Sixty for 60: 21. Loud Women

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. This isn’t one of them, though – this is way more important and vital than that. God, it makes me so happy to witness this. So proud, so passionate, so strong. So beautiful. The sound of myriad voices coming together to protest something that should never have needed protesting in the first place. If ever anyone says to you they don’t understand the need for – and the power of – feminism… play them this. I have no idea why this isn’t already front page news across all the varying cultural media outlets right now. A sweet fuck-you to anyone who doesn’t understand the need for urgent change RIGHT NOW.

It’s not easy as it looks, writing a protest song. I know. I’ve tried – once (reasonably) successfully, once not so successfully. This song is just incredible. An anthem for the non-binary and new feminist generation, put together by London collective Loud Women, ‘Reclaim These Streets’. Feminist Aid.

From the age of 13
I’ve known the fear of dark streets
I’ve known my body’s danger
Can he hear my heart beat?
Every woman’s got a story
Breaks silence with a whisper
Daring to tell her truth
Calling to her sisters

Text me you when get home
Keys between your fingers
Staying close to streetlights
Fear of shadows lingers

Till every woman’s safe from harm in her own home
Till every woman’s safe to live her truth
Till every woman’s safe to walk on every street
Ooo-aah
Reclaim these streets! (Reclaim these streets)
Reclaim these streets! (Reclaim these streets)
Reclaim these streets! (Reclaim these streets)
Ooo-aah

Buy a copy here. All proceeds to Women’s Aid.

Brix Smith: You know, I’d been told that Reclaim These Streets was in some ways a bit similar to Band Aid’s ‘Do You Know It’s Christmas’? When I heard that, I thought, let me call my friend Siobhan [Fahey] from Bananarama and Shakespears Sister. Back in the day, she was one of only four women on that Band Aid single out of everybody in the 1980s. They had only four women. Three of them were Bananas and one was Jody Watley. And I said, wouldn’t it be a wonderful circle to have Siobhan sing on this as well? Siobhan said, absolutely I’ll do it! So we went to her house and recorded there. She’s the last vocal with the last words “texts me when you get home”—the most haunting, throaty, emotional vocal. (Louder Than War)

Sixty for 60: 17. Pleasure Venom

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. I cannot deny that I have been somewhat swamped by nominations since then, which is brilliant – but also means that I may not be getting round to some of them for a few weeks – months, even – yet. So apologies in advance if I haven’t yet written about your inspired choice.

Today it is the turn of the inspirational musician and activist Cassie Fox to recommend. And she recommends Pleasure Venom‘s brutally apposite ‘We Get What You Deserve’. It’s LOUD! It’s angry. It’s in your face confrontational punk rock, disgusted with injustice and hatred and the imbalance of power. I say punk, but you know what? It ROCKS! Punk like… yeah, I don’t know. Punk like She always wrote it: speed thrills and anger chills. I guess I’m thinking the female side of Crass, ramped up several decades, but you can call it thrash or speed thrash or metal, even if you want. Sure, I fucking love Amyl and the Sniffers, too. – so loud that it broke my fucking speakers three times over, and I’m a little scared to try it again cos, wait… you think there is anything to disagree about here? Fuck right off the fuck out of here.

They say: Pleasure Venom are a a 5-piece experimental punk project based in Austin, TX.

We say: let it ROCK!

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.