Today is the 20 year anniversary of the album ‘SPICE’ one that shaped my life. While a lot of people would find it odd that I’m equating the Spice Girls with feminism (particularly after those comments by Geri Halliwell about ‘bra burning lesbians back in 2007), but hear me out. I worshipped the Spice Girls as a little girl, from the age of two I would watch their videos on the TV and beg my Mum to put the tape on again and again. I remember watching them switch the Oxford Street lights on on TV and had the dolls, the clothes and knew the words to every single song. It was more than pop music, because by the time I was five I was shouting Girl Power at just about anyone who would listen.
This morning I drove to work to Spice, listening to songs the reminded me of my childhood and thinking it about what these songs mean to me now and I was surprised. I was gobsmacked at how different these girls were. While I might not have completely understood the lyrics as a little girl, as a grown woman I was proud. Wannabe spoke about friends being more important than boyfriends, 2 become 1 was about safe sex, Love Thing was about women not being interested in a serious relationship and just being themselves, Mama about the connection with their mothers and Who Do You Think You Are about the industry. These weren’t soppy love songs or about women focusing on being sexy and nothing else. As I grew I listened to their other albums and the messages were similar.
I knew that Girl Power meant that I was equal to the boys, I could kick butt. I never felt like I was less than any boy or that I couldn’t do a job because I was a girl. The Spice Girls started that for me, that belief and while I do find Geri’s comments troublesome I understand her resistance to the word. Hell, I was against calling myself a feminist and the label of feminism wasn’t appealing. The interview says:
” OK, concedes Halliwell, maybe she is a feminist: but she has a few distinct caveats. One objection seems to be that she fears feminism will emasculate and demoralise men: but her bigger problem is its image. “It’s about labelling. For me feminism is bra-burning lesbianism. It’s very unglamorous. I’d like to see it rebranded. We need to see a celebration of our femininity and softness.”
Something which I’m sure a lot of us have felt about portrayals, particularly looking at how feminism was viewed in the 90s. Either way watching them and listening to their positive messages about what it means to be a girl and rely on each other and I truly think it shaped who I am today and I think they helped a lot of other little girls too.