Lily Allen Says She's a Menstrual Music Pioneer


British chanteuse Lily Allen has a new album coming out next month. But she says getting the word out hasn’t been without its snags, since radio stations won’t play her song “Sheezus” because it has the word “period” in it.

Here’s what Allen said of the travails of her new album (also called— sigh — “Sheezus”), and how The Man just isn’t ready for her brand of punk (which apparently isn’t dead; it’s just been sitting out this gym class because it’s menstruating). From The Guardian,

“It wasn’t [the label]’s fault,” Allen said. “I would have liked to see [the song] Sheezus as a single, but it’s not up-tempo enough. It’s also got the word ‘period’ in it, which is really offensive to people – even though half the world has to deal with it once a month.”
“I think that ‘period’ is going to be my ‘surfboard’,” she said, referring to controversial lyrics in Beyoncé’s recent hit Drunk in Love. “It’s groundbreaking! I’m proud of that … People will wear sweatshirts to my concerts that are just going to say ‘period’.”

It seems strange that, in 2014, a radio station would object so much to an incredibly sanitized word for a woman’s monthly bloodletting that they wouldn’t play a song on the radio. Before old white people knew what “skeet” meant, you couldn’t turn on the radio without hearing a word that’s slang for ejaculating. Music is chock full of references to sexual intercourse and oral sex and sex in the butt and the song “My Neck, My Back” came out like more than a decade ago. We should be bored with most references to functions that occur in and around the pelvis.

Further, Allen is not the first prominent pop songstress to mention periods on an album. In 1992, PJ Harvey released Dry which contained the song “Happy & Bleeding” which is literally about periods also on Dry, another period anthem called “Sheela na gig” (a song which, by the way, charted at #9 in the US and was a critical darling on both sides of the pond). In 1993, Ani DiFranco’s “Blood in the Boardroom” provided a detailed account of menstruating on a white chair in a business setting. Bands in the Riot Grrl movement, while they didn’t get tons of mainstream radio play, frequently discussed menstruation. Tori Amos’s cover album Strange Little Girls contained a track that covered Slayer’s “Raining Blood,” but with a decidedly menstrual bent (and the liner notes for her “American Doll Posse” album featured a Bible-toting Tori decked out in a sequined dress standing in front of an idyllic ranch house, blood running down the inside of her legs and staining her shoes). Janet Jackson’s “Feedback” was released in 2007 and contained the line “Cause my swag is serious/Something heavy like a first-day period.” And the beloved American band Tacocat released a song called “Crimson Wave” literally two months ago. Either Lily Allen doesn’t pay attention to what other female musicians are doing and have done or she’s laying claim to something that she knows isn’t hers. While normalizing the experiences of women around the world is certainly an admirable goal for a musician, alluding to menstruation in music is about as groundbreaking as playing in a sandbox.

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