I grew up listening to Carole King and Carly Simon—my mum would always play their tapes in our old, always breaking down Volvo. Though I wasn’t conscious of it at the time, their lyrics instilled in me the knowledge that women are powerful, even when we’re at our most vulnerable, our most heartsick—even when it’s over a man.
As I grew older, I fell in love with Aretha Franklin, who taught me that if you need something, you can demand it. R-E-S-P-E-C-T, for instance. I sense a hint of sarcasm in that song, like “HELLO, my having to ASK you for this is ridiculous,” which is a good thing to remember when we do get caught up in one of those heart-wrenching relationships.
I was always considered the daggiest person at high school parties for adding Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” to the playlist. After my first boyfriend broke up with me, that was the song that healed me.
And no matter how many times I hear Helen Reddy’s classic feminist anthem “I Am Woman,” it still makes my heart swell, and makes me feel like “That’s right—I can do anything!”
There’s something about the unbridled, unapologetic passion of this music by women during the second wave of Western feminism (roughly from the early 1960s to the early 1980s) that fills me with an irrepressible feeling—almost like patriotism—for BEING A WOMAN. This collage series was made with my heart bursting with gratitude for these women, the (much) older sisters I never had.