Emma Alice Hughes Ryman is a Canadian feminist beginning her career as a philosopher with a stint abroad as Visiting Scholar at the Centre for Agency, Values, and Ethics at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia while completing her PhD at Western University in Canada. She responded to my call for feminist songs with this piece by the Canadian art rock band BRAIDS, based in Montreal, Quebec. Since Americans are often oddly isolated from the music scene in our neighbor to the north (Justin Bieber and Celine Dion not withstanding), I thought this would make a nice addition to our series. I will let Ryman have the floor to speak on her nominee.
–Alison Reiheld, Director of the SIUE Women’s Studies Program
For us it’s just a stamp to the head
For them another notch in the bed
It’s like I’m wearing red
And if I am
You feel you’ve the right to touch me
Cause I asked for it
I think this article by Gabriela Tully Claymore over at Stereogum puts it nicely:
There comes a time in every modern woman’s life when you realize that there are a lot of individuals, a lot of men, who think that you’re a good-looking piece of flesh. Nothing more. Some will refer to it as their “sexual awakening,” but I refer to it as “the horrifying realization that you’re vulnerable” — it’s the first time a stranger tells you that you look nice on public transit or asks for your number unsolicited, the first time a man tries to follow you home. I remember this moment and practically every moment thereafter because these seemingly small acts of violence promote the most terrifying feeling that there is, the kind of discomfort that coats your bones and makes your insides capsize. It’s something you try to smirk off, but there’s always an indignant anger, and it always lingers. “Miniskirt” is a song about all of the things that make being a woman on this earth seemingly impossible on the best of days. It’s not emoting on the surface level with sob stories about the menstrual cycle and giving birth; it spews the frustrations that we internalize and accept as normal complications of our “still evolving society”.
All I’ll add to it is that I really like how she throws in the lyric “I’m not a man-hater.” It makes me think about how feminists in the public sphere have to constantly defend themselves in the face of #notallmen type critiques: women can’t seem to express their thoughts and feelings about sexism without also having to placate the ‘good guys’ of the world.
And as she points out, if you like men too much, that’s also a problem, because then you face the cadre of slut-shamers. There is apparently a very fine balance one must strike between loving and hating men.