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Georgia Christgau

Georgia Christgau is an occasional presenter at MoPOP, a retired high school English teacher, and a journalist. Her piece, “Kitty Wells, Queen of Denial” was recently published in the 2nd volume of essays about gender and country music, Country Boys and Redneck Women, edited by Diane Pecknold and Kristine McCusker. “These are Not Your Children,” about the HBO series The Wire, appeared in the online journal darkmatter. She’s also a book reviewer for School Library Journal.

"Hear Me Roar"                                 
As the 2017 Women’s Convention in Detroit celebrated the intersectionality of feminism, gender identity and race, I found myself back in the Detroit of the 1970s, when I was an editor at Creem magazine and what we then called women’s liberation took the stage in popular song. The five artists I’ll discuss sold big and reached diverse audiences; their songs are distinguished by a sense of discovery, resolve, and pluck, finessed into the decade’s pat formulas and censorship codes of pop, r&b, country, and disco. The trajectories of two statement songs, Helen Reddy’s “I Am Woman” (1971), and Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” (1978), suggest that they haven’t – and won’t – go away. Gaynor’s irrepressible hit morphed into the anthem of two drag queens and a transgender woman in Priscilla Queen of the Desert (1994), reborn as a Broadway musical in 2011. Martha Wainwright’s close reading of  “I Am Woman” (2007) offers a 21st century counterweight to decades of (mostly misogynist) parodies. Millie Jackson, a crossover r&b artist who once told me, “I like white money, too,” struck a deal between desire and sisterhood in her appeal to both cooped-up housewives and married men in the game-changing “If Loving You is Wrong, I Don’t Want to Be Right” (1974). Donna Summer topped disco charts, reiterating that women deserved to be sexually satisfied with “Love to Love You, Baby” (1975). Finally Loretta Lynn, a teen mother of six with a successful career and a supportive husband, informed country boys that she had started using contraception with “The Pill” (1975). Each upended notions of family and gender identity, sexual pleasure and morality. These pioneers reversed, redefined, and struck down gender roles, and their achievements deserve our reconsideration.