Braids – “Miniskirt”
Initially, I didn’t want to project too much onto this song, but damn did Braids just release one of the most spine chilling feminist anthems of the new year. “Miniskirt” is the first single off of the Montreal-based band’s third LP Deep In The Iris, which will be released later this year on Arbutus records.
There comes a time in every modern woman’s life when you realize that there are a lot of individuals, a lot of men, who think that you’re a good-looking piece of flesh. Nothing more. Some will refer to it as their “sexual awakening,” but I refer to it as “the horrifying realization that you’re vulnerable” — it’s the first time a stranger tells you that you look nice on public transit or asks for your number unsolicited, the first time a man tries to follow you home. I remember this moment and practically every moment thereafter because these seemingly small acts of violence promote the most terrifying feeling that there is, the kind of discomfort that coats your bones and makes your insides capsize. It’s something you try to smirk off, but there’s always an indignant anger, and it always lingers.
“Miniskirt” is a song about all of the things that make being a woman on this earth seemingly impossible on the best of days. It’s not emoting on the surface level with sob stories about the menstrual cycle and giving birth; it spews the frustrations that we internalize and accept as normal complications of our “still evolving society.” Boys will be boys. It’s not subtle, and thank god for that. Raphaelle Standell inaugurates the track with her russet-tinged voice, “It’s not like I’m feeling much different than a woman my age years ago/ Liberated is what you wanna call it, how about unfairly choked?/ Cause I know some just see my body/ And every girl I know at some point stopped eating / I am not a man hater/ I enjoy them like cake.” Standell inhales sharply and shortly before she expels the following words, “But in my position I’m the slut/ I’m the bitch/ I’m the whore/ The one that you hate.”
The song is anthemic, made to be relatable, but the lyrics begin to narrow once the beat picks up and becomes deafening. Standell’s words aren’t deftly yielded tiny knifes, she’s taking an axe to whoever or whatever inspired this outpouring. He’s referenced toward the end, and in fear of butchering her meaning, of re-writing her words into a more cut-and-dry storyline, I will just let those lyrics sit here: “I know what it’s like/ To have everything/ Taken away from me and my family/ For there was once a man/ Proposing to love all of us/ Instead he is full of hate/ Towards himself/ Towards his bait/ And everything he touches is for him/ My mother’s soul he devours with a grin/ And when she finds out/ The child he has taken/ Confronts him/ Stakes him/ Breaks him.” There are songs that take your breath away and leave you feeling empty, completely unaware of your surroundings, resigned to an artist’s willingness to share a tiny shard of themselves. “Miniskirt” is one of those songs. Listen to it below.
Deep In The Iris is out 4/28 via Arbutus.