Friday, September 30, 2016

“Act Like a Lady”? Nah.

I run the Facebook page “Pop Culture Feminism“, a page dedicated to presenting challenges to the media’s representation of beauty. I spend a lot of time googling around, looking for positive body images quotes as well as inspirational sayings. I have seen my fair share of the oddities that the internet can serve up (my favorite is the “feminist manatee” that is floating around) and I am often surprised by the reactions to the images I find.  Feminist Manatee
Most recently I discovered this image, a take on the Steve Harvey theory that a woman should “Look Like a Girl, Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, Work like a Boss.” Instead, someone crossed out these words of advice and wrote “Wear whatever you want, Be yourself, Think, Be the Boss.” I posted this thinking that it will probably get little attention. Holy moly, was I wrong. 29,000 views, over 200 shares and 101 “likes” later it became clear to me that this image was a manifesto for something larger than the “Men are from Mars/Woman are from Venus” logic it was promoting. It was a declaration for taking charge of yourself, being your own person and not apologizing for who you are or who you want to be. Be yourself. Take up space, as Ani DiFranco sings, just because you can. Figure out your own version of what it means to “act like a lady.” likeaman
This got me to think about manifesto’s. Not to sound too much like Carrie Bradshaw, but I couldn’t help but wonder if finding one’s manifesto via a song is key when beginning the journey of healing. In my research on women’s use of music to help them heal I have noticed that most people turn to music at the beginning stages of healing. A song may start playing at the coffee shop you are sitting in and the lyrics will speak to you. Or perhaps you, like me, get lyrics in your head when you are trying to heal or recover from something. Regardless of the motivation, having an anthem from which to draw strength is immensely helpful in the healing process. With this in mind, here are some tips for finding your manifesto, your anthem, or your theme song.

1. Does it make you move?
I realize that for many of you, finding a theme song means that you pull out a ballad, soft song or a song that will make you cry. I get it, believe me, and there is no one “right” way to heal. But let me offer this one piece of advice; try and find a theme song that makes you move. “Move” can mean anything from dancing to running to doing something that resembles dancing. The point is to get your body moving. When my husband, who I have been with since 1997, went to college in another state and I was deep into sadness from missing him, my BFF, Bea, came to the rescue. She forced me to turn off the Tori Amos music that I had on repeat and put on No Doubt’s “Just a Girl”, (remember, it’s 1997), dance and act silly. It helped.

2. Can you sing it at the top of your lungs and feel free?
What I mean is, can you sit in your car, belt out the song and feel that soul-shake that great music can produce. That moment of “Someone gets me!” If so, than this is a great theme song for you. If you are in need of a good car-singing/dancing song, check out just about everything Kelly Clarkson has ever put out.

3. Keep in mind, you can have more than one.
This is most important. I have many songs for many moods. When I have a bad day I put on Ani DiFranco’s “Napoleon.” When I am facing adversity I pull out “Defying Gravity” from Wicked or Tori Amos’s song “Take to the Sky.” When I just want to sing at the top of my lungs and let things go I often pull out Bon Jovi’s “It’s my life” or Lady Gaga’s “Hair.” My point is to find music that speaks to you and helps you identify moods. It’s a good start at figuring out what you need to do to heal.

4. “Being deep” is not necessarily a requirement.
As I mentioned in #1, being introspective is important. And, in future blogs, I will address how to use music to help you be more introspective. But, there is a reason why people always turn up Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” when it is played at weddings, in bars or in their own homes. Because for a few minutes you can become a fist-pumping, song-wailing, silly-dancing person who lives in a world where everyone can celebrate being “born and raised in South Detroit.” Finding your anthem is about finding that song that can take you out of yourself for a few minutes and, perhaps, quiet your mind by focusing on someone else’s thoughts.

So, while Steve Harvey’s manifesto of “acting like a lady” may not sit well with most, it is a good step to finding your own manifesto. Do you have an anthem song? Let me know in the comments.
Soundtrack for This Blog:
Ani DiFranco “Alla This
Kelly Clarkson “Stronger
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Adrienne Trier-Bieniek, PhD is the author of the forthcoming book “Sing Us a Song, Piano Woman: Female Fans and the Music of Tori Amos”, which is available for pre-order on Amazon. She is a professor of sociology at Valencia College in Orlando, Florida.

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