Hollaback!

War on Women surprise with potent brew of feminism and hardcore punk

Singer Shawna Potter from feminist hardcore punk band War on Women. (Facebook/War on Women)

Typically hypermasculine, hardcore-punk gigs can be alienating or even physically intimidating for women, but one band in particular is turning that expectation on its head. War on Women, which was formed five years ago in Baltimore, is “bringing our message of feminism across the globe,” lead singer Shawna Potter told Newsweek in a recent profile. The band addresses a range of issues in their songs — including reproductive rights, access to abortion, rape survival, misogyny, pay equity, and online harassment — and calls on women to occupy the traditionally male-dominated space in the room, especially the pit immediately in front of the stage. Potter calls from the stage to “women, queers, femmes to say, ‘Tonight’s your night, take up space and everybody else, give up some space.'”

The merchandise also reflects the band’s values, with condoms and tampons available along with the more conventional T-shirts and records. Last week, the band’s record label Bridge Nine released an updated version of the Gadsden flag, emblazoned with “Don’t Grab My Pussy” (instead of “Don’t Tread on Me”), in reference to the controversy embroiling Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump amid allegations of multiple instances of touching women inappropriately and without consent. The allegations arose after a recording of a conversation with then-Access Hollywood host Billy Bush, in which Trump brags off-camera about women that he likes to “grab them by the pussy,” came to light.

Potter is also the founder of Baltimore chapter of Hollaback!, the international campaign against street harassment, and says comments — like those made by Trump — from powerful men create the impression for “kids like [sex offender Brock Turner]”  to believe “that they are entitled to women’s bodies.”

Potter is not planning to commit too many lyrics to the 2016 election, though, instead contemplating songs about Purvi Patel — an Indiana woman who was jailed for having a miscarriage — and “stories of young, white men going into public spaces and shooting everyone, either because they’re black or they’re women, and were turned down for a date, feel entitled to take a life.”

Read the full story at Newsweek.

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