North Macedonia – Proud (or why fake empowerment feminism is wrong, part 2)

When North Macedonia announced that it was holding back its Eurovision entry by a day so it would be released on International Women’s Day, I visibly shuddered. Anyone who uses iWD as a marketing gimmick is likely going to release something so anodyne and sacchrine that it will fail to have even the slightest impact in changing the structural conditions which create inequality in society.

And wow, Proud fits that description in spades.

First of all, this entire video looks like a rejected advertising pitch for a tampon commercial. Tamara Todevska stands in front of a screen in a black turtleneck, with a serious colour-leaching filter on the camera (because FEMINISM is SERIOUS and with a MESSAGE and NOT FUN).

And as she sings, we get views of various women looking into the camera and eventually lip-syncing to the camera. For an empowerment song, this one is seriously targeting its empowerment to largely femme-presenting white women. Sure, there’s someone who’s a bit butch, and someone who’s a bit old, and someone in a hijab, and someone who knows sign language,but everyone is very, very attractive. We don’t get anyone who’s fat until 2 minutes into the song, and only some brief shots of anyone evidently non-white (and there are apparently no black people in North Macedonia). So the message that I’m getting is that you can be empowered as long as you’re attractive enough to be empowered.

The lyrics to this song are even worse. There are three verses and then what seems like an unending series of choruses. The verses go something like this:

Verse 1 – you’ll be told how to act pretty much every moment of every day and no matter what you do, you’ll be wrong

AGREED! So true! The deck is stacked about women! I can’t wait to hear what this song will tell me what to do!

Verse 2 – If you feel bad, talk to your mom. (Todeveska has said that she’s performing this song for her daughter.)

I mean, okay, I guess? I always like getting a hug from my mom,but that’s still not changing structural inequality

Verse 3 – Break the rules! Just shine your light and break the rules!

Okay, that’s great, but what do I do when I face consequences of breaking the rules? Like being doxxed on Twitter for speaking up? Or getting hit by a man becasue I refused his advances? Or getting fired from a job for being “difficult” after complaining about sexist banter?

This is the problem with fake empowerment feminist songs like this one. They make even the smarmiest corporate man feel like he’s doing something. It’s the feminism of men with daughters, geared toward the future for their girls, rather than doing anything to address the problems that their coworkers and wives and sisters are facing RIGHT NOW.

Tamara Todevska’s Proud shouldn’t make anyone feel proud. It’s not going to create equal pay for equal work. It’s not going magic up childcare for all. It’s not going to end sexual harrassment. Rather, it’s going to provide a cover for people who support systems that oppress women every day. “Look, I’m a feminist! I support this song,” they think, without doing a damn thing to change the system.

Well, there’s your cookie, North Macedonia. Happy now?

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