Thursday, December 1, 2016

Artist I was given:  Ani DiFranco

My friend gave me a challenge about writing about one of my oldest best "friends," Ani Difranco. Like many late 90s baby feminists I was alone in the teething days of the internet. Ani was my sister-in-arms because like me she "wanted to be commander and chief of her one woman army." We were alone together. Here's my Facebook Challenge answer/ history lesson/ love letter: 
"Do you prefer the easy way? No. Well, Ok. Then don't cry." - Ani Difranco 1996

Favorite Song: Gravel or Joyful Things or IQ 

Favorite Album: Not a Pretty Girl

Do I like them?

 Very much so. She shows how complex my relationship to music/art/artist is. If you want that story read ahead. And/Or: Like my status for an Artist
I admit I've only been keeping up with Ani minimally for the past decade. That is because I didn't need her as much as a full adult, and just wanted music to be in the background of my life rather than my identity.
 In my college days I pretty much lived for her. I went to shows by myself if no one would go. She was pretty much the only artist saying the things I was trying to say but in better ways.
She also made me feel like less of a freak. I was a feminist who loved girls, but also would be very in love with boys and hung up on them. In the 90s (at least where I was) if you were a "feminist" people thought you hated men and wanted to live in a shaved headed cult with no "values." I wanted "normal" things in a very "abnormal" way. By that, I mean I wanted friends, a relationship and a family (one day maybe) but I wanted them on my own terms where people weren't forcing me to sacrifice myself for them. 

I knew some "militant feminists" at the time of Ani's blowing up. In her album "Dilate" she departed from writing about feminism and politics as a whole. She instead wrote about a guy who was ambivalent about his future with her. Many of her fans were furious. How could she do this? How could she fall in love and just care about that? She was in love with a guy no less! They "needed" her to be a super hero and not fall pray to such girlie weakness! She was selling out! Meanwhile, how many of these girls were feeling broken hearted over a guy? When you were a feminist back then, not only did you have the same feelings as any other girl, but you had the added bonus of hating yourself for it. I know that was me. 

Looking back, and forward, it has taught me so much about the double bind women are in. My favorite lyrics are from the very album after Dilate, Plastic Little Castles, where people thought she really sold out, because she continued to write about said guy. It's from the song Gravel:
"Maybe you can keep me from ever being happy, but you're not going to stop me from having fun."
I was in sort of a similar situation at the time, but for me the lyrics were about far more than any guy. For me they weren't about the guy at all. For me it spoke to all the challenges I faced and will always face (disability, past trauma, more disability ADHD...) Those things will always be there, and I was so tired of saying (for the sake of others) that they didn't affect me, that it was all okay. Those things were/are always going to be there. They were/are always going to be difficult. But, that didn't mean I wasn't going to live as much as I could and have a good time! 
     Ani showed me I could want those things and make my own choices. It also helps that her music is brilliant and can stand on its own. If she just decided to sing about nothing more than a vague broken heart her lyrics as well as music could stand on its own. 

So, "Every tool is a weapon if you hold it right."

No comments:

Post a Comment