Margo Price, Fleur East, and more musicians on what it means to be a woman in 2023

On International Women’s Day, Roisin O’Connor puts a question to musicians Margo Price, Fleur East, Lady Blackbird, Sharleen Spiteri and more

Wednesday 08 March 2023 12:20 GMT
What does it mean to be a woman in 2023? Musicians share their thoughts
What does it mean to be a woman in 2023? Musicians share their thoughts (Christine Soloman/Alysse Gafkjen/Julian Bond/Charlotte Ellis)

Today is International Women’s Day (8 March). The global event commemorates the achievements of women and girls around the world, raises awareness of discrimination, and campaigns for gender parity.

The Independent is celebrating a diverse range of powerful women, with exclusive pieces by Tracey Emin, Annie Lennox, Emma Thompson, Joan Collins, Jordan Gray, Bianca Jagger, Akshata Murty and more.

It has also unveiled its list of 50 of the most influential women of the last 12 months.

This evening at 6.30pm, Maya Oppenheim (Women’s Correspondent, The Independent), Dr Charlotte Proudman (“the Feminist Barrister” at Goldsmith Chambers), Emily Carver (Head of Media, Institute of Economic Affairs), Yvonne John (Author), and Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu (Political and Women’s Rights Activist), will be discussing what it means to be a woman in 2023.

We put that same question to a number of musicians, including Grammy-nominated artist Margo Price, who delivered a powerful poem in response, and pop singer Fleur East.

What It Means to Be (a woman in 2023), by Margo Price

I’ve got new skin to raise hell in

My mere existence is rebellion

I will not make myself smaller

I will not be afraid to age and grow old and wise

I will not get in the kitchen and make you a goddamn sandwich

I hope I get arrested for civil disobedience

In the name of my daughter

I will not go quietly into the night

I will not go without a fight

I’ve got new skin to raise hell in

In the year 2023, being a woman has never been more complex. Women are fighting for their bodily autonomy, for our freedom to exist. We need the voices and support of our brothers and non binary compatriots to help lift us up. It feels like we are sliding backwards. In Tennessee, they’re stripping away a woman’s right to choose what is right for her. They’re forcing birth on young girls who’ve been raped. They’re not putting the mothers health in the forefront. They’re making it illegal to dress in drag and taking away so many freedoms when hypocritically, somehow freedom is all they preach. Words fail me some days, but we don’t stop pushing for what’s right. We brush ourselves off and keep going. “Women have always had to work twice as hard to get what we want but twice the work means twice the practice and maybe that just makes us stronger in the end.”

Margo Price (Alysse Gafkjen)

Fleur East

They ask:

When are you planning to have kids?

Do you think you can have a successful career and be a good Mother at the same time?

Do you like cooking and cleaning?

Why are you so emotional?

When are you getting married?

Why are you single?

We ask:

Why do I have to update you on my womb status?

Why can’t we do it all?

Do I have to fit inside your stereotypical binary box?

Must I defend my tears?

Did I miss the invisible lifetime clock? Am I not punctual enough for you?

The real question is: when will these questions not be questions at all?

Fleur East (Dawbell)

Lady Blackbird

To be a woman in 2023 for me means to stand in your power individually and collectively. We are multidimensional, unbreakable, fearless innovators, teachers, mothers, sisters, daughters and partners. We are empathetic, badass, beautiful, strong, awe-inspiring, inspirational beings.

Katie Melua

2023 is my first year as a mum. I’ve always been obsessed with my work and the idea of the balancing act scared me; I never liked doing things in halves. But when I looked long enough inside, I knew I had no choice, becoming a parent meant everything. And it’s not that music has become less, it’s that I have to learn to balance raising my boy with my own ambitions. I couldn’t do it without my mum. Almost every morning she comes to my house and wants to help out. I’m a mixture of guilt and gratitude. So I wanna champion my mum, for showing me the resilience and tenderness that’s required to be responsible in this new way. I’m seeing a whole other level of what it means to be a woman now.

Katie Melua (Dawbell)

Sharleen Spiteri of Texas

I was asked the question what it is to be a woman in 2023, almost like there was going to be some kind of groundbreaking answer! Well the truth is, the question alone winds me up as I really don’t believe that many things have changed in all the years I’ve been one. We are constantly being told at the moment how much things have moved on for women. Our rights, our opportunities, our safety, our work place. Would all the ladies that believe it’s changed, please stand up, please stand up, yes there is a slim shady in there!!!

Anna Lapwood (Charlotte Ellis)

Anna Lapwood

I think being a woman in 2023 involves a fundamental tension. You can be proud of your identity and want to use it to encourage and perhaps inspire others whilst simultaneously not wanting to be defined by it. In my case, a large part of my career has been spent trying to encourage more women to take up the organ and to be proud to #PlayLikeAGirl, and yet I still find myself longing for the day when my gender doesn’t come up in a discussion about my music-making. Ultimately, I think we’re all hoping for a time when gender becomes almost irrelevant, but we’re not there yet.

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