave me alone.”

The song continues in that vein as Allen’s lyrics recount a club encounter where she keeps refusing to give out her number (“can’t knock ’em out/can’t walk away/try desperately to think of the politest way to say/just get out my face/just leave me alone/and no you can’t have my number/cuz I lost my phone”). The theme of the song alone makes it unique, songs about creepy guys at clubs where a girl’s being annoyed aren’t exactly the fodder of mainstream pop music.

Then we’ve got the song “Not Big.” It starts off innocently, as a break up song (“Now listen I think you and me have come to the end of our time,” Allen says, pointedly. Then, continuing as if she were talking and responding to her partner (who was reacting rather badly) she adds, “Alright how would it make you feel if I said that you never made me come?” Allen’s lyrics are forward and don’t use fancy words to cover what she’s expressing.

“so you thought this was gonna be easy,
Well, you’re out of luck.
Yeah, let’s rewind, let’s turn back time to when you couldn’t get it up,
You know what it should’ve ended there,
That’s when I should’ve shown you the door.”

All of her songs are similarily straightforward.

Then there’s the new artist who people enjoy comparing to Lily Allen (though they are not the same artist and their music is different)-Kate Nash (who I featured last Sunday).

Her debut album, Made of Bricks, was just recently released this year and she’s already enjoying popularity in the UK top 40. The album opens with “Play”, the lyrics which can’t be misunderstood by most adults: “I like to play/I play all day long in my room/I like to play…”Kate Nash (from her myspace page)

Then there’s Pumpkin Soup, where Nash decries the relationship in favor of just kisses.

“I just want your kiss boy/
I just want your kiss”

and later:

“I’m not in love/
I just want to be touched”

Like the Pipettes and Lily Allen, Kate Nash is not afraid to use her voice. She’s explicit, yes. And she’s proud of it.

What these pop artists have done in the span of 2-3 years time has practically undone a lifetime of what was considered normal in the realm of pop music. And, additionally, it’s a step toward breaking down gendered expectations and double standards. For a woman to express her sexuality is still considered taboo, but with women like these being upfront (and admitting that yes, they have sex lives and no, they refuse to be the passive one in relationships) and honest, the double standard of men being players and women being sluts may well be on its way to demolition.

And if nothing else, these women may well have you singing along to their catchy tunes in a faux-british accent.

I hope yours is better than mine. 🙂

gah!

So today I was in our local entertainment store, For Your Entertainment–FYE ( a big chain store in this area) and I came across a 2008 calendar put out by Rolling Stone-the biggest music mag in the US of A.

The calendar?

Rolling Stone Women in Rock.

I practically cringed at the “women in rock” label–but that wasn’t even the worst part. It’s a known fact that as far as magazine covers go, it’s usual to see men in strong poses, fully clothed. Women, on the other hand, are more often seen as little more than pieces of meat–and are treated as such. Their postures tend to be more submissive and they tend to have less clothes than their male counterparts. With many women in music, they find their gender overshadows their music-partially because of their appearance.

And Rolling Stone, it seems, will not let them forget that their gender and their bodies are more important than their music. in a very Sports Illustrated-Swimsuit Calendar-sorta move-I present to you the 2008 Rolling Stone Women in Rock Calendar:

sexism at the finest

(sry, I can’t make it bigger…but do a google image search and you should find larger versions if you need ’em.)