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Tales of Taboo: Performance artist Karen Finley’s utterly filthy dance singles
05.05.2015
06:13 am

Topics:
Feminism
Music
Sex

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Before she graduated from ‘80s Danceteria artperson prominence to national infamy in 1990 as a member of the so-called “NEA 4,” in what was at the time a boisterous national controversy/idiotic conservative shit-fling about obscenity in the arts, the performance artist Karen Finley made two 12” dance singles of unparalleled vulgarity and shock value, with Madonna collaborator Mark Kamins (RIP 2013).

The first was 1986’s “Tales of Taboo,” an unsparingly profane rant set to dancefloor rhythms, demanding sexual satisfaction in the bluntest terms possible. Madonna could coyly sing “Like a Virgin” all day and rake in huge cash, but Finley’s much more forthright chant of “get me off, suck my nub, suck my tits, suck my clit” freaked people the fuck out. Which was to the point, to a point; Finley’s performance work dealt explicitly with themes of female disempowerment and heavy catharsis, and “Tales” was recorded in response to what she saw as disco’s trivialization and subjugation of women. In Gillian G. Gaar’s She’s a Rebel: The History of Women in Rock and Roll, Finley is quoted describing the song as

…extremely radical. I think that in terms of music history it was really the most aggressive in terms of changing the position of the female to a dominant sexual position.

 

Not safe for work, even less safe for Belgian waffles.
 

 
In 1987, Finley released the LP The Truth Is Hard To Swallow, which featured music on side one and her career-defining performance piece “The Constant State of Desire” on side two. If you saw Mondo New York, that was the piece she performed in that doc. (I was fortunate to obtain admission to see her perform it at a festival shortly after the NEA imbroglio made her show an extremely hot ticket; it was powerful stuff.) The Truth LP, alas, did not contain “Tales” (though the CD version had all four cuts from the 12” as bonus material), but side one was largely in a similar vein. Then in 1988, Finley dropped her second 12”, “Lick It.” It’s pretty much exactly what you’re thinking, and its coincidence with the ascendency of acid house helped make it a legit club hit. (Also, “Tales” proved to be tempting sample-bait during that period, and clips from it it featured prominently in the genre-defining “Theme from S’Express.”) Here’s the “Radio Mix”—though I still wouldn’t listen at work if I worked anywhere other than Dangerous Minds.
 

 
More tales of taboo, after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Oh look, it’s the most offensive, childish piece of anti-woman propaganda ever
04.22.2015
09:18 am

Topics:
Amusing
Feminism

Tags:


 
The women’s suffrage movement brought with it a glut of hilariously sexist propaganda, and though the issue of women voting was (hopefully?) laid to rest, the reactionary panic of sexism is still illustrated with the same themes. Women are getting butch, while men become feminized, perverting marriage into an institution of husband-abuse! Bitter, ugly spinsters will scold us all into oblivion, while children grow up neglected, and horrifically confused about their natural gender roles! Women will invade previously male only spaces, and bars will have chicks in them! (Okay, the last one has mostly been embraced, but you get the idea.)

There are certain insults though, that have since been deemed not cool by all but the most overt misogynists. This 1910 anti-suffrage book—modeled after a children’s rhyming book—depicts women suffrage activists as actual toddlers, and their crusade as a tantrum on par with protesting bedtimes and demanding sweets.

I’m generally pretty good at tuning out sexist grossness, but think about it—if you’re a heterosexual man (and I’m gonna’ go out on a limb here and assume the authors of this were heterosexual men), and you think of women as babies, you fancy yourself a pedophile. So congrats on painting yourself into that little metaphorical corner, vintage dirtbags!
 

 

 
Continues after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
‘The Boiler’: The Specials’ harrowing song about date rape
04.01.2015
08:50 am

Topics:
Feminism
Music

Tags:

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By the summer of 1981 The Specials had all but split up when they topped the UK number one slot with their last single as original line-up “Ghost Town.”

Terry Hall, Lynval Golding and Neville Staples went off and formed Fun Boy Three releasing their debut single “The Lunatics (Have Taken Over the Asylum)” later that year. Bass player Horace Panter went to co-form General Union, Roddy Radiation fronted The Tearjerkers, which left band founder Jerry Dammers and drummer John Bradbury to regroup with Rhoda Dakar (vocals), John Shipley (guitar), Dick Cuthell (brass), Nicky Summers (bass) to continue as The Special AKA.

The Special AKA was how the band were originally known after they changed their name from The Automatics or The Special AKA The Coventry Automatics, which became The Specials for short—but what’s in a name?

“Ghost Town” was a powerful pay-off by The Specials and its strong political message saw it named “Single of the Year” by the UK’s top three music papers, NME, Sounds and Melody Maker. The song delivered a stinging social commentary on the poverty and inner city destruction caused by Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s economic policies during the 1980s. In 2002, Dammers discussed the inspiration to the song with Alex Petridis of the Guardian:

“You travelled from town to town and what was happening was terrible. In Liverpool, all the shops were shuttered up, everything was closing down… We could actually see it by touring around. You could see that frustration and anger in the audience. In Glasgow, there were these little old ladies on the streets selling all their household goods, their cups and saucers. It was unbelievable. It was clear that something was very, very wrong.”


The song’s success meant high expectations for what Dammers and his reconstructed Special AKA could achieve.
 
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Dammers was often described by the music press as the main driving force and writer behind The Specials, which was perhaps unfair to his fellow bandmates. This was in part down to the fact he was the founder and CEO of the record label 2 Tone—a home to The Specials, Selecter, Madness and The Beat. 

Born in India in 1955, Dammers had attended King Henry VIII public school in Coventry, whose former pupils include poet Philip Larkin and co-founder of Napalm Death, Nic Bullen. He had been a mod and a hippie before becoming a skinhead and discovering his love for ska music. Ska led him to founding 2 Tone Records in 1979 that kick-started the ska revival.

Dammers had a glorious talent for writing upbeat pop music with strong social and political messages, which can be seen by most of The Specials tracks from “Too Much Too Young” to Ghost Town,” and he had never been one to shirk from difficult or controversial subject matter. When considering what the Special AKA shoudl release after the all-conquering “Ghost Town,” he collaborated with singer Rhoda Dakar on powerful single about date rape called “The Boiler” a song which Alex Petridis has described as having:

...[a] worldview [that] was so bleak as to make previous Specials albums – no barrel of laughs themselves – seem like the height of giddy gay abandon.

 
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Rhoda Dakar had been a member of The Bodysnatchers (best known for the single “Do the Rock-Steady”) before joining The Specials as a backing vocalist, appearing on the band’s second album More Specials, and on their 1981 tour. Dakar and Dammers started work on “The Boiler” sometime in 1980, and the song was added to The Specials’ set list during the ‘81 tour, but was not fully finished until later that year.

“The Boiler” is the harrowing tale of a young girl who is swayed by the attentions of a man who eventually rapes her. Dakar said in an interview with Marco on the Bass that the song was based on “a friend [who] had been raped a couple of years earlier and I suppose I was thinking of her at the time. It was a very long and drawn out process. It was released a year after it was first recorded.” It was not the kind of song that ska fans were expecting to hear after “Ghost Town” but Dammers believed it was worth doing as it made a statement about a subject matter that needed to be brought to public attention.

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘Rad American Women A-Z’: A feminist alphabet book for the little riot grrrl in your life
03.31.2015
07:19 am

Topics:
Feminism

Tags:


Angela Davis
 
I’ve been noticing a recent (though long overdue) trend in woman-centric education tools for the tiniest of tots, but frankly, a lot of them are super lame. I don’t really think preschoolers need to learn about Hillary Clinton, she’ll be ruling over them soon enough. They’ll get it by osmosis…

The new alphabet book—Rad American Women A-Z: Rebels, Trailblazers, and Visionaries who Shaped Our History . . . and Our Future! is a breath of fresh air on that front. Combining figures from the arts like Patti Smith and dancer Isadora Duncan with human rights activist Yuri Kochiyama, and the first female chief of the Cherokee Nation, Wilma Mankiller, the book goes for the deeper cuts and avoids a wholesome/boring lecture on “foremothers”—plus, the graphics beat a princess theme any day. Considering how many times kids request the same book, I’d say it’s a good move for parental sanity.
 

Carol Burnett
 

Isadora Duncan
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
The Wrecks: Raging early 80’s proto-riot-grrl hardcore band’s demo, gloriously resurrected for you
03.25.2015
07:10 am

Topics:
Feminism
Music
Punk

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The Wrecks were a raging early ‘80s, all-female, hardcore band from the “Skeeno Hardcore” scene of Reno, Nevada. Considered by Seven Seconds to be a “sister band,” they were a bit of an anomaly at the time—four teenage girls playing ultra noisy, brutal hardcore. Certainly, they were mining similar musical and thematic territory that Bikini Kill would become famous for ten years later. Their “claim to fame” was a single song, “Punk is an Attitude”, which was included on the widely-distributed Not So Quiet on the Western Front compilation LP, released by Maximumrockandroll magazine in 1982. Their drummer, Lynn, went on to play with hardcore gods, The Dicks. Watch some incredible footage of her Dicks tenure here.
 

 
Lynn of Reno’s The Wrecks. Touch and Go #19

The excellent blog One Chord is Enough has a detailed post compiling several vintage reviews and interviews with The Wrecks:

“This band hails from Reno, Nevada and is composed of four teenage girls that do mostly all hardcore material. The nine songs on this tape are definitely not of the slam’n'thrash variety but are more akin to art damage, sorta like Flipper. Anyway everything here is original and well, kinda weird. Broken-up rhythms and strange singing abound but this stuff really does grab ya after repeated listenings. Also the lyrics are top notch and these girls definitely have something to say! They deal with subjects such as high school, Cuban refugees, and the all important question about drug use. What ya got here is a fairly rewarding tape from a rebellious crew of teenage girls ready to shake up the system.” Frankie DeAngelis (Ripper #7, May 1982)

 

 

“The Wrecks were one of the first all-female hardcore punk bands. They rocked Reno from 1980 to 1982. Two of the members went on to form the still-active Imperial Teen: Lynn Truell and Jone Stebbins. Lynn was just named one of the 100 best alternative-rock drummers by Spin magazine, which neglected her time in The Wrecks but included her drumming in The Dicks and Sister Double Happiness.” Mark Robison

 
Hear the Wrecks after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Cunning stunt: Saucy footwear aims to reclaim the word ‘C*NT’
02.20.2015
03:04 pm

Topics:
Fashion
Feminism

Tags:


 
Ladies, are you sick of “c*nt” being used as a derogatory term? Let’s re-appropriate that word to mean “fantastic” or simply “badass.” We can start this revolution by donning a pair of these plush black velvet C*NT flats by Los Angeles-based footwear brand YRU. In gold-threaded embroidery, the right foot has the letters “CU” and the left, of course, finishes it off with the “NT.”
 
C*nt shoes by YRU

Say it loud and proud…

via White Girl Problems

Posted by Rusty Blazenhoff | Leave a comment
Have a Cigar: Cringe at the insanely misogynist radio ads of the Women’s Lib era
02.18.2015
06:50 pm

Topics:
Advertising
Feminism

Tags:


 
Last Saturday was a typical Saturday for me, crate digging in the local thrift shops. One of my hard-and-fast rules of vinyl thrifting is always buy any never-before-seen oddball platter if it’s a dollar or less. You simply never know when you’re going to stumble across that undiscovered “break” that some hotshot DJ will fork over major-league cash for, or in this case, something so truly bizarre and wrongheaded that it warrants sharing with the rest of the world.

Ladies and gentlemen, behold the album unearthed this past Saturday: a sealed copy of 20 of the World’s Best Advertisements.
 

 
Procured for a mere 50 cents, this record was released in 1967 by the Chuck Blore Creative Services ad agency. Ostensibly the album is a promotional tool for the agency, collecting the “world’s best” ads from the time of Mad Men; but as I learned from needle dropping the first three tracks, the men who produced these ads were really (really) mad.

These radio spots produced for DWG Cigar Corporation for their RG Dun line of cigars are a clear reaction to the Women’s Liberation Movement of the time, and they are absolutely jaw-dropping in their over-the-top misogyny. They certainly don’t make ‘em like this anymore, folks!

Not merely sexist, these ads essentially advocate violence against any henpecking harpy who would dare to ask her husband to extinguish his malodorous cheroot. Tune in and experience the acrid, sooty stench of a very different American cultural milieu.
 

 
In the first of the three ads, a man who has “had it up to here with all of this female equality bunk” throws his wife into a closet which is made into a “national shrine” by browbeaten men the world over. Truly a hero for the Men’s Rights Activists of his day, he is advised by a macho voice-over to “kick over her vanity table on the way out the door.”
 

 
In the second spot, a man at a restaurant nonchalantly asks the maitre d’ to throw his nagging wife out the window when she objects to his cigar. His request is followed by the sound of female screams and breaking glass, apparently she has been physically hurled through the front window of the establishment.The man, now a national hero, advises his followers to “keep a cigar in your face and a woman in her place!”
 

 
In the third commercial, the “Take a Cigar Stand” movement is sweeping the country and one brave activist declares “The American male is finally standing up for his rights. Today, if a woman objects to a man smoking his cigar, he doesn’t put it out… he puts her out.” A tacky Bob Dylan clone sings that “a woman has no sense of humidor” and an all-male Broadway cast sings “Don’t wait for my return, dear. I’m smoking while you burn, dear.”
 

 
These ads are a window into a time when men were truly threatened by female equality and certainly put into perspective the 1968 debut of Virginia Slims cigarettes and their famous ad campaign marketed toward women: “You’ve come a long way, baby.”
 

 

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Kamikaze feminist throws herself in front of King George’s galloping horse, 1913
02.17.2015
05:04 pm

Topics:
Feminism
Heroes

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My public school education taught me very little on either the English or American women’s suffrage movements. I received a sterilized, almost Disneyfied briefing on the mass of ladies who fought for the vote, but they remained a nameless marching sea of stern-faced sashes and hats. (To be fair, this was a school that still had the U.S.S.R. on the maps, so historical pedagogy may have taken a backseat to acquiring basic resources like toilet paper, and possibly clearing out asbestos.) It was only years later and of my own accord that I beefed up on stories of women terrorizing politicians, enduring hunger-strikes (and the subsequent force-feedings) and yes—throwing themselves in front of the King’s horse.

Up until very recently, I had presumed that last one was more of a symbolic than violent gesture—a bit of pedestrian-on-equestrian hassling. On the contrary, British suffragette Emily Wilding Davison actually chucked herself in front of—and grabbed the reins of—a galloping horse as it was running the Epsom Derby in 1913. The video below is actual footage of the brutal event.
 

 
Davison valued the cause more than self-preservation; she had previously been thrown in jail nine times and suffered 49 force-feedings while on hunger strike. This time she targeted the horse owned by King George V for maximum uproar. As you can see, the impact was incredibly violent. She held on for four days before dying from internal injuries and a fractured skull. Her funeral was memorialized by the movement.
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
‘The Last of the Teddy Girls’: Ken Russell’s nearly lost photographs of London’s teenage girl gangs
02.13.2015
08:53 am

Topics:
Feminism
Pop Culture

Tags:

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Though Ken Russell wanted to be a ballet dancer, his father wouldn’t hear of it—no son of his would ever be seen in tights—so the young Russell turned his attention to photography, a craft he thought he could make his name with. He attended Walthamstow Technical College in London, where he was taught all about lighting and composition. Russell would later claim that everything he did as a trainee photographer broke the rules—a trend he continued throughout his career as a film director when producing such acclaimed movies as Women in Love, The Music Lovers, The Devils, Tommy, Altered States and Crimes of Passion.

Russell became a photographer for Picture Post and the Illustrated Magazine, and during his time with these publications took some of the most evocative photos of post-war London during the 1950s. He spent his days photographing street scenes and his nights printing his pictures on the kitchen table of his rented one-bed apartment in Notting Hill.
 
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For fifty years, it was believed Russell’s photos had been lost, but in 2005 a box marked “Ken Russell” was discovered in the archives of a photo library. Inside was over 3,000 of Ken’s negatives.

Among his most famous work from this period is “The Last of the Teddy Girls”—a series of photos documenting London’s girl gang subculture and their male counterparts. Russell was attracted to these young women for their sense of independence and style—dressing in suits, land army clothes—while rejecting society’s expectations of more traditional, feminine roles. (Teddy kids of either sex were known for fights breaking out wherever they congregated.) The images show Russell’s innate talent for composition and offer a fascinating look into a rarely documented female subculture.
 
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More of Unkle Ken’s beautiful photos, after the jump…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Don’t mess with these hot mamas: Vintage photos of badass Roller Derby Girls
02.12.2015
01:25 pm

Topics:
Feminism
History
Pop Culture
Sports

Tags:


1950
 
Here are some vintage photos ranging from the early 1940s to 1970s of women’s roller derby competitions. As you can see by the images, these women ain’t takin’ no shit while they’re on their skates. It’s hardcore stuff.

I tried to add captions to photos I could find information on. I also included a movie trailer at the bottom of this post for the 1972 film Kansas City Bomber starring Raquel Welch. Because RAQUEL WELCH ON ROLLER SKATES! Honestly, what more could you want?
 

 

Chicago, IL. 1948
 

 

Midge Brasuhn of the Brooklynites
 
More after the jump…
 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
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