Women in MN Music

The Local Current blog has covered some of the most notable women in Minnesota music history here and here for Women’s History Month.  I’m sure they’ll also highlight the fantastic all-women bands that are playing out locally right now, but I wanted to share a couple of that I think deserve some attention.

  • echoKitten Forever is a riot grrrl inspired punk band.  Rift Magazine reviewed their 2013 release Pressure: “The band’s anthemic axiom ‘Do you wanna get loud? Yeah you know you wanna.’ aptly initiates the album of 13 poignantly short songs.  Listeners needn’t be well-versed in riot grrrl ideology in order to enjoy the listen, since this release strips the genre down to its essential pieces: unabashed femininity, honesty, partying, and punk rock.”
  • L’Assassins are surf rock with a bit of rockabilly thrown in.  The Current said, “These ladies aren’t following anyone’s rules. That attitude is what makes L’Assassins one of the most refreshing bands in local music right now.”
  • Puff Puff is the newest of the three all-women bands I’m featuring today–and I should note that their current line up includes a non-female after bass player Tanja Sturges relocated out of state–but they are my personal favorite.  Their surf/garage/twee sound is the sort of thing that has me spinning Puff Puff’s music frequently.  They promise a new 2015 EP recorded with the original line up, and the one song released from it is well worth the listen.  This is a band to watch, and I’m not just saying that because they are friends of mine. ;)

recordcollectingforgilsIf you have any interest in women in music, check out Record Collecting for Girls by Courtney E. Smith for a fun and opinionated look at women in music that takes on everything from not being taken seriously as a female music geek to questions about the universality of the female voice.  Fascinating reading.  I’ve recommended it before, and I’ll probably do it again.

Also check out some of my previous music posts featuring female musicians: Speaking Music, Caroline Smith, Lucy Michelle, and Zoo Animal.

Or, if you’re like me, you’ll want to read some music-related teen fiction.  I’d recommend Supergirl Mixtapes, The Disenchantments to start with.  More great titles are on my Book Lists wiki.

What women have you been listening to?

What Women Have Done

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about my daughter’s perception of princesses and my worry that it reflected on her perception of what women can do.  So I must admit that I was pleased to see this year’s Nobel Peace Prize go to three women fighting for change.  These are the examples I want to share with my daughter as she grows up–not that these women are the first to win.

This article talks about the heroines of the Nobel Peace Prize.  It mentions that at the banquet for the first woman who received the  prize in 1906, the chairman spoke “about the great influence of women in history and how they could change the ideas of war and give men higher aims.”  It was another twenty-six years before the next woman won the prize.

This year, though, the prize was specifically awarded for “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.”  It seems significant to me, and I am excited for sharing moments like this with my daughter when she’s older.  Those with daughters older than mine might want to take this opportunity to talk about women’s lives around the world.  Perhaps a book like Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story From Afghanistan could open the discussion.  Or another book from the Amelia Bloomer Project book list.

Unless the princesses are creating a safer, more peaceful world, I don’t really want to hear about it.  :)

A name you should know

In honor of Women’s History Month, I posted on Books in Bloom about a few picture book biographies that feature little-known women who defied the women’s role of their day. One of these women in particular stood out to me: Maria Sibylla Merian. In the picture book biography, I got the basic gist of her life. She lived in the late 1600’s, and she chose to study and draw butterflies at a time when people generally believed that butterflies came from the devil. It was common at the time for women to draw or paint flowers, but Merian blended art and science. She was so fascinated by the process of metamorphosis that was not satisfied with Chrysalissuperstition. I was so fascinated that I went in search of more information. I learned that this woman, now all-but forgotten by history, has been referred to as the “Mother of Entomology.” She further defied cultural norms of her day by leaving her husband and traveling to Suriname as a ship’s naturalist. Kim Todd writes of Merian in Chrysalis: Maria Sibylla Merian and the Secrets of Metamorphosis,

“The willpower needed to forge a path where none existed before must have been overwhelming. She gave a nod to expectations, but then sailed straight through them as though they were ripples and not tidal waves.”

This is exactly the sort of woman I want my daughter to know.

Look at some of Maria Merian’s art here. My fellow TCians can learn to create their own art in the style of Maria Merian at the Minnesota School of Botanical Art or be inspired by nature at the various gardens we have (The Marjorie McNeely Conservatory in St. Paul and the Florence Bakken Medicinal Garden at the Bakken Museum in Minneapolis to name just two).

Celebrating womanhood, whatever that means

Can you tell when you look at a photograph whether it was taken by a man or a woman?  What does it mean to be a woman?  Is it emotional, personal, political, sexual?  Are women mothers?  Are we caregivers?  Damsels?  Is that how we see ourselves or our peers?

In the Woman as Photographer: Documenting Life as a Woman exhibit at the MPLS Photo Center, I saw mothers, lovers, sisters.  There were women who had survived much who stared into the camera with smiles or what felt to me like determined eyes.  The photos spanned continents, but I found myself focusing on the women whose stories I knew or had read about.  The shot of a powerful looking African-American woman in front of an inner-city Chicago house.  The photograph’s title said “principal.”  I’ve read this story in articles and books.  My heart ached for the painfully thin woman who sat on a thick cookbook.  I have read so many stories of body image and eating disorders.  I read teen novels, for crying out loud.  So many teen novels are about girls growing into themselves, about exploring their boundaries, about creating space for themselves and their insecurities.  I thought about these stories as I walked slowly through the gallery.

Many of these photographs were painful to see. Many were full of love. Others were thoughtful.  To be honest, I am most struck by the diversity of the lives depicted in the photos.   I am continually struck by the diversity of the women I have known or have read about.  We are vast, and we are worth exploring.  (I feel like I might have written about this before, but about books.)

The exhibit is open daily from noon to six until April 17th at the MPLS Photo Center.  I highly recommend it.

Read more about the exhibit: