women's sphere

anonymous asked:

there's a lot of posts about women in ancient and medieval times, but what i haven't seen is how people justified their sexism. How did men have female loved ones that they thought were inferior? What men and women think was the difference between the genders? Why did so many women put up with it? Did some of them truly believe they were inferior?

It’s been said that the scariest words are, “But it’s always been done this way!” And that was the primary reason sexism was around. Men had been in charge for thousands of years, and very few women had the time and organization necessary to foment rebellion. There’s a reason many social movements occurred after a large section of the population were well fed, safe, and had leisure time.

Part of the sexism came from religion. Women were seen as inherently sinful because, according to the Bible, they (through Eve) are the reason everyone has to suffer on Earth instead of chilling in Paradise. Many medieval women accepted subservience as part of the punishment for their great-x1000 grandmother eating the apple. Or they accepted having a lower status because they thought this was how God wanted it to be. If women had any questions about their world, they were supposed to consult the Bible, which is not the most feminist work in the world.

Women were seen as more delicate, more gentle, more supple, more envious, more loving, more prone to laughing, and more malicious than men. Women were also seen as slower to work and more deceitful. A medieval woman’s view on men is impossible to find because of the rarity of female authors, but you can assume men were cruder, rougher, less openly joyful, harder working, and more truthful. 

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one piece of this is about age though for sure, which is that there is a period called ‘youth’ in which you are allowed (in more or less liberal environments) to fuck around, literally and figuratively. but then there is an age by which you are expected to ‘settle down’. i experience very different reactions to the way i talk about relationship now than i did talking about the same things in my twenties (just a few years ago!), or in college. as an ‘adult’ i am supposed to have moved on into a phase of life organized by monogamy and domesticity. not having done that, and not wanting to do that, is a more unsettling thing for other people (in my very liberal environment), including people who have known me for a long time, than i expected.

Women in Ancient Greek Religion

In 480 BCE the Athenians had every reason to be very afraid. The Persian king Xerxes was marching into Greece with a giant army to destroy every city not willing to surrender to him. And Athens was one of the few city states that chose to defy him. How could the Athenians and their allies ever defeat the Persian army? In search for an answer, they asked the god Apollon for help. And his priestess, the Pythia of Delphi, gave them this answer:

“Though all else shall be taken, Zeus, the all seeing, grants that the wooden wall only shall not fail”

This was a very cryptic answer indeed. Some said that they should all stay within the city walls, as the “wooden walls” referred to the ramparts of the Acropolis, according to them. Others said that the “wooden walls” were meant to be ships and that they would defeat the Persians in a sea battle. 

The priestess of Athena Polias, gave them the answer. Athena’s holy snake hadn’t eaten its honey cake. This was a clear sign: The goddess had already left the city. The Athenians all left as well and prepared to battle the Persians at sea. And they won a glorious victory.

Women in ancient Greece, save for a few exceptions, didn’t have a lot of rights. In Athens, for example, women weren’t allowed to vote, represent themselves in court or move around freely. And yet two women greatly influenced one of the most important events in all of Greek history. This was because of one very important part of ancient Greek life women weren’t excluded from: Religion.

Religion was everywhere in ancient Greece. So much so, that the ancient Greeks didn’t even have a word for “religion”. It was so intertwined with every part of their lives that didn’t see it as a separate sphere. And women were very important.

I’ve already mentioned the priestess of Apollon at Delphi and the priestess of Athena Polias. But these weren’t the only ones. Women had important roles in everday religious life: Girls would lead processions to a sacrifice, priestesses would pour libations and sing hymns.

Women also had their own festivals. One of most famous is the Thesmophoria . Every year in the month of Pyanepsion (late fall) women would gather to honor Demeter and Persephone. They would celebrate for three days, including baking cakes that resemble genitalia and engaging in sexual banter. At Thebes, the men were even forced to hold a senate session in the marketplace because the women were celebrating the Thesmophoria in the Cadmeia (the citadel) where they usually met.

Women known as Thyiades would dance for Dionysos at the slopes of Mount Parnassos. Pausanias tells a story of one time when some of the Thyiades, still in trance, fell asleep in marketplace at Amphissa. Local women, of fear that the men would mistreat them, formed a circle and kept a vigil all through the night.

In Hellenistic Greece, priestesses and religious benefactors would be given extraordinary honors like front seats in the theater. They were revered by the people in life and in death, like Berenike of Syros who was granted a gold crown and a public proclamation at her funeral.

Women in ancient Greece were forced to live in the shadows for most of the time. But their gods gave them an opportunity to step into the light.

(Most of the facts and stories mentioned are from Joan Breton Connelly’s book Portrait of a Priestess: Women and Ritual in Ancient Greece)

Men in the occult/Pagan/Heathen/witchy spheres: *are awful and sexist towards women*

Women in those same spheres: *decide they want none of that and go solitary*

Men in the occult/Pagan/Heathen/witchy spheres: *confused* Where are all the women??? Why can’t I find a Nice Pagan Woman™?

This also works for other minority groups.

Thoroughly Modern Mary: A Case of Victorian Identity


Mary Sutherland has always been my favorite ACD female character. But aside from how I connect with her, I’ve been intrigued by Holmes’ interest in her as opposed to her problem. I think she may be the only client Holmes found more interesting than her plight. And in an effort to sort out why that might be, I’ve had to consider what she might represent to Holmes and the London in which she would have lived. 

Mary is a typist in a time when typewriters were a relative novelty. Having access to a typewriter in the 1880s-1890s would have been like having access to a personal computer in the 1970s to early 1980s. She’s making money from this cool new machine doing a job that’s decidedly non-domestic. She made a living that required fluent and rapid reading skills when almost 1/5 of England’s population was illiterate.  If we were to update her story to the present day (and not merely as a throwaway scene to show how clever Sherlock is, ahem), she might have a STEM-related career, perhaps at a small company rather light on eligible bachelors.

Women doing paid work isn’t new or even that unusual. When families need more cash than men can earn, women work for pay. But the Victorian era was a time when middle-class women were pressured to become the consumers of fancy new household gadgets and were barred from the new professions and the then-developing concept of a “career.” But Mary Sutherland comes from a family who has owned a successful business and made sound investments. She’s part of the middle class that looked to define taste and respectability, the latter including confining women to the domestic sphere. Her family isn’t in need of the money, and a woman earning money for her own enjoyment still holds hints of rebellion.

Her dress is described in lavish detail, and it’s the lavish touches that make it clear that she’s a modern young woman. I don’t know how well her color combinations would have worked for those with Victorian ideas about fashion, but it’s clear that she’s buying her clothing herself, getting the latest fashions, and probably buying ready-made when her grandmother might have never touched a dress not made by someone she knew personally. Mary Sutherland is fashion forward. 

Sherlock represents the push to form a better society through science. He seeks justice at the end of the microscope. Mary represents the promise and the perils of this better society. She’s a woman who can wield the newest gadgets but is lost when confronted with the ancient problem of evil. 

anonymous asked:

Do you have any suggestions for books about women in music or whatever? I'm going through books on your women in visual art masterpost and enjoying them I thought you might know of some. Thank you.

yea ! and thanks. i don’t find there are as many published texts focused solely on the narrative of women in music as there are women visual art mediums but being me i read any i can get a hold of lol :

Pink Noises: Women on Electronic Music and Sound by Tara Rodgers – i’m putting this first bc it’s my favorite and was SO IMPORTANT to me when i was first getting into women of the BBC workshop/ women in the avant garde & electronic music.. i think i found it through looking for writings about annea lockwood and pinknoises.com.. if you know me you know women in electronic/ avant garde music are everything 2 me and this book does such a good job contextualizing the female perspective in sound. it’s so good.  

Divas in the Convent: Nuns, Music, and Defiance in Seventeenth-Century Italy by Craig A. Monson -- oh my god ever since i heard rosa mistica i have been completely obsessed with the work of female nuns whose astounding compositions were repressed and discouraged by the church hierarchy in the 1600′s. it’s a fascinating history to me idk if anyone shares this fixation but this book is amazing. 

Celestial Sirens: Nuns and Their Music in Early Modern Milan by Robert L. Kendrick – one to read with ‘divas in the convent’ - less accessible bc it’s an academic text with a heavy musicologist tone but if you can get a hold of it it’s stunningly thorough and relavatory, i learned so much about performance rituals surrounding polyphonic music from this. if you like sacred music it’s a must imo. 

Songbirds: Pioneering Women in Jamaican Music by Heather Augustyn – this author has written a lot about ska and obviously has a large reference point for jamaican music and sounds of the culture so i enjoyed this read a lot. i had little prior knowledge to how hard women in this sphere had it which makes endurance of women covered so admirable, very whole in its biographical coverage. 

Violence Girl: East L.A. Rage to Hollywood Stage, a Chicana Punk Story by Alice Bag – this is one of my favorite books about women in punk. alice is of course of the seminal band the bags and her standing within the scene makes the perspective really personal and insightful. highly recommend. 

Dissonant Divas in Chicana Music: The Limits of La Onda by Deborah R. Vargas – a friend gave this to me and it is wonderful. vargas is a great writer, if you know nothing about la onda in mexico or america this will ignite an interest and if you do this provides so much insight and contextualization as to the history and cultural performance. 

From Convent to Concert Hall: A Guide to Women Composers by Martha F. Schleifer – another important one to me early on. when i started taking music theory courses i was discouraged the composers discussed were never women so i took up independently diving into these histories, this is an academic text which does a great job of relating the canon of female composers to a lineage of male counterpoints and exploring reasons why their endurance is faulted by musicology- wonderful and comprehensive. 

to go along with that:  The Norton/Grove Dictionary of Women Composers  – obviously an essential reference material if it’s of interest to you, compiled out of love and passion for furthering these women’s work (the tagline is: “Throughout history women have been composing music, but their achievements have usually gone unrecognized” i mean !! yesss) was of great help to me in discovering composers who i had glossed over.

The Lost Women of Rock Music: Female Musicians of the Punk Era by Helen Reddington – great and thorough w/ good insight re: social and commercial reasons women of this scene never “broke through” or lived on in mythos the way their male counterparts did, says “rock” broadly in the title but covers a lot of post-punk like the raincoats/ x-ray spex/ crass female acts like poison girls which i loved. notable for interviews with au pairs and delta 5 ladies!!!!! + viv albertine pre her own book.. love it

Stormy Weather: The Music and Lives of a Century of Jazz Women by Linda Dahl – there are actually a good amount of books about women in jazz but this is probably my favorite, it’s a great starting off point. most focuses on the new orleans scene/ 40′s era big band/ swing in its prime/ seminal vocal jazz ladies but well researched, organized, and passionate. 

Black Women and Music: More than the Blues and Songs in Black and Lavender: Race, Sexual Politics, and Women’s Music by Eileen M. Hayes – both amazing works, heavily academic in precedent and standing but hayes is a definitive voice in this subject and i love her perspective. the first is a collection of essays that spans everything from disregarded black women in classical music to the nuances of black feminism in hip hop narratives to black women in avant garde collectives. unbelievably diverse, informative, well researched, and insightful. the second book is focused on black lesbian presence in music festivals predominately catered to white lesbians, very interesting look into a discourse you genuinely don’t see much written about.

Swing Shift: “All-Girl” Bands of the 1940s by Sherrie Tucker – super fun read about the boom jazz bands of women and interest in female musicians and performance saw in the WWII era and how these artists fought against the social perception that they were only replacements for REAL musicals acts while men were at war, captivating slice of history.

Blues Legacies and Black Feminism: Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday by Angela Y Davis – some essential analytic insights into poetic politics if that interests you. it’s davis so what do you expect. her portrait of blues music is informed by working class black feminist histories and voices, making her perspectives on billie holliday songs (all of her breakdowns of artists’ songs are illuminating, astutely conscious in their literacy and force you to listen to the work differently) and how these artists laid foundation for feminist dialogs still enduring today something really special/ significant with potency imo. a genre as a basis of independence and freedom.

Finding Her Voice: Women in Country Music, 1800-2000 by Mary A. Bufwack – straightforward work documenting women’s roots in country music and related social anthropology pretty much. worthwhile even if country music doesn’t thrill you, the stories of this music is very american. watching significant historical plights and hardships of the US lower class shape that art is interesting.

Big Ears: Listening for Gender in Jazz Studies editors: Nicole T. Rustin and Sherrie Tucker – collection of essays on various subjects all relating to how gender dynamics/ politics inform jazz as a music and culture. really liked it.

Women’s Voices Across Musical Worlds editor: Jane A. Bernstein – well organized into five sections, approaches themes of sexual politics in music production & distribution/ sequestration of female performance with a very cross-cultural complex approach. 

Cecilia Reclaimed: Feminist Perspectives on Gender and Music editor: Susan C. Cook – another book of essays, dull but informed. 

Female Song Tradition and the Akan of Ghana: The Creative Process in Nnwonkoro by Kwasi Ampene – another one my friend handed off to me, thoroughly academic in its musicology and extensive field work. most comprehensive writings on nnwonkoro as a genre you’ll find so i found it compelling.

Gender and the Musical Canon by Marcia J. Citron – well done work regarding feminist perspectives in regard to the western music canon, would be aptly suitable as an introductory text. 

Women Make Noise: Girl Bands from the Motown to the Modern editor: Julia Downes – too broad and ambitious to be comprehensive into any one specific margin of women in music, but serves as a nice glance of the timeline from the past 50 years. another that would be best as a introductory guide.

Hazel Scott: The Pioneering Journey of a Jazz Pianist, from Cafe Society to Hollywood to HUAC by Karen Chilton – great biography of a seminal black renaissance artist and female jazz musician. 

Black Pearls: Blues Queens of the 1920s by Daphne Harrison – THE go to book for an overview of women in blues, examined from many angles.

Women, Music, Culture: An Introduction by Julie C. Dunar – this is an undergrad text book i read as a starting point and listening guide into the world of female musicians, lol. well done an engaging, the companion CD is useful. 

Ruth Crawford Seeger: A Composer’s Search for American Music by Judith Tick – i adore seeger and covet anything i can read about her so this is an all time favorite for me. so well done and comprising of her standing as a composer, woman, and within the scene that breed her. 

to read in tandem that i just finished recently because i had next to zero prior knowledge about opera:  En Travesti: Women, Gender Subversion, Opera //  Opera; or, The Undoing of Women //  Siren Songs : Representations of Gender and Sexuality in Opera // Voicing Gender: Castrati, Travesti, and the Second Woman in Early-Nineteenth-Century Italian Opera //  The Queen’s Throat: Opera, Homosexuality, and the Mystery of Desire … female empowerment and agency in opera (as well as the gay history within) is so fascinating to me, worth looking into. 

Carla Bley (American Composers) by Amy C. Beal – fantastic biography and retrospective of an astounding female jazz composer. a bit brief but i enjoyed it regardless, felt beal had an intuitive grasp on bley’s prerogative and voice.

another in tandem pairing:  The Acoustic Mirror: The Female Voice in Psychoanalysis and Cinema by Kaja Silverman and  Into the Vortex: Female Voice and Paradox in Film by Brita Sjogroen – maybe a bit off focus from “music” fully because it’s more about film, but worthwhile exploration of feminist theory regarding sound and women’s origins of voice as used in cinema. if you’re a fan of michel chion’s writings like “the voice in cinema” you’ll enjoy. 

Musicology and Difference: Gender and Sexuality in Music Scholarship by Ruth A. Solie – one of the first books i read that really covered gender politics in relation to music as a study, does a good job of dispelling the proposition that these perspectives are only applicable in niche women’s studies circles. hasn’t aged well though. 

another big in tandem reading list because i think these all overlap in focus and work well when consumed as a whole: Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution by Sara Marcus //  The Riot Grrrl Collection //  Cinderella’s Big Score: Women of the Punk and Indie Underground (Live Girls) by Maria Raha //  Pretty in Punk: Girl’s Gender Resistance in a Boy’s Subculture by Lauraine Leblanc //  Girl Power: The Nineties Revolution in Music by Marissa Meltzer // Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys: A Memoir by Viv Albertine // Girls Rock!: Fifty Years of Women Making Music //   She’s a Rebel: The History of Women in Rock and Roll (Live Girls) by Gillian G. Gaar //  She Bop: The definitive history of women in popular music + She Bop II by Lucy O’Brien // Chris Stein / Negative: Me, Blondie, and the Advent of Punk by Chris Stein // We Owe You Nothing by Daniel Sinker (you’ll notice a lot of these are punk planet related) // Will Work for Drugs by Lydia Lunch //  Female-Rock Photos by Ronald Vaughan //  Riot Grrrl: Revolution Girl Style Now! – most of these were big to me as a teenager, ahaha. 

sort of in that vein: Drugs Are Nice: A Post-Punk Memoir by Lisa Crystal Carver – i adore suckdog so i’m biased but this is def among my favorite music autobiographies. i love lisa, all her books are fun.

Mismatched Women: The Siren’s Song Through the Machine by Jennifer Fleeger – funny relic, very interesting. again, not so much solely “music” focused- more a study on the female voice and its application and history in different media. 

From Spirituals to Symphonies: African-American Women Composers and Their Music by Helen Walker-Hill – carefully researched, fantastic reference point. a must if you’re interested in black women within music. covers the likes of early 20th century composers like irene britton smith/ undine smith moore/ margaret bonds// women who achieved success in their respective periods who have been neglected by canonical standards today.

Female Voices from an Ewe Dance-drumming Community in Ghana by James Burns – respectful ethnomusicology of adekede, author does a great job and obviously has personal vested interest in these women and their music. nice read, accompanying DVD makes it better.

Blues Empress in Black Chattanooga: Bessie Smith and the Emerging Urban South by Michelle R. Scott //  Bessie: Revised and expanded edition by Chris Albertson – the former focuses more on the history and social landscape/ migration of the black community in chattanooga, the latter is a great biography of one of the most important female voices in blues. 

Mother of the Blues: A Study of Ma Rainey by Sandra Lieb – another good portrait of a seminal blues woman. 

Women Making Music: The Western Art Tradition, 1150-1950 editor: Jane Bowers – encyclopedic and richly studied, contributions from a ton of respected scholars. great focus on female composers with chapters dedicated to the likes of Clara Schumann, Ethel Smyth, etc. 

Home Girls Make Some Noise!: Hip-Hop Feminism Anthology – great collection of essays that sometimes border on prose exploring black female agency in hip hop spaces with the nuance experience provides. recommended

Girl Groups: Fabulous Females That Rocked the World by John Clemente – super fun little read, informed profiles of 60 key girl groups that following in the brill building type sound. if you like that scene it’s a must, sheds light on histories i was less familiar with. definitive.

Listening to Salsa: Gender, Latin Popular Music, and Puerto Rican Cultures by Frances R Aparicio – genealogy of Afro-Caribbean music filtered through Puerto Rican literature with a women’s studies angle makes this look at salsa as a social identity compelling and different. some of the analysis of the music leaves room for conflict but still worthwhile. 

Monteverdi’s Unruly Women: The Power of Song in Early Modern Italy by Bonnie Gordon – AMAZING READ. i love this book, gordon divulges into the social and musical environment female singers whose voices were demanded but whose presence was largely discouraged and dangerous lived in during renaissance italy using theoretical frameworks to lend insight into music rather than using it to bring forward dogmatic statements re: theory.. so well done and fascinating. adore her writing and approach.

The International Sweethearts of Rhythm by Antoinette D Handy – enjoyable look at one of the most seminal all girl jazz bands of the time period. 

Melting the Venusberg: A Feminist Theology of Music by Heidi Epstein – verbose but feminist analysis of church music and deconstructing those hierarchies based in theology that goes all the way to contemporary artists like Diamanda Galas is hard to come by so i enjoyed this. 

Respect: Women and Popular Music by Dorothy Marcic – unique in that it takes a look at female narratives in western pop throw an organized introspection of 20 big pop hits. well written. 

Queering the Pitch by Phillip Bret //  Listening to the Sirens: Musical Technologies of Queer Identity from Homer to Hedwig by Judith A Peraino //  The Queer Composition of America’s Sound: Gay Modernists, American Music, and National Identity by Nadine Hubbs – all notable LGBT+ works on music that are worth looking into if that interests you.

Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon–and the Journey of a Generation by Sheila Weller Joni Mitchell: In Her Own Words by Malka Marom / Simple Dreams: A Musical Memoir by Linda RondstadtA Natural Woman: A Memoir by Carole King – all good to read in companion if you’re curious as to the histories of that group of women the defined a specific sound and idyll in american music.

Jazz Women: 1900 to the Present, Their Words, Lives and Music by Sally Placksin – 80′s relic of the female jazz preservation canon, pretty meaty and well focused subjects. 

Just for a Thrill: Lil Hardin Armstrong, First Lady of Jazz by James L. Dickerson – flawed characterization and contextualization reaches at points but still worth reading, pairs well with the former book. 

Shall We Play That One Together?: The Life and Art of Jazz Piano Legend Marian McPartland by Paul de Barros – much better effort in terms of comprehensive bios of women who overcame social precedent to make names as accomplished jazz musicians, wonderful read. 

Amy Beach, Passionate Victorian: The Life and Work of an American Composer, 1867-1944 by Adrienne Fried Block – big fan of beach’s piano works so naturally i was thrilled to find a meticulously detailed well researched fleshed out biography on her, takes her character beyond being a victim of odds against her into a complex artist with inherent musical prowess.

Women Drummers: A History from Rock and Jazz to Blues and Country by Angela Smith // When the Drummers Were Women: A Spiritual History of Rhythm by Layne Redmond – well suited for reading together, the former indexes hundreds of female drummers with over 50 some odd interviews, super informative and engaging historical anecdotes. the later plays on a much older narrative- the practice of sacred rhythm/ drugging among goddesses and various religious ceremonies/ celebrations- equally as compelling. 

Some Liked It Hot: Jazz Women in Film and Television, 1928-1959 by Kristin A. McGee – chronicles women’s jazz performances through early filmography, explores the motivations of these histories place within jazz “canon”, interesting read with great pictures. 

Wicked Woman: Women in Metal from the 1960s to Now by Addison Herron-Wheeler – fun little [100 pages] work that expands on women’s place with metal histories with some tracing back to goddess traditions that don’t entirely line up, still worth it.

Sophisticated Ladies: the Great Women of Jazz and Madame Jazz: Contemporary Women Instrumentalists by Leslie Gourse – gourse is a fantastic writer on jazz, the former would be a great introduction to the more notable and celebrated female vocal jazz talents, the later goes into the neglected stories of women instrumentalists in the jazz realm that’s really compelling- not anecdotal regurgitated shit. 

Women Composers: The Lost Tradition Found, Second Edition by Diane Peacock Jezic – fine for what it is, another book documenting female composers, noting their dejected obscuring, expanding on feminist musicology.

Women of the Underground: Music: Cultural Innovators Speak for Themselves by Zora Von Burden – great read. highly recommend this one, notable for first hand interviews with: Wanda Jackson, Miss Mercy (GTOs), Moe Tucker (Velvet Underground), Nina Hagen, Lydia Lunch, Adele Bertei (The Contortions), Cosey Fanni Tutti (Throbbing Gristle), Jarboe (Swans), Slymenstra (Gwar), Patricia Morrison (Sisters of Mercy, The Damned), Teresa Nervosa (Butthole Surfers), Laurie Anderson, Kembra Pfahler (The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black), Pam Tent (The Cockettes), Pauline Black (The Selecter), among others.. that diversity and the depth of coverage make it one of the more unique entries. 

Women In Music: An Anthology of Source Readings from the Middle Ages to the Present by Carol Neuls-Bates – includes some interesting source material from its subjects including diary entries, poems, lesser known writing and compositions- scholarly but approachable. 

Rock She Wrote: Women Write About Rock, Pop, and Rap by Evelyn McDonnell – a fun one. more about the practice of writing about music than playing it. compilation of almost 70 articles/ pieces/ essays/ personal anecdotes penned by women who serve as columnists, contributors, academics, as well as musicians (patti smith and kim gordon among them) about various genres and events. lots of personal appeal.

Girl Groups, Girl Culture: Popular Music and Identity in the 1960s by Jacqueline Warwick – interesting work of sociology study as applied to girl groups, examining their significance and audience barriers, stresses their importance with an author well attuned to the scope of what they’re talking about. accessible for thesis writing.

Electric Ladyland: Women and Rock Culture by Lisa L. Rhodes – if women’s advancement of and involvement in midcentury rock culture is of interest to you this is probably the most thorough examination of it you will find.

Antonia Mercé, la Argentina: flamenco y la vanguardia española by Ninotchka Bennahum – a bit off tangent because it’s far more about dance than music, but a great celebration of early 20th century spanish vanguard in all avenues. really enjoyed it.

The World of Women in Classical Music by Anne K. Gray – far more accessible than some of the more college level texts i’ve mentioned on the subjects of women in classical spaces, a bit broad and sweeping but beholding of all the biographical information and encyclopedic in its approach. great resource.

Girl Groups: The Story of a Sound by Alan Betrock - another fun relic of a girl group aficionado summarizing some history, less vital than the others i listed but worthwhile to any big fan of the genre. 

Lydia Mendoza’s Life in Music: La Historia de Lydia Mendoza: Norteño Tejano Legacies by  Yolanda Broyles-Gonzalez – fantastic biography of one of the most enduring and notable Chicana icons, includes some first hand interview coverage and astoundingly thorough documentation of her life.

Satin Dolls: The Women of Jazz by Andrew Hagar – another in the lineup of works regarding female jazz vocalists, nothing life changing but i do enjoy hagar’s writing- it’s obvious he comes from at least a seasoned background.

Music and Women: The Story of Women in Their Relation to Music (The Diane Peacock Jezic Series of Women in Music) by Sophie Drinker – uncompromisingly feminist, compendium of background into women’s relationship w/ music, puts forth a theoretical model for reconceptualizing how we understand this harmony. interesting but very theory heavy. 

Musical Echoes: South African Women Thinking in Jazz by Caron Ann Muller – fascinating biography of cape town jazz musician Sathima Bea Benjamin. who, among having a gripping career as a recording artists, founded her own label and made a unique mark on jazz’s history. 

Shout, Sister, Shout!: The Untold Story of Rock-and-Roll Trailblazer Sister Rosetta Tharpe by Gayle Wald – obviously “women in rock” as a colloquialism begins and ends at tharpe. definitive not only as her personal history but for a bluepring for all rock musicians to come. definitely a must. 

Women and Popular Music: Sexuality, Identity and Subjectivity by Sheila Whiteley – feminist musicology work a little too vague and light for me to find compelling. would be of interest to those invested in feminist analysis of pop culture touchstones and that line of dialog. 

Underneath a Harlem Moon: The Harlem to Paris Years of Adelaide Hall by Iian Cameron Williams – amazing biography of a harlem renaissance superstar. a consummate, reverent, and adoring look at her life. if the work of artists like duke ellington interest you this is definitely of note.

Women in Music: A Research and Information Guide and Women and Music: A History by Karin Anna Pendle – pendle’s a good author, knows what she’s talking about and commanding of fact. i highly recommend the later as a resource for contextualization and history. 

A Bad Woman Feeling Good: Blues and the Women Who Sing Them by Buzzy Jackson – truly one of the more mediocre books on this subject but since i’m already being a completionist, it gets a mention.

Feminine Endings: Music, Gender, and Sexuality by Susan McClary – one of the more widely regarded and “important” works of cultural critique within music context, you either love it or you hate it. i think its praxis is a little reductionist and not really in alignment with my personal standings but it’s worth a read. 

New Historical Anthology of Music by Women by James R. Briscoe – accompanies a CD of the works listed and discussed, some good biographical information. worth investigating if you’re as invested in the subject as i am.

as per usual i know i’m forgetting some but yeah those are what come to mind rn.. a fun topic i like talking about. you should read one/ recommend me one

Today I have weared my hair super natural, like, i made it look pretty big and felt really beautiful. But as soon as I stepped out of the house I caught almost every fucking cracker staring at me. This pissed me of on so many levels bc they made me feel ugly when I was so happy with it at first. Damn I wished I lived in a place where there would be way more black people around. Also, even in the subway there was this whitey behind me touching my hair but my friend told me 2 late.

Why We Should Celebrate Iranian Women

By My Fars Lady, Editor-in-Chief

Today is International Women’s Day and I’d like take some time to celebrate Iranian women. In the West, the image of Iranian women is simplified to nose-jobs and chadors. While I don’t deny their interest in rhinoplasty, these ordinary women are living under extraordinary circumstances. And the attention they have received so far lacks a depth and an appreciation of theit unique traits: 

“Under Western Eyes: Westoxicated” by Hoda Afshar, 2013


Iranian women are reputed for their beauty. That speaks volumes when the majority of their bodies are publicly covered. And yet only being able to see their faces, their manicured nails, and their immaculate eyebrows suffices in pointing out the obvious: “Girls know how to work it.

But the life of a Persian/Kurdish/Azeri/Lor/Baluchi princess wasn’t always full of catcalls and flattery. Iranian women are the Middle Eastern ugly ducklings who turn into swans. The majority of women in this country are dark-featured. Consequently they are born with forehead-hair and by the time they’re six they already have mustaches. Gradually with time and with pressure from their aunts, these ducklings turn into fierce swans. The secret to their transformation? Iranian women put in the extra effort. Where ever and whenever they go out their blush will be prominent, their eye make-up will be elegant, their lip liner will be defining, their shoes will be polished, and their manteau will be pressed. Fierceness: 24/7.

*All photos are by The Tehran Times and the paintings were posted on their site


I wholeheartedly love having an Iranian mother. Along with many other Iranian mamas, mine is deeply protective, undeniably self-sacrificing, and gloriously loving. She’s a straight-up Iranian lioness (“sheerzan”). Yes, they may give their sons more privileges (so unabashedly pesar dust). But the daughters are lucky enough to become a part of a long line of Iranian mama lionesses. My mother’s generation in particular, both abroad and within Iran, is something else. They have fought by the skin of their teeth to raise their children while struggling with the heartbreaking trials of emigration, the horrifying traumas of the wars, and the sudden upheavals of revolution. That alone deserves infinite respect.

“Kotak” by Darvish Fakhr, 2014


House slippers versus bathroom slippers is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the Iranian woman’s affinity for cleanliness. Sometimes it even borders on life-threatening when they bleach (whitex) the kitchen twice a week. (Hey, it’s hard to live in the dusty cities of Iran.) I personally, as an Iranian-American, find it overwhelming at times. But it’s soothing to know that your Iranian grandmother’s OCD ways is helping with serious disease control. At the end of the day, how can you go wrong with an apartment whose “cleanliness is close to godliness”?


If it were up to the women of Iran, then a nuclear deal would have already been made. The Iranian woman’s interest in Europe and North America transcends travel excursions and foreign satellite channels. They’re the bulk of the mass emigration movement. If you meet a woman in Tehran who’s educated, single and 27 years old, then there’s a 99% chance that she’s studying for the IELTS. Their enthusiasm for the West (“gharb shiftegi”) is a complex modern phenomenon that necessitates a deep understanding of their circumstances. While it’s depressing to see so many Iranian women eager to emigrate, I deeply respect their tenacity and their drive. They want the world at their fingertips, and why shouldn’t they?

“Flirtation” by Ghazaleh Avarzamani


“Iranian women are bad cooks,” said no one ever. Iranian women start as expert tea-servers, transition into competitive rice-makers and ultimately become the quintessential hospitable “housewife” (kadbanou). Iranian food is rich, hearty and lactose-friendly. It necessitates talent, a passion for cooking for three hours and a knack for decorating their soups with Persian motifs. Iranian cuisine is a must-see tourists and the pride of a diaspora, and Iranian women behind cooking it all deserve all the credit.

“Feast No. 1” by Amin Nourani, 2011


The heart of any Iranian family is the matriarch. It’s not easy to emotionally satisfy a tribe of Iranians. But the Iranian woman has enough love and affection to distribute amongst all of her children, grandchildren, siblings, nephews/nieces, and cousins. It’s the Iranian woman and matriarch who unites all her quarrelling children under one roof for lunch. It’s the Iranian woman and matriarch who constructively criticizes you because she knows you’re capable of more. It’s the Iranian and matriarch who teaches you pragmatism and flexibility during a time of overwhelming instability. It’s the Iranian woman and matriarch who instills in you a love for family. <3

“The Truth Series" 


Iranians are sexist. Period. The situation in Iran isn’t as oppressive as Western media outlets would make you think. Iranian women are making up 60% of the university body population. And in urban settings they’re demonstrating increasing socio-economic independence. Regardless, Iranian women are still routinely degraded, demeaned and disenfranchised both in the public and the private sphere. Women in this country respond by becoming inspiringly resilient. They cling to their families and hold tight onto the peace that they find at home. They compensate for their lack of control over the chaos outside by going OCD on their kitchens. They escape into romantic images of Europe. They majestically sacrifice themselves for their children in order to ensure that they have a better life. They find way to maintain a stunning grace under pressure.


While Women’s Day in Iran is traditionally celebrated alongside Mother’s Day (which is Hazrat Fatima’s birthday), I’m taking advantage of all opportunities to celebrate the unique resilience and criminally unexplored depth of the Iranian woman. I hope we can all work together in advocating and developing a multi-dimensional understanding of the Iranian woman.

*All photos from this post are from thetehrantimes.tumblr.com. It’s a well-known Iranian fashion blog. Its subjects are notoriously specific to upper socio-economic classes and urban settings. However, it’s a refreshing alternative to the Western stereotypes of Iranian women. In addition, it’s showcases a lot of great artwork by Iranians.  


Listen: I love superhero comics. I have loved them for most of my life. My desire for more women in superhero comics–writing them, starring in them, drawing them, whatever–is all-consuming. I love the silliest excesses of the genre. I love its history. I love sound effects and ridiculous origins and the Merry Marvel Marching Society. I have six books on comics history in this room with me alone. I love superhero comics.

But I want to emphasize something that I don’t think is said often enough in the women-in-comics sphere: the endgame is not female superheroes. I mean, I want them. Like, really, really badly, with the kabooms and the day saving and the underwear on the outside. But superhero comics, at their core, are still fundamentally masculine. They’re about victory through force, they’re about saving those you perceive as unable to save themselves–they are, as they have always been, male power fantasies. And that’s not all bad! I love fight scenes and rugged individualism–honestly, I still love Lois Lane swept to safety in Superman’s arms. And I want comics about women that involve and even embrace these values–we need stories about competitive women, violent women, brash women, domineering women, even chauvinist women. 

But honestly? We cannot operate entirely within the arena of superhero comics as they exist now and consider that “winning.” 50/50 gender parity within that slim slice of genre will be wonderful, but if it exists alone, it will be a failure. I want comics–tons of comics, enormous chunks of the industry–devoted to women and female concerns. I want classically feminine values to be celebrated. I want stories about sisters and wet nurses and cleaning ladies. I want Wonder Woman to save the day through empathy and I don’t want it to be seen as the lesser option when compared to victory through force. I want introspective meanderings devoted to a sixteen-year-old girl’s crush on Penny who lives next door. I comics that look nothing like comics do today.

Victory for women in comics means exploding the concept of “superhero comics” as we know it. It means comics like Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane, which look at the genre from a radically different perspective while leaving it intact–but it also means comics like Utena, which burn conventional notions of womanhood and storytelling to the ground. It means “revolutionary,” “transgressive,” and “alternative” comics that feature more than one female character and don’t include a rape scene to up their grit quotient. It means hundreds of pages devoted to Boring Chick Stuff, the type even the most ardent male feminists tend to shy away from. It means hearing about Phoebe Gloeckner just as often as we hear about R. Crumb. It means reimagining what “good” “exciting” and “worthwhile” means. We need to create comics–lots of comics–that maybe don’t appeal to men. We don’t have to have to trash cape-and-cowl fare entirely–but we need to surround it with other stories, other perspectives, and massively different definitions of heroism. Different definitions of story. The rules of the game are rigged. We have to write new ones.


Elenore Plaisted Abbot 1875 – 1935 was a Philadelphia- based illustrator and scenic designer. She was born in Lincoln, Maine in 1875. Abbott studied at the Philadelphia School of Design for Women, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, and in Paris at the Académie des Beaux-Arts.She married artist and laywer C. Yarnall Abbott in 1898, and in 1899 they returned to Philadelphia, where she enrolled in the Drexel School, under the instruction of the esteemed Howard Pyle.

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The Surveillance of Women's Political Consciousness

Surveillance of women’s political consciousness is a key objective of the patriarchal backlash, which manifests itself through male demands for inclusion into women’s spaces. One need only look at all those organisations that have men within them to see how collusive and compromised such organisations become within a short space of time. Often these men take over the most critical elements within the organisation, often the control over finances and the publications section, imposing a male voice over the views and knowledge that women bring to the public. We know that voice and the visibilisation of women’s experiences are foundation stones of the Women’s Movement saying what we know and want is so very central to our agenda and our freedom. Why therefore are some women’s organisations handing over their newsletters and documentation sections to males who gladly ‘speak on their behalf.’ Have we not demanded the right to speak for ourselves and used this facility to debunk the myths and stereotypes that still characterise the male media. Yet some women see no political threat with having a male, one of those ‘nice’ ones, occupying the status of knowledge processor in their organisations.

Within the language of compromise, such organisations are conforming to ‘gender mainstreaming’ which basically re-inforces the welfarist tendencies within women’s activism through the de-politicisation of women’s agency in the public.

Gender becomes an empty notion, without any relationship to power and contestation, and women are told to consider the interests of boys and men in the same breath as they attempt to bridge the yawning gap between themselves and males across time and space. The de-politicisation of women’s struggles lies at the heart of the demand to include males in women’s political spaces, because it is clear to males (as well as to conservative females, most of whom predominate in the Women’s Movement across the globe) that by occupying a political space in the public which women have crafted and marked as their own, women become radical and develop a consciousness of themselves and their rights. This is a threat to the privilege and interests of males in all patriarchal societies.

For me, this is the core of the matter. When women occupy public spaces as persons who understand that for millennia they have been denied their inalienable rights as human beings, they begin to demand the restitution of those rights through the creation of structures within which they situate financial, technical and intellectual resources.

When women become articulate about who they are sexually and cast off the old patriarchal myths about what a woman can be and what she is not allowed to become, women become powerful and acquire the ability to say no to violence; no to unpaid labour; no to exploitation and discrimination in the name of cultural preservation. Women become persons who relate to the state in new and challenging ways, no longer waiting for men in the state to dole out a few “favours” in the name of benevolent dictatorship.

Such women become autonomous and their Movement becomes a force for the transformation of oppressive relations of power in both the public and the private spheres.

Such women are a danger to all males, regardless of how some men define themselves. Therefore, women’s spaces as politicised spaces must be occupied under the guise of “inclusion” and those women who resist such surveillance are accused of being man-haters and of acting in “exclusionary” ways the same old story we have heard for centuries. When women first demanded the right to be free, to have access to education (not even equal access, just access to the collective knowledge of their respective societies), they were accused of hating men. Those of us who have refused to be ritualised and owned by men through heterosexual marriage, and who have sometimes gone on to love other women, are marked as “heretics” and man-haters. The tarring of women with the brush of heterosexist vitriol is well-known and most women fear it because it is a harsh and ruthless brush that marks a woman for the rest of her life as Other and Dangerous.

But we have learnt along the long road of our struggle for freedom, that compromising only takes us back even further than where we started. So we must hold on to our spaces because they are the only living spaces that we have and can own as women in these deeply woman-hating, patriarchal societies we continue to live in at the present time.

If men want to engage in gendered politics, let them set up their own structures and create a new political discourse on democracy and equality with those who live in their societies. As politically conscious women well know, men have a lot of work to do on themselves. While a helping hand is always useful, the old saying that charity begins at home applies moreso today to men than ever before. Men must clean out their patriarchal household as men, first, and get themselves a new identity one that does not depend on owning women; on buying and selling women; on raping, forcibly occupying, and pillaging the bodies of women or on plundering women’s minds so that they can prove to each other that they are real men. Men need to develop a political ideology that does not require that men exclude women from the institutions that we too have built and which belong to us as much as they belong to all who live in our societies.

That is where I stand as a radical African feminist on the sacred spaces we have carved out, often with our very lives, and I am not prepared to share them with any man, as long as males continue to be privileged by patriarchy.

Patricia McFadden is a radical African Feminist/Scholar, born in Swaziland almost 50 years ago. She lives and works in Zimbabwe as well as at the level of the regional and global women’s movement (She considers the Women’s Movement her home). She works particularly in conceptualising gender within the African context; making the distinction between Gender as a construct and Feminism as a political ideology/stance. She also works in Sexuality and Reproductive Rights/Health, and more recently she has been focusing on issues of citizenship and relations of property between African women and the state.

From the Black Trans Girls Who Shut It Down

In the wake of over 20 trans women losing their lives last year, we are full of not only grief and reverence, but of resilience and commitment to protect black trans lives. These terrible happenings are a result of the many factors that place black trans women in so much risk just by leaving our homes, if we even have homes to begin with. Black trans women have consistently resisted against anti blackness, patriarchy, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia and white supremacy by being a model of unapologetic truth. The pervasiveness of these systems of domination negatively affect access to basic needs–even down to our personal relationships.

The unemployment rate of trans people is twice the rate of the general population.This not only includes general workplaces but in specialized LGBT based organizations as well– who often market themselves as inclusive yet their practices aren’t aligned with their expressed values. In addition, The executives and staff of these organizations very often fail to reflect those of which they say they serve, yet profit off the trauma of black trans women. Even when these institutions hire trans people, they are often tokenized to facilitate the facade of inclusivity, without directly investing in the sustainability and viability of trans people in the community, effectively keeping the status quo.

Alternatively, despite mass public consumerism and curiosity surrounding Trans bodies, Black Trans women, specifically, are two times more likely to experience violence and intimidation than the general population. This no doubt expresses itself in the relationships trans women have with their intimate partners. Sustainable relationships should center respect, trust, and safety - ironically paradoxed by the fact that over 20 Trans women have been murdered in 2015 with most at the hands of their partners - The same men targeted by the criminal justice system and gunned down by the police. The of the gravity of this epidemic against the lives of Black Trans women clearly articulates the lack of solidarity and urgency of the broader community. It is imperative that we protect black trans women at all costs. Sometimes from the very people who claim to love us.

It is time that we honor and invest in the work, the art, the lives of trans women who are still here. The apologies are empty when these organizations, institutions, and abusers scream to love and uplift us while having our blood on their hands.

We will not stand for any form of violence by these organizations that scream trans allyship and inclusivity for funding while reinforcing the action of undermining, underpaying black trans women.

We will not stand for the abusers of black trans women. especially those who claim to love us, profiting, and building platforms off of the pain of black trans women in public sphere, while abusing them in private.

We will not stand for ANYONE who is complicit in the violence against Black Trans Women.

We are done asking for your consideration, your funding, or your positions. We are taking the space that is rightfully ours.

Ahya Simone, Trans Sistas of Color Project
Bre Campbell, Trans Sistas of Color Project
Aaryn Lang, Black Trans Lives Matter
Rae Nelson, Black Trans Lives Matter
L’lerret Jazelle Allith, TransgenderHQ
LaSaia Wade, TNTJ Project