• Righteous sounds and reproductive justice : the influence of Ani DiFranco's music for reproductive rights activists

      Domanski, Anna Lise.; Social Justice and Equity Studies Program (Brock University, 2008-05-21)
      In this thesis, I explore how the folk-rock music of Ani DiFranco has influenced the activist commitments, sensibilities, and activities of reproductive rights activists. My interest in the relation of popular music to social movements is informed by the work of Simon Frith (1987, 1996a, 1996b), Rob Rosenthal (2001), and Ann Savage (2003). Frith argues that popular music is an important contributor to personal identity and the ways that listeners see the world. Savage (2003) writes that fans develop a unique relationship with feminist/political music, and Rosenthal (2001) argues that popular music can be an important factor in building social movements. I use these arguments to ask what the influence of Ani DiFranco's music has been for reproductive rights activists who are her fans. I conducted in-depth interviews with ten reproductive rights activists who are fans of Ani DiFranco's music. All ten are women in their twenties and thirties living in Ontario or New York. Each has been listening to DiFranco's music for between two and fifteen years, and has considered herself a reproductive rights activist for between eighteen months and twenty years. I examine these women's narratives of their relationships with Ani DiFranco's music and their activist experience through the interconnected lenses of identity, consciousness, and practice. Listening to Ani DiFranco's music affects the fluid ways these women understand their identities as women, as feminists, and in solidarity with others. I draw on Freire's (1970) understanding of conscientization to consider the role that Ani's music has played in heightening women's awareness about reproductive rights issues. The feeling of solidarity with other (both real and perceived) activist fans gives them more confidence that they can make a difference in overcoming social injustice. They believe that Ani's music encourages productive anger, which in turn fuels their passion to take action to make change. Women use Ani's music deliberately for energy and encouragement in their continued activism, and find that it continues to resonate with their evolving identities as women, feminists, and activists. My study builds on those of Rosenthal (2001) and Savage (2003) by focusing on one artist and activists in one social movement. The characteristics of Ani DiFranco, her fan base, and the reproductive rights movement allow new understanding of the ways that female fans who are members of a female-dominated feminist movement interact with the music of a popular independent female artist.