PICK OF THE WEEK: Feminist punk, hardcore unit War on Women take up arms to achieve equality

War on WomenLouis CK has a bit about how if he had to sign up for a race and gender every year, he’d always re-up as a white male. Because what societal problems do those folks (me being one of them) really face? Things are and always have been essentially custom made for us, and there really are no things we can complain about. We are the least-discriminated-against segment of society, or so my brain tells me, and our everyday struggles out in the world are few.

On that note, it baffles me the battle women still .. STILL! … have to fight in 2015. Watching the news and seeing women having to struggle for equal wages, rights to health care choices, and even against physical and emotional violence is enough to make one want to shut off the world forever. What’s equally frustrating for me, and I say this as a man who doesn’t have to face these things, is how fellow members of my gender seem to want to rub women’s noses in these things are belittle them for wanting to be seen and treated as equal members of the human race. Well, how dare they? I know from my Facebook feed alone, I see people scoffing at the idea of rape culture, accusing women of changing the rules willy nilly when it comes to sex, talking about how females dress because they want to lure in men and then throw them aside frustrated, and slamming them for being upset when they aren’t treated with same respect as men. It’s fucking frustrating and infuriating, yet I keep those people in my FB feed as a reality check, and reminder that I do not share those … let’s call them “values” … and that I’m thankful I was raised to think differently.

War on Women coverWhere am I going with this? Well, it’s not another essay similar to the one I wrote about treating people equally in metal circles and in society. Instead, someone else will do that for me, that being hardcore/punk/thrash machine War on Women, whose fiery self-titled debut full-length deals with all of the issues listed above, and more, with confrontational force. This record is the new standard bearer for “taking no more shit and doing something about it” ire raisers, and each ounce of this drips with anger, defiance, calls for justice and equality, and even good insulting jabs here and there for the parties that require them. This band is a pro-feminist, boots-on-the-ground band that isn’t just satisfied with being heard but also demands real, effective, honest change. Yet, at the same time, there’s some biting humor to all of this because, sometimes when you’re volcanically pissed, you need to smirk at all of the crap going on around you. If not, you’ll explode.

War on Women is a co-ed effort, led front and center by passionate, wholly expressive singer Shawna Potter, who messages, barbs, and diatribes cannot be mistaken for anything other than what she intends. She’s an awesome force who will make you want to clench fists and go to battle. The band is rounded out by guitarists Nancy Hornburg and Brooks Harlan; bassist Suzanne Werner; and drummer Evan Tanner, who all add even more muscle to what’s already a hulking, fire-breathing assault.

The band blitzes out of the gate with “Servilia,” built on killer riffs, vocals that go back and forth from melodic wails and wild howls, and a true punk spirit. Things really heat up on the anti-victim-blaming crusher “Say It,” which takes to task people that find the person who sustained the attack somehow at fault. “If the victim was your daughter, would that complicate the blaming?” Potter jabs, before encouraging women to demand recognition for the assault, howling, “Say it! I was raped!” “Meathead” allows a tiny bit of humor into the room, as it’s directed at the song’s subject matter named in the title. Amid thrashy, spirited playing, Potter asks her would-be adversary, “When I apply my thick lipstick, is it for me or for your dick?” Right? Because a lady couldn’t possibly just want to make themselves look good for themselves. Must be an ulterior motive! Hence, the meathead. “Second Wave Goodbye” again urges action from women who feel held down by doing more and being a bigger voice for change. The vocals are tremendously catchy during this one, with a chorus that will make you want to jump out of your seat. “Swagger” has a Southern rock bend to it and also is one that’ll get stuck in your head. The tempo is punchy as hell, and the group vocals at the end give the track add an “us-vs.-all” feel. “Roe v. World” might seem like a track you can predict from its title, and it is to a degree. But Potter takes it several steps above, first ranting about consent, and then wondering why access to birth control is such an issue (especially since so many groups that oppose this route also are anti-abortion … which never made sense to me). Potter sounds possessed during a lot of this, like a person who can take no more and finally has cracked. “I had an abortion!” she taunts over and over, before launching into a galvanizing chant of, “Give us the pill!”

“Glass City” challenges the gap women experience in the work place, dressing the track up in a killer rock and roll vibe while Potter pounds, “What’s the wage gap? Not big enough to get your ego through!” It’s probably the catchiest song you’ll ever hear about this issue. “Jordan” is pulled back some, with the vocals taking the form of a spoken narrative and giving the record a reflective change of pace. Then it’s onto “Pro-Life,” a crushing piece of hardcore fury that challenges people with conflicting values about life (can you be pro-life and pro-war?) and Potter later spitting, “No, Congressman, women know what’s best for women.” “YouTube Comments” is both funny and a little sad, with Potter reciting messages left by users over a furious tempo. “Song’s decent, but those lyrics are laughable!” she howls at one point, with her shrieking and wailing away, as if maniacally amused at the words she is reading. “Diana la Cazadora” is a sobering, but no less urgent of a song, with the band lambasting the constant violence and murder of women by men in Juarez, Mexico, and their urge for those targeted to fight back. Late in the song, Potter makes her stand: “Women of Juarez, I understand … If you take up arms to kill the men who want to kill you, we salute you.” No mincing words there, and it’s one of those situations that has gone on far too long and not received the proper amount of attention. Maybe if a Kardashian was involved people would pay more attention, but it’s a real and severe situation (and still would be tragic even if a Kardashian WAS involved).

At the end of the day, not everyone will agree with War on Women’s ideology, but hopefully it’ll make people think and evaluate. Yes, they’re upfront and in your face about what they want, but isn’t that the point? A passive fight wins no wars, and Potter’s words along with this riotous music create the perfect message and delivery system to get people united, involved, and pissed off. Women deserve better, and the people who scoff at that generally do so because they feel their power and control are threatened. Don’t stand for that, don’t allow the forces of oppression to win, and let War on Women’s fury and honesty guide you toward refuting inequality and hatred and standing united with your fellow humans. It’s time to take up arms.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/WarOnWomen

To buy the album, go here: http://www.b9store.com/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.bridge9.com/

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One thought on “PICK OF THE WEEK: Feminist punk, hardcore unit War on Women take up arms to achieve equality

  1. Awesome insights! I’m hoping to see this kind of musical appropriation by women in the extreme metal scene. Feels like the closest we got is Karyn Crisis of Crisis or the women from Castrator.

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