Informal Feminism

{July 10, 2011}   My Favorite Artist: Ani DiFranco

So back to business this week and the business of this week is Ani DiFranco. For those of you who are not familiar with her she is a folk artist with a definite feminist slant. She has been creating music since the early 1990’s and has shaped an impressive career from it. She was offered to be part of a major music label at the beginning of her career but turned it down to create her own studio where she could produce the music that she wanted to create and give other women the opportunity to create the same. I don’t want to write her biography here though; my intentions are to talk about how I have found this woman’s music to be a great influence in my life.

Do you have a favourite artist? An artist that you could listen to on repeat for the rest of your life without wishing to become deaf? Well for me that artist is Ani DiFranco. The music that she produces is something that I am contented to listen to endlessly. There is a quality about her music that is hard to find in the mass music labels. She writes, sings, and plays her own music. I had heard about her in high school and I remember thinking how she was someone who I should pursue listening to but I let her name slip from my mind. When I was in my second year of university I broke up with my boyfriend and was in a funk, it was not a happy parting of ways, and my best friend brought me music that she thought would help me: Ani DiFranco. It was then that I fell in love with her music. I remember listening to her music over and over and feeling stronger as a result of it. I was just beginning my women’s studies degree and I had found a woman who was singing about what it was like to be a woman; the good and the bad, the strong and the weak sides to us. I instantly related to the lyrics being presented to me. Listening to a woman sing about not needing men was an empowering moment and it was with her songs and an amazing set of friends around me that I got over my ex and realized was a douche he actually was.

It was after that I listened to her other music and also found a woman not afraid to sing about abortion and not being ashamed of her body. Singing about how tough she can be and yet how fragile at the same time. It was something that I think more women need to hear. Often we take on others at the expense of ourselves as women. While we love these people and would do anything for them, it is also important to have someone tell women that it is o.k. to be thinking of themselves as well. Our wellbeing is something that is important to our emotional health to know that we deserve to appreciated for all we do as women. She also tackle the issues of body and growing up as a young woman in our society, which can feel like a hard place when you don’t look like the model on the billboard. She writes music that tells women that they are beautiful as they are. Her music also has many different dimensions and is something that reflects the developments in her own life.

I remember when her most recent album, Red Letter Year, was released; I was in my second year of women’s studies and overheard some of my classmates discussing the album. They didn’t seem to think it was as good because there was a lot of music that talked about her love for her daughter. They seemed to be saying that becoming a mother had softened her and her music was a reflection of this. I would disagree that it was a bad thing to incorporate that love. I think that Red Letter Year is one of the best Ani albums produced. She does have more of a focus towards love, as a result of her daughter but it just shows her versatility. She produces amazing music and uses the experiences in her life to do it. If she continued to produce the same music every album, she wouldn’t be someone these women would listen to. I think that is the short-sightedness of people when it comes to music they always expect the same thing even when the artist experiences change. To me bringing that into her music makes her a better artist. It is also music that women can relate to because many women are going to become mothers. One of the most important things I have learned as a feminist is that we fight for women to have choices. If that choice is to become a mother then it should be appreciated because our ability to be mother is something powerful. Becoming a mother shouldn’t have an impact on how good of a feminist you are. It isn’t a competition; we are fighting for equality and against oppression. To judge other women for their decisions is a terrible approach to being a feminist. In Ani’s case I would say that becoming a mother made her produce an amazing album.


Twelve Ani Songs to listen to:

1. Gravel

2. Not a Pretty Girl

3. Evolve

4. Blood in the Boardroom

5. The Atom

6. Superhero

7. God’s Country

8. Make Me Stay

9. 32 Flavours

10. What If No One’s Watching

11. Smiling Underneath

12. Lost Woman Song


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