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Songs: Fat Was A Feminist Issue

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The purpose of the fight
I thought, for Women's Rights
Was to free a gender from being merely decoration
I thought that all those books said
You shouldn't judge a woman by the way that she looks
Equal Civil Rights are only half of Emancipation

But when I got into a paper shop
I'll see a copy of Men's Health
There's always some bloke in black and white
On the cover laughing to himself.
Or is he? Is he laughing at you and me
And our imperfect physique?
Has Body Fascism grown
A Y Chromosome?

And if you thought that
Fat was a feminist issue
Fat was a feminist issue
Fat was a feminist issue
That does not apply to men, then
Think again

Time was when a bloke
Needed a razor blade and a bar of soap
And would wonder at women's neuroses on the quiet
But now all that has changed
We're equally deranged
How many men here I wonder have been on a diet?

And the Fashionistas say
Finally we can make men's fashion 'cost-effective'
We'll send them to the Gym
Give them panic attacks about the state of their skin
It's another half a nation that we can turn anorexic"

And if you thought that
Fat was a feminist issue
Fat was a feminist issue
Fat was a feminist issue
That does not apply to men, then
Think again

If all you see are calories,
And what you're allowed for dinner
Don't be amazed if it's your brains
Not your waist that is getting thinner
We've all been duped by the pursuit
Of perfect pecs and six packs
Into the trap that women had
Been stuck inside forever

So let's burn our bras
And our membership cards
Of Top Shop and The Gym
Coming soon - The Bra For Him
We'll be trussed up soon enough
You mark my words

And if you thought that
Fat was a feminist issue
Fat was a feminist issue
Fat was a feminist issue
That does not apply to men, then
Think again

Published by Wipe Out Music Publishing

As stated elsewhere, a lot of the earlier-written songs from this album are based on reading things in magazines. I didn't have much to do at work at the time, and so to relieve the boredom I spent nearly every lunchtime mooching around town. I'd usually wander into WH Smiths to read the new magazines, and whilst doing this I'd noticed that all Men's Health-type magazines seemed to have men stripped to the torso on the cover, laughing.

One day I was walking home from work, and had just dropped into the shop on the corner (see FACTMAP) to buy a pint of milk (see "Easily Impressed") and I saw a particularly SMIRKSOME cover of one of these magazines on their racks (the same racks I'd envisaged us posing against). "I wonder what he's actually laughing about?" I thought, and suddenly I KNEW. I RAN home as WORDS suddenly bubbled into my BRANE, and managed to get home and talk them into the microphone before they disappeared.

With the first verse or so written, the rest followed gradually - as with so very many of my songs, the words were POWERED by Things I Kept Saying, and one of my favourite Pub Themes at the time was How Men Are Selling THEMSELVES Out. For instance, all the women I knew complained about the fact that getting their hair done costs about 10 times as much as it does for a man. I'd always point out that that's because most men would refuse to pay more than a fiver for a haircut - as long as you come out with shorter hair than you went in with most chaps would be perfectly content. This also, I reckon, explains why men's clothing is so much cheaper than women's, as most men just wouldn't buy socks that cost more than a quid each.

Or, rather, that used to be the way it was. I now have friends who have paid FIFTY POUNDS just for a haircut. OK, they live in That London, but there's perfectly good Five Pound Barbers all over the place. For years the Media have been talking about "men's grooming" and "men taking better care of themselves" as if it's something we should be ASHAMED of ourselves for not doing, when what they're actually promoting is men falling for the same self-criticising paranoia shite that women have been inflicted with for centuries. It makes me angry to see a generation of men quite happily volunteering to be oppressed by the same narrow social conditions that our mothers and grandmothers fought for so long to throw off, and my ANNOYANCE at this slowly forced the words out. I bet I'm right about the Bra For Men too.

The original version of the song was fairly normal, with a similar chord structure (yes, it HAS got one) as the finished version in the verses, but DIFFERENT bits for the verse and that section at the end. I tried it out In A Live Environment on January 19th 2001, Upstairs at the Garage, and it didn't exactly go down a storm - in fact the future Joy Of My Heart emailed me afterwards singling that one out as being the weakest song of the night. I still liked the words though, and at home over the next few weeks i TOYED with the idea of taking out the guitar and just basing it around a bass line...

THUS, when it came time to present it to THE BAND I had a vague sort of idea of how it'd go. I played my bass line idea to Rob and we were AWAY - within minutes, JAZZ was being played! I'd planned to have the structure change, with choruses and aforementioned End Bit, but it sounded so GRATE as it was that I adapted the vocals to fit, and the band JAZZED on. We were practicing for Pop-A-Go-Go 2001, and we liked this song so much we played it live for the first time at that festival a couple of days later (17th February 2001, chronology completists!).

There were a few more practices after that before it came to recording time, and as we played this song at least once a practice (as it was FUN), we found ourselves in the UNUSUAL position of actually knowing a song BEFORE we went in to record it! This really helped, and the version on the album is (i think) Take 3 - take one was just warming up, and take two was stopped for being "not groovy enough." It, uniquely, features a LIVE VOCAL.

Tom PLUCKED his way through shortly afterwards, and then some weeks later Rob came in with his trumpet and his CURRY POT, which he used as a mute. Sounds good, doesn't it? This song also features my only foray into Sound Mixing - always an eager student, I'd often plug Kev for INFO about how the sound desk works, and during the mixing of "Fat Was A Feminist Issue" he said "Go on then, have a go on this one," while he nipped to the loo. EXCITED, but AFEARED the only thing I could work out was the Echo Control, so I stuck tons of echo onto the final trumpet solo. It was FRIGHTENING though, and I didn't want to do it again.

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