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I'M NOT YOUR MOTHER, I'M NOT YOUR BITCH:
THE WOMEN OF 2018


I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.

The initial force of #MeToo—the game-changing quality that finally pressed pause on our regularly scheduled squawking with the most nauseating pin drop—was rooted in its ubiquity. It was a tidal wave that not only crashed in a fury but settled into an omnipresent flood. To be fair, it’s always been everywhere, but now it was up your nostrils, clogging your lungs and burning your eyes. People had to wade through it to go about their days. It was no longer a known secret, it was just known; and knowledge is power, perhaps the highest form of such. The elephants were out of the room and charging through the street.

When I think back to the beginning of the year, I’m frozen by a particularly chilling memory. Scrolling through Facebook, there was one after another—cries for action, multi-paragraph stories and, in many cases, just those two sandwiched words, glaring and hot like the eyes of a demon.

I don’t think hearing the statement that women should consider “stepping up” if they want to be recognized—or hearing the president of the motherfucking country declare that a woman’s vagina was his to be grabbed—caused a musical reaction per se. But I do think it turned the volume up—way up. It’s akin to when someone points out one of your own flaws. When that person says, “Do you realize how often you use the word ‘like’?”; now it’s all you hear. It’ll drive you insane until you make the conscious choice to address the problem. This is, of course, on a much larger scale. Now all I hear are the exceptionally talented women propelling forward. And they’re all doing it in their own ways. I consider it my duty to help highlight that movement.

As far as newcomers go, 2018 brought us King Princess, the anti-hero my generation wants, needs and deserves. The band’s frontwoman, Mikaela Straus, doesn’t adhere to typical beauty standards, and as her recently released single asserts, “your pussy is God.” Speaking of God, Ariana Grande will eagerly remind you that God is a woman. And she’s got no tears left to cry. She’s picking it up, she’s loving, she’s living, she’s picking it up, and we’re turning it up.

Brandi Carlile had one of my favorite albums of the year, proving that one of the boldest things a female creative can do in 2018 is be vulnerable, authentic and incredibly detailed—lay it all out on the table and soak it all up, recognize what’s happened in your life and relish the lessons. Quite frankly, Grande’s “thank u, next” is an abbreviated, pleasant-to-swallow version of the Americana bottle of codeine that is Carlile’s By the Way, I Forgive You. The spoonful of sugar and the medicine. Just listen to the set’s opener, “Every Time I Hear That Song.” And then there’s track two, “The Joke.” “There are so many people feeling misrepresented [today],” Carlile told NPR when discussing the latter. “So many people feeling unloved. Boys feeling marginalized and forced into these kind of awkward shapes of masculinity that they do or don’t belong in... so many men and boys are trans or disabled or shy. Little girls who got so excited for the last election and are dealing with the fallout. The song is just for people that feel under-represented, unloved or illegal.”

And if we’re talking bold, Janelle Monáe literally came out with experimental tour-de-force Dirty Computer. Her brave and beautiful honesty is a treasure, for black women, for members of the LGBTQI community and for everyone at the risk of becoming calloused and closed-off. To appreciate and recognize multiple truths, the masses need to see them in the mainstream—a feat fit for only the strong, as well as those with a tall enough platform.

When it comes to paving new roads, Kacey Musgraves cannot be ignored, as she makes synths and banjos seem like long-lost siblings as opposed to mortal enemies from opposite sides of the tracks. Much like a setting sun, her Golden Hour touches everyone, at least everyone I’ve spoken to. The project is instantly relatable and nostalgic, yes, but its timeless songwriting and easygoing, airy construction are so impressive because of the insane rule-breaking that went into making something so seemingly simple on the surface.

Cardi B plowed right into the rap game, reminding the world that female MCs deserve to be emboldened and that there is certainly room for far more than a chosen few. Meanwhile, Camila Cabello flaunted her independence as a solo artist with total flair and grace. (Expected bops aside, “Consequences” is one of my favorite songs of the year.)

Personally, I’m head-over-heels for boygenius’ eponymous release. The supergroup of sorts is made up of three incredible voices and pen-wielders from the indie world. Lucy Dacus, Phoebe Bridgers and Julien Baker all dropped truly standout and deliciously poignant full-lengths in the past 15 months. And boygenius—the icing on the cake—is wonderful proof that quantity and quality can co-exist in music’s now tireless, streaming-driven consumption model.

Christine and the Queens Héloïse Letissier (aka Chris) captivated critics with both her stunning musical ingenuity and vibrant glorification of all things rhythmic, as well as her unabashed androgyny. Robyn also won over critics, earning the role of 2018’s comeback kid.

Jorja Smith, H.E.R and Ella Mai emerged as future R&B royalty. Lykke Li and Billie Eilish pushed the boundaries, exploring pop’s darker depths by punching holes and throwing proverbial paint on the typically white, claustrophobic walls of Top 40. The guitar-slinging Courtney Barnett titled her 2018 project Tell Me How You Really Feel, and on it, “I’m Not Your Mother, I’m Not Your Bitch” is followed by “Crippling Self-Doubt and a General Lack of Confidence,” and then “Help Your Self.” Need I say more? Lily Allen brought forth wild realness, sprinkling glitter on the ugliest of her innards. And when a Twitter troll posted an up-skirt, onstage photo of her sans panties, she spit, “LOOK AT MY 2014 NEATLY TRIMMED VAGINA, 3 HUMANS CAME OUT OF THERE.” God bless her. I don’t even know if I believe, but God bless them all—the ones I mentioned above and the ones I didn’t but still respect and admire, like Florence Welch, the women of Pistol Annies, Nicki Minaj, Kali Uchis, Nao, Ashley McBryde and so on.

As we move into 2019, let’s carry #MeToo with us. Treat the situation like the ongoing problem it is, not like a moment passed-over. Don’t let the dust settle. I continue to urge, because this is so important.

Oh, and happy holidays.

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