Male Musicians and Feminist Anthems
Posted on May 3, 2016
In an age where feminism is becoming more and more mainstream, some bands and publicists are seeing it as a marketing tool rather than a social issue. In the past few months, I’ve received two press releases for bands that are comprised of white, cisgender men, promoting their new “feminist anthem.”
The Zolas, described by Myspace as “your new feminist Canadian musical heroes,” recently released their “feminist pop anthem,” “Swooner”, and vocalist Zach Gray described it to be “about those high-functioning women we all know who somehow manage to be the quarterback of their squad and the best at their job and politically engaged and the most fun person to have real talk with over beers. I don’t know how you do it but we salute you.”
JPNSGRLS are currently promoting their new “explosive feminist anthem” “Bully For You.” Lyricist Charlie Kerr was inspired by “the personal life-experiences of his many awesome, outspoken and inspiring female friends” and “the desire to be on the right side of history as an ally to all women.”
If these men really wanted to be on the “right side of history,” why not write songs about real feminist issues such as women’s lack of access to abortion services? Where are the songs about slut shaming? Where are the songs on the gender pay gap? Where are the songs about women being assaulted just for being women?
When I reached out to JPNSGRLS’ publicist to ask if the band had a statement for those who are offended, this is what I received: “I’m sorry you’re offended by this, that of course was not our intention. The band isn’t trying to capitalize off of anything, simply stating what the song is about and echoing what was stated by the press when it premiered.”
A big part of men’s involvement in feminism is listening to women. If women are telling you they’re offended by your song or your actions, and, in response, you’re just weakly trying to justify your actions, what you’re preaching isn’t feminism. Male musicians can spout equality and feminism all they want, but until they take actions to truly understand the movement and make their spaces more inclusive, their interpretation of feminism lacks substance and isn’t believable.
And publicists, feminism isn’t a buzzword. It’s 2016 and women are still brutally attacked and even murdered just for rejecting a man’s advances. Feminism is a way for women to improve our quality of life, not a way to sell your clients’ records.
It’s 2016 and women are still sent death threats and insults for calling themselves feminists. Meanwhile, the bar is set so low for male feminists. All they have to do is call themselves a feminist and they’re praised, even if they don’t have a real grasp on what the term means.
I’m not saying men can’t be feminists. I welcome men to call themselves feminists and advocate for women’s rights but when you’re a band entirely comprised of men composing a song about women’s struggles, it feels like you’re trying to capitalize on the issue versus actually doing something for women.
There are many things male musicians can do for women without it seeming like they’re trying to capitalize on a movement. Collaborate with women and non-binary musicians and invite them onto your tours or donate proceeds from your shows and merchandise to organizations like Planned Parenthood and RAINN.
Now, for those looking for a real “feminist anthem,” go listen to some goddamn Tacocat.