New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

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Staff Recs: Who runs the world?

Our favorite feminist media to carry you into this Women’s History Month cultured and empowered.
Alisia Houghtaling
(Illustration by Alisia Houghtaling)

The greatest part of March — besides the warming weather — is that it celebrates women. It creates a space to go back in time and highlight powerful women in history who were often overlooked because of their gender. It may be overwhelming to try and figure out where to begin, so here are a few notable women who have inspired us with their music, words or films. The best part is that you can enjoy these recommendations throughout the entire year.

“Bad Reputation” by Joan Jett 

Female punk-rock music is the best punk-rock music. Allow Jett’s grunge guitar riffs and heavy drum tracks to empower you this Women’s History Month, celebrating female rage at its peak, the ’80s difference feminism movement. Whether you first heard this song in “10 Things I Hate About You” or “Shrek,” the iconic track from rock history is cemented in the credits of our favorite media. As Jett screams “I don’t give a damn ’bout my bad reputation / You’re living in the past, it’s a new generation,” her powerful raspy vocals match the intensity of the lyrics. 

One of her first singles, “Bad Reputation” was Jett’s chance to break into the boys club that was rock and roll. She taunts “Pedal, boys!” over the bridge, emulating the perfect bad bitch energy to carry you into March. 

— Julia Diorio, Music Editor 

“Ur Mum” by Wet Leg

Julia’s right — female rage simply elevates any good song to a great one. “Ur Mum” by the British musical duo Hester Chambers and Rhian Teasdale is one of my favorite contemporary break up songs for that very reason. 

Directed at an ex-boyfriend, Teasdale’s spiteful yet tongue-in-cheek lyrics make the track incredibly fun to belt out with your girlfriends. “When I think about what you’ve become / I feel sorry for your mum” and “You’re always so full of it / Yeah, why don’t you just suck my dick?” are both lyrics that I have to highlight for their lovely balance of playful and profane. 

What makes this song fantastic, though, is the 11.2 second scream that rings near the end of the track. Inspired by Teasdale’s own experiences with scream therapy, it counts down to the moment by telling us that Teasdale has been practicing her “longest and loudest scream.” It’s ridiculous, cathartic and the perfect finale to a song that captures female rage at its finest.

— Stephanie Wong, Arts Editor

“The Second Sex” by Simone de Beauvoir

“If I want to define myself, I first have to say, ‘I am a woman’; all other assertions will arise from this basic truth … [Woman] is determined and differentiated in relation to man, while he is not in relation to her; she is the inessential in front of the essential. He is the Subject; he is the Absolute. She is the Other.” 

Many things have made me the feminist I am today — my lived experiences, witnessing the overturning of Roe v. Wade, my family — but perhaps the most influential are the texts I read, such as “The Second Sex.”

Simone de Beauvoir’s philosophical text is a feminist critique of the patriarchy. The nearly thousand-page book is essentially the bible of second-wave feminism that swept across the globe soon after it was published. It argues that women are othered in society — seen as less-than counterparts to men — and explains why this occurs. 

De Beauvoir’s feminist critique of the world surely captures much of what I believe to be true.

— Alexa Donovan, Deputy Arts Editor 

“Deceptacon” by Le Tigre

How could we give Women’s History Month recommendations without mentioning riot grrrl? 

The musical movement — which began in Olympia, Washington in the ’90s — retaliated against the sexist, male-dominated punk rock scene. In the 1980s, there were many female musicians involved in the punk scene, but they were not taken seriously as hardcore. In retaliation, women artists began creating an underground alternative. The riot grrrl manifesto was published in the second edition of Kathleen Hanna’s zine, “Bikini Kill.”

Le Tigre, a dance-punk trio created by the band Bikini Kill’s Kathleen Hanna, is a mix of feminism and LGBTQ+ lyricism within New York City’s electroclash movement. The band’s hit song “Deceptacon” highlights political feminism within its lyrics, saying, “And everything you think and everything you feel / Is alright.” Not only is Le Tigre speaking to the women of punk, but also to women everywhere. The song is the trio’s most well-known single, but the rest of the album is worth a listen as well. 

— Clara Scholl, Arts Editor

“Meek’s Cutoff” by Kelly Reichardt

More often than not, the Western genre is suffocatingly macho. In “Meek’s Cutoff,” American filmmaker Kelly Reichardt reinvents the Wild West, refocusing her lens on the women of these stories. Lost on the Oregon Trail, three married couples and their babbling guide Stephen Meek (Bruce Greenwood) find themselves off-course in the middle of the desert. With supplies running low and the travelers on the verge of psychological defeat, the gang come across a Cayuse tribesman (Rod Rondeaux). They decide to hold him hostage, desperately hoping that he will lead them to a water source. 

Ripped away from civilization, with only dust and tumbleweeds for miles on end, the men’s reckless incompetence is put on full display. As the ill-prepared and egotistical husbands endlessly bicker amongst themselves, the camera lingers on their wives (Michelle Williams, Zoe Kazan and Shirley Henderson). These women are not reduced to decorative, two-dimensional accessories to the male travelers — they are intelligent agents that have their own complex motivations.

— Mick Gaw, Film & TV Editor

Contact the Arts desk at [email protected].

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About the Contributors
Clara Scholl, Arts Editor
Clara Scholl is a Gallatin junior studying philosophy, politics and economics. She’s from New York City and hosts a radio show on the Riot Grrrl movement. You can find her on X, formerly Twitter, @scholl_clara or on Instagram @cllscholl.
Stephanie Wong, Arts Editor
Stephanie Wong is a junior double-majoring in Media, Culture and Communication and Journalism, with a minor in English Literature. In her spare time, she loves watching bad movies and curating esoteric Spotify playlists. You can find her at @_stephaniewong_ on Instagram, @normalstephanie on Spotify, and unfortunately, on Letterboxd as @emima.
Mick Gaw, Film & TV Editor
Mick Gaw is a junior double-majoring in History and Public Policy. When he’s not holed up in a cinema, he's probably perusing the aisles of an Asian grocery store, wandering around museums or taking ugly pictures of his meals. You can find him on Instagram as @gawmick and occasionally on Letterboxd as @micks_canon.
Alexa Donovan, Deputy Arts Editor
Alexa Donovan is a sophomore majoring in Journalism and Art History and minoring in Creative Writing. Her favorite drink is lemonade and her party trick is listing the U.S. presidents in chronological order. You can find her in Bobst Library most hours of the day, on instagram @alexadonovan/@lemonadequeen5678 and on Goodreads @alexafdonovan.
Julia Diorio, Music Editor
Julia Diorio is a sophomore studying journalism at CAS. When not reminiscing about 2000s pop-punk music, she can normally be found drinking copious amounts of Dunkin' iced coffee, curating hyper-specific Spotify playlists or struggling with the NYT crossword. Find her variations of all-black outfits and dog pictures on Instagram @juliadiorio_. Send song suggestions to [email protected].
Alisia Houghtaling, Illustration Editor
Alisia Houghtaling is a first-year in Applied Psychology in Steinhardt and one of WSN's Illustration Editors. In her freetime, you can find Alisia drawing, painting, reading, eating pasta or autopilot walking around SOHO to window shop or stare into windows and say "I want to live there." You can find her on Instagram @_alisiart_ and send Italian restaurant recommendations or ridiculous real-estate listings in the city.

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