CAN FEMINIST MUSIC HELP WITH HEALING?
Please listen to the music in the video posted above,Tori Amos unplugged, and to the video posted here,Feminist Music is the Funniest Thing Ever, and post your opinion in the comments box below.
In the book, Where the Girls Are by Susan J. Douglas, there are several pages dedicated to Women and Music. Although she does not specifically link music to trauma as a way to heal she does discuss women and how important music is to them, specifically women bands and songwriters. Pages 84-87….
“Adrienne Trier-Bieniek, PhD, is the author of “Sing Us a Song, Piano Woman: She says: “I have spent the better part of the last five years trying to understanding how women use music to heal after experiencing trauma. When I was interviewing women for my book “Sing Us a Song, Piano Woman: Female Fans and the Music of Tori Amos”(see music video posted above) one comment stuck in my head from a woman named Madeline. Madeline talked about how she used to be into music by hair-metal bands. She said, 'Growing up, all my favorite bands were male artists. Um, maybe it’s just that now I see that their message is from their point of view. And I internalize that and maybe that’s why I made all the shitty choices that I made. I think that maybe the reason that I only listen to female artists is because I just would rather have their messages in my head.'
And this comment wasn’t rare.
" Many women said that they found empowerment/comfort/salvation in music written and performed by another woman."
"Now, I am totally aware that women can listen to male bands to feel support and vice versa. However, one thing that I think it missing from conversations about feminism and pop culture is how women use music by feminist musicians as a way to heal after they have experienced trauma. This was the premise of my research for Sing Us a Song, Piano Woman. "
"From this study I took away a few helpful tips for connecting feminism with music and healing that I would like to share. In no particular order:"
1. "Find an anthem:
I don’t think it gets much better than listening to powerful women belt out songs like it is the last time they will have the opportunity to sing in their lives. Whether it’s Feminist musicians who approach their songs with an eye toward empowerment, equality and expressing the experiences of women. One of the reasons many of the women I spoke with enjoyed Tori’s song was because it addressed her experience with miscarriage. Healing from the loss of a child is hard, but hearing a performer address her emotions can be helpful. So find your feminist anthem. "
"(I have many. Some, like Aretha’s “Respect” and Ani’s song “Alla This” I will gladly cop to. Others are embarrassing but help me get through the day!)"
2." Create While you Listen:"
" In 2007 I was a grad student at Virginia Tech when my college became the site of the worst school shooting in U.S. history. One activity that got me through was creating art while listening to Tori’s music and trying to use the lyrics to illustrate my feelings. Many of the women I spoke with did the same thing with writing, crafting, singing and dancing. Song lyrics became immortalized through their bodies, art and voices. What is even more important is that this exercise requires you to think about the lyrics you are repeating to yourself. "
......"But if there was ever a chance to think about the impact of music on our identities, it is when we are expressing ourselves through art and being vulnerable."
Songs can help with speaking out about being raped, having an eating disorder, having a miscarriage etc. And, speaking out is a huge step toward breaking culture of silence that surrounds these experiences. "Finding feminism in music (for both female and male artists) is key to changing the ways pop culture stereotypes women. Finding feminism in music to help us heal from trauma is key to finding empowerment in vulnerable moments."
What do you listen to?
Please comment below,tell us what music helps you through bad times?
“Adrienne Trier-Bieniek, PhD, is the author of “Sing Us a Song, Piano Woman: Female Fans and the Music of Tori Amos” and is currently professor of sociology at Valencia College in Orlando, Florida. She has published in academic journals and books and has been a guest columnist for The Orlando Sentinel. She is the editor of the forthcoming books “Gender and Pop Culture” (with Patricia Leavy) and “Feminist Theory and Pop Culture.” Adrienne regularly contributes to organizations seeking advice or information on music and healing. In 2009 Adrienne met Tori Amos, explained this project, and thanked her for her music.” She can be reached atwww.adriennetrier-bieniek.com.