International Women’s Day is one of my favourite days of the year – the opportunity to uplift and celebrate women, their achievements and their future? Absolutely.
Words by Rosie Graham
This year’s theme is ‘Choose to Challenge’, citing the extraordinary year we’ve had as a chance to review our fundamentally sexist society and reiterating that “from challenge comes change.” Witnessing the pandemic, the Black Lives Matter revolution, and the extreme economic discomfort of 2020, I was overwhelmingly inspired to cultivate, improve and understand my version of feminism. I’d studied Judith Butler a lot at uni and actively sought to read works by women of colour, but I definitely didn’t recognise the tokenistic nature of this activism, and the severe lack of intersectionality living in my feminism, my friend’s feminism, and in the media I was consuming. To purposefully revise my understanding of being a woman, placing it amongst a context of many other female experiences, is vital to my appreciation of International Women’s Day. IWD is not just about ‘girl power’ and ‘sisters before misters’, it embodies every experience of womanhood and it’s exchanges with race, ethnicity, gender representation, class, age and education etc., and encourages us to critique instances of neglect and under-representation.
However, as lockdown provides us with a different kind of IWD this year, our activism takes a predominantly virtual route. After writing my dissertation on the intersections of music, race and violence at protest, I discovered how valuable and prominent activism via music can be. Uniquely malleable and adaptable, music can act as a glue for us this March 8th, joining us together whilst safely apart. To get you started, here’s my picks for an International Women’s Day full to the brim with powerful messages and optimistic energy.
Yung Baby Tate, Flo Milli, I am: Repeat after me: “I am healthy, I am wealthy, I am rich, I am that b****!” The rise of Flo Milli’s music this year, with the assistance of TikTok, is a blessing to us all. Here with Yung Baby Tate, the two women unapologetically remind us what women are capable of. The punchy sing-along lyrics are to be shouted into a mirror approx three times a day.
Miley Cyrus, Mother’s Daughter: Mother’s Daughter is Miley’s most criminally underrated song. Partnered with an equally assertive video, Cyrus acknowledges the work of every woman before her generation, celebrating the power of “she.” The peak of each chorus, “don’t f**k with my freedom,” acts as a rallying cry for her following album She is Coming.
Tove Lo, Cool Girl: Taken from her notorious album Lady Wood, Tove Lo places feminine sexuality at the centre of Cool Girl, resisting against discourses of ‘sex-as-taboo’ (of which we have no time for in 2021). The rhythmic bass ostinato harks back to the house beats, and is layered with sensual synths, a fun ode to casual relationships.
SOPHIE, Immaterial: After SOPHIE’s tragic death at the start of this year, my IWD is dedicated to her and everything she stands for, and her precious legacy. SOPHIE bought a refreshing, bright and electrifying attitude to electronic pop and dance music, captured perfectly in her song Immaterial. I’ll be dancing extra hard to this one!
ENNY & Jorja Smith, Peng Black Girls Remix: Freshly signed to Smith’s label Famm, ENNY is an honest, engaging and dynamic rapper from London. Her lyrics in Peng Black Girls encapsulate the beauty of diversity in Black UK culture, alongside their complex challenges. Breaking through for the chorus and her own voice, Jorja Smith demands recognition for WOC in an overwhelming white media.
If you like this vibe, the rest of the playlist can be found here: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/0byiDDq7j6qNExcCRAMR15?si=-5A0Nft7TR2QJN3x6Yo_rg
“Celebrate women’s achievement. Raise awareness against bias. Take action for equality.”