Tag Archives: women

Podcasts for Women by Women

Podcasts can be a great way to get advice and educate yourself on important issues. I’ve recently switched from listening to the entire One Direction discography, to listening to podcast episodes during my treks across campus to class. Here is a compiled list of podcasts for the girly pops all produced by women to empower, inspire and educate you. 

Anything Goes with Emma Chamberlain

Emma Chamberlain is a prominent youtuber and influencer. I believe one of the reasons she remains in the public eye is because of how relatable she portrays herself to be; and this podcast is no exception. Emma’s podcast doesn’t feel like a podcast at all. It feels like you’re sitting down chatting with a friend. She turns on the microphone and talks for an hour about what is plaguing her mind, her struggles and triumphs. Her podcast gives words to the strange emotions you may be feeling and actual advice on how to deal with them. Her words feel like a hug from a friend and every new episode is a delight.

My recommended episode: rock bottom

Good Influence by Gemma Styles

I’m going to be honest, I only started this podcast because it is hosted by Harry Styles’ sister. Make no mistake though, Gemma is just as spectacular as her younger brother. Each episode of this informative podcast spotlights important societal issues and features experts who talk about them. Past topics have included managing emotions, sustainable fashion, toxic masculinity and body acceptance. Through these open and relaxed conversations listeners can learn more about the world and themselves. 

My recommended episode: Michelle Ellman on Boundaries

Something Was Wrong

This award-winning podcast explores real stories from women who have survived abusive relationships and traumatic life events. This podcast brings light to just how common physical, mental and emotional abuse can be in relationships. Pay attention to the warnings at the beginning of each episode as topics discussed can be triggering. 

My recommended episode: [Ava] Showing Up Places

The Orange Tree by Drag Audio Productions

If you haven’t listened to this podcast yet it’s a must. Produced by the Moody College audio productions, and hosted by two former Moody students, the Orange Tree explores the murder of Jennifer Cave at the Orange Tree Condominiums in 2005. The newest season of the podcast currently airing, titled “Darkness”, explores the Austin serial bomber from spring of 2018. What I love about this podcast is the way they treated Jennifer, the victim. They focused on her character and life as a whole, and didn’t reduce her to the last few moments of her life. Her decisions that may have led to her death didn’t have a place in this story and the podcast made it apparent they didn’t matter. 

My recommended episode: All of them!

Podcasts are a great resource for quick information and guidance. Next time you’re cleaning your room or need something to listen to in the car, pop on one of these shows!

“La Mujer” Virtual Event Highlights

With a stellar lineup of poets, musicians, painters, sculptors and visual artists — “La Mujer” celebrated the accomplishments of womxn of the arts for its 10th year virtually.

Presented by the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center, the festival spanned several days to honor and uplift Latinx womxn through multiple events including musical performances and film screenings. The festival draws inspiration from the first feminist of the Americas, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, a Mexican writer and poet of the Baroque period.

All of the events are free and available to the public at LaMujerATX.net, Facebook, and the Austin Parks & Recreation Youtube channel.

The festival kicked off the first day one with a screening of “Las Marthas.” The 2014 film follows two Mexican American girls on their journey to become 19th-century debutantes for the annual Society of Martha Washington Colonial Pageant and Ball.

Presented in collaboration with Cine Las Americas’ “Hecho en Tejas” series, the screening followed a Q&A session with filmmakers Cristina Ibarra and Erin Ploss-Campoamor.

Courtesy of PBS

Throughout the film, I found myself confused but intrigued to see young Mexican American girls learn intense choreography while wearing heavy colonial dresses to celebrate the birthday of an Anglo Colonizer — George Washington. Learning the director Cristina Ibarra had this same question and found these girls dressed as Anglo Colonizers to honor their legacy as colonizers revealed something much deeper.

Although the primary subjects of this film are both Mexican Americans, they are quite different. For Laurita from Laredo, Texas — becoming a debutante is a tradition as the thirteenth woman in her family to debut as one. For Rosario from Nuevo Laredo, however, she became the first in her family to debut as a debutante.

Through performances and interviews, the annual event allows them to explore their identity as Mexican Americans from Laredo in Texas and Mexico respectively. Cristina described the story and film best as a coming-of-age story set in a historical context, as well as an attempt to highlight individuals not often seen in the headlines.

Courtesy of “La Mujer”

On the second night, the festival showcased a special presentation of “Juana: First (I) Dream” presented by A’lante Flamenco. Through musical arrangements and choreography, the show highlights the life and work of Mexican writer and poet, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. 

Known as one of Mexico’s premier intellectuals, Juana left her life at the Viceregal court to become a nun at the convent of San Jeronimo in Mexico City. Through her time there, she studied and wrote poetry, plays and letters — gaining a reputation for her outspoken opinions and criticisms of misogyny.

Also known as the first feminist of the Americas, Juana’s legacy celebrates her poetry and resistance against sexism and repression, as well as the right to an education for all women. Though suppressed for speaking out at the time, Juana’s words remain relevant and especially true in today’s political and social movements. For me, it also felt perfect to celebrate a historical, feminist icon through song, dance and poetry; in essence, remembering her work by creating something new yet inspired by Juana.

A’lante Flamenco and “Juana: First (I) Dream” are supported by The National Endowment for the Arts, The Texas Commission on the Arts and The Austin Creative Alliance.

Courtesy of “La Mujer”

Latino Studies at UT Austin also celebrated 50 years of learning through two panels both moderated by associate professor Maria Cotera. The panels were presented by Mexican American Cultural Center’s La Mujer Festival and the Center for Mexican American Studies.

In the first panel, La Mujer: “La Chicana Then & Now: 50 Years of Teaching,” featured panelists Olivia “Evey” Chapa, Patricia Garcia, and Lilia Rosa discuss the course MAS 311 Ethnicity and Gender: La Chicana. The panelists, who have all taught this course at UT, talk about the course’s history and evolution throughout the years.

The second panel, Democratizing the Archive!, featured longtime Chicana activist Martha Cotera and Alan Garcia from @ATX_Barrio_Archive. While considering the history of the Latinx community and the future generations, the panelists discuss the importance of documenting and archiving this community within Austin and beyond.

Featured Image Courtesy of “La Mujer”

Rock the Patriarchy

Sex, drugs and gender equality: female-fronted rock bands/musicians you should be listening to right now

AC/DC, Def Leppard, Metallica, The Rolling Stones: all rock gods of the past. All of these bands have millions of fans all over the world. They’ve broken records and placed themselves firmly in the history books.

Another thing they have in common? All male. All white. (Except for Robert Trujillo of Metallica.)

There are so many women in rock who are killing it just as hard as the men; they’re just not getting the representation they deserve. Women of color and queer women in rock get even less representation. Yes, you know Paramore and Evanescence’s “Bring Me To Life.” But here are 10 more female-fronted rock bands/musicians you need to add to your daily rock routine.

Judas Priestess

Source: Judas Priestess’s Facebook page

My Favorite Songs: “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming,” “Screaming for Vengeance”

Yes, the band’s name is similar to Judas Priest. It’s because they’re an all-women rock tribute band to Judas Priest. The New York City-based musicians cover Judas Priest songs and kick ass while doing so.

New Years Day

Source: Huffpost

My Favorite Songs: “Come For Me,” “Angel Eyes”

If you had an emo phase similar to mine, you’ve likely heard of New Years Day. New Years Day was very popular amongst emo kids in my junior high/high school, and for good reason. Lead singer Ash Costello has a stunning voice and striking look. Her staple bi-colored hair (it’s usually red and black but now it’s blonde and black) is as integral to the band as their powerful ballads.

Thunderbitch

Source: Sacha Lecca for Rolling Stone

My Favorite Songs: “Leather Jacket,” “I Just Wanna Rock n Roll”

With a name like “Thunderbitch,” you can’t help but fall in love with them. Thunderbitch is a band based out of Nashville. They are headed by Brittany Howard, the very talented vocalist of the Grammy-nominated band Alabama Shakes. The band is somewhat of a side project for Howard. The band has released one self-titled album that includes the two songs listed above.

Lacey Sturm

Source: The Masquerade

My Favorite Songs: “Chasm,” “I’m So Sick,” “Impossible”

Lacey Sturm first gained notoriety for being the frontwoman for the famous Texas-based rock band Flyleaf. She was with the band for 10 years and released three albums with the band before she parted ways. (It was a very sad day for me; I’ve been in love with the band since like sixth grade.) After she left Flyleaf, Sturm continued her music career. She released a solo album, called “Life Screams,” in 2016. She has been touring and collaborating with different bands ever since.

Juliet Simms

Source: Juliet Simms’s Instagram

My Favorite Songs: “100 Little Deaths,” “Heart Song,” “Evangeline”

I know so many fun facts about Juliet Simms. Did you know she’s married to Black Veil Brides frontman, Andy Biersack? Did you know she was the runner up on the second season of “The Voice?” Okay, maybe I only know two, but still. Simms really gained some fame after being on “The Voice” but her music career began much earlier. She was the frontwoman for Automatic Loveletter, a band she started with her brother in 2005. The band disbanded in 2012, likely due to Simms being on “The Voice.” Since then, Simms has had a successful solo career and has released several singles, an EP and a full-length album.

Tonight Alive

Source: Neal Walters for Music Feeds

My Favorite Songs: “Disappear (Feat. Lynn Gunn),” “World Away,” “Thank You & Goodnight”

Ah, more emo royalty. Much like Flyleaf, this is a band I’ve been following for about 10 years and I am obsessed with lead singer Jenna McDougall. I love her. Hailing from Sydney, Australia, this band started making music in 2008. They’ve released four albums together, one of which featured guest vocals from Lynn Gunn, lead vocalist of PVRIS. You’ll hear more about her later. Usually, the band tours all year long but they’re currently on a tour hiatus due to COVID-19.

Doll Skin

Source: Loudwire

My Favorite Songs: “Outta My Mind,” “Mark My Words,” “Your Idols Are Dying”

Doll Skin is a band I wish I’d known about sooner. A friend recommended them to me last year and I fell in love. Doll Skin is an all-women band from Phoenix, Arizona. They specialize in punk and alternative rock, a beautiful duo. They’ve released four albums, one of those being a reimagined version of their first album, and have toured extensively with other bands. Their latest album, “Love is Dead and We Killed Her,” gained particularly high amounts of praise and several of the songs on the album rose high on Billboard charts.

Straight Line Stitch

Source: Rock Revolt Magazine

My Favorite Songs: “Cold Front,” “What You Do To Me,” “Yesterday’s Gone”

Surprisingly, though I’ve known about this band since junior high, I only recently started listening to more of their music. And it is good. Straight Line Stitch formed in 2000 in Knoxville, Tennessee. What I love most about this band is that they’re metalcore. Lead vocalist Alexis Brown has some insane vocal cords and she screams in many of Straight Line Stitch’s songs. “Screaming” is a singing technique popular in heavy metal, punk rock, etc. that quite literally makes it sound like the singer is screaming. Brown is very good at it and I love it. Although they are still an active band, they, unfortunately, haven’t released music since 2011.

PVRIS 

Source: Brandon Taelor Aviram for the San Francisco Chronicle

My Favorite Songs: “No Mercy,” “White Noise,” “Dead Weight”

The first time I heard PVRIS, I was shopping in Hot Topic. The perfect start to a beautiful romance. PVRIS (pronounced “Paris,” not “piv-ris,” as I mistakenly said for quite a while) formed in 2012 in Lowell, Massachusetts by lead singer Lynn Gunn and bassist Brian MacDonald. The band has released three studio albums, three EPs, over a dozen singles, and a plethora of music videos. Their first two albums had a very alt-rock/pop rock feel but their latest album, “Use Me,” has more of an electropop sound. It’s a bit of a disappointment for me but I would still die for Lynn Gunn. I saw PVRIS live my freshman year of college and she was the sweetest, mildly awkward performer I’ve ever seen.

Halestorm

Source: Rob Fenn for Louder

My Favorite Songs: “I Like It Heavy,” “Mz. Hyde,” “Rock Show”

Halestorm is probably the most popular band on this list and is undoubtedly my favorite. The band has technically been together since 1997, since lead singer Lzzy Hale and her brother have been writing and performing songs since they were 13 and 10 years old, respectively. Despite their early beginnings, Halestorm’s first album wasn’t released until 2009. Since then, they’ve released three more albums, 10 EPs, 19 singles, and almost 20 music videos.

In 2013, after the release of their second album “The Strange Case of…,” Halestorm won the Grammy for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance for their song “Love Bites (So Do I).” Lzzy Hale became the first woman to ever win in that category. In 2019, the band was nominated for the Best Rock Performance Grammy for their song “Uncomfortable” but sadly did not win. Regardless, I want to be Lzzy Hale when I grow up. I think she’s the coolest person in the world.

Here’s a playlist with all the favorite songs listed and then some!

Super. Dysfunctional. Representation.: The Women of “The Umbrella Academy”

Why I love “The Umbrella Academy” but not the way it treats women

Illustration by Serena Rodriguez

**WARNING! This post contains spoilers for the first season of Netflix’s “The Umbrella Academy.” Reader discretion advised.**

Christ on a cracker! Gerard Way fans rejoice because “The Umbrella Academy” is set to premiere its second season on July 31. The Netflix original show received an outpouring of fan love upon its initial release last February. 

“The Umbrella Academy” is smart, funny and full of action. What it is lacking is positive female representation. All the women in this show are either killed off or their roles are determined by the men around them.

The show follows an adoptive family made up of seven siblings, each equipped with their own unique superpowers. Number One has super strength, Number Two can hold his breath indefinitely and is very skilled in close-quarter combat, Number Three can alter reality with a simple lie, and so on and so forth. At the center of the family is the harsh, foreboding father figure, Sir Reginald Hargreeves. He brought the siblings together and exploited their powers without giving them the love one usually receives from a father. 

Being a single father is no easy task, even for a rich British man. So, Reginald created a mother figure for the seven children: Grace (played by Jordan Claire Robbins). Grace is a smiling, doting robot…literally, she’s a robot. She cooks, cleans and plays the role of “mother” perfectly. A perfect foil for Reginald’s stern demeanor. And the beginning of a very troubling pattern in the “Umbrella Academy” array of characters.

Grace (Jordan Claire Robbins) – Source: IMDb

When Number Seven (her real name is Vanya and she is played by the incredible Ellen Page) was younger, her powers made her completely unmanageable. Reginald tried to introduce her to a multitude of nannies/”mothers” but she destroyed all of them. The only one that stuck? Grace, the blank-staring 50s-style housewife whose only purpose is to listen to her man (her creator, mind you) and take care of her children.

This is not an attack on mothers or wives; I’m addressing a harmful stereotype that has perpetuated for decades. A stereotype that’s troublesome to see in one of the most popular shows released in the past few years. I would hope there would be more dimensional roles for women at this point. 

I would also hope women of color wouldn’t be seen as expendable in this day and age. But writers let me down all the time. Helen Cho (played by Emily Piggford) was the first chair in the orchestra Vanya was auditioning for. She was barely seen in the show before she was killed off and her body was left to rot in an attic. Cho felt like a plot device rather than an actual character. We were briefly introduced to her and then she was used for furthering Vanya’s journey. It makes you wonder why the writers chose to use a woman of color as a character destined for tragedy.

Helen Cho (Emily Piggford) – Source: IMDb

Then there’s Detective Eudora Patch (played by Ashley Madekwe). I really liked her. She was intelligent, independent and she was not afraid to put Diego (Number Two) in his place. It was a bit irritating that one of her main purposes was to be Diego’s love interest but Diego is my favorite Hargreeves so I, personally, was not too bothered by it. I wanted him to be happy. 

Patch was looking into strange murders around town that seemed to be linked to the Hargreeves family. This fateful investigation led to Patch’s untimely death. She was shot after finding the show’s two antagonists in a motel. Patch went from a strong female character to being another woman of color killed off for plot progression.

detective

While the scene where Diego cries over her body serves as a great moment for the audience to sympathize with the second Hargreeves, it is incredibly frustrating that Patch died for seemingly no reason. Patch didn’t have to die but, unfortunately, women of color are apparently still seen as dispensable in media.

As previously mentioned, there were two main antagonists for “The Umbrella Academy”’s first season: Hazel and Cha-Cha. They were assassins sent to kill Number Five, the sassy youngest sibling whose history is too intricate to get into right now. (Just watch the show, they explain it better than I ever will.) Cha-Cha was played by the incomparable Mary J. Blige. She was strong, ruthless and seemingly indestructible. That is until Hazel falls in love with a local waitress. Once Hazel becomes distracted, Cha-Cha becomes enraged. Despite their mission to kill Number Five, she vows to kill the couple, punishing them because Hazel abandoned his job. 

She is focused on getting the job done, which I can respect. What bothers me is that it is heavily implied that Cha-Cha has romantic feelings for Hazel and that’s part of the reason she loses her shit. If Cha-Cha were a real person, not a fictional television character, she would probably ditch her lovey-dovey partner and get the job done herself. But, no. She’s a woman in a television show so her entire persona is dependent on the man she’s with. The man she probably has feelings for. To quote Miranda Priestly: groundbreaking.

Cha-Cha (Mary J. Blige) – Source: IMDb

Another, perhaps unsuspecting, antagonist of the show is Vanya. Vanya’s character troubled me in two ways and neither of them had anything to do with the fact that she was a villain. In fact, I think the world needs more female villains. First, Vanya is completely undermined for most of the season. She supposedly “doesn’t have any powers” but it was actually Reginald repressing her powers with medicine since she was a child because she was too strong. (Again…watch the show if you don’t know what I’m talking about.) Anyway, because she has “no powers,” everyone treats her like she doesn’t exist. They speak down to her, think she has no spine and generally gaslight her into silent submission. It is a horrid routine that many women are all too familiar with.

Vanya meets Leonard. Leonard is a dick. He is the second issue I have with Vanya’s characterization. Throughout the season, Vanya doesn’t have the confidence to stand up for herself. Leonard gives her that confidence through his “love” and “support,” which, of course, we find out is all a ploy to weaponize Vanya and get revenge on the Hargreeves for an age-old grudge Leonard has. Men really ain’t shit, huh? (Kidding…sorta.) Anyway, I wanted Vanya to find strength within herself. I always want women to find strength within themselves. I’m tired of men ostensibly handing it to them or helping them achieve it. We are perfectly capable of doing it ourselves and I want to see that reflected in the content we consume.

Vanya Hargreeves (Ellen Page) – Source: IMDb

Finally, we get to the most atrocious act of them all. One of the strongest Hargreeves is Number Three (her real name is Allison and she’s played by Emmy Raver-Lampman), the sibling who can alter reality by saying the words “I heard a rumor…”. Allison also has this weird romance with Number One (whose real name is Luther and whom I have a strong dislike for) but that’s not my biggest grievance, although it is a grievance. Allison was flawed, this is true, but I was also very fond of her. She was a strong leader, a loving sister and someone who had gone a little mad with power. I thought she was a well-rounded character. Which obviously meant to the writers that she had to silenced. Literally. Towards the end of the season, Allison had a falling out with Vanya as she began coming into her powers. In the skirmish, Vanya accidentally slashed Allison’s throat. For a terrifying moment, we were left wondering if Allison was even alive. 

Allison thankfully survived the ordeal but she was left mute. Her vocal cords must have been severed by the blow. (I don’t know how anatomy works or if that’s even possible, but it happened.) The one Hargreeves constantly using her voice to stand up for herself and others was quelled by violence. Not to mention the fact that Allison is yet another woman of color harmed within the show. It’s very upsetting to see but at least she wasn’t killed off, I guess? It sucks that I have to say that.

Allison Hargreeves (Emmy Raver-Lampman) – Source: Netflix

Ellen Page, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Mary J. freaking Blige. The cast was brimming with talented women and they were all let down by poor writing/character development. I’m not the first one to notice the unfortunate trend of female representation in “The Umbrella Academy” and I hope I’m not the last. Here’s to hoping the new season brings positive change.