From the recording Live at Etown Hall
Yesterday the big news was that Harvey Weinstein was expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. An official statement carried this powerful quote: "[we] send a message that the era of willful ignorance and shameful complicity in sexually predatory behavior and workplace harassment in our industry is over. What's at issue here is a deeply troubling problem that has no place in our society."
And it was a perfect year ago, yesterday, that I released my highly confessional song "Made for Something More" (updated title!) that addressed sexual abuse and rape. It was originally taped with a simple iphone camera at my kitchen table. Many of you saw it, and with its raw and difficult content, it wasn't easy to shake...
It wasn't easy to write, either, or share, as you might guess. And of course, there was the emotional rollercoaster following the comments of a few misogynist trolls (#whywomendontreport) But I felt compelled to do it, I had to do it, in fact, the universe insisted on it. Because I didn't only write that song for me, I wrote it for almost every female member of my family and extended family, and a very large percentage of my closest friends. I gave a concert recently where a woman close to me requested the song for an encore. I STILL feel uncomfortable playing it live, and rarely do so. That to say, I almost ignored the request. But she is a teacher and told me she'd written the lyrics on the wall of her office for "every one of her students to read." That practically put me into tears. So I took a big breath, summoned something deep and visceral, and I played the song for her, uncomfortable with my own art or not.
I was talking to a friend the other day who works as an intake specialist at a mental health clinic. She told me she is "totally shocked" when a woman comes into the clinic that doesn't have a history including some kind of sexual abuse. Can this be real? That a woman without a record of sexual assault is the outlier?!?
In the song I tried my best to address the fact that sexual abuse and rape are at the very core of psychological repression. Because, when someone has this experience young - in their early twenties, say, like many of the actresses in this unfolding news story - or even younger in the case of others, (and it's not just limited to women) it shapes the way their self image unfolds over the course of a lifetime.
"So I grew up half thinkin', I was put here just to please men; to smile, to laugh...defer. But the woman in me came to know I was made for something more, so I say if the room is locked, we storm the doors."
So, it's a funny thing to say, but I'm actually happy about this unfortunate unfolding news story, and all the discussion going on in its wake. We're talking about it, not hiding it. I think we should all take a moment to breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that an archaic power system is being restructured as we speak. And speak. And speak....
"No more blank stares, or blinking eyes. Don't turn away, don't deny. It's time to recognize."
Thanks for reading.
From the LA Times - "it’s not limited to Hollywood. It's every industry’s dirty little secret."
MADE FOR SOMETHING MORE
Lyrics by Gabrielle Louise & Justin Thompson
Music by Gabrielle Louise
Oh there's freedom in this country
You're free to pace the floor
and if you don't think the rooms locked
try the door
There's a young man down in county
he was stealing for his family
first he was unfettered, now unfurled
Oh a man can own a gun
maybe he can rob someone
But a man can own a bank and rob the world
Oh, you can make it in this country
unless your gay or sick or poor
Yeah, if you don't think the room's locked
try the door
They put the poor kids in the back room
thirty-six a class room
And the second day of school there's even more
They're damned if they're not reading
They'd be better off just cheating
cause all that really matters is the score
We teach em freedom in this country
then we send em off to war
And if you don't think the room's locked
try the door
No more blank stares
or blinking eyes
Don't turn away, don't deny
I was just a child when it happened
He shut me in the bathroom
Asked me which way I would prefer
So I grew up half-thinking
I was put here just to please men:
to smile, laugh...defer.
But the woman in me came to know
I was made for something more
Oh if you don't think the room's locked
try the door
Oh every woman in this country
has been shaken to the core
So I say if the room's locked...
storm the doors.
(for our inspiring first lady, Michelle Obama, and for my sister Sarah Isobel, who teaches our children love and equality, and for whom I always want to make the world a better place.)