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← Why we must stop dancing to the sound of our own oppression

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Showing Revision 10 created 09/18/2020 by Erin Gregory.

  1. So often,
  2. I'll take a fitness class,
  3. or I'll go to a music venue,
  4. or, really, anywhere that plays
    music in the background,
  5. and I'll find myself loving the rhythms
  6. and the melodies and the beats ...
  7. And then I take a second
    to listen to the lyrics,
  8. lyrics that, for example,
    place us in a position of subservience
  9. that we would never tolerate
    in any other context.
  10. And I'm aghast at the degree to which
    we normalize sexism in our culture.
  11. I listen to this music and I'm like,
  12. I don't want to have to turn up
    to the sound of my own oppression.
  13. You know, music is one of the most
    powerful forms of communication,

  14. because it has the potential
    to either uplift or oppress.
  15. Music caters to the emotions.
    Music caters to the soul.
  16. Music opens up our soul.
  17. It opens up our channels
    to receive information
  18. about somebody else's walk of life,
  19. to inform our own roles.
  20. And while I have no problem
    with male fantasy,

  21. what I do have a problem with
  22. is that, according to a recent study,
    only 2.6 percent of all music producers
  23. identify as women.
  24. That means an even smaller percentage
    identify as trans or gender nonconforming.
  25. And why does this matter?
  26. Because, if we don't own
    and control our own narrative,
  27. somebody else will
    tell our stories for us,
  28. and they will get it wrong,
  29. perpetuating the very myths
    that hold us back.
  30. And I'm not here to tell other people
    how to make their music.

  31. But I am here to provide
    and design the alternative.
  32. One strategy I take in my music

  33. is making uplifting, energetic,
    percussive global beats
  34. and placing lyrics on top of them
  35. that genuinely describe
    my life's experiences
  36. without contributing
    to the oppression of anybody else.
  37. It's funny, because it's the same reason
  38. as to why we excuse
    so many problematic lyrics;
  39. it's because we love
    how the beats make us feel.
  40. An example of this is my song
    "Top Knot Turn Up."

  41. (Music: "Top Knot Turn Up")

  42. (Sings) I turned off my phone's
    notifications so I have more time /

  43. No bubbles to trouble
    my clear state of mind /
  44. One thing to know,
    I'm not here to please /
  45. Hair tied up, I do it properly /
  46. My time is not your property /
  47. When I'm productive like my ovaries,
    eyy! /
  48. Give a grown girl room to breathe,
    basic rights and her liberty /
  49. Free from insecurity
    that the world's projecting onto me /
  50. Please do not trouble me
    when I am focused /
  51. The future is female
    you already know this /
  52. I'm fighting against
    the corruption on SCOTUS /
  53. Turned up in my top knot
    since when I first wrote this /
  54. It's a top knot turn up
    It's a top knot turn up, turn up, turn up.
  55. It's a top knot turn up
    It's a top knot turn up, turn up, turn up.
  56. It's a top knot turn up
    It's a top knot turn up, eyyy.
  57. It's a top knot turn up.
  58. (Music ends)

  59. I want us to keep making
    sex-positive, beautiful music

  60. about joy and freedom.
  61. I want us to embrace our own pleasure
  62. just as much as we embrace our own pain.
  63. I want us to celebrate the authentic,
  64. nuanced,
  65. multidimensional aspects
    of our human existence,
  66. rather than perform false narratives
    of degrading sexuality
  67. in order to feel accepted or loved.
  68. And another strategy
    that I take in my music

  69. to combat the misogyny
    that exists on the airwaves
  70. is to visually depict the very world
    I wished we lived in.
  71. In the music video
    for my song "See Me Thru,"
  72. which is like a vibe-y,
    queer electronic R and B song,
  73. I cast two of my dear friends,
    Ania and Dejha,
  74. to play the role of the lovers,
    because they're married in real life.
  75. But what you don't know
    is that they also are behind the camera
  76. concepting and directing
    the entire video.
  77. (Video) Heyyyyy ohhhh
    My emotions were tired

  78. Music should be safe
    and accessible for all to experience.

  79. As you can see, it's not about
    losing the sex appeal or swag
  80. that music has,
  81. it's about writing messages
    that infuse tenderness and positivity
  82. into music that motivates us
    and challenges us.
  83. And while we as musicians
    absolutely have the responsibility

  84. to make music that isn't disempowering,
  85. the consumers can be
    part of the change, too.
  86. Firstly, we get to choose
    which songs we want to mute
  87. and which songs we want to turn louder.
  88. We get to say, "I respect myself enough
    to say I don't want to listen to this,
  89. and I don't want this to be
    in anybody else's space, either."
  90. Secondly, we can simply ask ourselves:

  91. "Does this music or this message
  92. contribute to the oppression
    of somebody else?
  93. Why am I tolerating it?"
  94. And finally, we can all be choosing
    to make playlists or DJ-ing music
  95. that provides the right vibe or mood
    that we're looking for in that moment
  96. without the problematic messaging.
  97. Why does this matter?
  98. Because it's teaching algorithms
    in our streaming systems and our world
  99. exactly what it is that
    we do want to listen to,
  100. creating long-term change
    and a feedbacking mechanism
  101. that impacts the entire industry.
  102. This is not a message

  103. for just a small group of people.
  104. This is a message that affects everybody,
  105. because when we protect and liberate
    our most vulnerable genders,
  106. we liberate everybody.