A look at a weekend of focussed protest and outrage…
The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that made abortion in the United States a federal right, sparked a global outcry. Women and queer people’s bodies and lives hang in the balance of legislative decisions, with states now permitted to outlaw abortion as dictated by religious scrupulosity and slanted moral codes.
Musicians have joined the chorus of anger and disbelief. “Fuck the Supreme Court. Fuck America!” said Phoebe Bridgers during her Friday Glastonbury set, the day the decision was announced. “All these irrelevant old motherfuckers telling us what to do with our fucking bodies.”
The same day, Pyramid stage headliner Billie Eilish echoed Bridgers’ concern, “It’s a really dark day for women in the US,” she said, before playing a heartwrenching rendition of her 2021 pop ballad, ‘Your Power’.
On Saturday, Olivia Rodrigo invited Lily Allen on stage to perform Allen’s 2009 single, ‘Fuck You’. “I’m heartbroken by what happened in America yesterday,” said Rodrigo before performing the song. “So many women and girls are going to die because of this. I want to dedicate the next song to the Supreme Court… who don’t give a shit about freedom.”
Rodrigo then curtly addressed the five justices of the Supreme Court who voted to overturn the ruling; “we hate you.”
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On Sunday’s Pyramid stage headline set, Kendrick Lamar wrapped up a career-defining set with the song “Savior”. At the song’s close, he added the spine-tingling chant, “They judge me, they judge Christ, Godspeed women’s rights”.
Meanwhile, on the Twittersphere, Lizzo revealed she was putting money where it matters. She pledged 500,000 dollars to pro-choice organisations Planned Parenthood and Abortion Funds which was matched by Live Nation, achieving an incredible 1 million dollar donation.
Taylor Swift – who lives in Tennessee, one of the southern states that are triggering immediate bans—tweeted that she was “terrified”; “After so many decades of people fighting for women’s rights to their own bodies, today’s decision has stripped us of that.”
Even non-US musicians spoke out: “…because you’re not an American citizen does not mean the overturning of Roe V Wade is none of your business,” tweeted Charlie XCX. “I can’t believe I grew up thinking the USA was the best place on earth,” tweeted Zara Larsson.
The key to securing rights is to break any stigma associated with it and establish abortion as a health right that women should be able to access with ease.
But that right is clouded by skewed judgements and misinformation spread by predominately male, conservative lawmakers, who prefer to point fingers at individuals than empathise with their realities and life choices.
With its massive audiences and great reach, pop activism plays a great part in debunking religiously-stained prejudice and steering the narrative to underscore the importance of reproductive rights and bodily autonomy.
Bridgers had an abortion last year and has spoken openly about it. Talking to the Guardian, she said her activism “doesn’t mean you’re forcing everybody to have the same opinions as you”, but rather make people “figure it out.”
It’s absolutely that. Their voices will encourage others to look beyond the Supreme Court’s decision and question it. Whether it be a tweet, a lyric, a donation, or getting a Glastonbury crowd of thousands to scream ‘Fuck America’, everything helps – and must continue until women and queer people across the world are free to choose.
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Words: Charis McGowan
Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels
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