Aretha Franklin, Defiance at 3:30

There is no U.S. feminist coming-of-age without Aretha Franklin’s voice. “Respect” either comes to you randomly & is later sought in times of dire frantic need, or is delivered to you from another with full supportive intent at the right, all-is-wrong moment.

Whatever the situation, whether it’s the school incident when your gut defines patriarchy years before a dictionary, prepping for public confrontation while dosing up your scarlet lip (or muttering “fuck red lipstick” while straightening your tie) or icing a swollen cheek with one hand while calling a locksmith with the other, there is usually a bathroom, and there is always the mirror.

You stand before it, confronting self-worth in a world that requires each one of us to pick up the pieces over, over, and over again. Then you play the song & she is there, literally spelling out the way forward. And in a mere 2:29 you lift your face once more, staring into new eyes with the only choice she’s given you: DEFY.

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