Living in the city of Santa Cruz has a relatively profound impact on one’s sense of political ideology, and hailing from a much more conservative part of California, provides a little more liberal exposure than I was once accustomed to, especially as a female.
When noting this, a few particular instances come to mind: In a public bathroom I once saw:
“Embrace your womanhood! Show off that leg hair!” scrawled in sharpie on a dirty mirror. Once there was a lady in combat boots yelling from the top of a car, another time a girl in a pink scarf tugging her boyfriend down Pacific. Yet again, in front of the grocery store I once heard a particularly flustered female shout, “F*** YOU dickwad, I’m a Feminist!”.
Needless to say, I carted my over-priced organic tempeh home to contemplate the expression of my womanly identity and slapped on a Shirelles record.
One of my personal favorites, this particular piece of musical merriment was the first #1 record ever made by an all girl-group. Appropriate? Heck yeah! Female Empowerment! I marveled at how these lovely ladies had been able to thrust themselves out into the (almost exclusively male dominated) music industry with such catchy oomph. Sure there were others, The Ronettes, The Shangri-La’s, The Teddy-Bears, but none stand out as musically developed as the Shirelles. In 1996 they were formally inducted into the Rock n’ Roll hall of fame, and have had songs covered by everybody from The Beatles, to Neil
Diamond, to Amy Winehouse. They are like, totally the original “Dreamgirls”.
Songs like, “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” horrified parents about their daughters sexual exploits years before birth control was even invented. Radio stations had it banned because the lyrics were too sexually charged. Rolling Stone ranked it #125 on it’s list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All-Time. Whoa. These girls were more radical in writing songs about their boyfriends in 1958 then the ladies burning bras in trash cans in 1968. They became the primped and pouffed faces of Carole King’s girly love ballads, and no one was telling them to do so. They weren’t angry en masse, just willing to get frisky in the backseat at a time when ‘kiss and tell’ was not proper protocol for a dainty little lady.
For me, listening to a catchy-as-catchy-can-be rendition of Soldier Boy and picturing Gloria Steinem bopping to a pop song has become a just as effective method of asserting my lady-power as leg hair has.