Music Monday | Run The World (Girls) – Beyoncé

It’s International Women’s Day 2021. And while this song seems like an appropriate feel-good anthem for today, in Australia, this IWD comes on heels of several weeks of rape allegations and sexual assault reports within the Australian Parliament. But why not there? They occur in every other type of workplace. In every school. And in many homes.

I am too tired for rage this year. I have been angry about the misogyny and sexism that is rampant in my daily life for more than thirty years. And I am so very tired. So this song is more aspirational than it is accurate. But you never know, maybe one day.

I am not tired enough to keep fighting, though. To keep exposing sexism and misogyny for what it is, where it is, when it occurs. And to keep expanding my understanding of other people’s experiences. So if you want some great books to read by brilliant Australian/Australian-based women, here are a few of my faves for you to choose from. And if you can, please buy from your local indie bookstore.

Fight Like a Girl – Clementine Ford
This is What a Feminist Looks Like – Emily Maguire
Eggshell Skull – Bri Lee
The Fictional Woman – Tara Moss
Not Just Lucky – Jamila Rizvi
See What You Made Me Do – Jess Hill
Happy Never After – Jill Stark
Woman of Substances – Jenny Valentish
Your Own Kind of Girl – Clare Bowditch
and a special international mention from one of my best reads of 2020…
Know My Name – Chanel Miller

Music Monday | Outside the Lines – Birdtalker

After running a Spotify account for about two years, I’m finally starting to use it in a way that doesn’t involve just searching for my favourite songs and listening to them. Lately, I’ve been paying attention to the recommendations and last week stumbled onto this gem.

Birdtalker’s debut album One was released last year after an EP in 2016, and a new single came out just over a week ago.

When I met G, I sent him a list of my flaws; number nine of fifteen said “I listen to too much indie folk music.” Birdtalker’s debut One may not fit as neatly into the indie folk music genre as their EP Just This but it is still largely reminiscent of that soft, folksy Americana that draws me in.

But what Birdtalker has, in addition to sweet sweet sounds, is something magical in their lyrics. There is an existential heartache in their songs; the search for meaning and purpose by a couple who’ve deconstructed from Protestant religion. Perhaps it’s their rejection of exclusionary dogma, a mirror of my own trajectory, and the unpacking of the baggage of religious narratives that I resonate with. Perhaps it’s the way they challenge traditional hierarchies while they examine their role in maintaining such systems. Perhaps it’s that their songs sit in a liminal space I’m far too familiar with. Whatever it is, I love it.

In an article with Billboard prior to the release of the song I’m posting tonight, songwriter Dani Green said: “I was pretty angry when I wrote it, but I don’t think you would know that from listening to the song.”

Dani, who co-fronts Birdtalker with her husband Zack Green, tells Billboard about the gentle, harmony-laden folk song. Organized religion was Green’s intended target, but “Outside The Lines” carefully encompasses hypocrisy on a broader scale.

“I was tired of feeling like people in that arena could — because they say they’re believing in good things — treat people really poorly,” Green explains. “That just stirred up a lot of anger in me. The language of the song, the words, are very flowery and elevated to poke fun at the elevated, flowery language of religion, the ancient texts. It feels like it’s deceptive. That language, because it’s so nice and flowery, is like a shield you could put up in front of you, but then you go and treat people in ways that’s not at all reflective of the things you said.”

“Outside The Lines” is, however, representative of Green’s lyrical approach on the album’s 11 tracks. “It’s sort of a snapshot of a period of deconstruction and having a lot of open-ended questions,” she says. “It feels pretty open-handed and like it asks a lot of question and sort of targets mainstays or institutions, things that are kind of an unquestioned part of your life — until you decided to start questioning them. So it feels like a lot of questions, with a little bit of resolve.”

White Male Rage and the Socialisation of Violence

Content note: sexual assault and sexual violence

Today, Jessica Valenti wrote:

A cruel irony of sexual assault and harassment is that the traumas which frequently determine the trajectory of women’s lives are just as often unremarkable to the men who have inflicted them.

This is why, I suspect, these men become so shocked and enraged when they’re asked to answer for their actions: When they say “nothing happened,” it’s not just a denial — it’s that they truly believe the incident was not a big deal.

You can read the rest of the article here.

Women understand this all too well.

“Men are shit,” she declared while gazing out of the kitchen window as she filled her water bottle at the sink. I gathered the recycling in my arms to take to the outside bin. At almost 17, she’s already witnessed and experienced too much sexism and misogyny. I wanted to reassure her. Tell her it gets better. That boys grow up as they become men and stop treating women like objects, or lesser. That men respect women as equals.

But they don’t. Not always.

A few months ago, I opened a message as I switched on the car engine.

“Don’t message and drive or I’ll have to come down there and kiss you.”

My stomach turned. Sour bile rose in the back of my throat. I put the phone down and swallowed, anger burning in my cheeks. I’d just sent a friend a car emoji in response to his hello, a signal I was about to drive and unable to talk, and this was his reply.

“Inappropriate.” I replied when I arrived at work, my fingers banging the phone so hard I thought I might crack the screen. “I’ve explained to you before why those sorts of comments are a) generally unacceptable to women everywhere, and b) particularly unacceptable to me. Please don’t speak to me that way. I don’t like it and it’s not ok.”

Later, I received a text rant reply about how his behaviour was all my fault.

I am tired of explaining why “jokes” about sexual assault are not funny.

Imagine if he’d said “don’t message and drive or I’ll have to come down there and punch you.”

Threatening to kiss someone against their will is no less violent or terrifying than the threat to physically harm them.

I had already explained my personal feelings of dislike of that type of ‘banter’.

I had already explained my boundaries. Which should have been enough.

I had already explained my history of assault. Which I had hoped might evoke the seriousness of why that type of behaviour was problematic when my initial boundaries were not respected the first time.

But he still didn’t care. What he wanted was more important than how I felt about anything. And I’m sure, if you were to ask him, the whole thing was “nothing, not a big deal.”

I had previously explained it all twice and refused to do it again, so I used the block function to eliminate him from my friendship circle. He wasn’t interested in respecting my boundaries and I wasn’t interested in a friendship with someone who had so little respect for me.

Women everywhere are tired of men whose mouths say they respect us but show us by their behaviour that they really don’t

I am too tired to keep explaining things, so here is a memoir about how men and women are socialised into perpetrating and accepting violence.

Boys Will Be Boys

Music Monday | Slow Fade – Casting Crowns

Content warning: This post contains discussion of sexual assault and rape culture.

Locker-room talk.

That’s how Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump, describes his lewd conversation eleven years ago with Billy Bush.  In this conversation he brags, in vulgar and de-humanising terms, about kissing and groping women without their consent.

Let’s be clear.

Kissing and groping women without their consent is sexual assault.

Bragging about kissing and groping women without their consent is bragging about sexual assault.  Continue reading

Music Monday | Smile – The Jezabels

It’s September 11 in North America
so my news feed is filled with hashtag never forget
even though I’m already a day ahead.
I’m trying to write a poem about it
– that day –
and driving from Canada to California
but it keeps turning into a statement about war
that I’m not trying to make.
Except, I am, I guess.
My stepdaughter wasn’t even born yet.
She doesn’t know a world without
“The War on Terror”
or what it’s like to live
without taking off your shoes
at the airport.

So instead of a poem, here is a song – the first in a regular segment named Music Mondays by Captain Obvious – from a band who write about some of my other favourite subjects; feminism and gender politics.

Enjoy! xo.