By Mira Eashwaran
Feminism: the seemingly perpetual battle for women to reach complete gender equality. It is omnipresent in aspects of our everyday lives, from women experiencing the gender pay gap at work, or girls in elementary school shoved into a box of wearing pink and skirts, to even the sexual harassment women experience all the time. Catcalls, wolf-whistles, and violating stares now suffocate feminists and women, and continuously try to impede the process of equality.
The music and fame business is infamous for mistreating women, from powerful men like Harvey Weinstein or the body-shaming Kesha experienced as a teen. However, the industry features plenty of strong-willed, intelligent women who stand their ground and are not afraid of making waves. The UK girl group Little Mix stands as a conspicuous example of such bravery. The girls met on the X Factor in 2011 and went on to be the first group to win the talent competition. The group has had four UK number one singles, the most Platinum certifications for a UK girl group, breaking the previous Spice Girls record. The four girls (Jade Thirwall, Leigh-Anne Pinnock, Jesy Nelson, and Perrie Edwards) have had a successful career in the music industry.
The National Manthem
This album speaks to a mature feminist awakening. The first song on the album, The National Manthem, is a thirty second piece that describes a “goddess” as a “bad b*tch”, with the girls ending by singing that “thou shall be faithful and honest.” This song effectively sets the scene for a power charged album.
Woman Like Me (feat. Nicki Minaj)
“Woman Like Me” is a quintessential track for Mixers around the world. It details the older ideals of what a woman should be (quiet, polite and knowing her place) and debunks that with confidence and distinct personality traits of the girls. The track is an uptempo piece, with slivers of reggae and modern pop slipped in. The lyrics detail how the girls wonder how someone could “fall for a woman like me”: four business savvy, talented women who wear their sexualities on their sleeves and promote love and peace. The track features the iconic rap queen Nicki Minaj on the third verse, proud and confident in her feminism.
“Strip” is a song filled with body positivity and self love, the music video featuring the four girls with no makeup and showing off their bodies for who they are. The track embraces female sexuality and encourages women to love their bodies, race and femininity. The video features an emotionally charged shot of all four girls nearly naked on camera, their bodies covered with demeaning words that they have been called during their time in the industry. “Strip” is an anthem for people everywhere to love themselves and feel beautiful in their own skin.
Fierce in Fashion
(from left to right) Jesy Nelson, Leigh-Anne Pinnock, Jade Thirwall, and Perrie Edwards pose for their new album LM5’s cover.
Joan of Arc
“Joan of Arc” is a track that goes back to hip-hop roots, featuring an uptempo drum beat that embellishes the girl’s confidence in their sexuality and their comfort with beauty and men. They allude to Joan of Arc, a famous French heroine during the 100 years war. The song includes a distorted male voice saying, “Oh, you’re the feminist type?” and a sassy response of “Hell yeah, I am!”
The group refer to themselves as goddesses, and features difficult soprano vocals by Edwards. They own their right to love, rapping that if they’re loving someone, it “’cause they can” and they “put my own rock on my hand.”
In this emotionally charged song, the girls detail the work and pay gap between men and women. They point out the insanity of women being paid differently because of “the way her body’s made.” Thirwall takes over at the pre-chorus and debunks the man’s world, singing that they should “try living in a woman’s world.” The girls bring light to the fact that they always have “shouted to be heard,” and powerfully address the disparity between the genders. They reassure listeners that they will keep fighting for women’s rights in a passionate ode. They reaffirm that women are more than their bodies; we have brains and we will keep fighting.
With this new album, Little Mix has simply reaffirmed what the music industry already knew: these girls are four insanely talented, confident women who aren’t afraid to love themselves and love others. These ladies have executive produced a musically riveting, lyrically inspiring album that will stand to be the symbol of an iconic musical era in women’s activism.