In Open File, a story about some “very ethnic” Torontonians who telling the Harper government to Beat It.
You know who you are.
With winter’s first real snowfall happening outside, it seemed like a good day to sleep in, eat shiitake frittata (say that five times fast), go back to bed, download “Mall Cop” based on hilariously outraged negative iTunes review (and low brain cell count), make oven fries and finally check out jazz pianist Vijay Iyer who is, as promised, awesome (and frighteningly multitalented). Happy new year, everyone.
The Gossip killed it at the Opera House on Wednesday. JD Samson and MEN opened. Talk about a dance party. It was hot and sweaty, and I liked it.
The always-pithy Kate Carraway made a plea yesterday for the reappearance of Kathleen Hanna, and I concur. In the meantime, though, JD and Beth Ditto are still bringing it. For an encore, they led the crowd in a singalong of “What’s Love Got To Do With It?” I think that’s what you call a perfect night.
I have this really lame habit of not getting into musicians until just after they’ve done a show in Toronto. So, it’ll be a while til I hear this song live…sad, cause I love it. The band intro at the beginning is kind of long, but the quality of the video is SHARP, innit? Thanks, random YouTuber.
Today I ran across some videos by Teen Voices, a print and online mag by high school girls from Boston. Their latest project is reworking popular rap songs, replacing violent and sexist lyrics with a little female positivity. Watching these vids was bittersweet. It’s awesome: these girls are having so much fun. It’s nostalgic: back in the day, my girls and I did much the same thing. But therein lies the rub: the more things change, the more they just don’t.
Picture this, Ottawa, 1996. I lived in the world’s most female-positive, assumption-challenging household. Let’s call the decor 1990s Shabby Feminist Chic. The couch had springs sticking out the back, every dish was always dirty and every wall was plastered with images of strong women (aside from a prominently displayed world map, which was upside-down. By the end of the year, new visitors who queried the map’s positioning were met with a weary “It’s less eurocentric,” by regulars to our house.) Reclaiming sexist words, images and scenes was our definition of fun. After the revolting sex-for-points Spur Posse made headlines, we dubbed ourselves the Spur Pussy and…none of your business. We spent our days talking politics (and periods) while digging up tunes by chicks that kicked ass (like Kathleen Hanna, above, who I miss very much).
Now the 90s, of course, was when hip hop fell over the cutting edge into the mainstream. Everyone, including me and my girlfriends, wanted to be down. As feminists, we also wanted to be on the up and up. We fought back against insulting lyrics by purchasing every female rap CD there was to own and spent a lot of time yelling ladies’ lyrics over misogynist spewing. One favourite comeback was the very classy Lil Kim line, “I don’t want dick tonight! Eat my pussy right!” Believe me, we were very loud.
It’s 2009, and what’s changed? Female MCs are still heartbreakingly scarce, and for every Kid Sister, there are 2,000 nameless, half-naked young women accessorizing music videos, participating in their own objectification, then being derided as the “same ho.” There’s so much to unpack here, all the heartbreak of women/queers/people of colour who love art that hates us (rap is in no way the only offender—how messed is my affection for the very racist children’s novel The Secret Garden?). On a bad day, it’s enough to make a music-loving woman go instrumental, forever.
On a good day, I’m thrilled there are girls who are still keeping on. Much respect to the young ladies of Teen Voices for joyfully asserting their self-esteem. And boys, no matter what your age is, think before you speak. Because we will remember your words and actions, for always.
So sad. Random memories: how mad I was that my mom didn’t take me with her to the concert (when I was seven), singing along to the Jackson 5 cassette in the car, dancing to Hollertronix dropping “P.Y.T.” on New Year’s Eve 2003.
I can’t believe his jerk dad outlived him. Oh, MJ, so brilliant, so destroyed. RIP.
I find Bust so hit and miss. Sometimes, it’s chock full of new ideas and interesting women. Other times, a bit blah. Sadly, this ish was on the blah side—which is why I’m glad a friend paid for it, and not me.
Best piece was on vaginoplasty—you know, cooch reconstruction surgery. Achieving a perfect oval (cause uh, that’s a meaningful goal) through laser and scalpel, most often wielded by a man. Aside from the shudder factor—there’s an interview with a 24 year-old who voluntarily had her inner labia removed—there was some good research here. I didn’t know that American, Australian and New Zealander doctors’ associations have openly denounced the surgery as dangerous and unregulated. And, duh, just like breast augmentation (and the pill, since you asked), vaginoplastys often leave women with less sexual response, which is an oxymoron of infuriating proportions. The accompanying survey tacked on some mood-lightening LOLs: readers were asked about their relationships with their vadges, including opinions on visual aesthetic. My favourite answer: Mick Jagger. It’s funny cause it’s true.
It’s amusing to me that Bust (and the BBC, and many others) got scooped on the Gulabi Gang story years ago by Vice, of all publications. (It’s actually pretty awesome that Vice does these kinds of pieces, but their whole “white guy who is so beyond oppression and privilege that his use of pejorative slang is provocative and hilarious” thing still annoys me). Still, if you haven’t read about the Pink Sari women before, this story covers the bases: basically a group of women in Uttar Pradesh, India, got sick of police and government non-response to domestic violence. So, they donned some pink saris and began to use violence themselves to help women escape bad marriages, or just to teach the husbands how to behave. They’ve added fighting anti-poor corruption onto their list of tasks of late, too. Pretty courageous and awesome, considering that these are low-caste, uneducated women in one of India’s poorest, most rural areas.
Other than that, the mag was pretty blah, blah blah. The Thurston Moore interview with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs was kind of disjointed—did he really only talk to them for like three minutes each?—but I love him and them so you know, it was good enough, but not amazing. I’m going to check out the new women’s porn site Liger Beat, I just don’t care about Kathy Griffin, none of those bathing suits is made for bosomy girls, an egg salad recipe is weak and sorry that Peaches was tired but a good writer would call her back and save the piece. Oh, decent travel roundup on Chicago, but maybe that’s just cause I’m planning a visit this summer. Sorry, Bust. It’s just my opinion. And hey, remember when I sent you a pitch on this like six months ago? And followed up like three times? I’m a big girl, I can take a no. But not replying at all is just bad manners.