Where Do Women Stand in Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Albums of All Time?

Rolling Stone Magazine’s Top 500 Albums of All Time

When I saw Rolling Stone Magazine’s Top 500 Albums of All Time, I was shocked to find that a mere five of the top 100 were female artists. Female musicians have struggled to gain credibility in a largely male dominated field since the dawn of rock ‘n’ roll.

Patti Smith, Horses. Photo courtesy of http://heavenlyrecordings.com/Christine McVie and Stevie Nicks sneak onto the list with 26, “Rumours”, a Fleetwood Mac album. Joni Mitchell’s “Blue” places at 30 while Carole King’s “Tapestry” enters the list at 36. Patti Smith’s “Horses” is ranked as 40. Women of color are virtually forgotten until Aretha Franklin’s “Lady Soul” is listed as 84.

I am left wondering where Carly Simon, Diana Ross and Madonna were on Rolling Stone’s list? Where were Cyndi Lauper and Joan Baez? Where was Cher?

A Few Things Forgotten:

“Give it Up or Let Me Go,” Bonnie Raitt

Although pop music may remember Bonnie Raitt for her ’90s pop hits, she enjoyed a long career as a blues and rock ‘n’ roll queen in the ’70s. Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000, Raitt was famous for her ragtime infused tunes and deep, soulful pipes. Raitt has recorded with rock and roll legends such as John Lee Hooker, Jackson Browne and John Prine.

Raitt’s second album, “Give it Up or Let Me Go” was released in 1972. The album features classic blues, Dixieland, folk and rock ‘n’ roll. After one spin, you will likely be belting Bonnie’s ballads in the shower.

“Parallel Lines,” Blondie

It is an undisputed fact: Debbie Harry is a rock and roll genius. Harry is famous for her punk roots and new-wave style. Harry penned many of Blondie’s chart toppers herself, proving she was more than her peroxide.

1978’s “Parallel Lines” covered all the bases- even disco! “Heart of Glass” was the first Blondie hit to reach number 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100. “Parallel Lines” launched Blondie into a commercial pop music icon. Give this one a spin when you have the urge to dance around your bedroom in your underwear.

“Pearl,” Janis Joplin

Janis Joplin was known for her free spirited attitude and her tongue in cheek lyrics. Many modern day female artists cite Joplin as an influence and inspiration. Joplin was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995.

“Pearl” was released in 1971, four months after she died from a heroin overdose. Aside from a happy birthday message to John Lennon, “Mercedes-Benz” was her last recording. The song appears acappella on the album because she died before finishing the accompaniment. Many argue the song is hauntingly stronger in this format. Pull this one out when you want to unwind.

Modern Musical Mavens

Female artists often struggle to be taken seriously beyond appearance. Female musicians are often judged on their sexuality and not the music they create. For years, radio stations refused to play two female artists in a row for fear listeners would change the station.

Lately, I have witnessed many females flourish in the music world. Although she may not be my bag, I have to applaud Taylor Swift for writing her own music and positioning herself as a positive role model for young girls.

Jenny Lewis, Photo Courtesy of www.examiner.comFemale-fronted acts like She & Him, Jenny & Johnny and Best Coast renew my faith in modern day music. These are women are involved in the music from the first strum all the way to the studio. These are women who command attention based on tunes, not tits.

Who do you think Rolling Stone forgot? Let me know in the comments.

Oh yeah, and Lady Gaga is ruining rock ‘n’ roll.

More Resources

Tour Diary Four: Rock and Roll is Dead

Rolling Stone’s Greatest Albums of All Time

Women in Music

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Feminist Culture Jams On

Culture jamming can be defined as modifying mass media to convey a conflicting message. Jams can be obvious or subvert depending on the context. The movement aims to expose cultural assumptions and political attitudes.

I first learned about the movement in my sophomore year Principles of Advertising class. The instructor showed us a few examples and I became enthralled with the concept. Jammers took on outdated advertising values and made them fresh through force. It wasn’t long before I noticed feminism’s role in the culture jamming movement.

Guerrilla Girls

A radical feminist group, Guerrilla Girls appeared in 1985. Although culture jamming was present before this, the Guerrilla Girls are perhaps the most well known. The group dons gorilla masks to shift the focus from their identities to the message they are bringing awareness to.

In 1989, Guerrilla Girls took on The Metropolitan Museum of Art. After conducting a “weenie count,” the group noticed that although women’s artwork was near absent from the museum’s archives, female nudes were not. The Public Art Fund commissioned a poster and then deemed it too suggestive for display. The fan in the models hand was said to be too phallic, yet there were no objections to the naked woman.


On Sept. 14, 2010, the French Senate passed a law banning burqas in public places. The bill language was careful to avoid the words “women,” “Muslim” and “Islam” and instead used the term “face-covering veil.”

The bill claims to promote gender equality and imposes severe fines on anyone covering their face in public. Although Muslim is France’s second most prominent religion, the bill ignores freedom of religion.

In the dead of night, Princess Hijab uses graffiti to veil sexually charged advertisements in dripping black burqas. She calls it “hijabisation.” Due to a stringent police force, most of her culture jams are left untouched for less than an hour. Despite this, photos of her work circulate the internet.

Although Princess Hijab remains anonymous, a few journalists have managed to get her side of the story. No one knows if she a Muslim, a feminist or even a woman.

“I’d been working on veils, making Spandex outfits that enveloped bodies, more classic art than fashion. And I’d been drawing veiled women on skate-boards and other graphic pieces, when I felt I wanted to confront the outside world. I’d read Naomi Klein’s No Logo and it inspired me to risk intervening in public places, targeting advertising.”

Her anonymity has brought awareness to her work while many debate if her work is even feminist at all.

Mainstream jams

When Snack Factory began displaying Pretzel Crisps ads with the tag line “You can never be too thin,” even men took notice. Activists wasted no time before posting rebuttals.

A culture jam courtesy of http://marklawrence.blogspot.com/An objector posted articles on anorexia and other eating disorders on the advertisements. “Actually, you can” challenged the tag line. The jam brought eating disorder awareness to light while challenging the public’s ideas of health and body image.

We’re Jamming

Culture Jams expose the true nature of advertisements while urging the public to examine what exactly the company is trying to sell. Jamming disrupts the advertising message and calls attention to the real message at hand.

More Resources:

Jammin’ Ladies

Culture Jamming Archives

Guerrilla Girls: Fighting Discrimination with Facts, Humor and Fake Fur

Adbusters Culturejammer Headquarters

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Men Can Stop Rape: An Excellent Campaign

So often at Broad Brands, I am seen brandishing my feminist scepter while shouting “This is stupid!” or “These pretzels are making me thirsty!”

Today, I will do no such thing. I’ve found a completely awesome advertising campaign and I am no longer parched.

Men Can Stop Rape

Men Can Stop Rape’s “My Strength” campaign shows men as allies against sexual violence. Ads depict men in instances where they could have taken advantage of their partner but used their strength to instead say no.

Founded in 1997, the organization is committed to public education and leadership training for young men. The movement asserts “strength is not for hurting.”

"So when she changed her mind, I stopped."

When a woman is found after an assault, the media make a point to say she was dressed provocatively or walking alone at night. In saying this, they send a message of warning to women: Don’t wear revealing clothing, or you might be raped. Make sure you always have a man to walk you home, or you could be assaulted.

Finally! An advertising campaign about sexual violence that targets men! An advertising campaign that acknowledges women without chastising their sexuality! The MCSR campaign is the only one I’ve seen in recent years that highlights such fundamental flaws in the system.


Gray Rape

Remember Cosmopolitan’s September 2007 article, “Gray Rape: A New Kind of Date Rape?” The article defines “gray rape” as “sex that falls somewhere between consent and denial and is even more confusing than date rape because often both parties are unsure of who wanted what.”

The article implied that sexually forward women deserve what they get. Cosmopolitan mixed up consent with consequence and confused a generation of readers. Hell, feminist bloggers are still talking about it!

You can’t “a little bit” rape someone. Rape is never the victim’s fault, no matter his or her choice in clothing, level of intoxication or sexual history. No means no, always.

The Campaign

Stand Up. Speak Up.Aside from a poignant print campaign, MCSR is heavily involved in the social media sphere. The organization uses its Facebook page to spark discussion with fans. The organization is extremely active on Twitter, consistently posting relevant information and news from other non-profit groups.

MCSR has done an excellent job in positioning itself as a resource for men and women alike. Workshops and events fill the calendar as the organization spreads its message across the country.

The Facts

The truth is, approximately 60 percent of rapes go unreported. According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, one in six women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime, compared with one in 33 men.

The media make it seem that there are sex-crazed strangers hiding in the bushes, waiting to take advantage of unsuspecting and alone victims. In reality, roughly 73 percent of victims know their assailants personally.

For the media, it is easier to cast a stranger as the villain instead of the person sitting behind you in economics class.

With this kind of coverage, it is no wonder why so many rapes go unreported. The media suggests the victim somehow brought the attack upon his or herself, and they must be ashamed.

Job well done, Men Can Stop Rape!

More Resources:

Men Can Stop Rape’s Vimeo Channel

‘Gray Rape’: A New Form of Date Rape?

Men Can Stop Rape’s MOST Awards Celebrate Real Strength

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Meta Sexism

Sometimes I wonder if not having a television impedes my ability to critique advertising from a feminist perspective-

Then I remember that the average person is exposed to hundreds of advertisements a day and I worry I’ll never have enough time to tackle even a slice of the stupidity.

Truthfully, advertising is the one thing I miss most about television. Thanks to DVR, many choose to cruise past commercials and step right into Dancing with the Stars. Not me! I love advertising as much as I hate advertising. I am fascinated with it as much as it disgusts me.

…Which brings me to the three strategies that annoy me most in the wonderful world of advertising.

Recursive Advertising

Recursive advertising is when advertisers make fun the absurdity of their own system. Think of it as the wink that lets us know that they know that we know what is going on. The ads spoof marketing tactics and imply that the viewer is far too smart to fall victim to snappy advertising campaigns. Make no mistake; they are still trying to sell you something even if they are using a meta joke to do so.

Take for instance this new Kotex ad for a new line of brightly colored feminine hygiene products:

The ad pokes fun at the ridiculousness of tampon commercials in an admittedly hilarious fashion. Who hasn’t wondered about the ambiguous windshield wiper fluid substance used to demonstrate absorption? I don’t buy it, so I won’t buy it.

Retro Sexism

Retro Sexism can be defined as modern attitudes and behaviors that mimic or glorify sexist aspects of the past in an ironic fashion. Advertisers seem to think that if they use sexism in an over the top way viewers will know that they aren’t condoning such activities. Ironic sexism is still sexism.

Take for instance this Twix ad:

The father in this ad is caught ogling teenage girls. This is borderline disturbing because the girls are presumed to be underage. An ad with a woman ogling a group of teenage boys would not be as warmly received.

Men are Morons

Advertising often calls upon the common stereotype that men are incompetent and helpless without their wives. For every ad that features a babe in a bikini standing next to a speedboat there is another that depicts a woman cleaning up after her dolt of a husband.

Take for instance this Roomba ad:

This poor woman’s husband is a literal jackass. Good things we have these magical products to lessen the blow of our husband’s inadequacies!

Whether they let us in on the joke or not, sexism is still a key pawn in an advertiser’s bag of tricks. Even in jest, sexism is still harmful to those who aren’t yet old enough to grasp sarcasm.

Advertising isn’t art. Advertising isn’t created to entertain you or make you laugh milk out of your nose. At the end of the day, advertising is meant to sell you tampons, candy and the SUV of your choice.

For more information, check out these links:

Retro Sexism and Uber Ironic Advertising

Recursive Advertising–The Joke’s on Us

Top 10: Worst Male-Bashing Ads

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Wal-Mart Wages Rollback! Free Class Action Lawsuit with Every Purchase!

I must admit, when I saw Wal-mart’s new “Official Supporter of Moms” advertising campaign I scratched my head a little bit.

“Hey…isn’t Wal-mart involved in a class action lawsuit in history over gender discrimination?” I thought.

Google at my fingertips, I soon learned that Wal-mart was not only involved in a class action lawsuit, but the largest class action lawsuit in history!

The Lawsuit

Betty Dukes started working at a California Walmart in 1994. She was promoted to Customer Service manager in the summer of 1997. After her promotion, Dukes experienced various instances of discrimination. She was regularly left uninformed about promotions. Her hours and wages were cut and she was discouraged from applying for management positions. Her male coworkers weren’t reprimanded for similar offenses.

Walmart is involved in the largest class action lawsuit in history.As it turns out, Dukes wasn’t the only woman Wal-mart discriminated against. Despite having seniority and higher performance ratings, women at Wal-mart statistically earned less and were passed over promotions time and time again. On average, a woman worked at Wal-mart for 4.38 years before being promoted while her male coworkers worked only 2.86 years.

The discrimination wasn’t limited to the store level. Women in management earned on average $5,000 less than men and had to wait a year and a half longer for the privilege. At the top level, a male senior vice president earns $419,435 while four women with the same title earn only $279,772. Across the board, women earned five to 15 percent less than male employees for the same work.

In April 2010, the federal court ruled that thousands of female Wal-Mart employees could sue in a single class over allegations of discrimination. Wal-Mart requested that the case be brought before the Supreme Court. Filed in 2001, Dukes v. Wal-mart is the largest class action lawsuit in history.

Plaintiffs in Dukes v. Wal-martAccording to the 9th circuit court of appeals,

“Plaintiffs contend that Wal-Mart’s strong, centralized structure fosters or facilitates gender stereotyping and discrimination, that the policies and practices underlying this discriminatory treatment are consistent throughout Wal-Mart stores, and that this discrimination is common to all women who work or have worked in Wal-Mart stores.”

This September, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce urged the Supreme Court to review the ruling, claiming they’d rather review each of the 1.5 million women on a case-by-case basis. Efficient, ey?

…Which brings us back to Wal-mart Moms.

Wal-mart has recently launched a social-networking platform for moms to interact and share money saving tips. The website features original content and blogs from women across the country. The network hosts biographies of Wal-mart moms and offers plenty of consumer reviews.

From a public relations standpoint, this network of middle-class mothers is brilliant. From a woman’s perspective, I find it troubling. Wal-mart seems to think if they focus on the communal struggle of women nationwide we will ignore the 1.5 million other women they’ve systematically kept down

This campaign suggests Wal-mart supports us and wants us to succeed, but only if we aren’t on the payroll. Wal-mart expects us to buy its 40 cent can of beans subsidized by the Betty Dukes behind the counter- and blog about it.

The Bottom Line

Wal-mart’s success can be attributed to the discriminative labor practiced designed to keep prices low. You’ll save on a giant bottle of ketchup now, but the women down the street is earning an insufficient wage for your privilege. There is a reason the National Organization for Women named Wal-mart a “Merchant of Shame.

Women protest a Wal-mart in Utah.

To shift the focus from its discriminative culture, Wal-mart has created a network of women-friendly content. Wal-mart supports moms and saves you money-

Do you buy it?

More resources:

Learn More About the Dukes v. Wal-mart Suit

Wal-martization of Women’s Jobs

Wal-mart Watch

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Lashing Out Against Latisse

When I first saw Latisse advertised, I was dumbfounded. A prescription drug designed to grow longer eyelashes? How is it possible that doctors can create miracle drugs for “inadequate eyelashes” and yet I’ve been walking around with a cough for weeks?

Latisse claims to treat hypotrichosis, an abnormal hair growth condition. Unsurprisingly, the pharmaceutical company turned “inadequate eyelashes” into an urgent cosmetic condition.

In order for the FDA to approve a drug, it must diagnose, prevent or treat a condition. Latisse began as a glaucoma medicine called Lumigan and was approved by the FDA in 2001. During clinical trials, participants noted drastic eyelash growth as a side effect.

According to its Web site, 1.5 million kits have been prescribed- by doctors! The FDA-approved drug is the first and only drug designed to fix the inadequate eyelash problem plaguing the nation.

Despite suffering from hypotrichosis, Brooke Shields beat the odds and went on to become a super model.

Latisse is available by prescription only. This means that women with sparse eyelashes are expected to leave their houses and face the harsh scrutiny of society. I imagine a waiting room full of women, crying with insufficient eyelashes to stop their tears.

“Doctor! I am a monster! Please prescribe me this or I will be unloved forever!”

The drug claims to give users longer, fuller, darker lashes in just 16 weeks. A 16-week application kit costs about $120 a month. Good thing the Web site offers a $20 rebate!

Although the commercials credit Allergan as having 60 years of “eye care expertise” I am not convinced.

Side effects for the drug include “increased brown pigmentation of the colored part of the eye,” itching, redness and burning. Eyelid darkening may occur but may be reversible. In other words, it may not be.

Eye pruritus, conjunctival hyperemia, skin hyperpigmentation, ocular irritation, dry eye symptoms and erythema of the eyelid are just some of the problems likely to occur. Once treatment is stopped, eyelashes will return to inadequacy. The FDA warns that continued contact with the outside skin can cause unwanted hair growth.

Check out the rest of the side effects:

Does this seem worth it? I can’t remember the last time I heard girls in a bar bathroom trash talking another girl for her lack of luscious lashes.

Like any designer drug, Latisse has its fair share of celebrity endorsers. Claire Danes and Brooke Shields have signed on as compensated spokeswomen. After pictures of Danes remind me of small spiders creeping from someplace behind her corneas.

The company has spent nearly $15 billion on convincing women they are inadequate. Latisse advertisements downplay the dangers and convince women they have a very real eyelash problem. Ads like these imply genetics have done women wrong and prescription drugs are the only solution.

Why aren’t we focusing on curing real conditions? What ever happened to cancer, diabetes or even AIDS?

If you want longer, fuller and darker lashes, I suggest a coat of mascara. Your eyes won’t change color and you don’t need a prescription.

But if the 1980s taught me anything…

…Lay off the falsies.

For more information, check out these links:

Consumer Reports Health Blog

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American Apparel Exploits Women

American Apparel positions itself as a socially conscious place to shop. The company is concerned with environmental sustainability, fair wages and gay rights. But what about women’s rights?

At the root level, American Apparel produces basic knit garments in a rainbow of colors and prints. Behind the scenes, the company claims to be committed to socially responsible business practices. Factory workers are paid nearly double the minimum wage and receive subsidized healthcare for themselves and their families.

Each piece of clothing is manufactured in a partially solar powered factory in downtown Los Angeles. The company takes pride in being American made and sweatshop free.

Walk into any American Apparel store and you will be immediately bombarded with larger than life images of scantily clad women in compromising positions.

What is American Apparel trying to sell you?Out of 31 ads on its Web site, 29 feature women in sexually demeaning positions. Many of the images border on pornographic. Women are shown licking their armpits, spreading their legs. Models are often headless, no more than an anonymous torso.

Last February, American Apparel announced its “Best Bottom Contest.” Contestants were to submit a picture of their American apparel clad bottoms and visitors were urged to rate the pictures to pick the winner.
Although some submissions were male, most were women. The fact that these people willingly submitted pieces of themselves to be judged baffles me.

The faceless pictures offer a sick sense of anonymity. The faceless pictures voluntarily reduce the women in them to a body part. The contest exploits women and makes me wonder- what exactly is American Apparel trying to sell?

Founder Dov Charney has had five sexual harassment lawsuits brought against him by female employees. Charney maintains his innocence, even going as far as to state:

“Women initiate most domestic violence, yet out of a thousand cases of domestic violence, maybe one is involving a man. And this has made a victim of culture out of women.”

Charney has shown up to meetings naked and has attempted to give his female employees sex toys.  Many employees have endured sexually derogatory comments from him. Store workers must submit a picture along with their applications.

A still from Woody Allen's 1977 film, Annie Hall.These lawsuits are not the only charges against Charney. In 2009, filmmaker Woody Allen won a $5 million lawsuit against the company. Without permission, American Apparel used an image of Allen on various Los Angeles billboards. The shot featured Allen dressed as a Hasidic Jew from the 1977 film, Annie Hall. This offends me as both a woman and a Jew.

“I’m not sorry for expressing myself,” he said. “I wish him the best with his career, and I am looking forward to his next film,” said Charney.

Lohan, seen wearing the "Unisex Flex Fleece Zip Hoody" in speckled gray.
When Lindsay Lohan was photographed passed out in the passenger seat of a car wearing an American Apparel sweatshirt, the company used the image in its promotional materials. The photo not only exploited its subject but also gloried the party lifestyle.

American Apparel displays a clear pattern of disrespect for women. The company positions itself as a socially conscious company but its actions are to the contrary.

What’s the good in a company that prides itself in fair treatment of factory workers but exploits women at every turn?

Some say that highly sexualized American Apparel ads are tongue in cheek- a comment on our society’s obsession with sex.

I say, what good is tongue in cheek if you have to bite your tongue?

For more information, check out these links:

Jezebel’s ongoing coverage of American Apparel

Anti American Apparel

Women’s Rights Boycott

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