Art School Jocks ‘Just A Gwen’

Olivia here. Every girl who has walked somewhere on their own will know the series of precautions we take to avoid danger. Wearing your hood up to look like as much as an amorphous blob as possible, clutching your keys between your knuckles to create a makeshift weapon, attaching a rape alarm to your keychain, or quickening your pace when you feel someone lurking behind you. You might make a phone call, real or imaginary, or use an app to allow your friends to track your progress. Leaving a party to a chorus of ‘text me when you’re home’ is standard practise, as is well meaning male friends offering to walk you home, safe in the knowledge that their presence is enough to deter would be cat-callers or attackers – don’t get me wrong, I am very grateful when this happens. But ‘safety in numbers’ is not the only thing at play here – walking with a man sends a signal to would be cat-callers or harassers; that you are ‘off limits’. In other words, you already belong to a different man. If you don’t believe that is the case, then speak to the women in your life and ask them if they have ever had to ‘play the boyfriend card’ to escape unwanted sexual attention from someone who doesn’t respond to a polite ‘no thanks’. It’s funny that, a lot of men in my life didn’t always believe that this kind of street harassment is so widespread, because it happens far less frequently when you are accompanied by a guy. I’ve never really been subject to unwanted advances when out and about with my partner, but when walking to and from my former workplace alone last year (a five minute walk up a main road), it became annoyingly frequent. As women, we are told from a young age to take extra precautions that our male counterparts are not – don’t walk anywhere alone, don’t get into a taxi alone, don’t go out at night, don’t wear short skirts out and about, don’t get drunk – all these things make you more vulnerable to attacks. The thing is, if we taught boys from a young age to treat women with respect, we wouldn’t have to say these things to girls – it’s degrading to suggest that men cannot control their urges to commit assault if they see a woman wearing a miniskirt, just as it is degrading to suggest that a woman’s choice of clothing could provoke an attack.  (And if you think women’s clothing is no longer an equality issue, just take a look at the Daily Mail’s now infamous ‘Legsit’ cover from a few days ago). This inequality is something that Atlanta pop band Art School Jocks know all too well, as demonstrated by their latest single ‘Just A Gwen‘. With lyrics like ‘carry your keys between your knuckles / you never know who’s trying to follow you home / smile back and say you’re sorry / you shouldn’t be out this late alone’  sung in lead guitarist and singer Dianna Settles grungy vocal, there’s . Guitar that is equal parts surf and grunge harks back to Riot Grrrl pioneers like Bikini Kill, albeit with a more languid delivery – it’s angry, no doubt about it, but it’s anger that’s dripping in sarcasm, faux sweetness, and boredom; how many times has she been told these things before? So next time you’re walking alone at night, stick this on and let your eyes roll so back into your head you can see your brain. Enjoy.

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