Blog / feminism
I can't for the life of me remember if I've picked Grace Jones as a #wcw since I started doing this column or not. I've been wanting it to be her for quite some time but now that her dishy autobiography "I'll Never Write My Memoirs" is coming out, the timing couldn't be more perfect.
I will certainly read her book and enjoy every minute of it, but I'm far more interested in her personal stories than the beefs with celebs like Miley Cyrus. I guess that's how they're trying to sell her book to a younger audience but COME ON PEOPLE, this woman is incredible.
Grace Jones is the kind of person you refer to with both her first and last name, so that's how it's going to be here. Grace Jones started her career as a model, covering Vogue and the other big mags before delving into film and music. An unapologetic advocate for self-expression and individuality, Grace Jones has been challenging the status quo forever, particularly with her expression of gender and nudity through fashion and art. This year, at 67 years of age, she hula hooped topless at Brooklyn's Afropunk Festival (hula link has NSFW images) for the entire duration of her hit, "Slave to the Rhythm."
If you're familiar with Grace Jones, I'm sure you're looking forward to her new book. If she looks familiar but you don't know much about her, please dedicate some time to watching past interviews and music videos on Youtube. Her influence on pop culture is undeniable, she is a genius.
Australian artist Mel Stringer knows babes. Her body positive illustrations often feature adorable gals who don’t want to take your shit. I am forever blown away by how consistently she puts out incredible art and I basically want all of it. All. Of. It.
Mel’s circle of babes that she’s created look like people I want to be friends with and her colour palette is how I want to see the world all the time. If you want to check out more of her work you can hop over to her site. Her Etsy shop is a tad low on stock right now but it looks like she’ll be back September 1 with new jams like her Oh You Yearbook, a series of portraits she’s done over the past twelve months. And yes, she’s got Instagram.
Lana Wachowski is part of the sibling director team, “The Wachowskis.” Their work includes tiny indie films like The Matrix series, V for Vendetta, Cloud Atlas, and most recently the newest sci-fi Netflix series, Sense8.
For the longest time, The Wachowskis were notorious for not doing any press. Many speculated this was because of Lana’s transition, but really they just always valued their privacy. That changed a few years ago when Lana came out, publicly discussing her sacrifice of privacy for visibility – in the hopes that she could help LGBTQ youths.
The latest project from Lana and her brother Andy is in my opinion, their best to date. Sense8 is an incredible look at human connection and there’s a distinct difference between this show and pretty much everything that’s come out of the mainstream sci-fi tv scene. This show is full of queer voices that are unapologetic and strong. There’s is also a lot of love.
I had no idea until I started writing about this that Sense8 was receiving rave reviews from audiences while being panned by critics. Lots of people are saying that it’s too diverse, too radical for many of the sci-fi fans (a wet, rainbow strap-on is featured in the pilot episode). I have no idea if this is true but I’m not happy that there’s talk of this show not being renewed for a second season. This kind of television is important and necessary and if y’all feel like marathoning some Netflix in the near future, I recommend giving Sense8 a whirl. Here’s a trailer.
It being Canada Day and all, I want to give a shout out to a Canadian babe. Toronto-based performance artist Jess Dobkin has put some incredible work out into the world. Often incorporating her body in her art, pieces like The Lactation Station have received a lot of media attention. For that performance, people were welcomed to taste a selection of pasteurized breast milk from six new mothers, including Jess herself.
Other pieces she’s done include Bleeding at the Ball, where she wore a white dress with blatant menstrual blood stains to a fancy gala and Fee for Service, when she invited people in the audience to pay a small fee to sharpen a pencil using her vagina dentata. You can check out her work here.The latest project that Jess has taken on is a little different. She’s taken over Chester Station’s long unused newsstand, hanging a shiny disco ball from the ceiling and filling the racks with indie zines, prints, and artisan baked goods, as well as some more typical subway station fare. Rotating exhibitions and performance art (like a recent statement about manspreading on public transit) mean there's always something new to check out. Commuters can purchase and chat about art on their way to work, they’re open 1-7pm daily. Follow The Artists Newstand on Facebook for all the details!
Today is the first day of Toronto’s annual music festival North By Northeast (NXNE) and every year I go and smush my fat body into crowds and try to power through my anxiety for these kinds of things – in the name of good tunes. This year, two of my fave all-girl bands are playing the same night at different venues (the stressssss) and I’m going to try to see them both. So let’s celebrate babes in bands, shall we?
First up we’ve got Warpaint who are pictured above. They’ve been together for over a decade and they make witchy, jammy, gorgeous music. They all sing. They look effortlessly cool all the time.
Warpaint put out their second self-titled LP last year to critical acclaim and have been touring like crazy since. In a recent interview the babes talked about potentially not releasing any more full-length albums, they’re just going to put out tracks as they’re created. The single No Way Out was released this year, it’s brilliant and more tunes are on their way.
You can listen to No Way Out here, it’s been on rotation for my solo living room dance parties for months!
Warpaint is playing Adelaide Hall on Friday June 19th @midnight.
My other must-see is Seattle-based feminist babes Chastity Belt. I discovered them only recently but the song Cool Slut off their latest album Time to Go Home is my pre-summer sunny day anthem. With lyrics I want to hear like “To all the girls in the world trying to take off their shirt, ladies it’s okay to be slutty”, it’s no surprise that they’re a hit with Rookie and Bust Magazine. You can check out their cute-as-heck video for Cool Slut right here.
Chastity Belt are playing a couple of sets this Friday, you can catch the details on the NXNE site here.
If you know any all-female bands that you think I should check out, let me know in the comments!
Alyssa Thralls (better known as Alyssa Panda Eyes) has an unforgettable vibe. An artist by trade, she is a tornado of design: jewellery, clothing, photography, digital mixed media, and dj-ing to boot.
Her distinct style could be labelled as positive goth (posi goth?) with a focus on eclectic symbology. Her clothing and accessory collections have featured imagery from runes, the tarot, and planetary signs. I want everything. One of the things I love most about Alyssa is her unwavering sense of self – it carries across everything that she puts out into the world. If I caught a glimpse of someone scrolling through their Instagram feed across a crowded streetcar and a photo of hers went by I’d immediately know that we both follow this babe.
You can check out her work here and if you’re feeling it, keep up with her amazing style on Tumblr and Instagram. Who knows what is going to emerge from her creative spirit in the future, I’m looking forward to finding out.
The first thing you’d probably hear about Katie Stelmanis is that she sings and plays keyboards for the very awesome Toronto-based band Austra. Moody and dance-able, their critically acclaimed music has been going in the ears (and eyes) of many for quite some time now.
If you follow Katie on Twitter, you’ll know how active she is in maintaining dialogues about feminism, misogyny, transphobia, and more. Yesterday Pitchfork released a piece she wrote, Op-Ed: Why Is Violence Against Women Excusable If It’s “Art”? that draws attention to rapper/a-hole Action Bronson being booked to play a free, headlining show at a public venue in Toronto as part of the North By North East Music Festival. He has previously released music glorifying gang rape and other misogynistic garbage, as well as a now infamous transphobic tweet that lost him a lot of fans.
After the announcement was made that he’d be playing a free all-ages show at Yonge-Dundas Square apetition began circulating to have his set moved to a ticketed venue. Signed and supported by Katie, a decision was made a few days ago in favour of removing Action Bronson from the lineup that night. As far as I know so far, North By North East folks are still working on an alternative for people who want to spend money to see him.
In her Pitchfork Op-Ed Katie writes,
Many of us, beyond those of us who signed the petition, are tired of music that is blatantly misogynist and an obvious promotion of rape culture being supported by festivals and corporate institutions. The reactions to protests such as ours has a very clear message: that violence against women isn’t a real issue, these are just songs, we should all just “chill out” and “have a good time.”
Our safety matters and it is crucial for the music community to understand the role it plays. This is not just about a song, and it is not just about Action Bronson, it is about the many ways that women, trans people, and women of color are made to feel they do not matter and they do not belong in the music scene. But we know the truth. And we will continue to resist.
Big love to Katie for all that she’s putting out into the world. You can read her full Pitchfork piece here.
It seems like every time I'm on social media I see this babe pop up for another super awesome thing she's doing. Marie is a writer and size acceptance advocate, currently working as an associate fashion and beauty editor at Bustle and I always thoroughly enjoy her work. She's worn a low-rise bikini on a beach and documented the reactions she received and another time she sent out a photo of her makeup-free face to see how Photoshop experts would manipulate the image to make her 'beautiful'.
Recently Marie participated in one of my favourite body positive projects, What's Underneath. In her interview she talks about how she became the activist she is today and her struggles with self-acceptance. It's definitely worth a watch.
Honestly, she has accomplished so much in such a short time that anything I write here would inevitably be insufficient. Please check out her blog and get lost in the mountain of challenging work she's done to advance the body positivity and beauty diversity movements.
If you're a frequenter of the UM+ shop, you may have noticed recently that there haven't been as many new arrivals as there used to be. This past winter our studio went under some major renovations and I was unable to process and photograph new products. It was frustrating and out of my control, so I decided to switch focus and delve into a new body positive project that I've been wanting to do since I was a teenager. I'll continue to work on this AND the store once the studio is ready to go again!Over the last couple of years my friend Stina and I casually threw around the idea of starting a fashion magazine together. We were both growing apathetic towards mainstream media and were getting most of our style inspo from incredible people who aren't celebrated in the fashion world. It's so often the same roster of totally awesome bloggers and celebrities but Stina and I started to feel like it's time to mix it up a bit. We decided to release some media of our own and create a little positive community that supports humans of all bodies, genders, and backgrounds.BUSH Magazine has a focus on personal style and creative people and we're so excited about the content that's already been completed for Issue One. It would mean so much to me if you'd watch our video and check out the campaign. I would love to hear your feedback and if you're digging it, sharing is always appreciated.Thanks so much!xo Amarina
TW: Sexual assault.
When I saw Emma’s name go by in my Facebook feed yesterday I immediately clicked on the link to get an update on her performance activism piece. Emma’s story first started circulating online after she began carrying her 50 lb. dorm mattress with her, everywhere she went. A form of endurance performance art, Emma titled her senior thesis Mattress Performance (Carry That Weight), making a commitment to carry it until her alleged rapist was expelled from Columbia University, where they both went to school. She could accept help if someone offered to carry it with her, but she could not ask for it.
Nine months later, Emma carried her mattress to her final classes and people started wondering if she would bring it to convocation and if she would be allowed in with it. Sure enough, @teoarmus tweeted this photo today:
Because some people are the worst, Jezebel reported this morning that large posters featuring a photo of Emma and her mattress with the words “Pretty Little Liar” scrawled across it were spotted in some areas of New York City. A @fakerape Twitter account also appeared and has almost 1,000 followers and as of this this afternoon it is still active and asshole-y.
Emma’s activism and art is important and necessary, if you would like a fuller description of her project you can watch this interview with her.