October 13, 2015

LP: Childbirth - Women's Rights

Childbirth hilariously flips the script on the addictive Women's Rights.

They were otherworldly apparitions, sporting sunglasses and draped in pale blue hospital gowns. The words “Cool Slut”, “Cool Mom” and “Cool Dad” were scrawled in Sharpie on their hands. The concert was crowded. Even while I was standing on the tips of my toes, it was difficult to see the band in full. Hovering between the stage and me were a gaggle of high school boys. They were clad in Urban Outfitters ironic bro-tanks™ and backwards hats, and they heckled between each song. During a break in the music, a boy shouted “Hey! You’re hot. Play some Nirvana!” Lead singer and guitarist Julia Shapiro was unperturbed. She smiled and responded nonchalantly “fuck you” and continued playing, uninterrupted by the boisterous bros.

Seattle-based band Childbirth consists of Julia Shapiro on lead vocals and guitar, Bree McKenna on bass and vocals, and Stacy Peck on drums. They could be considered a "supergroup" as Shapiro is also in Chastity Belt, McKenna is in Tacocat, and Peck is in Pony Time. While all of these bands dabble in feminist topics (see Chastity Belt’s “Cool Slut,” Tacocat’s “Hey Girl” and Pony Time’s ode to Kathleen Hanna) Childbirth takes a humorous, yet political, approach to contemporary women’s issues. Childbirth’s new LP Women’s Rights was released by on Suicide Squeeze earlier in October. One immediate standout is the comical "Tech Bro". It opens with an addictive guitar riff and Peck’s bubbling drums. Shapiro wails, “Tech Bro Tech Bro/ Take me to your condo” and “I’ll let you explain feminism to me/ Tech Bro Tech Bro, if I can use your HD TV.” With the recent exponential expansion of Amazon in Seattle, many neighborhoods have been transformed into cookie-cutter condo complexes. The Capitol Hill neighborhood, an area that has housed numerous creatives and was the epicenter of Seattle’s queer community, is now the Amazonian empire’s “condo paradise,” riddled with $12 pressed juices, bro bars, and glistening new condominiums for the wealthy tech bros. Childbirth also takes jabs at the stereotypical twenty-something dude’s profile on Tinder. "Siri, Open Tinder" begins with McKenna’s upbeat bass line and soon follows with a cadence of crunchy guitar chords. Shapiro sings repeatedly on the chorus, “Siri, Open Tinder” with various descriptions of various Tinder profiles (“Chacos / Swipe Left!” and “Married Couple / Swipe Right!”). A final hilarious track is “Breast Coast (Hangin’ Out)", a parody of the beachy, boy-centric surf rock songs that are about unattainable men. Shapiro jokes, “Hangin’ out, with my boyfriend / I like him ‘cause he’s hot.” 

Throughout their album, Childbirth subverts the typical narrative of women in punk. They create the image of a woman who is her own agent. She is a bundle of contradictions: lackadaisical, independent and farcically feminist with an “I don’t care” punk attitude. Nonetheless, their message is important. Within the past two years, Seattle has changed immensely. The growth of Amazon has molded many neighborhoods and has quickened the pace of the shifting climate of the city. Nonetheless, there has been an upsurge in feminist activism, art and music (Seattle is home to activists and writers such as Lindy West, Ijeoma Oluo and the #ShoutYourAbortion campaign, as well as many feminist-focused bands). Growing up in Seattle, as a young, queer feminist, I was continually enlivened by the work of artists, activists, writers and musicians in my city. I hope that these movements, both political and artistic, continue to grow and to inspire other young people to question, challenge, and create…as well as have a good time.


Listen to Childbirth on bandcamp.

Emma May is a sophomore at Barnard College studying Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies. She likes pop punk, comics, and Haribo.