Four Badass Feminist Songs for International Women’s Day

March 8 is International Women’s Day. There have been tonnes of great writings today! Check out this piece from my dear friend Quinn, all about why she’s staying angry. Or this one, from the wonderful Emmeline Peaches about why she will never apologise for being herself. There are badass women doing awesome work all over the place and we should support them.

A cartoonified painting of a woman with music notes coming out of her mouth, for a post on feminist songs for International Women's Day 2019

Me, though? I’m on a tight turnaround and have had a shit week. So in lieu of a deep, thoughtful essay, here are four of my current favourite feminist tunes.

Fight Like a Girl – Emilie Autumn

(TW: this one deals with violence against women and is at least somewhat a revenge-fantasy song from an abuse survivor).

I am through lying still,
Just a body to be beaten, fucked,
And – if I’m lucky – left for dead,
So who’s scary now?

Listen.

Black Tie – Grace Petrie

I love Grace Petrie’s sometimes-irreverant, sometimes-angry, always poignant protest songs. Honestly at least half her most recent album could have gone on this list, but I’ve picked Black Tie because it’s a love letter of sorts to her younger self, reassuring her that she’ll find her place in the world one day and that traditional gender roles are bullshit.

“And the images that fucked ya
Were a patriarchal structure
And you never will surrender
To a narrow view of gender.
And I swear there’ll come a day
When you won’t worry what they say
On the labels, on the doors –
You will figure out what’s yours.”

Listen.

You Kinda Hate Girls – Rachel Lark

You ever dated a “woke” guy, and then scratched the surface to find he was just as misogynistic as your average bro on the street? Yeah, me too. In this song, Rachel Lark delivers a razor-sharp critique of exactly this kind of man.

“You say I’m “not your type,”
Well, I guess you can’t change what you like,
But if what you like is what society likes,
And society is sick… maybe you’re a dick!
I’m not sure what you mean by “chill,”
I party, do drugs, and I’m on the Pill,
But I’ve been noticing that you’re kinda preferential
For the meek and the skinny and the deferential.”

Listen.

Men Explain Things to Me – TacocaT

Much like the book of the same name, this angry little two-minute ditty calls out exactly how fucking annoying it is when men take it upon themselves to explain things to women… that the women already know plenty about.

Though I know all about
The words you’re spitting out
The floor is yours without a doubt
I already know
How this is gonna go
How this is gonna go
Tell me to calm down.

Listen.

What’s on your playlist today, babes?

Remember: Resist. Support your sisters, not just cisters. Smash the patriarchy.

Happy IWD.

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Six Little Love Stories in Six Songs

An iPod resting on some sheet music. For a post about love songs

One. Evanescence – You

So many nights I’ve cried myself to sleep,
but now that you love me I love myself.
I never thought I would say this,
I never thought there’d be You.

I know I have to begin with this one, and yet all I can do is stare at the screen and wonder how I can possibly sum it up in a few short lines.

I lost my thing-society-typically-calls-virginity to this one. I was only sixteen and a Good Girl, fully believing that having sex outside of marriage might be okay, but only if I did go on to marry the person I ‘lost it’ to. That belief and its equally-insidious sister, ‘you must keep your Number as low as possible,’ kept me in far too many broken relationships for far too long.

But once upon a time, before sex and shame and trauma, I was just a lonely girl who needed a boy to tell her she was pretty and it would all be okay. I needed someone to love me into loving myself. It would be years before I learned that wasn’t possible.

Two. A R Rahman & The Pussycat Dolls – Jai Ho (You Are My Destiny)

You are the reason that I breathe,
You are the reason that I still believe,
You are my destiny.
Now there is nothing that can stop us,

Nothing will ever come between us,
So come and dance with me…

Pride – my first. She was my first many things. First woman, first poly partner, first person I completely lost my mind over. First drinking-myself-into-oblivion, crying-for-weeks heartbreak.

But before it all goes wrong, we share this one beautiful day. I hold her hand. I kiss her, surrounded by fellow queers, the first time I’ve felt in my bones that my love for her is not wrong, but the rightest thing in the world.

Later, in the corner of a marquee drinking overpriced Pimms and wearing a fluffy-rimmed cowboy hat (from whence it came I do not recall,) we dance. In this moment, I believe that nothing can ever come between us. So come and dance with me…

Three. The Verve – Bittersweet Symphony

Well I never pray,
But tonight I’m on my knees (yeah)
I need to hear some sounds that recognize the pain in me.

A camping weekend. A field in the grounds of someone’s enormous farmhouse, rural Cambridgeshire. It’s his birthday, this long-haired energy ball of a boy I’ve had a crush on for so long.

The campfire blazes. This song drifts across us from the speakers someone’s rigged up, the melody distant and yet still so imprinted upon my mind that even now, whenever I hear the tune I can still smell the fire and feel his lips as he leaned to kiss me.

We date for maybe a couple of months. He takes me on a date to the zoo. We make out and engage in some very heavy petting, but whenever he tries to push things further, I can’t do it. We quickly realise we’re not really all that compatible and fade easily back into a casual friendship.

Four. Music & Lyrics – Way Back Into Love

There are moments when I don’t know if it’s real,
or if anybody feels the way I feel.
I need inspiration,
not just another negotiation.

Kiss me. Kiss me damnit! I’ve been thinking it, madly willing it every time I’ve seen his so-bloody-attractive face all weekend. With literally minutes until I have to leave, reluctantly crossing back into the real world after a weekend of glorious poly retreat, he finally does it.

Three months later, I get on a train and go to his housewarming party in a different city, where I don’t know anyone. He does a shitload of drugs. I don’t, but I’m high on him, on his presence. He spirits me off to a loft-bed and goes down on me, pressing a hand to my mouth when I giggle too loudly. I sleep in his bed with him, his wife and her boyfriend. For a few short weeks, I wonder if this pretty, pretty boy is going to be the person that makes this burned girl believe in love again. (Spoiler: he wasn’t.)

Five. Death Cab for Cutie – I Will Follow You Into the Dark

If Heaven and Hell decide that they both are satisfied
and illuminate the ‘no’s on their vacancy signs,
if there’s no one beside you when your soul embarks,
then I’ll follow you into the dark.

The moment I see this one, I am lost. Even years later, she’s one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen, let alone been in a relationship with. The most amazing style, a smile that rendered this wordy girl tongue-tied, and a passion like a fire in her belly. She’s something else.

And she writes a song for me. It only takes a little coaxing for her to sing it to me. I can see her now, cross legged on the bed with lacy skirt pooling around her, turquoise ukulele in hand.

‘I can’t write tunes,’ she says apologetically, ‘only lyrics, so the tune’s kinda ripped off from a Death Cab For Cutie song. Maybe don’t listen to the original, it’s about suicide.’

Six. Porcupine Tree – Sleep Together

Let’s sleep together right now,
relieve the pressure somehow,
switch off the future right now,
let’s leave forever.

We sext day after day, have illicit cyber-sex night after night, and fall in love through typed words and grainy video-chats. I don’t know, yet, that I will eventually move my world around for this man, that he will become my blood and my bones and the most dearly beloved of my life.

What I do know, when he sends me this song, is that I want to sleep with him. I don’t even mean have sex. I am so very tired, physically exhausted from too many late night chats and emotionally drained from fighting a battle with my own heart that I already know I’ve lost. I want to rest in his arms, to feel safe for once in my life, and just to sleep.

Today I sleep with him every night.