Week 2

I appreciated how Prof. Haley started the class by sharing Ruby Bridges’ story. It is really inspiring to see that Ruby is still an activist and is comforting to realize that progress does happen, just very slowly. I was trying to imagine what living through so many social changes must have been like. I also really enjoyed the selection of music you chose, Prof. Haley. In particular, I liked Salt-N-Pepa’s “Ain’t Nuthin’ but a She Thing” because it had the strongest message, in my opinion. While Beyonce’s “Flawless” has an incredible sample from Adichie, the rest of the song is slightly abrasive and easily misconstrued. While Kweli’s “Black Girl Pain” attempts to outright address sexism, it shouldn’t be considered a ‘feminist song’ because it reinforces gender role stereotyping and patriarchal constructions. That being said, “Ain’t Nuthin’ but a She Thing” takes a very strong stance on patriarchy (“it ain’t a man’s world [you go girl!]” and at the end, “you’re just as good as any, man, believe that, word”), challenges the lack of female agency and promotes the idea that change starts from within (“it’s all in me/ I could be anything I want to be”) and brings up several specific examples of everyday oppression. For example, the artists address work environments as a female employee, such as unequal pay and the double standard for strong women in positions of authority: “Go to work and get paid less than a man/ When I’m doin’ the same damn thing that he can/ When I’m aggressive then I’m a bitch.” Many of these are the same issues that Adichie addresses in her book, We Should All Be Feminists, although Adichie was able to more fully flush out these ideas due to her medium. I was also reminded of Alice Walker’s piece Womanist, specifically about tears being the natural counter of laughter, in the lines “Ain’t afraid to show how I feel down deep/ Compassionate but don’t underestimate me”. My main point of critique for this song would be the line that Melinda brought up in class: “Family’s first before anybody else/ Take care of them before I take care of self.” As we’ve discussed, you have to take care of yourself first and learn how to self-love and self-validate. The other point I would mention would be about raising children with “tender love and care” making mothers “in charge of the future of the nation.” Prof. Haley described how this line relates to the idea that women belong in the home, raising children. However, for me, the line is a call to action, similar to the one at the end of Adichie’s book. It’s the responsibility of women to make sure their children become feminists too.

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