I was raised in a small, conservative town where sexism was present, but was not critiqued by peers or adults within the community. Slut shaming and biased dress code regulations were habitual and unquestioned by all during my years in junior high and first half of high school. I not only experienced these pressures in a classroom setting, but also from the religious community I was surrounded by while growing up in the Catholic faith. Girls that experienced and engaged in healthy sexual relationships were not viewed as “nice girls”. Guilt followed me, as I’m sure it followed many of my peers, when I was tempted to fantasize. An attitude was etched into my psyche that natural urges were taboo and that masturbation was only acceptable for boys because “they couldn’t help themselves otherwise”. I was taught to believe that my purity was to be saved and given as a gift for my future husband although it wasn’t expected of my male friends to uphold that same promise. Before I left home at sixteen to attend an arts academy, I accepted these behaviors and didn’t assess the harm they did to myself and other women around me.
After I arrived at the academy, I immediately became friends with a young visual artist named Cici. Cici had a passion for feminist issues. Our conversations often felt like seminars and every time I walked away I felt as if someone had adjusted my vision to identify unjust sexism and realize that I didn’t have to live abiding by a cultural view that my gender came with an extra set of rules or obligations. After a few months, I felt as if feminism and the fight for gender equality was a lifestyle I could adopt into my daily routines.
A year and half after meeting Cici, I was flying home for winter break of my senior year of high school. While on the plane, I started to hear a melodic idea for a chorus with the lyrics “Girls Don’t Cry Wolf”. I had been reading an article regarding sexual assaults on college campuses and thought to myself, “How many women have shared these same experiences and had their cases swept under the rug? Why are administrators placing importance of school reputation over the safety of students?” As an upcoming college freshman, it was daunting and absolutely unacceptable to think that my friends and I face a 1 in 5 chance of being sexually assaulted while at school. With these statistics, I thought that maybe this issue wasn’t the fault of an apathetic nation, but of an ignorant one. If people became aware of these facts, I believe that they would want to stand up for the justice their sisters, daughters, mothers, lovers, and friends deserve.
After drafting some lyrics on the back of my plane ticket, I decided that this song needed to be pop oriented and upbeat to attract more of a widespread audience so the message could reach as many people possible. After recording the vocal and piano tracks at a local studio, I collaborated with friend and producer Torna on the co-arrangement for the accompaniment. Finally, when I had the completed track, I worked alongside Anna Kotyza and John Chigas as co-directors for the music video. We agreed that the video should include relatable scenarios and address all guilty parties involved. This included girl on girl hate, the objectification of women in media, and the cruel expectations on young men to prove their masculinity by over sexualizing their female peers.
Since I have released the music video, I’ve been contacted by bright and driven women who share the same passion for gender equality. I am currently working alongside Sage Carson, an alum of the high school I currently attend, to bring educative discussions regarding bystander intervention, consent, and healthy masculinity to campus. Unfortunately, it is far too late to educate our youth about these topics once they reach college. A high-school sex-ed format that doesn’t focus on shame, but instead on truth, safety, and equality could potentially prevent some of these assaults.
About Madison Douglas: Madison Douglas is an aspiring singer/songwriter originally from West Virginia. She has performed at venues throughout the midwest and has opened for artists including Five For Fighting. She will be graduating from Interlochen Arts Academy in May and will be attending USC to study popular music in the fall of 2015.
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