Thursday, March 15, 2012

Somebody I That Used To Know

When I first heard this song, I thought it sounded brilliant, but as the months pass and I listen to the words, I am surprised by how brilliant it is, by all the layers I find, the places it takes me in my own head, and the way it reshapes my understanding of the world in tiny ways. There are so few songs, I feel, which talk about the inherent power imbalance in many relationships in such an intelligent way, not to mention capturing how the balance of power can shift when the relationship ends. I feel the video is amazing because it perfectly illustrates the pain in the song and the hard work we have to do in our hearts when we break up with someone, how we have to take someone who stood out in profound contrast to the rest of the world and slowly turn them into scenery we don't even notice, how distance makes them go from being the sun to just another star we barely see, and how that process changes us. So despite that it is a very sad song, it makes me extremely happy.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Sisters Are Doin' It For Themselves

Today is International Women's Day. Ideally, I would be talking about how we need to make a concerted effort to provide education for girls worldwide and end sex trafficking. However, as necessary as it is to focus on sexism around the world, it is difficult to ignore the war on women that is currently being waged here in the United States.

I figured that nothing would get us all in the mood to think about women's progress better than Aretha Franklin and Annie Lennox. Yes, I know this song is over a quarter century old. What always strikes me about this song is how optimistic it is, how in the wake of the Women's Movement it was possible to believe that full equality for women was just around the bend, that all it would take to achieve it would be an uplifting anthem of empowerment, and, yes, we could do it for ourselves, thank you very much. Who knew that as of 2009, the year of the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act which clarified the statute of limitations for filing an equal-pay lawsuit, that women would still be making less than 78 cents for every dollar a man made? Who would have guessed that in 2012 people would be attempting to shut women out of the discussion as to whether or not they should have access to contraception? Would you ever have thought that in the 21st century people would still think the best way to silence women would be to call them sluts?

So this International Women's Day I would like everyone reading to think about the world you want your daughters and sons to inherit. Do you want them to live in a world where an ignorant and grotesque person who has contributed absolutely nothing of value to the world is considered superior to a woman who is educated and attempting to make the world a better place simply because he is a man? Do you want them to live in a world where they are continually told no matter what they accomplish that those accomplishments are irrelevant, that they will either be discounted due to their gender or elevated because of their gender as that is what society truly values above all else? Do you want them to grow up believing that half the population is lesser and the only role for that half should be as support system to the other half? Or do you want them to look around and know the cards aren't stacked against anyone and that, regardless of their gender, they can do it for themselves?