Without feminism to endorse it, I don’t always know how to justify my anger. If I am not angry with ‘men’ who or what am I angry with? Because sometimes I am still fucking angry. Maybe even more so, now I realise all that time I wasted, all those lies I bought, all those pages I wrote. For the sake of something I don’t believe in or value any more.
Dorian Lynskey has considered angry women, after one or two such creatures criticised his recent book, 33 revolutions per minute (an inspired title), for omitting the story of women’s role in the history of protest songs, to a large extent. He asked for people to suggest ‘feminist’ songs by women to redress the balance. Or at least to draw attention to the question of ‘where are the women’ protest pop singers? This made me a bit…angry. Because I don’t want my anger to need feminism for it to exist or make sense. My anger is a loose canon, that sometimes erupts from me for no apparent reason at all. But there is always a reason really.
I told Dorian that PJ Harvey, one of my favourite angry women in pop (yes she has ‘toned herself down’ like a good ‘mature artist’ should, and suddenly gained unanimous critical acclaim when she used to get such mixed reactions, but she is still angry), has never publicly identified as a feminist. This used to irk me. I thought she was denying the obvious feminist message of her music. Now it is something I am very glad about. I hope it is because she genuinely isn’t a feminist, and not because she just doesn’t want to be pigeon-holed, as pop artists, especially women, tend to be.
I think Polly Jean would understand some of my anger, when it flies and floats and pierces the sky but without words or reason or a political ideology to back it up, to give it form. I think she’d be able to give it form, with the power of her voice and the urgency of her music. She does. She has.
Sheela Na Gig is reminding me, not only of my anger, but also of how I have been treated since leaving the ‘sisterhood’. Whenever I express a strong opinion, these days, instead of being applauded and encouraged by the feminist ranks, as I might if I were agreeing with them, I get accused of being an ‘attention seeker’ a ‘troll’ a ‘self-obsessed’ individual. So the lines:
‘Sheela Na Gig, Sheela Na Gig- You Exhibitionist’ are ringing particularly true for me.
Polly Jean found her anger without feminism. And I am damned well going to find mine.