Poets Morgan Parker, Angel Nafis, and Danez Smith are on tour in Paris this month!
Because misogyny is everywhere in our culture, internalized misogyny is also, unfortunately, everywhere. You know how it goes—maybe you find yourself hating on your body, or judging other women’s sexuality, or doubting your own awesomeness at work. Goddess forbid, you may have even uttered the phrase “I don’t like other girls.” Even the most hardcore of feminists are influenced by the white supremacist patriarchy’s messages about girls and women. And so are the most successful of female pop stars. Why are there *so* many songs about how stupid / deceptive / sneaky / crazy / unimpressive girls are… that are sung by women? Are these songs self-implicating appraisals of our culture’s sexist standards? Or just plain-old sexist themselves? Or simply honest expressions of women’s emotions… which are therefore inherently kinda sorta feminist? In the spirit of unpacking our internalized sexism knapsacks or Louis Vuitton bags, I rounded up eleven well-known female-fronted songs that hate on women—here they are, in no particular order:
1) “Stupid Girl” – Garbage
Not to be confused with “Stupid Girl” by The Rolling Stones, or “Stupid Girl” by Neil Young (hey, fuck you guys!), this song is one of several from the Songs by Women Called “Stupid Girl” canon. It features 90s chick singer icon Shirley Manson berating a “stupid girl” (herself? Someone else entirely?) for basically being a hot mess and a fake who wasted everything she had like the beautiful fool that she is. Is this song a self-aware look at one woman’s internal monologue amidst society’s messages about how “stupid” girls are? Or merely a condemnation of girls for being stupid wherein the speaker attempts to distance herself from a dumb, misguided girl who fucked up her whole life? Also, omg you guys, who hasn’t pretended they’re high and/or bored, just to be adored?!
2) “Stupid Girls” – Pink
This song presents the classic sexist binary of “stupid” girls who carry around tiny dogs and wear tinier t-shirts and go tanning (oh so 00s) and “not-stupid” girls who wear suits and run for president. It’s kind of weirdly an anthem of second wave feminist ethos. This song contains the cutting and very apropos to our current historical moment lines: “What happened to the dream of a girl president?/ She’s dancin’ in the video next to 50 Cent,” and “I’m so glad that I’ll never fit in/ That will never be me/ Outcasts and girls with ambition/ That’s what I wanna see.” This song is confusing, ‘cause Pink herself wears tight clothes and dances and parties—but for some reason (ahem. Internalized misogyny) chooses to reinforce a tired, sexist binary that girls who do these things can’t also be smart and ambitious.
Apogee’s new Queer History, Queer Now issue is available to read online. Edited by Cecca Ochoa and Alejandro Varela, the issue includes work by Joshua Jennifer Espinoza, Cristy Road, Raquel Salas Rivera, Audre Lorde Project, and more: “We offer up this work, unas ofrendas, for those who were taken from us this month, on June 12. Let our collective rage, love, tears, and dance beats move us toward a more just future.”
Roxane Gay on the murder of Alton Sterling and America’s continued racist violence: “It’s overwhelming to see what we are up against, to live in a world where too many people have their fingers on the triggers of guns aimed directly at black people. I don’t know what to do anymore. I don’t know how to allow myself to feel grief and outrage while also thinking about change. I don’t know how to believe change is possible when there is so much evidence to the contrary. I don’t know how to feel that my life matters when there is so much evidence to the contrary.”
Where can we turn when the world feels too painful to bear? I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. For me, the answer is usually words: poetry, novels, interviews, quotations—all of language seems to have a healing power. Regarding Brexit, and its attendant xenophobia and racism, Joanna Walsh, fiction editor at 3:am Magazine, invited “publishers, writers, translators—people fighting, in their work, to keep our cultural borders open—to contribute a single sentence in reaction to what’s happening right now,” resulting in a powerful litany of “[a]nger, despair, protest, sorrow, love.” Bibliotherapy, the act of therapeutic reading, has a long history; Ceridwen Dovey’s New Yorker piece from 2015 titled “Can Reading Make You Happier?” finds that “Ancient Greeks […] inscribed above the entrance to a library in Thebes that this was a ‘healing place for the soul.’”
I’m traveling for the summer in South America. (Does travel make us feel better? Experiencing the world? Being in nature? I guess so, yes. But still: books.) I took one book with me—Elena Ferrante’s The Lost Daughter—and it was stolen in LAX before my first flight. So I’ve switched to Kindle and Emily Books. As an experiment, I decided to open myself up to the highs and lows of the romance genre: If love heals, then I thought I’d try out, as they say, “trashy” romance novels, or “beach reads.” I suppose the only difference I’ve discovered between the “high art” of literary novels and the “lower art” of romance novels is twofold: 1) the self-publishing writers of the world need editors, badly, and 2) saccharine hope and happiness of “light” literature may be easy to generate and fluffy—but, as sentiments, they are still important, and even necessary.
I’m left wondering why we literary or intellectually-minded readers put down the whole genre of the romance novel when all it is, really, is another attempt to feel okay in the world.
I’ve read four romance-focused books in about as many days. It’s a way of hiding, of healing. Sometimes, I think it may be working. Here they are:
Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore writes about why transgender troops should be an oxymoron: “What, then, would an end to the ban on trans people serving openly in the US military serve to facilitate? More of the same: endless war, plundering of Indigenous resources, both in the US and abroad, and a militaristic orientation that sees oppressed people as cannon fodder for US imperialism.”
Alice Bag discusses her new solo album with the L.A. Times: “I remember growing up and having people say that there are certain things you don’t talk about at the dinner table…You don’t talk about religion or sex or politics. Well, then I’m going to go eat on the TV tray. Those are the only things I want to talk about.”
Novelist Gabby Rivera discusses her YA novel Juliet Takes a Breath with Remezcla: “I had to do some serious soul searching and evolving in my personhood and politics. As I asked myself those questions, Juliet really came alive and the purpose of it, connecting with queer youth of color, became clearer to me.”
Fanta Sylla has created (and continues to edit) the Black Film Critics Syllabus, feat. subheadings such as “Black music video is Black cinema,” “Black women looking/looked at,” and many more.
Kathleen Hanna is featured in the new installment of Pitchfork’s Over/Under series.
Dev Hynes released his new Blood Orange record, Freetown Sound, a few days early, and you can watch the new video for “Thank You/Augustine” at his website.
Read a transcript of Jesse Williams’ recent BET Awards speech at Colorlines: “Now, this is also in particular for the [B]lack women in particular who have spent their lifetimes dedicated to nurturing everyone before themselves. We can and will do better for you.”
Eileen Myles on guns and gays: “When we talk about gun control I think we need to put the focus explicitly on protecting us from us and not from ISIS. We have guns, we live here, we find it so easy to kill. Something is so very wrong with America when the right to bear arms is not freedom but a curse.”
The 20th anniversary edition of Leslie Feinberg’s Stone Butch Blues is now available in multiple formats, including free PDF.
At Buzzfeed, Doree Shafrir writes about how the media (specifically People) covers domestic violence: “And today, the language around domestic abuse remains euphemistic. Marriages or relationships that seem haunted by the specter of physical and/or emotional abuse are often labeled ‘turbulent’ or ‘volatile’ — certainly a legal hedge, but one that also allows the severity of domestic violence to be downplayed and, in a way, normalized.”