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9 Responses

  1. tree
    tree August 16, 2011 at 4:11 am |

    i would heart this post if it were on tumblr. i had rhythm nation on cassette in high school and i remember i actually quoted one of the songs in an essay i wrote. i think i was 15.

    and the video for if was so controversial because there were male dancers on their knees in front of women in mock-cunnilingus. *gasp!*

    we went from TLC and salt n pepa to, what, sugababes and pussycat dolls?

    (of course i’m also a fan of old school neil diamond. i think that makes me officially old.)

  2. Kathy
    Kathy August 16, 2011 at 8:58 am |

    By the time I learned anything about politics I was well on to punk rock, but I think like language, the messages culture sends you seep in best when you’re young, and I think Janet and the rest of these women taught me more about how to handle a world full of land mines for a girl than any book or lecture.

    Exactly, but music that carried a “message,” like riot grrrl or the more political forms of punk, never made me feel empowered. If anything, it made me feel more like a victim. Or maybe I should say, it made me feel like I was supposed to be a victim, and there was something wrong with me, or I was incredibly naive, if I didn’t.

  3. laurenanne
    laurenanne August 16, 2011 at 10:32 am |

    AHHH!! I love this post! Thank you so much for this. I was also musically uncool when I was young and got all of my music off the radio (and my parents old records: Beatles, Willie Nelson, War, and god help us all, Hall & Oates.) And while so many people dismiss early 90’s pop, those women ROCKED. I still know all the lyrics to Let’s Talk About Sex and Shoop (which I blame for my bow-legged men fetish.) En Vogue were glamorous and they, and not Tyra, own the word “fierce.” And Janet is obviously amazing. Not only is she talented, but she is her own woman, lives her life her way, and doesn’t feel the need to prove anything to anyone. She is a badass. But it is TLC that holds a special place in my heart. I loved the bond between the three women, and how much fun they had together, how silly they acted and didn’t give a damn. I remember maybe the first video I saw of theirs, at a sleepover at a friends house, and I was convinced, CONVINCED, that Left Eye had a plastic fried egg, and not a yellow condom, over her eye. So innocent. By “Red Light Special” I was finally picking up what they were laying down.

  4. What we missed
    What we missed August 16, 2011 at 3:57 pm |

    […] post at Feministe by blogger Sarah on how 80′s/90′s R&B shaped her feminism. […]

  5. N.
    N. August 16, 2011 at 8:31 pm |

    Honestly, that just about sums up my reaction to this post. Much as I adored the Riot Grrrls, the uncompromising, take-no-prisoners femaleness of TLC, Salt ‘n’ Pepa, EnVogue, and Janet Jackson rocked my world when I was a teenager. “If” got under my skin like nothing else had, and even when I moved away from the rest of the music as I got older, that song stayed on my playlist. Even though I don’t listen to it that often any more, it’s still there and, as far as I’m concerned, it still hasn’t been matched.

    @laurenanne: It DID look like a fried egg! I knew it was a condom, I’d been told it was a condom, but it still looked like an egg to me.

  6. Lovely Links: 8/19/11
    Lovely Links: 8/19/11 August 19, 2011 at 3:45 pm |

    […] explains how she learned her feminism from 80s and 90s R&B, and name-drops ALL of my own faves from that era. How have I lived without “Rhythm […]

  7. WendyB
    WendyB August 19, 2011 at 11:40 pm |

    Oh, how I loved En Vogue!

  8. Zeira
    Zeira September 3, 2011 at 7:53 am |

    I totally agree with your article, but I must add that since Christin

  9. Zeira
    Zeira September 3, 2011 at 7:59 am |

    I totally agree with your article, but I must add that since Christina Aguilera stopped being a teenage pop star puppet, and worked the songwriter linda perry, I think she embodies feminism. Listen to tracks as Can’t hold us down, Underappreciated, Still Dirty, let me get mine you get yours…
    and don’t forget about pink,missy E..amy winehouse, alicia keys… well I must forget some…
    I’ve been introduced to feminism by The Spice girls and TLC (I’m from France)

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