In the mid 1980’s Seattle was bursting with pride when several independent rock bands that created a musical hybrid that incorporated rock, heavy metal, hardcore and punk gained national and international attention. Grunge music and its accompanying culture coincided with the emergence of third-wave feminism and Seattle bands featured the work of a number of strong women musicians and artists.
This is a big year for musicians who grew up with the Riot Grrrl movement. In this episode, we talk with iconic musicians Kathleen Hanna and JD Samson about their new albums and writer Laina Dawes provides a different perspective with an essay, “Why I was never a riot grrrl.”
Autumn is the best season for new music, in terms of sheer volume. Musicians record all winter, road test in the spring, play the hits on summer festival stages, and put out the new material in the fall. To kick off the season, I've chosen nine of the best feminist artists' songs and albums coming out in September or October.
There's disco here, and rock, folk, punk, American blues via Malian Bambara, and more. Let us know what you think, and tell us what you've been listening to this month!
• Umme-Hani Khan, who was fired by Abercrombie for wearing a hijab, has won her discrimination case. Abercrombie argued to the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that their workers are not employees subject to regular employment law but actually "living advertisements." Nice try, jerks. [Today]
• dapperQ tackled the lack of diversity at New York Fashion Week by co-producing their own fashion show, representing "queer owned and operated brands designing menswear for masculine presenting women, gender-queers, and trans* identified individuals." [Autostraddle]
Photo: Ma Rainey and her backing band in 1925. Via NotesOnTheRoad.com
When Gertrude "Ma" Rainey—known as "The Mother of Blues"—sang, "It's true I wear a collar and a tie… Talk to the gals just like any old man," in 1928′s "Prove It on Me," she was flirting with scandal, challenging the listener to catch her in a lesbian affair. It might not seem like a big deal to us now, but back then, pursuing same-sex relations could get you thrown in jail.
Top 40 music seems to be undergoing a sea change lately. Cher has a feminist song on the radio and in the club. Neko Case is Top 40 music seems to be undergoing a sea change lately. Cher has a feminist song on the radio and in the club. Neko Case is taking gender identity straight to task. Frank Ocean and Macklemore are topping the charts with songs that carve space for queer-friendly voices in the machismo-drenched worlds of R&B and hip-hop. Ann Powers at NPR declared 2013 "Country Music's Year of the Woman," and Jewly Hight at the Nashville Scene pointed out a similar trend last year, of female artists whose sounds still fit the country genre, but whose lyrics and personae push the boundaries of country femininity.
All of this points to something big: It's been a good year for not only women in music, but feminism in music.