Saturday, October 25, 2008

Feminist Anthems: Mountain Moving Day

So - an anthem for Second-Wave feminism.

I really didn't know what I was getting myself into when I gave myself this task last week. At the time, I thought I would end up with a solo-acoustic guitar womyns music sort of song. For whatever reason, though, the feminist singer-songwriter song that I listened to are either quite recent (and thus influenced by recent feminist developments), or simply didn't fit in some way.

In the end, I decided on Mountain Moving Day by the Chicago Women's Liberation Rock Band.

Perhaps this was the overly obvious choice; that's okay, if it is. I think it's a perfect anthem for the ideals of Second-Wave feminism. It's about Women, with a capital 'W'. It's serious, thoughtful, intelligent. It's not mindlessly optimistic, yet exudes confidence about the future.

The Chicago Women's Liberation Rock Band was the musical expression of the Chicago Women's Liberation Union, an early feminist organization. The CWLU was formed in 1969, and the band soon after. Now, I certainly wasn't alive during this time, so I perhaps have a bit of a romanticized view of the early feminist movement, but here are a few thoughts that I feel are relevant to the song:

  1. Back than, feminism was really a movement. That is, it was defined by rallies, protests, marches, and educational endeavors. Saying you were a 'feminist' didn't just mean "I support equality", it meant "I work for equality. Everyone was an activist, if you will.

  2. Things were bad for women back then. Very bad. Sexism was something that happened to every women, all day, every day. The early feminists were trying to change a social structure that was almost unchanged, even after years and years of the women's suffrage movement.

  3. The goals of those women were seemingly impossible, yet clear: while there were certainly arguments about what needed to be done, I don't see the divisiveness that plagues modern feminism.

So, let's listen to the song again. It's mountain moving day. Mountain moving day, and "I know that it's true". Their task was not a small one. But they knew that they would succeed. And they realized, "the waters now will tear the canyons down." That is, it only takes a few to began to accomplish something. But eventually, "All sleeping women now awake and move", all women will realize what is happening, and join. And, strangely enough, the women are also the mountain! "Only a while the mountain sleeps/In the past all mountains moved in fire." So, the 'mountain' both moves, and is moved.

And they succeeded. The mountain was moved. Regardless of what we may think of Second-Wave feminism, any problems we may have with it, they got the job done. The face of culture was changed forever. And modern feminists would do well to listen to the message of "Mountain Moving Day" - there are still mountains to move, and we need to move them together.

Next week, since it's election time, we'll look at election music, and an anthem for First-Wave feminism - assuming I can find one!

No comments: