Miley Cyrus’ “Sluttiness” Is The Least of Our Problems

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The universe (well, the media) is slut-shaming Miley Cyrus pretty damn hard today for her performance at last night’s MTV Video Music Awards. She wore little. She gyrated. She was sexual.  This is the least of our problems—or it should  be the least of our problems anyway. Cyrus used her sexuality–which is hers  to use–throughout the performance. […]

Singing the Lesbian Blues in 1920s Harlem

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When Gertrude “Ma” Rainey — known as “The Mother of Blues”— sang, “It’s true I wear a collar and a tie … Talk to the gals just like any old man,” in 1928′s “Prove It on Me,” she was flirting with scandal, challenging the listener to catch her in a lesbian affair. It might not seem […]

Remembering Jenni Rivera, Feminist Icon

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“Look at that dress,” I exclaimed as she sashayed across the stage, feet hidden beneath its many ru­­ffles. The floor-length purple gown was embellished with swirling golden details offset by a flowing scarf of the same color. The “Diva de la Banda” waved the scarf as she positioned herself in front of a semi-circle of […]

Catching Up With Ronee Blakley

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Remember Ronee Blakley in her Oscar-nominated performance as singer Barbara Jean in Robert Altman’s 1975 film Nashville? (If you haven’t seen the film, Netflix it!) Blakley played a frail, home-sweet-home girl with the blues, and she sang several songs (which she wrote) in the film, filled with sweet lyrics and a heartfelt twang. New Yorker […]

Imani Uzuri: A Traveling Woman

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For a woman, to travel can be a feminist act. Women who set out and proclaim themselves citizens of the world tread a path that is often the prerogative of (privileged) men. Yet women who can and do take physical journeys often experience emotional transformations as well. Singer/songwriter Imani Uzuri’s latest musical release (and second […]

Laura Nyro Surries on Down

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Ten years ago, at the conclusion of my biography of the extraordinarily influential singer-songwriter Laura Nyro, I wrote, Unfortunately, Nyro … continues to be overlooked in places where she should be part of the canon. She’s neither a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nor the Songwriters Hall of Fame. In 2010, the […]

The Politicians and the Pagans: Catching Up With Dar Williams

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You may remember intellectual-folk queen Dar Williams for her queer-acceptance Christmas carol The Christians and the Pagans, a 1990s mix-tape staple. Although singer-songwriters strumming guitars weren’t hard to come by in those days, Dar stood out for her magnificent gift for storytelling and her radical politics. Her following today extends beyond the Northampton area she […]

How Does Nicki Minaj Influence Black Girls? Ask Them.

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Nicki Minaj is poised to make a splash with her sophomore album, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, on April 3. After head-turning appearances at the Grammys and the NBA All-Star Game and with Madonna at the Super Bowl, followed by reports that she landed a multi-million dollar deal with Pepsi, she has emerged as the new […]

Madonna and You

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As female pop icons go, perhaps no one has inspired the amount of written reflection, academic and personal, as Madonna Ciccone. Still to-the-minute relevant at 53, she recently starred in her own Super Bowl halftime extravaganza and will be embarking on a world tour for her latest album. And the latest addition to the what-I-think-of-Madonna […]

Future of Feminism: Music To Our Ears

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For every little girl who grew up fantasizing of becoming a fairytale princess, there was another who dreamed of being a rock ‘n’ roll queen. Thankfully, there are organizations popping up across the country who help girls explore such musical dreams, the Institute for Musical Arts (IMA) in Western Massachusetts being one of them. Founded […]