Sixty for 60: 15. Hannah Rose Kessler

To celebrate my 60th birthday, I asked my social media friends to nominate a favourite song from 2021 – 60 to commemorate the fact I am 60.

Today, Terry Tyldesley has been good enough to recommend me Hannah Rose Kessler and her deeply sarcastic answer song ‘Your Female Rage‘. This reminds me of the acerbic poetry of early 1980s artist Anne Clark (no, not that one), but this song is far more vicious in its own way: over an acoustic, gentle guitar Kessler does not hide bare realities of objectification and being gender-patronised, nor does she bother to mask her scorn for those that would seek to treat others in a certain way. As she wrote on Facebook:

One of the songs upcoming on my EP is all about how “Female Rage” is treated as a selling point in itself. However, this “Female Rage” is full of conditions and contradictions. Eg, you can *tell* people how angry you are, they’ll nod sympathetically and tell you how brave you are for speaking out, but the moment you actually *are* angry, you’re a diva, a psycho, etc. Female Rage can be talked about, but it can’t be shown. They want us to be onstage, maybe lightly kick an amp, and shout-sing vague stuff about smashing the patriarchy, so they can wave their “YOU GO GIRL” flags and feel like they’ve done their bit for feminism. Anger isn’t always a call to arms. Sometimes it’s a lonely, desperate, painful feeling. All of us need to remember that it’s okay to sit with those feelings and consider where they come from. We don’t always have to be brave, empowered and strong. It’s okay to feel hopeless at times. No really, it is okay. I understand group motivation often uses ideas of bravery, power and strength to get people together, but I want to consider a 4th quality: Compassion. Treat your fellow human beings with compassion. Treat yourself with the compassion you treat your closest friends. Self love isn’t all about success, healthy choices and baths, sometimes it’s about allowing yourself the space to cry, to be weak. Sending all the love and solidarity to everyone who is impacted by misogyny. If you’re struggling reach out, if you know your friend is down, reach out. Look after one another ❤ we are all worthy of love.

I particularly like this line, ” Anger isn’t always a call to arms. Sometimes it’s a lonely, desperate, painful feeling.” There’s no ‘sometimes’ about it, far as many of the people I know are concerned.

The song itself is shiver-inducing, beautiful in its directness. No, not beautiful in that fucking way, you idiot. Have you not been listening to a word we’re saying? Beautiful, only inasmuch as it induces shivers, shards of recognition and isolation. Anguish. Despair. (Is loneliness sexy? I really don’t fucking think so.) The always on-it Loud Women call it, “A sensuous, barbed riposte to the commodification of feminism”. I really appreciate this raw emotion, this soul. Most of all, I appreciate this for the way it reminds me how powerful a tool music can be.

This does not make me feel comfortable, far from it.