6 Canadian Female Musicians Who Are Proud Feminists
Today is International Women’s Day! Celebrated annually all over the world, it’s a day to reflect upon women’s achievements throughout history.
Canada has long been a paragon of equality, as many women musicians who have enjoyed success in Canada can attest. However, there is still a gender wage gap and an ongoing battle for parity between the sexes, especially in the music industry.
Many female musicians, such as Braids’ Raphaelle Standell-Preston, have conveyed these issues through potent lyrics in their songs. Others, like Sarah McLachlan and Alanis Morissette, have been more vocal offstage. Regardless of venue or vehicle, these six Canadian musicians are proud feminists affecting change the best way they know how.
As the frontwoman of JUNO Award-winning band Braids, Raphaelle Standell-Preston has opened up about her past experiences as a victim of sexual abuse. However, instead of being ashamed of it, she’s channeling her experiences into the group’s feminist anthems.
“Feminism to me simply means the belief that women should be given the same political, social and economic rights as men,” she said in an interview with IHeartComix. “It’s acknowledging the current inequalities that still exist and trying to change them. It’s being aware of language, of societal constructs and roles that limit or control women and challenging them. It’s very important that the world become feminist. IMO.”
Tegan and Sara
Canadian twin sisters Tegan and Sara Quin have been fierce advocates for equality throughout their career, both for women and for the LGBTQ+ community. They even launched their own foundation, the Tegan and Sara Foundation, to serve those causes in which they strongly believe.
“I think that if we said, ‘Oh we don’t really want to talk about politics’ or ‘Why do we always have to talk about being gay?’ then it would come off as if we were ashamed of who we are or what we are. And that’s fine with us. I actually like talking about it,” they told Salon.
“We were raised very politically, and my mom was a feminist. I think we learned very early on that we should absolutely speak out about things that matter to us, and obviously LGBT stuff has always been our focus, but women are our focus, youth are our focus.”
Alanis Morissette has often been pegged as the most feminist singer of the ’90s after the release of Jagged Little Pill, but not until 2016 did she put down in no uncertain terms her passion for equality – and how the feminist agenda can be furthered with the aid of men – in an essay for Time magazine.
“I have never been apologetic about [being a feminist], but rather deeply passionate. It is an honor to be considered a feminist.
The concept of feminism to me is a mandatory link in a chain toward wholeness, cohesion, maturation and functionality – certainly the feminist movement is one of the most powerful means to this greater end.”
JUNO Award-winning R&B singer and Canadian icon Jully Black has been a fierce advocate for not just women, but women of colour, everywhere. As she told She Does the City, she feels education is the key to equal opportunity.
“In my opinion, our focus should be to do what we can to ensure that women and girls are given equal opportunity for education all around the world. It has been proven that when a girl is educated the family, including the men, all live longer, healthier and more prosperous lives.”
Crédit Photo: Mike Windle/Getty Images for Coachella
Grimes, the indie pop star who has won over an international audience with her infectious songs, has been very vocal about the sexism she has experienced in the industry. She’s eviscerated the male-dominated industry on several occasions, penning open letters on her Tumblr. She’s turning the tides by taking over her own production – making a statement simply by doing it all herself.
“I don't want to have to compromise my morals in order to make a living […] I’m sad that my desire to be treated as an equal and as a human being is interpreted as hatred of men, rather than a request to be included and respected.”
Rick Diamond / Getty Images
Sarah McLachlan, who has been a prominent voice for Canada on the international stage for some decades, still knows there is a lot of work left to do. As a successful singer-songwriter, McLachlan has worked her way to the top with hit after hit – but even she recognizes that it’s not a privilege afforded to every woman.
“I think that so much groundwork has already been laid, and there's this sense of ease, like ‘We’re all equal now,’’ she tells the CBC. “But no, there's still such a ceiling and there's so many opportunities and jobs that aren't open to women – and they're not getting paid as much.”