Power Plays Volume 4: Sleighin’ It

Via Feminist Campus.
By Alicia McElhaney
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Woo hoo! The holidays are almost here! It’s time to take a luxuriously long break from class, indulge in our favorite homemade treats and visit favorite friends and family. We couldn’t be happier here at Feminist Campus! Our only beef with the holiday season? The abundance of not-so-feminist holiday songs being blasted on the radio, at stores and even parties is totally ruining our happy holiday vibe. Check out why songs like Baby It’s Cold Outside, It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas and Santa Baby are sexist (it’s important, we promise) before diving into some of our favorite, feminist-friendly holiday tunes.

Listen to our handpicked holiday mix over at 8tracks! 

1. My First X-Mas As A Woman – The Vandals

We love a song that bends traditional gender lines, especially with a holiday twist. Check out this punk rock track from The Vandals all about transitioning from a male to a female for Christmas. Favorite lyric? “My whole life I’ve been feeling only feminine/It always seemed so useless trying to be a man/Now that’s a ghost of Christmas past.” We love the message – be you unapologetically and rock out this holiday season! Note, though, that the lyrics are NSFW, so be careful where you do your rocking.

2. Rock’n’Roll Santa – Yo La Tengo

This song offers another badass take on Christmas with a contrast between rocking guitars and soft, female-driven vocals. Though the content has absolutely nothing to do with feminism (it’s not anti-feminist, though!), drummer Georgia Hubley takes on the vocals and makes the track a powerfully woman-driven, fun way to celebrate.

3. Things Fall Apart – Cristina

This track opens with the lyrics “Mother said ‘I’m a survivor'” so it was pretty much guaranteed to be a hit among us feminists. Cristina’s take on Christmas is a little glum, but we can’t blame her, because things around the holidays do have a tendency to fall apart, especially within families. In addition to some rockin’ female vocals, look for more feminist lyrics when listening.

4. The River – Joni Mitchell

Ok, ok, we don’t love that Joni won’t call herself a feminist (psh, what is that nonsense?!) but what we do love is the simple, somber, haunting melody of “The River.” The simplistic lyrics and stripped-down instrumentals make this a bittersweet holiday tune, reminding us that even if the holidays aren’t particularly happy ones, we can dream of frozen rivers to skate away on, ourselves. Alright, I promise well choose cheerier tunes from here on out!

5. Christmas in Washington – Joan Baez

This song, written in the late ’90’s, is extraordinarily appropriate considering recent news events. Lyrics like “Come back to us, Malcolm X/And Martin Luther King/We’re marching into Selma/As the bells of freedom ring” hit close to home and calls on Americans to continue to protest. Not to mention, Joan Baez’s take on the Steve Earle original makes it an even better feminist anthem.  

6. Little Drummer Boy – Joan Jett and the Blackhearts

Yeah, I know you’re saying WTF too, but hear us out. This reworking of the holiday classic may be weird, but it’s actually really cool. Filled with rocking drum beats, electric guitars and Jett’s strong voice, this oldie becomes new – and cool – again. Check it out!

7. Christmas Wrapping – The Waitresses

Girl-fronted band? Check. Totally okay with spending Christmas alone? Check. Calls spending Christmas alone “doing Christmas right this time?” Check. Yes, of course the singer ends up with the guy in the end, but we love a woman whose intentions lie in independence and self-reliance. Not to mention, it’s got a catchy saxophone riff that just won’t get out of your head.

8. Silent Night – Stevie Nicks

Another rad woman re-working a classic. Stevie Nicks, front-woman of Fleetwood Mac, strips down Silent Night with her trademark voice and the result is a beautiful rendition of the classic. The backup vocals add another dimension, and, of course, we can’t forget the awesome acknowledgement of woman power and motherhood found in the original lyrics. It’s a solid track all around.

9. That Was The Worst Christmas Ever – Sufjan Stevens

Do you have to spend the holidays with some not-so-feminist family members this year? Have no fear, Sufjan Stevens has a song to save the day. In it Stevens asks, “Can you say what you want to be?/Can you say what you want?” This line reminds us that even at the holidays, we can speak up and speak out against injustice.

10. Hands (Christmas Version) – Jewel

Jewel, a genre-blurring feminist and LGBT icon, released a Christmas version of her hit “Hands” in the late ’90s. The track still includes Jewel’s trademark feminist lyrics, this time with a holiday twist. Look out for the refrain, “My hands are small, I know/but they’re not yours/they are my own/but they’re not yours/they are my own/I am never broken.” How’s that for a feminist holiday?

11. My Dear Acquaintance (A Happy New Year) – Regina Spektor

What better a way to ring in the New Year than with Regina Spektor’s catchy, fluttery vocals? This track was originally performed by Peggy Lee, but Spektor revived the track in a way that makes us never want to stop listening. Celebrate your strong feminist friends this New Year’s Eve with a glass of champagne and lyrics like “My dear acquaintance it’s so good to know you/For strength of your hand is loving and giving.”

12. What Are You Doing New Years Eve? – Ella Fitzgerald

Ah, at last. Ella Fitzgerald finishes off our playlist with her playful New Year’s Eve hit. We love this track because Fitzgerald totally questions patriarchal norms when she asks her love interest “What are you doing New Year’s Eve?” Turn up this sultry track and top off your holiday feeling like the classy feminist you are.

Listen to the mix over at our 8tracks account! 

Power Plays Vol. 4: Sleighin’ It from feministcampus on 8tracks Radio.

By Alicia McElhaney

Alicia is an FMF intern and a journalism major at University of Maryland. At UMD, she teaches body positive fitness classes and hosts her own radio show. For fun, she likes to bake, pet puppies (preferably wiener dogs) and hike.

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