Artist Spotlight: Isis Nicole Magazine!

The Isis Nicole Magazine (or IN Magazine for short, named after its founder) is unabashedly colorful, vibrant and glittery, often spotlighting women of color: think Tumblr come to life. The Chicago-based publication is the perfect blend of traditional print media and Internet age fervor. Isis and the other half of the magazine, Hannah Black, are not only creative partners but real life gal pals who always make sure to Snapchat each other about their days. The two tell ACRO what IN Magazine is all about and how they balance work and fun.

by B.C.

The Isis Nicole Magazine (or IN Magazine for short, named after its founder) is unabashedly colorful, vibrant and glittery, often spotlighting women of color: think Tumblr come to life. The Chicago-based publication is the perfect blend of traditional print media and Internet age fervor. Isis and the other half of the magazine, Hannah Black, are not only creative partners but real life gal pals who always make sure to Snapchat each other about their days. The two tell ACRO what IN Magazine is all about and how they balance work and fun: Continue reading “Artist Spotlight: Isis Nicole Magazine!”

Women at Work: Eileen (Writer/Editor)

Editor’s Note: I am very excited to introduce the inaugural interview of our new series, “Women at Work.” This series aims to open up conversations about what work women do, what aspects of work they find fulfilling, and what improvements can be made to their part of the American workplace. We’ll talk to women in a broad range of fields, in different stages of their careers.  Greater transparency benefits everyone! Our first interview is with 91-year-old Eileen Lavine, a retired editor who began her career several decades ago.

Women at Work logo


 

1) What did you do for a living? What do you do now? 
I was a writer and editor for most of my career. I graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1945, and knew when I first entered college that I wanted to have a career in journalism. I had also been an editor of my high school newspaper (an enormous all-girls school in Manhattan), and as soon as I started college (at the age of 16 ½), I went to the office of The Daily Cardinal, the award-winning newspaper at Wisconsin, and started as a reporter.  That was September 1941 – and when we entered World War II in December, many of the male students went into service – so The Cardinal was run mostly by women, and I became the first woman to serve a full year’s term as executive editor.

2) When you were in school, what did you imagine you would do for a living? Did you have a strong sense of direction in terms of career, or a sense that there were many options open to you?

Yes, I had a strong sense of direction – I did not want to major in journalism, but rather in American Institutions, an inter-department major where I concentrated in political science, history, sociology and economics, all much more valuable for journalism.

When I graduated, I went to Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and received my M.S. degree. Then I worked as a reporter and Assistant Sunday Editor on the New Bedford (Mass.) Standard-Times for about 2 years.  I then came back home to New York and worked as an assistant to Dorothy Gordon, who had youth forums on radio for the New York Times – my job was doing forums at junior and senior high schools around the city on current events and cultural issues.  After 2 years, my job ended and with my generous severance pay I went on a six-week Grand Tour of Europe, ending up in Paris where I stayed for a year doing some free-lance writing for UNESCO and the Economic Cooperation Administration (US Marshall Plan). When I came back home, I became editor of a welfare and health newspaper published by the Community Council of New York.  I married and was doing free-lance writing when my first child was born, then we moved to Washington, DC (my husband was an attorney with the Federal Trade Commission) – and I started doing part-time work for a nonprofit association in the medical field, writing and editing newsletters and other materials.

Eileen LavineIn 1968, a group of us – all women whose husbands were employed – incorporated ourselves as Information Services, Inc., an editorial business that produced newsletters, brochures, conference proceedings,, public relations programs, etc. mostly for health and education organizations and government agencies.  I was President of the company for much of its existence and also was active in the formation of the National Association of Women Business Owners.  We were a low-key firm, mostly housewives working part time on a variety of assignments.  It was quite unique at the time, but we were fortunate in that the organization that had brought us together in the first place continued to pay for the rent and office supplies, and also most of us had husbands who were working and had health benefits.  Our company closed in 1998.  Since that time I have been a volunteer, first as a mentor for young Black and Latino students in reading and acculturation projects and a member of the Board of Directors of the organization sponsoring this program , and for the past eight years, I have been a senior editor at Moment Magazine, a bi-monthly publication founded 40 years ago by Elie Wiesel as an independent magazine on Jewish cultural, social and political issues. I have written articles for the magazine, and I do copy editing and proofreading for each issue.

3) Did your family, friends, and other people around you support your ambitions to be a writer and editor? Was there pressure to do something else with your career/life?

Yes, my family and friends strongly supported my ambitions to be a journalist.  From my high school days, I always went to the 070 section in the public library to read books about journalists. My father, who was a doctor, died when I was 10, and my mother was very supportive of me and my two sisters in everything we did, from going to college out of town, working on the high school newspaper, and going to graduate school (I lived at home that year). My friends also had career goals, and most of my close friends worked after college and after they were married (although most, I believe, stopped working when they first had children, returning to work in later years).  I don’t recall any friends of the family questioning my ambitions.  My older sister, who graduated from college in 1941, got a master’s in economics at Columbia, worked for several yeas after she married, then returned to work when her sons were older. Ditto for my younger sister.  There was never any pressure for any of us to do anything else.

4) Do you see major differences in the way that women are seen and treated in the workforce, from your early days as a writer and editor to your time now at Moment Magazine
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Eileen celebrates her 91st birthday at Moment Magazine.

Obviously, women in general have many more opportunities today – but remember, my college years were during World War II and women took over many jobs at that time. Some of my friends in college accelerated to get out of college in 3 years instead of 4 to take advantage of these jobs.
For a year in 1948 I worked on two trade magazines, before my job opened up at the NY Times, and the staffs were all women including the top editors. At Moment, the staff is almost all women, except for the design and production manager. We have had male fellows for one-year stints, but the latest fellows have been female.  I am continually impressed at the professionalism, capability and skill of all these women – and it has been a real pleasure for me to work with them.

 

5) Was the gendered wage gap and ERA [Equal Rights Amendment] a big topic of discussion during your time at Information Services, Inc.? What do you think can be done to further improve the working conditions of women today, if anything?

We didn’t discuss gendered wage gaps at Information Services because we were all part-time housewives whose husbands made most of the family income. So we really had no concern about the issue. However, we did march in support of the ERA and that was a big topic of discussion among us all.

As far as improving the working conditions of women today, I think professionally, women have made their marks already at the top levels of many fields, including journalism. The major issue today is how to improve working conditions for women at the lower end [of the job spectrum], to give them education and training so that they can move up and aspire to better jobs.

Our next interview is with Eileen’s daughter, Amy! What kinds of working women would you like to see us interview?


 

Know someone who wants to share their workplace experiences? Contact us :)

 

“What Are You?”: Let’s Talk About Asian-American Encounters

This is a bit of an anomalous situation, but once…my sister and I were on a horseback riding tour in Wyoming, and somehow it was just the two of us with the guide. He was a typical white cowboy-type, kind of dashing in his way, until he opened his mouth to say, ‘What are you guys?’ (Humans?) In this situation, where we were literally in the mountain wilderness alone with him, how sassy could I afford to be? So I just replied, ‘We’re Chinese-American.’ He seemed perplexed for a second before relaxing. ‘Cool,’ he replied. ‘I love sweet and sour chicken, I eat that all the time at this place in town.’ Was this a strange flirtation attempt couched in the language of…food? What was I supposed to say, ‘I’ve eaten mayonnaise before and it’s pretty good?’ Here’s a hot tip: don’t treat someone’s ethnicity as something edible. If you have to reach that hard to find something with which to connect, just use, you know, your shared humanity.

by B.C.

[to] customer service guy, fun fact: my race is not a conversation starter and I don’t care that your ‘best mate’ is getting married to an asian girl.

When I posted this status on Facebook about how a customer service rep unnecessarily remarked on my race, I was kind of surprised by how it blew up with ‘likes’ and comments — but also not that surprised. 

Among my friends, including those on social media, it’s pretty common knowledge that these types of comments are unwarranted. But I was reminded that it’s not common knowledge for everyone.

To backtrack, I was at a Verizon store getting a phone upgrade. This guy was helping me along and we were making typical small talk. Then, out of nowhere, he asked if both of my parents were Asian. I was unsure of where he was going with this but answered, yes, only to have him tell me he was surprised I didn’t have an accent.

As those words left his mouth, I felt myself cringing. Really? Did you really say that? I told him, politely, that there are lots of Asian-Americans like me without accents and that his comment was a little offensive.

He seemed taken aback, shocked, even; he immediately apologized and said he didn’t mean offense. Okay, I thought, well good. Glad that’s over. But then he continued the conversation by telling me that his best friend was marrying an Asian girl, as if that were a way to redeem himself.

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As it to convey, hey, I’m a nice guy. I didn’t mean any harm. My best friend likes your people, so I can relate and it was okay of me to say what I said. I wasn’t so much upset as I was flummoxed by his cluelessness. He was only making things worse without even realizing it. Continue reading ““What Are You?”: Let’s Talk About Asian-American Encounters”

Big Sound Saturdays: Spring and All

It is spring. That is to say, it is approaching THE BEGINNING.

Yes, The Beginning. Welcome, spring! This mix sits squarely in the 10-ish year period of 1966-1977, plus an irresistible tune from 1987—the year of the mystical collaboration of Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, and Linda Ronstadt—and the wonky, dulcet tones of Josephine Foster in 2005. At its center, Merle Haggard’s “Ramblin’ Fever.” RIP!

It is spring. That is to say, it is approaching THE BEGINNING.

Yes, The Beginning. Welcome, spring! This mix sits squarely in the 10-ish year period of 1966-1977, plus an irresistible tune from 1987—the year of the mystical collaboration of Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, and Linda Ronstadt—and the wonky, dulcet tones of Josephine Foster in 2005. At its center, Merle Haggard’s “Ramblin’ Fever.” RIP! Continue reading “Big Sound Saturdays: Spring and All”

Women and Villainy

What makes a woman a villain? And what makes a female villain’s portrayal sexist?

by I.C.

I recently wrote about the qualities that constitute a heroine, whether in literature, TV, or film.  In doing so, I was led to consider the equally compelling question:  What makes for a successfully imagined female villain?  Perhaps more specifically, what makes for a portrayal of a female villain that isn’t sexist?   

We know what makes for a good villain in general—he or she should be someone we love to hate.  Generally, a villain is characterized by an incapacity for empathy.  This is true no matter the villain’s gender.  But too often, representations of female villains seem driven by animosity toward women in general, or at the very least fall back on misogynistic gender stereotypes.  Thus, perhaps the most common female villain is the “ambitious woman,” the power-hungry Lady Macbeth archetype: hard, icy, cunning, and scheming (think House of Cards’ Claire Underwood).  There are also female villains who are merely promiscuous, irrational, and violent, ruining the lives of the unfortunate male protagonists they ensnare.  These two stereotypical female roles have sometimes fused in the femme fatale who uses her sexuality to advance her ambition.  Some combination of the two stereotypes has informed female villains from King Lear’s two ungrateful older daughters to the Marquise de Merteuil in Les Liaisons Dangereuses.

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Disney’s retelling of Maleficent

Stereotypes of female evil also often blend ageism with sexism—every fairy tale has its evil hag or warty witch.  I grew up watching Disney’s female villains—the Evil Queen, Maleficent, Cinderella’s step-mother, Ursula, Cruella Deville.  Their villainy was usually connected to their jealousy of youth and beauty and/or to their hunger for power.  The evil queen is vain and envious, Maleficent vengeful, Cinderella’s step-mother spiteful, and Ursula manipulative and just generally ruthless.  Whether or not their individual representations are sexist, as a group they send the message that older women are dangerous to youthful heroines, and could never be heroines themselves. 

How do we tell, beyond a gut feeling, if a particular representation of a female villain is sexist?  Certainly we can’t call sexism on every female villain; to demand only positive representations of women would itself be regressive and sexist.  The question is only complicated by the fact that today, particularly on TV, we seem to have moved in many cases beyond portrayals of clear-cut villainy, favoring anti-heroes and (less-frequently) anti-heroines.  Generally, an anti-hero or anti-heroine is made, not born; they have nuance, and we see the circumstances have led them to be who they are.  Some iconic female villains have been given backstories this way and even received full-on makeovers in recent years, occasionally even transitioning to heroine status: Maleficent and the Wicked Witch of the West are among these.  But other female characters, even when given nuance, remain evil, and it’s in those cases that it’s particularly tricky to pinpoint whether they convey a generalized negative attitude toward women.

One such difficult character is A Song of Ice and Fire/ Game of Thrones’ Cersei Lannister, who is worth discussing in detail.  Is she a villainess or an anti-heroine?  She’s certainly not pure evil like her son Joffrey or Ramsay Bolton.  She has a back-story and some complexity.  But why must the series’ most overtly devious female character be the one with the most feminist awareness?  Is dissatisfaction with female roles aligned with villainy?  Other, more positive female characters in the series transgress gender norms (Arya Stark, Brienne of Tarth).  But Cersei has the most fully developed awareness of the gender constraints imposed on her, and of the differences in the way she and her twin brother have always been treated.  She resents being married off like chattel and having her ambitions limited by her gender.  The trouble is that her indignation about these things is part of a general pattern of resenting and blaming others for her own faults or the consequences of her own actions, so that it feels as if Martin is undermining the validity of her gender critique.  (Book readers may be particularly unlikely to attribute her villainy to years of gender inequity, since as a little girl she was already apparently evil enough to drown a friend in a well.)

Another thing that frustrates me about the representation of Cersei, but may just reveal my own stereotypes of female villainy, is her lack of cunning or even intelligence; this lack is unusual for a powerful, ambitious female villain.  The first time I read A Song of Ice and Fire, I was surprised when I reached the third book, A Feast for Crows, in which Cersei first becomes a point of view character, to discover that she lacked the calculating intellect that typically goes along with ruthless ambition in a female villain.  The second time I read the novels, I was more actively annoyed—Why does G.R.R. Martin have to emphasize that every single decision she makes is stupid and self-defeating?  Her one redeeming quality is her love for her children, but she loves them only for the same narcissistic reason that she loves her twin—because they are reflections or extensions of herself. 

I am not sure that it is necessarily sexist that Cersei’s villainy is bound up with her gender and her gender-awareness.  It seems incorrect to say that a representation of a female villain is sexist unless her villainy is disconnected from her gender, or unless her role could just as easily be played by a man.  I am also thinking here of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl and its deliciously sociopathic title character, who has cunning in spades.  Amy Dunne, like Cersei, is keenly aware of the role gender plays in every aspect of life.  She uses the media’s bias toward pretty white women to strengthen her intricate revenge plot against her cheating slob of a husband.  She also gives the novel’s powerful and much-quoted “cool girl” speech, skewering men’s expectations of women.  At the same time, what does it mean that this arguably feminist speech comes from a sociopath?  Amy herself is certainly no feminist—like Cersei, her attitude towards other women is often sexist, contemptuous, and exploitative, never sororal.

Is Amy a villain, an antagonist, an anti-heroine?  Rosamond Pike, who played Amy in David Finch’s 2013 movie version, has said there is something essentially feminine about Amy’s type of crazy—by extension, one might say Amy’s type of evil.  This makes me distinctly uncomfortable, but it seems indisputable: there is no way Nick’s and Amy’s roles could have been successfully reversed.  Indeed, they seemed to play out an extreme version of husband-wife dynamics that some readers and film-goers found uncomfortably familiar.

Gone Girl seems to break the most fundamental rule of non-sexist villainess depiction: that a book/show/movie not cater to men who could close the book or leave the theatre with the comment: “Women—crazy, am I right?”  (This rule is why I have avoided watching movies like Fatal Attraction and Basic Instinct.)  But then again, men are more likely to leave Gone Girl terrified than smug, and I honestly can’t say if that’s better or worse.  In any case, sociopathy certainly characterizes many of the scariest male villains as well.  It doesn’t necessarily make a depiction of female evil sexist.

So it seems any rule one lays down about female characterization is inevitably unstable.  The best conclusion I can come up with in avoiding creating sexist female villains, and it seems a cliché, is that a character should be fully-realized, not a caricature or stereotype, but recognizably a human being.  She should not be vilified merely for wanting things or doing things a man would not be a villain for wanting or doing.  Those ideas seems simple, but we can hold to them and still retain characters like Cersei or Amy, who challenge us to continue the debate about representations of women that loom large in our cultural consciousness.    

“Zootopia” Encourages Us to Examine Our Prejudice

**This post contains some spoilers**

Zootopia continues Disney’s time-honored tradition of using animated creatures to talk about something else, whether it’s covering….Hamlet with lions or depression with walking, talking emojis (I’m talking Lion King and Inside Out here, in case you couldn’t tell). But Zootopia manages to do a little more, by drawing a charmingly insightful view of the world that still manages to talk about the prejudice and stereotypes that plague us.

Are you in it for the animal puns and inventive world-building? Sure. There are little sparks of pleasure throughout the entire movie, as the animators recreate familiar technology in an “evolved” world where animals, predators and prey, live together in a modern metropolis. How would subways accommodate both giraffes and hamsters? Do rabbits facetime? Are leopards pop-star fanboys who know how to use apps? All of your questions will be answered. (Bonus: this makes the film’s address of bigotry, racism, and prejudice even more compelling, as there’s a clear parallel drawn between Zootopia’s world and ours).

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Photo from Zootopia \\ Twitter @DisneyZootopia

Its main character, Judy Hopps, is an amibitious young bunny bent on becoming the first police officer of her species. To do so, she works twice as hard as anyone else, insisting that she’s not just a “token.” She is a creative problem-solver who works collaboratively, respects her friendships, and knows when to acknowledge her own mistakes and shortcomings. She’s a great cop who got there mostly by the dint of her own hard work, but also through the love and support of her community. She is defined more by her ambitions than anything else (and thank god there was no love story in this movie, because how would that even work…?). My cynical heart swells thinking of the young girls watching this movie who will absorb this film’s subtle, but strong message about the potential and abilities of the underestimated.

But Zootopia is more than a girl-can-do film, and its address of bigotry is what makes it one of the best and most important movies Disney has put out yet. In the beginning, Judy’s naive worldview presents Zootopia as the harmonious, “race-blind” melding of two distinct classes of animal: predator and prey. Part of her journey is through the disillusionment of that idea, and toward a concrete plan of action to remedy it. There are forces at work in the city who feed off of the distrust and prejudice that still surround “predators” and their unavoidable “biological instinct”—an early lesson for young viewers in the insidious power of coded language to shape public opinion, as Judy also learns. Through Judy’s friendship with the street-hustler fox Nick Wilde, she learns what it means to confront the lingering animosity between “predator” and “prey,” and how to forge a strong friendship from this unlikely, but very effective, partnership.

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Image from Twitter @DisneyZootopia

The film is also seeded with references for the adults or particularly savvy kids—like how the “nighthowlers” drug can be seen as a parallel to the crack epidemic, or how Judy tells another animal that bunnies can call other bunnies “cute,” but if another species does it….(you can almost hear the n-word echoing in the background). Zootopia depicts how quickly people (or animals) can fall into the traps of fear-motivated thinking, how bigotry and racism feed off of misinformation and fear. It also shows how much is lost when one’s world is circumscribed by these prejudices. And it does so in terms that both children and adults can understand and use to discuss racism, bigotry, and prejudice in the real world. That is a refreshing antidote to the hate-mongering and racism being peddled by election frontrunners—and the positive reaction to Zootopia bespeaks more than just our love for cuddly animals. Is it perfect? Probably not. But it brings the problems of bigotry right to the front and center. That’s a hell of a lot more than Disney movies used to do. We need more children’s movies like this, which are driven by interesting storylines and use world-building to open up discussions about the pressing problems of our own world.

 

Plus, this movie is just really freaking cute.

 

 

“Meninist” Leader Plans Pro-Rape Rallies in Over 165 Locations

Literal piece of human garbage* “Roosh V” (aka Daryush Valizadeh) has put out a call to his followers and readers of “men’s rights” website ReturnofKings.com (it’s a DoNotLink, but click at the peril of your own eyeballs and brain). These charmingly trilby-clad men—and you better believe this is a men-only venture—will be gathering to take in the breeze, “make new friends,” and brainstorm ideas to legalize rape.

Update: the “official” meet-ups have been cancelled out of fear of harrassment, because Roosh’s sense of irony is about as deep as his humanity. However, chances are the meet-ups will still continue without being under the ReturnofKings banner, so stay careful!



Literal piece of human garbage* “Roosh V” (aka Daryush Valizadeh) has put out a call to his followers and readers of “men’s rights” website ReturnofKings.com (it’s a DoNotLink, but click at the peril of your own eyeballs and brain). These charmingly trilby-clad men—and you better believe this is a men-only venture—will be gathering to take in the breeze, “make new friends,” and brainstorm ideas to legalize rape.  I repeat, these are rallies to legalize the widespread rape of women. If you live in a big city and pass by a public park around 8pm on February 6, you may suddenly feel the irresistible pull of pick-up-artist magic, as these men struggle with their overwhelming hatred and resentment of women, men with feelings, the LGBTQ community, etc. etc. Steer clear of any straggling groups of lonely, awkward men shuffling their feet—you may quickly be sucked into their brilliant and persuasive line of arguing that rape should be legal, or that mass murderers like Elliott Rodger were killing because they had been spurned by women one too many times. (According to Roosh, “having game” is an important key to staving off murder.)

The mastermind has this to say about his series of play-dates (from DNAinfo.com): Continue reading ““Meninist” Leader Plans Pro-Rape Rallies in Over 165 Locations”

Big Sound Saturdays: Best of 2015

We’re excited to bring you a guest post from brilliant music writer A.G., who brings together queens and titans of 2015 for a year-in-review playlist you’ll love.

by A.G.

First off, happy New Year to all, and to all a good, peaceful, and sonically interesting 2016! As 2015 fades to a dusky glimmer in our rear-view mirrors, let’s take a moment to pump up our speakers and bow down before some of the ladies who made badass, game-changing music over the past year. Before I get into it: no knocks at either of the musical juggernauts referenced in my title, whose albums have been devouring the pop charts of recent memory. In a year that was, commercially speaking, terrible for female musicians and producers, it’s unquestionably rad that Adele’s 25 is smashing basically every sales record available to a seven-week-old album and that Taylor has extended the singles-studded comet trail of 1989 for so long that it’s easy to forget “Shake It Off” was released back in the dark ages of 2014.
Continue reading “Big Sound Saturdays: Best of 2015”

Acro Collective Bookshelf: January

Maybe your *New Year’s Resolution* is to read more, or maybe you just like books. Either way, you’re our kind of person.

Acro Collective Bookshelf: January

 

 
 
What are you guys reading lately?

Project Spotlight: Pass Her the Mic

We sat down with Mackenzie Collins and Georgina Ustik, the brains behind #PassHerTheMic, a project dedicated to showcasing, amplifying, and celebrating awesome female MCs, rappers, hip-hop artists, and more. It’s good to remember that “you don’t need a P to be a G.”

 

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1) What is your project called, and what are you hoping to accomplish?

Our project is called Pass Her The Mic. Pass Her The Mic is a social media campaign on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram that seeks to raise the visibility of women in hip-hop and rap. Each week, we feature an up-and-coming rap artist, and throughout the week post their music, album reviews and interviews. We also have created a blog (https://passherthemic.squarespace.com/) that is meant to be a space for critical and intersectional feminist discourse surrounding women and hip-hop. We’re still in the beginning stages right now, but we’ll soon be posting music reviews, artist interviews, playlists and opinion pieces.

We want Pass Her The Mic to become a vehicle for female artists to gain more visibility. Media representations of women affect how we and others view our own abilities. If there are more female rap artists visible, young aspiring female artists will feel more capable in pursuing their aspirations. Through an increase in feminist discourse, we hope to change the music industry’s and public’s attitudes towards female rappers as something less objectifying and restrictive.

 

2) What was the inspiration behind Pass Her the Mic?

 

We created Pass Her the Mic because we both love to listen to hip-hop and rap, but we couldn’t help but notice the serious lack of female rappers. Actually, it’s not that they don’t exist, it’s that they are being funneled out by the music industry. In the late 80s and early 90s, there were over 40 female rappers signed to major labels. In 2010, there were only 3. So many female rappers are being ignored, because they aren’t viewed as viable business opportunities as much as their male peers.

Rap has the potential to be an extremely empowering platform to women. It began as a reaction to oppression, and remains a platform to express frustration. But, right now, rap is a one-sided conversation. There are so many men creating amazing music and getting appropriate attention for it, but we want to hear more from female rappers.

When we looked for music blogs or resources online dedicated to female rappers, we found nothing. So, we decided to create it! But, we want this to be more than just a resource for people looking for amazing female rappers. We want our site to be a space for conversation and interaction.

 

3) What is it about hip-hop as a genre / artistic field that particularly drew you in?

 

Hip-hop began as a reaction to racial oppression, and remains one of our favorite forms of expression largely because of its total dependence on the meanings of words. The voice is the most crucial and only necessary instrument. How often do we actually listen to lyrics anymore in other genres? Rap is spoken word, expression of reality. It is, in our opinion, the most socially and politically significant genre. It’s also such a creative field now, so many artists are changing the genre, and creating very self-aware music in the face of the commodification and appropriation of black culture.

 

4) Did you grow up listening to female rap and hip-hop artists? Are there any that had a particularly strong influence on you, and why/why not?

 

Georgina: For me, I didn’t get into hip-hop until pretty late in life. I adore Nicki Minaj, but the female rapper that influenced me the most would have to be Lauryn Hill. Besides for her amazing skill, husky voice and eloquence, I also just remember being really inspired by the way that she was clearly such an equal in The Fugees. She killed each song with her verses. There was something powerful in each song she was in. Also, Miseducation is an undeniably killer album, probably my most-listened to.

 

Mackenzie: She stole mine, but I think one of the first female hip-hop and rap artists I listened to was Missy Elliot. I remember watching her music videos on MTV and trying to dance along all throughout childhood! I still believe that she is one of the most well-rounded artists of all time- –singer, rapper, songwriter, performer, producer! Even though she was dismissed early on from the male-centric world of hip-hop for her appearance, she clearly did not let the patriarchy stop her and therefore was crucial in transcending hip-hop’s ideas around women. She is a hip-hop icon! ALL HAIL, QUEEN MISSY!!!

 

5) How do you discover the artists that you feature? Any tips for readers looking to get into and support female hip-hop and rap artists more?

 

We’ve discovered many through social media! Twitter, Facebook and Soundcloud especially. We’ve also found a lot through doing more research into female artists featured on some of our favorite songs by male artists. Noname Gypsy’s verse on “Lost” was one of our favorite parts of Chance the Rapper’s Acid Rap. We also found that once we told people about our project, so many people reached out with suggestions. It takes us a little bit of time to research, but that’s what we’re trying to fix!

Our first and most important tip would be to follow #PassHerTheMic (; We really are trying to make finding and listening to female hip-hop and rap artists easy, and the artists we feature are pretty incredible. We’re trying to be a resource for everyone just looking for good new music!

Another tip is to reach out to up-and-coming and amateur artists, listen to their music, share it, go to their shows. BUY their music. We want to build a supportive network for young artists, but just sharing their music on our social media isn’t enough. Be active about your support, always be thinking critically, and start discussion!

 

6) Where can we find your project, and how do you envision your project’s future?

You can find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: #PassHerTheMic. You can also find us on Squarespace: https://passherthemic.squarespace.com/.

We envision our blog developing into a more developed resource for artist bios and interviews, and for Pass Her The Mic to become a voice that speaks out for, and supports, talented women. We are looking to build up a network of writers who want to engage in thoughtful discussion. We hope to steadily increase our social media following, because that’s where we see the artists we’re featuring getting the most visibility. Basically, we see the future of our project as becoming a bigger version of what it is now – we really want more contributors so we aren’t the only ones talking! We really love debate and discussion, so we want lots of opinions – if you’re reading this and have an opinion, reach out to us about writing!

We also hope that in the future we have more interactions with the artists themselves. We have a few exciting things in the works for content, so stay tuned!

squarespace: http://passherthemic.squarespace.com/

facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PassHerTheMic/

twitter: https://twitter.com/PassHerTheMic

instagram: https://www.instagram.com/passherthemic/