Jasper Jams: International Women’s Day

By Jilleen Barrett, Managing Editor/Features Editor

Editor’s Note: This article discusses sensitive topics such as street harassment and relationship abuse.

Happy International Women’s Day, Jaspers! This holiday was created to recognize the achievements of women and remind us of the goal to dismantle the patriarchy and all of the systems which function because of it. 

Because of that, the first half of this Jasper Jams will focus on songs written by women which quite literally sing out against the issues we face due to the patriarchy. The second half will include feel good, upbeat tunes that will remind you how beautiful and strengthening womanhood can be.

Nameless, Faceless – Courtney Barnett

“Nameless, Faceless” is the fifth song on Barnett’s 2018 album, Tell Me How You Really Feel. I interpret this song as being directed toward men who take part in street harassment and catcalling. Barnett sings, “I wanna walk through the park in the dark / Men are scared that women will laugh at them / I wanna walk through the park in the dark / Women are scared that men will kill them” as a harsh but necessary reminder that some men simply feel entitled to women’s bodies, and when they can’t have them, they feel like something was taken away from them.

Go Where You Wanna Go – The Mamas and the Papas

John Phillips wrote this song during his relationship with Michelle Phillips before their band’s hit “California Dreamin’” made them a household name. John and Michelle had a somewhat tumultuous relationship, both of them having cheated on each other, and while I know this song was probably written in anger, I choose to see it as an expression of freedom and empowerment.

Boyish – Japanese Breakfast

Michelle Zauner, lead singer of Japanese Breakfast, wrote this song about “self acceptance and discovery.” It’s about a relationship becoming less and less satisfying for the woman, who feels ugly and burnt out from giving so much to her partner. “If you go to her / Don’t expect to come home to me,” she sings, standing up for herself, and later “What do you want from me? / If you don’t like how I look, then leave.”

What Have They Done to my Song, Ma – Melanie

Melanie Safka, known artistically by only her first name, is a singer-songwriter who rose to fame in the 70s. “What Have They Done to my Song, Ma” is one of her most notable songs, and one that feels incredibly relatable for women. She sings about the music industry changing her songs and overall sense of self as a musician. This song is supremely relatable for anyone who has wept to their own mother as they came to realize the way women are judged on a different scale than men.

mad woman – Taylor Swift

From Taylor Swift’s eighth album, “mad woman” describes a woman who holds the weight of her partner’s opinion of her, which inevitably leads to her mental health spiraling. This song touches on relationship issues and the anger that will inevitably build up when someone is constantly berated as this woman is. She tells her partner, “Every time you call me crazy / I get more crazy / What about that?” Women are constantly being told they are too emotional, too difficult and “crazy” as Swift puts it. A lot of Swift fans seem to relate to this song a little too much. 

Silk Chiffon – MUNA, Phoebe Bridgers

This song makes me want to rollerblade in Van Cortlandt Park on a 75 degree day. It encourages me to have fun with my girl friends and relax. It reminds me to put on a miniskirt and feel pretty for myself and “[keep] it light like silk chiffon.” Phoebe Bridgers is a favorite amongst my group of friends, so she generally serves as a symbol of feminine strength for me.

Love You For a Long Time – Maggie Rogers

It makes so much sense that the cover image for this single is Rogers sticking her head out of a car window with her hair flowing in the wind. This song is so freeing — it’s my favorite song to listen to while I walk to class in the spring. It might be a song about a relationship with a man, but it is also a song about unabashedly giving love — romantic or not — to the people you want to give it to. Love is empowering, so it belongs on a women’s day playlist.

Potential Breakup Song – Aly & AJ

A Disney classic, Aly & AJ updated this song recently to be explicit, and it was a great move as they continue their comeback. The song was supposedly written about Joe Jonas, a Jonas Brothers Band member who apparently forgot about AJ’s birthday, which is not too surprising because Jonas has inspired enough breakup songs that there could probably be a Jasper Jams about it. This song literally unites women at parties — it’s loud, well-written and fun to belt out with friends.

Juice – Lizzo

Ending on a high note with a song that promotes the mentality that you should not care about what anyone else thinks of you because you’re beautiful and perfect just the way you are. Lizzo motivates women to support each other by not only singing about how good she feels about herself, but also how her confidence can inspire other women’s confidence, because “If I’m shining, everybody gonna shine.”