I Speak Because I Can

For anyone that knows me, they know that my music taste involves only a couple of requirements: a female singer who sings about womanhood through/with a unique voice and whose poetry is the emphasis of the work.

While these very listable qualities make up the bulk of my music, I believe there is a more intangible quality that draws me to these singers—something healing. It is not new, but rather remembered—as if I have only lost the knowledge shared.

In the deciphering of the sounds and contents of feminism, there is a greater, more soulful, understanding of life that reaches for a Feminine wisdom, and not only finds it, but experiences its power. I call this musical category a sort of "feminist spirituality."

And in aiming to collect and organize these artists into a cohesive healing center, I have begun to explore the works of those that would mark this genre. This post is the first, of what I hope to be many, that will incorporate the lyrics and concepts of healing artists. That is to say that their creations are opportunities for all to nurture a feminine love and depth.

This first artist is Laura Marling on her 2010 I Speak Because I Can. Exploring the resiliency and responsibility of womanhood, the album dances within the sounds of traditional English folk, as Marling guides us through a woman’s melancholy and fight for freedom.

In songs like “Rambling Man,” of which best captures her acute awareness of how patriarchy operates and oppresses (teaching us to hate ourselves and our bodies), she sings, “Let it always be known that I was who I am.” As she surrenders to a man she knows will hurt her in this same song (because, as alluded to, ultimately all men will), she is aware that to “sit here and weep,” would be worse. In her own way, she fights.

“Made By Maid” takes this silencing even further as themes of love, pregnancy, and motherhood tell the story of a woman pleading for man’s humanity to return. She cries, “But can they hear a babe after all these days/Or have they forgot what it was that they made,” as she loses the love of not only a father and lover, but her own son, and, ultimately, self.

In “What He Wrote,” a man asks her for healing when “[she is] broken too.” In “I Speak Because I Can,” a husband leaves his wife who “cooked the meals a[s] he got the life. And now [she’s] just out for the rest of [her] time.”

These forms of loss are so distinctly female. They not only deal with the hardships of women, but the complexities and dualities that come in emotional response. What are the lines between obligation and desire? objectification and empowered sexuality? mother and lover? praise and guilt? Marling, in the end, isn’t sure.

In fact, in her album, she reassures us that it's ok to not know—to not take action. Though feminist in nature, she is teaching us that these deep wounds we carry, extending beyond our own generation and entering, even into those of the past, is part of the experience of the Feminine Archetype. We can choose to embrace the hurt and hold her—care for her in the way we would a child. For while we must seek change, and pursue it, that time in between is crucial for honoring the facets of ourselves that truly matter.

In this, Marling is the Maiden as she is still learning the difference between desire and desirability, and stumbling through what it means to be a Mother and Crone. She concludes, “My life is a candle and a wick/You can't put it out but you can't break it down/In the end, we are waiting to be lit.”

This collection of moving songs can be witnessed as exactly this: an inevitable confrontation with the passionate, powerful, and decisive woman inside all of us—the one waiting to be ignited so that her needs become demands to a world so persistently attempting to break her down. So, yes, "speak because you can," but also speak to live in alignment, in joy, in creativity, and ultimately, in womanhood.

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