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International Women's Day 2016

Ten Ways Charli XCX's BBC Documentary About Feminism Totally Slayed

How cool is it to see an actual woman on actual TV reframing the narrative and talking about how it's a good thing to be considered indimidating?

by Emma Garland
25 November 2015, 1:51pm

Charli XCX's documentary about feminism titled "The F Word and Me" aired on BBC Three last night. You may or may not have seen it, but the basic premise is it follows the singer and songwriter around the world on tour as she explores the intersection between feminism and pop. Now buckle up, because I'm about to tell you precisely what's good about it in 10 exact points.

1. It addresses the common misconception that just because women are killing it in the charts right now, doesn't make the behind-the-scenes any less of a "boys club", which is, obviously, a problem.

2. It unpacks feminism for a modern audience confronted with it through mainstream music in a personal and direct way. We've all seen Beyoncé standing, wind-machined to perfection, in front of a massive screen brandishing the word in all caps, but that doesn't come with an automatic understanding of what it actually means.

3. At a time when the main subjects of media conversation about feminism tend to be American powerhouses like Miley Cyrus or Rihanna, Charli grabs the mic from cyclical thinkpiece culture and gives it to some of the UK's most underrated women in music.

4. Everyone is in it. And I mean, like, everyone. Charlotte Church, Izzy Bizu and Rae Morris are all there talking about what feminism means to them. There are larger conversations with Liz, Marina Diamandis, Ryn Weaver, Jack Antonoff (more commonly known to women as Lena Dunham's boyfriend lol #misandryrules) and more talking about image control, negotiating power, and dealing with online criticism.

5. We find out that Charli XCX likes to sup double voddies and Red Bull when she's having her make-up applied before a show, which makes her the human embodiment of the nails emoji.

6. Before her Glastonbury set Charli is informed that she will get more airtime if she cuts down on swearing in and between songs, because the BBC are nerds. She walks on stage to the chorus of "Sucker" (where the main lyric is: "Fuck you, Sucker!") and her first address to the crowd is "Put your fucking middle fingers up Glastonbury!" so you probably won't have seen that on TV but if you're looking for a golden example of a woman does what she wants, when she wants, her own way, then this is it.

7. There are tiny little girls in flower crowns cheering in the front row at her Glastonbury set and they are the future.

8. The example of Charli XCX always being referred to as "Charli and her all-girl band" rather than simply "Charli and her band" is used to highlight how most people still aren't used to seeing women on stage doing something other than singing.

9. How cool is it that you have an actual woman on actual TV reframing the narrative and talking about how it's a good thing to be considered indimidating?

10. She is so fucking funny I could listen to her talk about potato salad for an entire hour and it would still be better than any prime time comedy currently airing.

And there are loads of other reasons too. Sure it might be a bit "all of 2015's best thinkpieces condensed into a 42 minute film", but when you're plugged into that world constantly it's easy to forget that most people, actually, aren't. The only negative thing to say about it is what a shame it is that a documentary about one of the most relevant issues, led by one of the biggest UK pop stars of the moment, was confined to a 10.30pm slot on BBC Three on a Tuesday like an inaccessible political satire. Especially when Charli XCX has such a large young fanbase who would definitely listen to anything she has to say and definitely don't get all their news from Jezebel. The tiny little girls in flower crowns will have been in bed long before this aired, and this - more than anything - was for them.

Watch it in full below.

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