Episode 3.6 Dismantling the Patriarchy Has to be a Vocal Game with Clayre Sessoms

Content warning for discussions of sexual assault and transphobia.

Like so many good things, this episode started one way and ended up another. I invited Clayre to chat about singing, and we ended up talking about community and harm and silence and what we do (or don’t do) to feel like we belong. Oh, and we talk about performative allyship, which is so complex a topic I could probably make an entire season about it, but in the meantime here are some LINKS:

  • There are about a million things to read about the complexities of allyship and performative allyship, including work on the shortcomings of symbolic gestures like safety pins, rejections of the idea of allyship altogether, and this excellent episode of Code Switch on “Safety-Pin Solidarity” which includes the priceless phrase “those getting the allyship done to them”
  • And since we’re also talking about singing in a group and how great it is, here’s a piece about singing in a group and how great it is
  • We don’t talk about this much, but I allude to Sara Ahmed’s work on complaint, specifically thatWhen you expose a problem you pose a problem. “
  • I wasn’t sure what to post on the topic of the asking of invasive questions, and how for some people sharing your story becomes the cost of admission, and then I remembered this excerpt from Layli Long Soldier’s incredible poem “WHEREAS”:
    • WHEREAS we ride to the airport in a van they swivel their necks and shoulders around to speak to me sugar and lilt in their voices something like nurses their nursely kindness through my hair then engage me as comrades in a fight together. Well what we want to know one lady asks is why they don’t have schools there? Her outrage empathy her furrowed brow. There are schools there I reply. Grade schools high schools colleges. But why aren’t there any stores there? There are stores there. Grocery stores convenience stores trading posts whatever what-have-you I explain but it’s here I recognize the break. It’s here we roll along the pavement into hills of conversation we share a ride we share a country but live in alternate nations and here I must tell them what they don’t know or, should I?
Read Transcription

The podcast theme song is “Mesh Shirt” by Mom Jeans off their album “Chub Rub.” Listen to the whole album here or learn more about them here.  Clayre’s theme song is “Duetto Buffo di Due Gatti.” It’s this version specifically,  but you should probably always go watch this video of small boys singing it.

Secret Feminist Agenda is recorded and produced by Hannah McGregor on the traditional and unceded territories of the Squamish, Musqueam, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations.

4 thoughts on “Episode 3.6 Dismantling the Patriarchy Has to be a Vocal Game with Clayre Sessoms

  1. Reblogged this on Morgane Oger and commented:
    “Performative allyship is a whole kettle of fish”
    HANNAH MCGREGOR invites Clayre to chat about singing, and ends up talking about cis-hetero-normativity, community, harm, and silence.
    They touch on what we do (or don’t do) to feel like we belong and the price we pay to be allowed in.

    Oh, and talk about performative allyship, which is so complex a topic on its own.


  2. Thanks for the open, honest talk, Hannah and Clayre. I am sorry that you’re always being put in the position of educator, Clayre, because that really does sound exhausting. I have so many feels about this podcast that I don’t even know where to start. One of the things that keeps me from getting more involved in the leadership of our chorus is that I feel like women should be sticking up for each other and making each other feel more comfortable, not enforcing preconceived notions of “how women should look” upon each other. I was never forced to wear horrid false eyelashes when I was in a mixed men’s and women’s chorus!


  3. Another very moving episode! You’ve created such a safe space to speak, listen, and think. Clayre was able to speak so openly and honestly about the problems with allies and the assumptions that are made about people all the time in regards to their gender but also trans people. It is so much easier to think about sexual assault in terms of cisgendered women but there are so many people of all kinds who are affected by sexual assault and they are not being acknowledged or supported. It needs to change and what you’re doing to create a space where these things can be talked about without the need for censorship is so important.


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