Thursday, March 8, 2018

Happy International Women's Day: Lifting Up Women's Artistic Voices

So, since I do not identify as a woman (though I do accept female pronouns), I thought it would be best to lift up as many artistic women's voices as I can rather than write my own long-winded post about it. So here you go...

Women in Music

Against Me! - Back in my day (like literally 15 years ago, Jesus), Against Me! was just your average breakout Anarchist folk-punk band revolutionizing punk rock. Ho-hum. But in 2012, their singer, Laura Jane Grace (formerly Tom Gabel), came out as trangender and began the process of transitioning. Their recent album Transgender Dysphoria Blues deals heavily in themes affecting transgender folks, particularly the first two tracks, whose lyrics hit hard and deep on the need for acceptance. Truly powerful stuff.

Fifth Hour Hero - Amazing female-fronted pop punk band singing about working class and feminist struggles. Sadly defunct since 2007 but their legacy lives on in those of us who loved them in the short time they existed.

This Is My Fist! - Similar to Fifth Hour Hero but grittier and perhaps more overtly political. More punk than pop where FHH is more pop than punk.

Denali - Beautiful, ethereal, but, sadly, short-lived female-fronted indie/post-rock outfit. Dreamy, solemn, lush arrangements with soaring vocals. A very well-hidden gem.

Kesha - I wanted to keep this to mostly stuff that wasn't as ubiquitous but I couldn't do this without including these next two ladies who have made so many of us so proud with their most recent artistic statements. Kesha's courage in confronting her abuser on "Praying" is the stuff of legend.

Beyonce - Of COURSE Beyonce has to be on this list. "Lemonade" is a game-changer in so many ways. One of the most powerful artistic statements in music history and one we will be talking about for generations to come.

P.S. Grammy voters should be ashamed of themselves for snubbing "Lemonade" and "Rainbow" the last two years. SHAME!

Women in Literature

Ursula K. LeGuin - The godmother of speculative fiction and a pioneer of feminism in literature and of sci-fi/fantasy as a medium for imagining the world as it could be, as it should be, and as it may very well be if we don't change. Truly a giant in her field.

Octavia E. Butler - QUEEN. The Earthseed cycle (Parable of the Sower/Talents) is maybe the most important and relevant work of fiction in the current political landscape.

Toni Morrison - Perhaps the most gifted and relevant storyteller of a generation. An unflinching truth-teller. A prophet in the truest sense of the word. I've only ever read "The Bluest Eye" but it is a goddamn masterpiece and the fact that it was her first book continues to blow my mind.

Nnedi Okorafor - Nigerian queen of contemporary afrofuturism. Absolutely at the forefront of a genre that is poised to blow up--especially now, with the success of the Black Panther film. "Who Fears Death" and "The Book of Phoenix" rocked me to my core and the "Binti" trilogy is so incredibly beautiful and personal. This woman is a must-read.

N.K. Jemisin - Another powerful voice at the forefront of afrofuturism. The Broken Earth trilogy ("The Fifth Season," "The Obelisk Gate," and "The Stone Sky") will change you.

Naomi Novik - I have never read anything quite like "Uprooted." The magic is so real and organic, the characters are beautifully complex and powerful, the themes feel so ancient yet so relevant. Wow.

April Daniels - The Nemesis series ("Dreadnought" and "Sovereign" with more to come, hopefully!) is so dear to me and so important and sorely needed right now. It's the story of a transgender teenager who is given the mantle of the world's most powerful superhero, Dreadnought, as he dies, which not only gives her all the powers of Dreadnought but transforms her "male" body into the body she always dreamed of. So incredibly powerful and personal.

K.C. Alexander - Badass, in-your-face author of "Necrotech" and "Nanoshock," two action-packed cyberpunk romps starring a crass, obnoxious, sexy, foul-mouthed, tough-as-nails, queer woman protagonist. Ridiculously fun and intense!

Angie Thomas - I'm just about halfway through "The Hate U Give" right now but it is an absolutely breathtaking story of a girl from the "ghetto" (a label she hates but begrudgingly accepts) who is witness to her best friend--an unarmed young black man--being gunned down by police. This book is so much; everything that it needs to be and so important in these times.

Rainbow Rowell - Anyone who reads YA probably knows Rainbow Rowell but I have to include her because I LOVE HER SO MUCH. "Eleanor & Park" was just ME AF but "Carry On" was simply magnificent. If you love Harry Potter and queer stories, you MUST read "Carry On."

Women in Wrestling

I think what would probably be more useful than a list of artists for this section is a list of my favorite women's wrestling matches of the past several years:

Aztec Warfare III (from Lucha Underground; the first ever female heavyweight champion of a major North American wrestling promotion and perhaps the best and most empowering and inspiring women's wrestling story ever told)

Bayley vs. Sasha Banks (their first encounter at TakeOver: Brooklyn and their 30 minute Iron Man match are both classics)

Charlotte vs. Sasha vs. Becky Lynch (WrestleMania 32)

Paige vs. Emma (NXT; the very beginnings of the WWE Women's Revolution)

Sexy Star vs. Mariposa ("No Mas" match from Lucha Underground)

Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks (just pick from any of their many incredible encounters; especially their Hell in a Cell match and their match in NXT)

Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch (NXT)

The First Ever Women's Royal Rumble Match (won by a Japanese woman!)

Charlotte vs. Natalya (NXT)

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