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Queer pop goddesses are dominating (and I’m loving it)

Author:
kesha

By Christiana Paradis

There are a fair amount of music snobs in the world and while I love many of them, I find myself constantly having to defend the amount of female talent that exists in current pop music. “Autotune? Ew.” “It’s just teeny bopper crap.” “Are there any real instruments in that?” “Why don’t you listen to real music?” First, I do listen to real music, but that’s beside the point.

We are living in a time where queer (and out) female pop artists have been stunning us with their impressive vocals for multiple years, but many are struggling to receive recognition for their talents. For those of you naysayers out there I have compiled a list of the top five queer and out female pop icons, so that you don’t have to spend even one minute looking (because that’s literally all it would take) for proof that we have some queer goddesses roaming around the world of pop. So, stop what you’re doing and read, watch and listen. (List is in no particular order).

  • Lady Gaga: Since her first single release Lady Gaga has dominated current pop music. Though it took a lot of weird outfits to get much of the media to notice her, true monsters knew she was legit from the start. When she arrived on the music scene in 2009 she was openly out as bisexual. In the last two years Lady Gaga has rarely performed anywhere that she hasn’t received critical acclaim, but just in case you still need proof, check out Born This Way being performed acapella. Yeah acapella.
  • Halsey: Newer to the pop scene, Halsey’s start came from… YouTube. Though many of us have been there since the beginning or jumped on the bandwagon when Badlands released, a lot of people are most familiar with her song Castle which was used in the trailer for Snow White and The Huntsman: Winter’s War. Halsey, born Ashley Grangipane has been openly bisexual for much of her career and recently released her newest album hopeless fountain kingdom. Need proof her voice is flawless? Check out this stripped down version of the song Eyes Closed from her new album. Additionally, you can find plenty of queer friendly songs on her new album including Bad at Love and Strangers, which was recorded with Lauren Jauregui, also a bisexual pop star.
  • Kesha: Constantly lumped into the pop genre and reduced to “party music” at best, Kesha has long been underrated as an artist. Not to mention the ongoing legal battle with Sony Music after asking to be released from working with the producer who she has consistently claimed sexually and emotionally abused her. Despite many pop stars, including Kelly Clarkson, coming to Kesha’s defence it took several years for these court proceedings to come to an end with Sony finally beginning to nudge Dr. Luke out this past April. Throughout these series of events Kesha remained strong, she played at Pittsburgh’s Pride Festival as an out bisexual artist in 2016 and just released an anthem that has resonated with sexual assault survivors across the world in less than 24 hours. This is the Kesha we have seen all along and the one we’re glad the rest of the world is seeing now for the true artist that she is.
  • Miley Cyrus: Whether you agree with her tongue wagging or not, one thing is for sure you never quite know what Miley Cyrus may say or do next, but you can be assured she really doesn’t give a crap about what you think. Since her escape from Disney, she has continued to do what she wants and that has included being an out pansexual pop star that is not letting the rest of the world define her. Often seen as just another Disney star gone rogue, she has continually been reinventing herself over the past several years. She received a ton of positive feedback from her appearance on A Very Murray Christmas, and for her folk cover of Jolene. Perhaps it’s time we move on from her performances years ago and start giving Miley a real listen.
  • Sia: Though she first caught the attention of many during her performance at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards, Sia has been stunning audiences for years. Breathe Me released in 2004 has been used in countless movie soundtracks not to mention the endless slew of songwriting credits she has earned throughout the years. Often getting attention for her ability to remain predominately unseen through various wigs, costumes, etc. Sia has long been a powerful musical force. Self-identifying as queer, Sia has being open about her struggles with alcohol and drug addiction and has released several songs that chronicle these addictions. With one of the most unique and haunting voices in music today, just close your eyes and let her voice touch your soul.

Kim Kardashian and the Right to Bare All

Author:
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By Amy Callaghan

It seems like we have a new Kardashian social media blowout every few days. From Kanye’s debt to rumours of Kourtney’s romantic attachment to Justin Bieber, the media can’t leave everyone’s favourite love-to-hate family alone. Typing the word ‘Kardashian’ into Google garners around 206 million results. But this isn’t another article preaching about the degeneration of media or questioning why, exactly, the Kardashians are famous. I want to discuss the latest Kardashian ‘scandal’–Kim’s naked selfie—and what exactly the fuss is about.

It’s almost impossible to have missed the photo or the backlash. If you haven’t seen the image itself, you’ve certainly heard about it, thanks not only to the usual anonymous trolls but to numerous high-profile celebrities who have made their contempt public news. Bette Midler for example, wants us to know that we’ve seen it all before. ‘If Kim wants us to see a part of her we’ve never seen, she’s gonna have to swallow the camera’, Midler jokes, referring to the infamous 2003 sex tape, leaked without Kim’s consent. US actress and model, Chloe Grace Moretz, argues that Kim should be using her platform as a celebrity to show young women that women are more than just their bodies.

In different ways, Midler and Moretz exemplify the very toxic misogynistic issue at the heart of this debate. Midler said later that she was not trying to slut-shame Kim, but it certainly sounds like slut-shaming to me. Moretz implies that a woman who is empowered by her sexuality and her body cannot be a good role model to girls and young women– both a problematic message and objectively untrue.

There’s clearly a double standard at play here. When Kim’s sex tape was leaked non-consensually thirteen years ago, it was hugely popular and it’s still watched today, despite the fact that Kim did not want it to be shared or seen by anyone. Yet when a confident and sexy Kim makes the decision to post a selfie, suddenly no one wants to see any more of Kim Kardashian.

Criticism of the Kardashians is nothing new, but I think what really bothers people is the fact that Kim is an empowered and self-assured women unafraid to share her pride and confidence in her body with the world. Women’s bodies are big business. Young celebrities like Emma Watson, like so many other girls and women, are threatened and intimidated by “revenge porn” from former partners. Unauthorized sex tapes become big news and big business. Yet when women take ownership of their bodies and post scantily clad pictures or selfies they are subject to vile, hateful insults.

Clearly there’s a huge issue with the way in which women’s bodies are viewed. As long as they are saleable and pleasurable and controlled by others they are acceptable, but if women give even a hint of being confident, of taking back that control, then she’s the problem. What’s alarmingly apparent is that these sorts of images and videos are sexier, more pleasurable, more attractive, if they are nonconsensual, if the woman in question is a victim.

Kim wrote an inspiring essay on her website in which she argued that she feels empowered posting pictures of her body when she feels good, owning her flaws, and showing her confidence to the world. This does not make her any less of a role model, particularly from a business perspective (she makes millions of dollars from her apps, clothing lines, and most obviously her reality television franchise). Kim has proven that she can be a successful businesswoman as well as front woman for a massive dynastic franchise, while still owning her sexuality and feeling powerful and confident in her body. She has shown that even in the face of malicious and toxic backlash from the media and others, she remains secure in herself. This is, in my view, a much more inspiring and powerful message than that put forward by those who judge and ridicule her. Not once does Kim say that a woman is required to be sexy in order to be successful – just that she should allowed to be sexy and successful, and show this off to the world if she wants to.

Kim closed her essay with a powerful statement: ‘I am a mother. I am a wife, a sister, a daughter, an entrepreneur and I am allowed to be sexy.’ As a young woman, I find this message inspiring. Kim doesn’t care what others think of her – she’s going to continue being herself and being proud of it. Regardless of the hate and insults, she is confident and unafraid. She is, as she defiantly captioned a photo after the backlash she received, #liberated.

 

Innocent until proven guilty? The case of Kesha

Author:
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By Issy McConville

TW Over the last couple of days, the #FreedomForKesha hashtag has seen an outpouring of support for the singer, who is currently embroiled in a legal battle against her producer, Dr. Luke, on the grounds of sexual assault. However, it has been almost a full year since Kesha first brought the charges; a year which has seen her disappear from the public eye, whilst Dr. Luke continues to produce records, finding success with artists such as Usher and Nicki Minaj in the past year. Kesha also named Sony in the case, claiming the label knew of her abuse, but turned a blind eye for almost 10 years.

Sadly, at this point, it is likely that Kesha’s career will never recover, simply because she decided to speak out against her abuser, and about the industry which was implicit. The silencing of Kesha’s voice, and the destruction of her career, is a telling reflection of the inherent misogyny of the music industry, and of society as a whole.

Comment pieces about the case have continued to appear on my Facebook timeline. Scrolling through the comments section – I should perhaps have learned by now that this will be nothing but trouble – I happen upon comments such as ‘there is no detail of the supposed rape, just a load of feminist garbage’ and continued calls for Dr Luke to be, ‘innocent until proven guilty’. Yes, of course, innocent until proven guilty, this is a fundamental human right – but tends to be a luxury that is only afforded to the accused.

While Kesha’s career has ground to a halt, Dr. Luke is continuing to work. While Kesha’s claims are being cross examined by the public, and being blamed for crying wolf with a false accusation, Dr. Luke continues to dominate in the music industry with no retribution. And this is a pattern which is being replayed all over the world. According to statistics from RAINN (the Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network, recorded here – https://rainn.org/get-information/statistics/reporting-rates) only around 2% of rape claims are proven to be false, and in fact, only a little more than 30% of rapes are ever reported to authorities. Dispute the accuracy of these figures all you want – there is a clear discrepancy between actual false rape claims and the amount that are derided as being such.

However, the ideology of victim blaming continues. We live in a world which shames a woman for daring to speak out against an abuser but makes excuses for the man until the very last minute. Just look at problematic photographer Terry Richardson. Countless models have made claims of sexual abuse and an abuse of his power, and yet he continues to work with the biggest celebrities and be popular in the public eye. We just aren’t interested in hearing about his misdemeanours, much like those of Dr. Luke. In this case, perhaps Dr. Luke is innocent. But, as he was also named as possibly being the abuser of Lady Gaga, perhaps not. Irregardless, Kesha’s experience is just one of countless similar stories that reveal the narrative of victim blaming that exists. Kesha may have sacrificed her career to name her abuser. And until we stop believing that every rape claim is false, we play into the hands of the abusers, and allow that 70% of rapes to still go unreported.

Let’s Have Another Toast to One Direction

Author:
1d

By Sophia Simon-Bashall

I could easily write a 5000 word essay on what makes One Direction beautiful, how the media’s portrayal of them as ‘bad boy’ womanizers is an illusion founded on little white lies, and how a lot of people are unfair in their attitudes towards them and their fans. I can recall literally hundreds of instances in which Harry Styles has shut down sexism, supported the LGBTQPIA community, promoted animal welfare… there are so many things. Harry Styles is a gift to humanity. I could write at least 5000 words on him alone – I have no control. But it’s not just Harry who’s an absolute angel, 5/5 are pretty great overall (yes, I am saying that there are five of them… Zayn is their brother… till the end). As individuals and as a group, One Direction back an endless number of projects which aim to improve people’s lives, and are, more often than not, highly involved in these projects. I would list them all, but a) we’d be here for a ridiculous length of time, and b) you can look it up on tumblr, there must be about 1000 masterposts on all their little things.

I do however want to talk about the major project they’ve recently launched, action/1D, because, honestly, I think it’s the best project ever. Later this year, two massive United Nations summits are taking place, at which world leaders will be discussing how to combat climate change, improve healthcare and education, end poverty, and more. At September’s UN General Assembly, a new set of Sustainable Development Goals will be agreed upon, which is going to have a major impact on the future of our world. The guys in One Direction have asked their fans to send in videos and photos about the issues they care most about, the things they want to change. In September, world leaders will be presented with a film, filled with these contributions.

This is bigger than celebrities tweeting about current events, showing their awareness and solidarity with those affected. action/1D is a project truly aimed at the big shots, it’s about directly influencing global politics and the state of the world. This really is something great.

It’s not only the nature of the project that’s incredible, but who’s taking part in it. action/1D is not about the boys, it’s about their fans. Not wanting to perpetuate stereotypes, but the One Direction fandom is predominantly (though not exclusively) made up of teenage girls and young women. Why is this so significant? Because ultimately, politics remains a man’s world. Currently, just 20 countries in the world have a woman as leader – there are 196 countries on planet earth; 10% is nowhere near parity. Women’s voices are still marginalised in the grand scheme of things, and teenage girls know this all too well. Try to assert a political opinion as a 14 year old girl, you will be dismissed, told that you will probably change your mind thousands of times over the years, that your view is therefore invalid. Openly engage in political issues as a 16 year old girl, you will be belittled, told that you couldn’t possibly understand. Try to assert yourself in a political discussion as an 18 year old girl, you will be met with misogynistic abuse, told to “calm down, love” and that your frustration “doesn’t look good on you”, because your primary function is to sit pretty, and how very dare you have a voice. Politics is not particularly open to teenage girls, because teenage girls are fickle, naïve, and hysterical. Nothing teenage girls have to say could possibly have any value, according to those in power.

This project is so significant for the fact that it challenges this. One Direction have turned to their millions of fans, to millions of teenage girls and young women, and have asked them what they have to say. They have recognised that we have something to say, and that there is intrinsic value in that. And they are giving us a platform from which to speak, to affect major change. These boys are acknowledging that teenage girls are thoughtful and intelligent human beings, in a way that few people with such status do. That’s why action/1D matters.

Right now, I couldn’t be more ecstatic or more proud to be a One Direction fan, and it’s not just because they’ve added my favourite song to their live shows – although that’s incredibly exciting, too. If anyone wants to ridicule me about it, I don’t really care – if you hadn’t noticed, I’m a girl almighty; I’ve got a world to change (and fanfic to read).

My Issues with Red Carpet Feminism

Author:
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By Gemma Garner
Trigger Warning
Just a pre-warning: this is is going to sound ungrateful, and even petty to some. I know that we all universally adore the likes of Tina Fey, Emma Watson and Lena Dunham. Honestly? We can’t really help it. They’re everywhere, always sporting their ‘world’s favourite feminist’ and ‘funny-and-approachable’ badges. Emma Watson? Yeah, she’s a COOL feminist. She works alongside men, unlike the rest of them. Tina Fey? Man, that chick is FUNNY. Lena Dunham? God, she’s so quirky. Remember that one time she molested her little sister and wrote about it in her book? Then expected everybody to forgive her? Because she’s a ‘good’ feminist? Pretty funny.

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