14 Ibeyi: Ash

Sick of ‘Strong Women’


Don’t you just hate Strong Women?

Not strong women, I’ve got nothing against women who are strong, fair dos to them. I’m sure there are plenty of strong women that I really like. There are just as likely to be a lot of strong women that I simply can’t stand. Human beings are very complex beings, I couldn’t simply group them under a single adjective and know enough about them to profess any strong feelings toward them. I wouldn’t be able to say I love garrulous men, or hate sticky women*. Real people are far more complex than that.


No, I mean the trope of Strong Women.

  • “Come and see this new movie!” the studios will shout “The protagonist is such a strong woman!”
  • Channel 4 will herald its new sitcom ‘Blimey!’ with the pitch of “Sparks fly when the Paul- a shy, witty, self-conscious but kindhearted eternally single guy working in a video game shop- rents out his spare room to Alexa, a strong woman! Will they?? Won’t they??? We know that you will… tune in this Friday at 11!!!”
  • A new movie, ‘Unfettered Fangs’, will be heralded for its male cast, who are such a successful display of the many different personality types that might emarge during an invasion of alien zombie vampires. Paule faces it with sceptical sarcasm, soon turning into delusional refusal to accept. Granthumb’s abusive childhood renders him originally frozen with terror and unable to form bonds with his comrades, until an underlying need to feel accepted allows him to cautiously build bridges. And Zaranko- oh boy, Zaranko!- he is all macho bravado and bullishness, but we eventually learn he is overcompensating for the hurt that he has felt inside since his mother died, and all he allows himself to know now is destructive nihlism


          and it takes the affection shown to him by his fellow survivors to convince him to           allow himself to feel love again. Oh, and there’s also Clair: she’s a stong female.

  • Look at Angelina’s Lara Croft up there: you can tell she’s a strong woman can’t you? Can you? Meh, whatever, she’s got a cracking arse, ain’t she?

We don’t allow women to have characters anymore. We pretend to ourselves that we do, but we don’t. Even in 2018** women can be two things: They can be a Strong Woman, which is shorthand for ‘a woman who does stuff’. Or they can just be a normal woman, y’know, doing her nails, nagging her husband, doing the dishes, having periods, all that shit.



Han Solo is a pretty ‘strong man’, isn’t he? I’d say John McClane is a pretty ‘strong man’ too. Charles Darwin must have been a very ‘strong man’ to have stuck to his principles and invented dinosaurs (or something) despite widespread doubt. Gandhi, with all those principles and salty walks and shit, was definitely a strong man! They’re never described as such though. Partly because we know that, fictional or not, they are actually very complex characters with many facets to their make up. And also because they’re men, so obviously they’re strong! It’s only worth mentioning a feature that isn’t expected: you saying that you saw a chicken lay an egg is barely worth mentioning, but if you saw a Dyson vacuum cleaner lay an egg, I’m rushing to take a look!

So that’s what we mean when we men say someone’s a ‘Strong Woman’: we mean they’re a egg laying vacuum cleaner.



We use the shorthand Strong Woman because we can’t really comprehend that the complexities of a female mind might be rather close to that of one with a penis. This narrow mindedness also means men consider any art by women as being naturally inferior. Sure, they can write their Bridget Joneses and their Mills and Boons and make their sweet pop songs about how they will always love us (because, God bless them, but they do love us men so much, don’t they?! Get a bit clingy*** sometimes, actually…) but can’t really tell us anything really meaningful about the human experience can they? And anyway, even if they started trying to, they’d just get their period halfway through and have to stop.

Lili Loofbourow wrote an essential piece for The Guardian which I’m just going to stop cribbing from and quote now:

“We imagine them as small and careful, or petty and domestic, or vain, or sassy, or confessional. We might expect them to be sentimental or melodramatic, or even – in the days of Transparent and Girls – provocative, unflattering and exhibitionist. But we don’t expect them to be experimental, and we don’t expect them to be great. We have not yet learned to see within female ugliness the possibility of transcendent art”



Ibeyi are obviously both strong women. Or maybe they’re not. Maybe they’re both as weak as tea bags thrown into the Thames. Maybe they both have brittle bones and can’t stand up unaided. Maybe they can only eat cold tomato soup through a straw. I have no idea, I don’t really care. It makes absolutely no difference to the product they have created, nor does the fact they are both almost impossibly beautiful.

‘Ash’ is transcendent art. It is experimental. It is most definitely great.



I greatly enjoyed the band’s debut in 2015, but the progress and evolution that’s evident on their second album is astonishing. Whereas that first album was a atmospheric and introspective affair, here it’s big, it’s howling outwards and it is fucking angry! It is an absolute near masterpiece of a record, and one of the best created by human beings in 2017.

Ibeyi effortlessly leap into the A league****


Age: 23

Album Number: 2 (+6)

Album Length: 39 minutes (+14)

Very Good Songs: 0

Brilliant Songs: 12 (+120)

AMAZING Songs: 0

% of Album Worthwhile: 100




Love it


Previous Entries: 2015 No.24


Meta Critic: 78




*Not ‘clingy’: sticky. Sticky-icky-icky like lip gloss. Like women are always eating jam or honey from the jar with their hands and not washing afterwards. You know the type. They’re always so sticky! But I don’t automatically hate these women, some of them can be lovely. Many of them, granted, are bears, but are bears not lovable all of a sudden?? Have a word with yourself! But also be weary: your new sticky female friend may be adorable but she could tear you limb from limb with those sticky paws if you cross her

**I imagine. Looking into the future here

***That time I did mean ‘clingy’. Using it ironically is fine though, isn’t it…?

***I had so much more to write, but I just got some bad news and kind of just wanted to get this finished to be honest

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