A Playlist for the Unapologetic
It’s been speculated that 2018 is shaping up to be the Year of the Feminist, with the end of 2017 seeing celebrities worldwide call out systemic sexism, especially in regards to the pandemic harassment in the work place.
The allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein by a plethora of women, spanning over decades sparked one of the biggest acts of clicktivism in its history. What rose from this was the #metoo hashtag.
Despite the awful reasoning, it is an exciting time for women who are feeling more empowered than ever to speak out against patriarchal bullshit.
This year’s Women’s March saw singer Halsey perform a free verse poem, titled “A Story Like Mine”, which has been viewed more than 6 million times. The speech retells Halsey’s experiences with sexual abuse throughout her life and depicts that every woman she knows has a story similar.
In better 2018 news: Iceland became the first country to make it completely illegal for women to be paid less than men and Natalie Portman called out the Golden Globes for having a category with all male nominees. Although on a much smaller scale, I found it satisfyingly frustrating to pick only ten songs for a female-led Hottest 100 list.
So now that we’re almost a month in to the new year, it’s time to shape it with a killer soundtrack. I present you with my top seven feminist anthems, new and old, to help you be the baddest bitch you were born to be.
Helen Reddy – “I Am Woman”
Never have I felt more empowered than when I recreated that scene from the Sex and the City movie by performing this at karaoke. Albeit, I had had a few wines at this point, but it felt like a better time than ever to tell the middle-aged men at my hometown bowlo that “I am strong, I am invincible, I am woman.”
Start every day with one dose of this song to reach full female empowerment for the next year.
Vera Blue – “Lady Powers”
This song seems to be playing on the radio every time I jump in the car – and so it should be! Explained by Vera Blue in a Facebook post, “Lady Powers is about not having to use your sexuality to be respected as a women (sic).”
The Divinyls – “I Touch Myself”
Chrissy Amphlett’s story is one of the best rock n’ roll stories around. By the time she was 21, Amphlett was beginning her journey of becoming Australia’s first female rock icon. She’d worked the pub circuit, travelled the world and even done time in Spain for illegal busking.
Amphlett was responsible for a lot of the song-writing in The Divinyls, however “I Touch Myself” was primarily written by songwriter Billy Steinberg. But with the help of her unapologetically female stage presence and
husky voice, Amphlett turned this into an anthem to celebrate female sexuality in a blatant but poetic way.
Before her death from breast cancer at just 53, Amphlett was determined to leave a legacy with her song, sparking the #ITouchMyself project. The song was reworked to promote women to perform self breast checks to identify abnormalities early.
Camp Cope – “The Opener”
This song covers a range of issues women face in their personal and professional lives. It depicts the manipulative parts of a relationship that are disguised as love and care, with the lines: “Tell me that no one knows me like you do / and tell me how my friends just don’t tell me the truth.” Then it delves in to the underrepresentation of women in Australian music: “It’s another man telling us to book a smaller venue / Nah, c’mon girls we’re only thinking about you.”
I saw these girls play at the Byron leg of Falls Festival over the new year, where front-woman Georgia publicly called out Falls’ organisers for only booking nine female artists for the three-day event. If you’re into politically charged bangers by badass women, check out the rest of Camp Cope’s music, notably “Jet Fuel Can’t Melt Steel Beams”.
Alex the Astronaut – “Not Worth Hiding”
Alex the Astronaut is one of those songwriters that can make the simplest of thoughts and sentences into something poetic and beautiful. This song tells the story of coming out to her friends as gay and explaining how it’s just not worth the inner turmoil of holding in a secret like that.
The last verse sees Alex apologise for “simplifying” others’ experiences because they “might not be at all like mine.”
But the real kicker comes in just before the last chorus, with lyrics that hope for a more accepting future where calls for equality won’t be necessary: “But the cages they’ve made us should soon just rust away / And this song just won’t need singing, but for now, I’ll let it play.”
Aretha Franklin – “R.E.S.P.E.C.T”
In 1967, an unknown gospel singer from Detroit reworked Otis Redding’s “Respect” into a song that would define a generation and back an entire social movement. The original track was about a man asking for his woman to respect him, because he’d been at work all day pulling in the money. Sigh.
Aretha Franklin rearranged the lyrics to be from the woman’s perspective, and despite the lyrics asking, the song itself demanded respect. Being an African-American woman in the 1960s, Aretha had two glass ceilings to break, but her recording led to her being crowned the Queen of Soul, and scoring number five in Rolling Stone’s Greatest Songs of All Time.
TLC – “No Scrubs”
You are absolutely lying to yourself if you
say that the first strum of guitar in the “No Scrubs” intro doesn’t awaken something within you. As soon as I hear that first note, I want to climb onto a roof top and scream to everyone that I, an intellectual, do not want no scrub.
TLC were all about the female power back in the day. On the same album in 1999, TLC also released the single “Unpretty”, a track about the pressures on women to look a certain way.
However, “No Scrubs” was way ahead of its time, even as recently as the late 90s. A song about a cat-caller back when a wolf-whistle was still widely considered a compliment?
Slay queens, slay.