FEMINIST FRIDAY: Country Music Duo Haley & Michaels Supporting #MeToo In Their New Music Video

Welcome to another edition of Feminist Friday, that part of our week where we get to gather around a handful of our favorite videos and share why we love them! This week our video line-up features artistic creativity of a few different kinds – dance, documentary, and music.

First up, the music video for country music duo Haley & Michaels’ ‘Me Too’ track, featuring the founding voice and face of the #metoo movement, Tarana Burke. We are experiencing a cultural breakthrough with the voices of many women rising above the noise to reclaim power, speak truth, and expose ugly norms that have existed for far too long.Sexual assault, harassment and intimidation affects so many people, that we need to create an environment where people feel safe and welcomed speaking up.

In the video below we hear Tarana speaking truth to power, sharing why the movement exists in between the musicians’ lyrics. We see a whole host of people, young and old, men, women, and youth raising their hands to say “me too” and let others know they are not alone. Music has always been an important conduit for change, and Haley & Michaels are lending their voices to this much-needed conversation.

“We were deeply impacted and inspired when we first experienced so many people bravely coming forward and saying, ‘Me Too’. We wanted to add our voices in the best way we knew how — through music. The spirit behind our song is healing, unity and empowerment,” the duo told Time.com.

Tarana Burke also shared why she chose to collaborate with the country music artists, at a time when she is being inundated with requests because of her activism. Despite not being familiar with the musicians initially, she had a very good reason for saying yes.

“They understand that this is a movement ultimately about healing and about centering survivors. I’m so excited about the potential for survivors around the world to be touched by this song! It’s a connector. It reinforces the truth — we’re not alone. It’s a movement,” she said. Watch the video below.

The second video is a trailer for Philadelphia-based Project Moshen Dance Company’s new show ‘Woman’. The organization was founded by artistic director Kelli Moshen in 2010 after graduating from the University of the Arts and enjoying a dancing career. The ‘Woman’ show is a nod to what we are seeing right now politically, socially and in the lives of people across America. Women are rising up and stepping into power. Each year the company chooses a theme for their home season show and focusing on women couldn’t have been more appropriate.

The show is a choreographed collection of women sharing their stories and what it means to be confident in themselves. According to a feature on Jewishexponent.com, the show includes themes of feminism, empowerment and the individuality of real-life women. Kelly says she was inspired by the strength of her own mother, who she described as “a strong, independent, hard working, beautiful woman who told me to always fight for what I want, be confident, and be myself, and for all the women in my life who have taught me to follow my dreams, stand up for what I believe in, and voice my opinion.”

There is emphasis on showcasing voices across the Jewish spectrum in Moshen’s shows, including this one, but Kelli points out the themes are relatable to anyone.

“We wanted to showcase that little girl’s dream has become a reality for her, and she is allowed to voice her opinions, she is allowed to run a corporation, she is allowed to be on top. And that doesn’t pinpoint one religion,” she said.

Wanting her shows to be “an outlet for people”, this all-female jazz ensemble premiered the show on April 13th, and to find more information about future show dates and where you can catch a performance, visit the Project Moshen website.

The final video in this week’s line-up is the trailer for ‘Afghan Cycles’, a feature documentary from filmmaker and director Sarah Menzies. ‘Afghan Cycles’ uses the bicycle to tell a story of women’s rights – human rights – and the struggles faced by Afghan women on a daily basis, from discrimination to abuse, to the oppressive silencing of their voices in all aspects of contemporary society. These women ride despite cultural barriers, despite infrastructure, and despite death threats, embracing the power and freedom that comes with the sport.

“I am so grateful for the relationship I’ve built with each of these women. As a filmmaker, I am honored that they have trusted me with their complex and passion driven story. Seeing their excitement for and dedication to this sport has made me look inward at what I’m passionate about, and how far I would go to pursue that passion. They have taken a lot of risks to follow their love of cycling. Those risks have culminated in making decisions for their future that a young woman should never have to make,” said Sarah in a press release.

‘Afghan Cycles’ follows members of the National Cycling Team in Kabul, and young riders in the Bamiyan region who use mountain bikes to commute to school and run errands. For all of them, the bicycle is a symbol of freedom. But sometimes, the danger and obstacles can prove too much, as we learn when one of the main characters flees to France to secure a better situation and future for herself and her family.

“What started as a cycling-centric film has evolved into a coming of age story as we’ve watched these young women grow up. It feels more important than ever before to tell this story now with the current political climate. As we have worked on this film, we have seen the situation in Afghanistan worsen, and through all of our characters, we get to see their struggles first hand, both in and out of country,” said the filmmaker.

Above all, the Afghan Cycles message is universal: “The women in this film represent the positive impact that sports can have in oppressive societies. Cycling has empowered these women to get around more freely and independently when they would otherwise have to rely on a man. This is not unique to Afghanistan. In fact, in many countries women do not have the freedom of mobility and are dependent on men to travel safely. This brave group of Afghan women are challenging that type of traditional thinking that is quite prevalent throughout the world, and by telling their story, we hope that it inspires more women to get on bicycles internationally,” said Sarah. Watch the trailer below.

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