The politics of gendered instruments is, admittedly, not something we think too much about. Sure, we maybe feel uneasy about the lack of women guitar players (or musicians in general) in our favorite bands, and we perhaps question the fairness of the music industry more broadly; but have we ever considered that there might be structural barriers that are holding us back that we can’t even recognize? And do we do something about it? Well if “we” is referring to Annie Clark--known more widely as badass alt rock goddess St. Vincent (Wikipedia describes her as an artist of the “baroque pop” variety, just so we’re all aware of how cool she is)--then the answer to both questions is hell yes. This week, she announced that, come March, a guitar she designed for instrument brand Ernie Ball will be released--a guitar that is specifically intended to be played by women, and one that leaves room for a “breast or two.” Hot. Damn. She spoke about the difficulties she’s faced trying to play famous guitar brands like Les Paul, which is too heavy for her to play regularly, and she highlighted the need for an instrument that purposefully and thoughtfully celebrates and accents the female form. Whatta saint. *wink wink*
2. U.K. Publicly Shames Employers Contributing to Gender Wage Gap.
America, prepare to be schooled by the motherland. This past week, certain U.K. officials led by Women and Equalities Minister Nicky Morgan have announced that businesses with more than 250 employees are now required to provide transparency of salary differences between women and men, and then rankings of the businesses based on levels of equality will be posted publicly to a government-sponsored website. Woof! While this isn’t a foolproof way to close the wage gap, the U.S. could learn a thing or two about actually taking action against this tangible extension of misogyny that limits female ambition and societal worth. Also, let us remind y’all that the wage gap is typically discussed in terms and numbers that reflect the condition of working white women, and often neglects the condition of working women of color who make even less than the reported 78 cents on the dollar that white women make in the U.S. (black women average 64 cents, and Latina women average just 56 cents to every dollar earned by white, non-Hispanic men). Time to put that wage gap where it belongs--in the garbage along with the shards of the shattered glass ceiling.
3. Kentucky Rep Proposes Treating Men Like Women Just For One, Singular Hot Sec...
If you take anything away from the feminist news this week, let it be the name Mary Lou Marzian. This queenly Kentucky state representative stood up in front of the male-dominated House and proposed a bill (to make a point, y'all. to make. a. point.) that would force men seeking Viagra to endure the same invasive requirements that have been proposed (and PASSED) in a bill this past week for women seeking abortions. First of all, dudes would have to be married to get the drug--then, they’d have to visit doctors, provide a signed letter of consent from their spouses, and swear with their hands on a Bible that they will only be using the drug to have sex with their spouses. Sounds laughable when the tables are turned, right? Yeah. It’s hilarious how we trust men to make their own personal sexual healthcare decisions on Monday, while for the women on the receiving end of those decisions, we force a bunch of patronizing, religiously informed, dangerous regulations down their throats on Tuesday. LOL. We’re laughing so hard we’re almost crying. See my reactions to people's reactions to this here.
4. Denmark Opens First Female-Led Mosque.
Speaking of tackling sexism where it stands, how ‘bout the one with Denmark’s first female-led mosque??? Sherin Khankan, one of Denmark’s four lady imams (if ya didn’t know, an imam is a worship leader of a mosque in a Muslim community), decided it was high time for some female empowerment within the Danish Muslim community, so she established a female-led mosque in Copenhagen, calling it a “feminist project.” Citing the many times she felt disconnected and uncomfortable within her own faith, Khankan jumped at the chance to make Islam more relatable and tailored toward her fellow countrywomen with the creation of the Mariam Mosque, which is gender neutral for worshippers all week, except for ladies-only Friday nights. Honestly, congrats to the more than 270,000 Danish Muslims for finally getting some of that lady leadership we all crave.
5. U.S. Scrambles to Fill Open SCOTUS Seat.
With a “West Wing”-esque flare, the country unexpectedly lost one of its nine Supreme Court justices this week, 79-year-old Antonin Scalia. As one of the nation’s most conservative justices in history, his Supreme Court legacy includes stopping the Florida ballot recount during the 2000 election (which put George W. Bush in the White House for his first term), protecting the right to bear arms, upholding anti-sodomy and anti-same-sex marriage laws, and voting against Planned Parenthood and pro-choice legislation. With that track record, it’s unsurprising to see his death send Washington D.C. further into its spiraling black hole of partisan despair. Republicans are arguing that Obama (who’s been busy nominating other kickass judges like this one and this one) shouldn’t be able to nominate another justice because it’s an election year, and if he were to nominate, SCOTUS would go Blue; Democrats are arguing that this rule was just fabricated as a petty way to keep Obama from nominating a liberal judge. Though more concrete predictions have come through these past few days, no one is sure at this point who Obama will pick to succeed Scalia. The lists so far, however, have been surprising: we’re seeing lots of promising politicians of color, including Kamala Harris (swoon), Cory Booker (swoooooon), Jacqueline Nguyen, and Padmanabhan Srikanth Srinivasan. A change in the Court could change a lot of things for a lot of women--and if we (read: Obama) play our cards right, we could have a surge of feminist initiatives coming out of SCOTUS in the near future. Fingers crossed!