I wrote '(wo)man' after watching a video of Nicki Minaj talking about the way women are treated in the music industry, mostly by men. She talks about two different scenarios, one where a female artist does a sound check and one where a male does. The female walks on stage, directs the engineers, she know’s exactly what she wants - she’s labelled a bitch. The man walks on stage, and does the exact same and instead he’s labelled a boss. So men feeling defensive or aggressive when a woman is in a position of authority, was a concept I was keen to explore.
“Men explain things to me, still. And no man has ever apologised for explaining, wrongly, things that I know and they don't.”
- Rebecca Solnit
This comparison between ‘boss’ and ‘bitch’ rang very true with me. Trump had just beaten Clinton in the election, and I had heard the word ‘bitch’ used countless times to describe Hillary. I was reading Rebecca Solnit’s ‘Men Explain Things To Me’, which was constantly making me question many social norms I’d long accepted, and still found myself in uncomfortably negative conversations with men about what the word ‘feminism’ actually means.
So the concept grew from there, this idea of a man and a woman both showing authority, but being treated very differently as a result. The chorus of the song revolves around this idea of boss vs. bitch, in-particular I separate the ‘wo’ and ‘man’ to emphasise the idea that in our culture a woman cannot be without a man. Even our language is based around the biblical concept that Eve was created from Adam, therefor she shall always be bound to him.
The story of Adam and Eve was something I revisited time and time again whilst writing the lyrics for ‘(wo)man’. It was only now, reading it as an adult that I fully understood the concept - Eve was created from Adam’s rib to be his companion, she betrayed him thus instigating the downfall of humanity. I introduce the idea that maybe there is a connection between the negative tone the bible takes when talking about women and the way in which the media discuss women today.
“I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.”
- 1 Timothy 2:12
Throughout the song I play with the word ‘history’ as a reference to the little acknowledgment women have received for their role in our world - it was always his story to tell not hers. In verse two, I talk about the ironic concept of how women would have once probably been involved in physically making bibles - the book that continued to silence them.
The verses of the song explore the subtleties of western (and other) cultures that encourage and cement inequality between men and women. The passive and often quiet ways in which our culture objectifies women; being passed from father to husband, always under the ownership of a man, always taking someone else’s name. In-particular I focus on religion, Christianity, the Bible and the ways religion has been used to silence women. I reference the Salem Witch trials as a moment in history the blame again landed on a woman's shoulders and she was again attacked by religious figures to be conjuring the devil.
I hope for (wo)man to make female listeners question the way they are treated when they're in positions of authority - or even when they are not. I hope it brings confidence to those who need it, and empowers all who feel the same as I do.
The visuals for '(wo)man' were shot on a trip through the Northern Territory, where I spent time producing the song and working on material for my debut EP.
'(wo)man' was written by myself, and co-produced by myself and my partner Alex Middleton.
Thank you for reading,