Emma Thompson, Global Director of Marketing and Communications celebrates Alanis Morissette as part of Equality Now’s 30 for 30, featuring 30 women and changemakers who have played a key role in making equality reality as part of our 30th anniversary celebrations.
Sometimes my work brings wonderful surprises. Back in 2021, our team had one such surprise when we received a call out of the blue from Alanis Morissette’s team asking us to be a charity partner for her 2021 tour. Equality Now was featured in her sell-out, multi-date tour, with nearly half a million of Alanis’s fans given the opportunity to learn about our organization. Talk about incredible!
Alanis’s support for Equality Now is typical of her expressive commitment to women’s equality; it is always meaningful in its impact and tangible in its results. She’s helped countless women and girls to find their voices, to speak out, and to take up space. Her creativity has left a lasting mark on the movement for gender equality.
When Alanis exploded onto the international consciousness in the mid-1990s, she helped to bring about a realization for millions of women and girls. Her songs felt like a natural extension of the space created by the likes of Patti Smith, X-Ray Spex, and Riot Grrrl. For me, and for many others in the global north, Alanis Morrisette was a central figure among a group of female artists who helped women and girls access a voice we didn’t think was available to us.
Alanis herself often talks about the balance that’s necessary to move our world closer to gender equality. But I don’t think we would have that balance without her and others like her who helped to even the scales, often at great personal cost. When Jagged Little Pill: The Musical, which deals with themes including sexual violence, launched in 2018 it was against a backdrop of survivors of sexual violence at the hands of powerful figures in the United States struggling to access justice.
Survivors’ voices are essential to effectively combat sexual violence, but Alanis invites survivors to take up the space they deserve. Many survivors of these crimes aren’t recognized because many current legal definitions of sexual violence don’t capture the wide range of experiences of survivors, who are often silenced or feel unable to speak their truth. In a 2021 documentary, Jagged Alanis spoke her own truth when she shared multiple instances of childhood sexual assault which have taken her decades to be able to process and come to terms with. Now, when the scales feel like they are tipping back again, Alanis is using her voice to keep sexual violence in public discourse, all while centering the voices and perspectives of survivors.
I’ve heard it said that the “girl power” of the nineties and early 2000 is a major factor in fourth-wave feminism, and movements such as #MeToo and #Believe Survivors. The space Alanis created normalized speaking your gritty truth over holding it. The confessional and challenging nature of her lyrics made people, particularly men in positions of power—be it in music, media, or business— feel uncomfortable. Through her music, she taught so many women and girls that, by not holding people to account in our own lives we were enabling the status quo to continue.
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