It was nearly three months ago when 22-year-old Elliot Rodgers posted a frightening video on YouTube detailing his plan to “annihilate” women before viciously murdering two female students, four male students, and ultimately himself, at the University of California at Santa Barbara on May 23. The tragedy ignited national debates over gun control and mental health in the U.S. But the bulk of the discussion, facilitated by women under the #YesAllWomen hashtag on Twitter, focused largely on misogyny and female oppression in our culture.
Rodgers’ nauseating perspective on male entitlement reinforced important conversations on sexism and violence against women. That led Bonnie Joyce, a local musician and feminist from Boston, to start her own chapter of #YesAllWomen – appropriately titled, Yes All Women Boston – to channel her own emotions, and inspire other feminists and victims of misogyny to do the same.
“Yes All Women Boston came about mostly because Bonnie was so furious about the shootings,” said Amy Grzybinski, the PR coordinator for YAWB. The formation of that group led to the Yes All Women Boston Rock Show, which was held last Friday at Jacques Underground, a local Boston rock venue. “Her idea was, ‘I’m gonna get my friends together, and some women musicians together, and just make some music against misogyny.’ So it sounded great and I really wanted to be a part of it.”
The Yes All Women Rock Show was coordinated by Boston musicians Madeleine Blum, Jess Jacobs, Justine Benson, and Erika Musicmaker, and brought together Boston’s best all-female bands – including Atomic Savants, Sleep Crimes, Sacred Hearts and violetpedal – in a safe, creative environment, With a “mingling” event an hour before the show, Boston-based female musicians were given the chance to network. “I went to the planning meeting for the show,” said Musicmaker, “and it was a really open discussion about how to handle the music. Then this idea came to mind where, since we’re going to be at a rock show, why don’t we have a mingling hour where we can invite musicians and non-musicians alike? We can make name tags and have everyone identify themselves as musicians, and what they play, and what they’re looking for.”
The overwhelming response to the Yes All Women Rock Show nearly sold out the cavernous underground of Jacques, and the show highlighted the skills of Boston’s most talented female musicians. Participants also wore name tags with their preferred pronouns, area of musical expertise, and musical interests. As Benson stressed, while the horrors of last May will never be forgotten, the tragedy has created a wider discussion of feminism and misogyny through the connective power of social media.
“It was going on Twitter,” explains Benson, “and seeing all these experiences that women had that got this [YAWB] together. It shows people that if you’re a woman who has experienced misogyny, as we all have, we’re here, and you can come out and be in a safe space, and be surrounded by other feminists. If you feel like you don’t know any feminists, and other people are dragging you down and telling you what you can’t do, you can find us and we can tell you that you can do all these things.”
With the next Yes All Women Rock Show at Jacques Underground on October 17, keep yourself updated on the latest news and events, and donation inquiries, from YAWB by visitin yesallwomenboston.org, and the Yes All Women Boston page on Facebook.
By Stephanie Dubick
Photos courtesy of Madeleine Ashley Blum