Hi, friends! So sorry I’ve been off the radar lately – getting COVID will do that to you. I am triple-vaxxed and got a little too casual with not wearing masks in cafes! Keep wearing yours, no matter what your dumbass mayors and governors say!
Anyways, I’ve been sitting on this topic for a little while, but International Women’s Day (which, btw, is a day of actual activism and not social media posts outside the US) seemed like a good week to tackle this: Sapphic sounds and queer country music.
Emma Madden’s thoughtful essay, “The Limitations of the ‘Sapphic anthem’” on NPR has got me thinking. In the essay, Madden argues that the latest wave of sad girl guitar music (Phoebe Bridgers, Girl in Red, etc.) is enforcing a stereotypical image of queer women (I hate the word Sapphic but please do tell me why it appeals to you) as white, waifish, and wistful, eliding the rich history of queer women in punk and women’s music, as well as queer BIPOC artists’ invaluable contributions to these genres. Madden argues that this aesthetic ultimately desexualizes young queer women, focusing on longing than the actual consummation of relationships.
Girl in Red could punch me in the face and I still wouldn’t know who she is. I generally don’t listen to these artists on purpose (yes, even Lucy Dacus) because a) I am scared of feeling sad and, as a corollary, b) I don’t think apathetic melancholy (to use a phrase from Two Cow Garage) is a particularly useful emotion. Again, reply to this e-mail and tell me why I’m wrong!