Dance Music For Activists: In Praise of Beth Ditto

For some people just living without shame is an act of rebellion. Those who refuse to back down in the face of public scrutiny are role models for us all, especially when it comes to women, who to this day are continually judged by how we look instead of what we think, say, or do. We need as many strong women in the media as we can get, women who refuse to be measured by the limiting scope of “the gaze.” One such freedom fighter is the stunning songstress Beth Ditto. She’s risen to fame throughout the past decade as the lead singer of indie punk band Gossip, but she’s been garnering even more infamy as an outspoken feminist* and queer/body activist.

If you thought Eve was so bad, well, how do you like these apples?

I first read about this amazing gal in BUST magazine over five years ago in an article about finding clothes for plus-sized women. She recommended trying maternity clothing, and rallied for having no shame in exploring that section of the store. Since the current prevailing notion is that pregnancy is the only time when it is acceptable to be a fat woman in America (as well as in many other areas of the world), that struck me as a radical idea. I was intrigued, but it took a friend’s mixed CD for me to finally check out her awesome pipes.

It wasn't long until Beth graced the cover of BUST. When this arrived in the mail I was in shock: it could be a picture of me and my grey cat Annabelle Lee!

Lots of people have excellent morals and strong political beliefs, and lots of people have very good singing voices, but combining the two takes not only talent but nerves of steel, especially when your looks may not arrive in the package that the mainstream is automatically attuned to listen to. And as mentioned before, for a woman, looks are still considered the most important part of her character by society at large. Beth Ditto, however, doesn’t give a flying f*** what you think about her looks, she will be heard come hell or high water. And when the songs are this rad, you can’t help but feel good both inside and out when taking a listen.

All of her work with Gossip is beyond exceptional, but her new solo single (from the self-titled album due out March 29th) is a whole other shade of marvelous. Watch the sexy black and white video here. The song is electronic and sharp, with whip-like beats that practically scream for hip-popping and gyrating action. Like Beth herself, this song pays tribute to the badass women who have gone before (namely Madonna) and calls out to the badass women and men of tomorrow. Will you answer the call?



*I kind of think that it’s ridiculous that I even have to post this disclaimer, but since confusion about this term continues to persist, allow me to define it: when I write the words “feminist” or “feminism” I mean the dictionary definition: The theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes and/or organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests. Feminism is the fight for equal human rights, because until we are all free, none of us are.


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