Israel was one of the last countries to release its Eurovision entry. We were not prepared.
Unlike the vast majority of Eurovision entries, where I watch the video once and go on about my day, Netta captivated me. Dressed in a series of ever elaborate outfits, with a cast of loose-limbed, goggle eyed dancers behind her, she proceeded to spend the next three minutes completely blowing my mind laughing (and dancing) in the face of sexual harassment. I wanted her sass. I wanted her confidence. (And yeah, I wanted that kimono.)
There is a subgenre of Eurovision songs that are all about empowerment and feeling like a queen (the best example of this being Bojana Stamenov’s 2015 entry Beauty Never Lies). Heck, this genre exists in the outside world as well (see Christina Aguilera’s Beautiful). I love these songs. But these are usually big soaring ballads, not bangers with sing-along pop choruses. Netta has flipped the genre on it’s head, doing an empowerment anthem where the whole purpose is to “dance with my dolls to the motherbucking beat”. It doesn’t require a soaring voice. It just requires the ability to cluck like a chicken.
Netta’s song also happens to be the perfect response for this #metoo moment. As the #metoo backlash has started, as more and more think pieces appear about whether women are using this newfound power to terrorize men (we’re not), as serial abusers like Charlie Rose and Matt Lauer can float comebacks, Netta reminds us all that no, women are not out to take down men. We just want to be able to carry out everyday activities without being sexually harassed – a safe space dance floor extended to the office and public realm, as it were.
But here’s what worries me – what if Netta loses? It’s not like Eurovision is particularly ‘woke’ when it comes to feminism – I’m thinking here about the results last year, where men swept the top three spots, or the all-male final at A Dal this year, or how so many of the Melodifestivalen ‘Direkt to Final’ slots went to men, in a series of shows hosted by two men. We hide gender bias behind “results,” as if they aren’t also entirely subjective. In our Eurovision bubble, we like to pretend that we’re a happy refuge from the modern world. But we can’t let the issues that sideline women’s full participation in society to get washed away in a bath of glitter and confetti.
So I worry about semifinals night. I’ve been angry a lot over the past few years, angry about how the future achievements of women have been sidelined by abusers; angry at the invisible web of rules that women need to negotiate in a workplace so as to avoid getting labeled ‘difficult’; angry about the old boys network that privileges mediocre men over talented women. I am angry that half of the world can’t see what is so apparent from my lived experience. And if Netta loses on finals night to a pretty boy because the world sees nothing other than a fat lady who clucks like a chicken, I might put my foot through my television set.
TWITTER JOKES YOU SHOULDN’T BOTHER MAKING BECAUSE THEY’VE ALREADY BEEN DONE BETTER BY THE EUROFANDOM: There are no jokes to be made about this performance. Just get off your ass and dance like a chicken, fools.
SHOULD YOU TAKE A PEE BREAK DURING HIS PERFORMANCE: Did you not just read what I wrote above? Hell no.