Sunday, March 12, 2017

Women Who Rock and/or Make History: Melissa Etheridge and Isabel Martínez de Perón

March is Girl Women's History Month.

Fact: girls can do things too!

Fact: girls can't do rock and roll, or so one might conclude from the paucity of females inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (motto: "We've got Randy Newman!"). Real fact: girls can do rock and roll (some of them).

Since I am enjoying getting on my high horse (or getting high on horse), I'm going to double dip with a series of girl-on-girl posts. It's a combination of a female musical act (or a band with a female member [possibly more]) that merits* induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and a female who did something like bake a cake or killed a guy (Laura Bush killed a guy).

I don't recall who came out first, k.d. lang or Melissa Etheridge. It's probably fair to call it a tie; it probably happened in 1992 since everyone was a lesbian in 1992. They both deserve credit for courage that Elton ("bisexual") John, Morrissey ("I'm a human-sexual, but not really sexual"), Pet Shop Boys (interviews seemed to avoid the topic altogether or got circumspect responses and they never really stepped up until the lesbians cleared the way). They weren't the first openly gay (and by gay I mean GQ-BLT) musicians, but they were the biggest musicians who didn't hide behind the "bisexual" label. 

Melissa Etheridge was the biggest woman in rock at the beginning of the 90s (which was appropriate since the 90s were super fucking gay). She's received 15 Grammy nominations (winning 2) and an Academy Award. She has 9 Hot 100 singles and 15 Billboard 200 albums. 

She has a string of ex-wives (rock & roll!!!). 

For some amount of time her hair verged on mullet: rock & roll!

Juan Perón's second wife gets all the attention. Eva caught the attention of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Weber (he's a monster), and became the subject of their musical Evita (perhaps you've heard of it, there was a movie). Eva died at age 33 from cervical cancer.

You didn't expect Juan to stay home and mourn for the rest of his life, did you? 

Isabel (born Maria) dropped out of school after 5th grade and became a nightclub dancer (you can't say Juan didn't have a type). She met Juan during his exile in Panama. He took her to Spain when he moved his exile there in 1960, but the Catholics weren't thrilled with him spending so much time with a woman 35 years younger than him outside of marriage (or, you know, being her dad or something). So Juan married, reluctantly, for the third time.

Isabel acted as Juan's envoy to South America (what with him being exiled and all), and was in the right place at the right time in terms of Juan's eventual return to power in Argentina. In the 1973 elections, factions of Perón's supporters couldn't agree on a running mate, so they put Isabel on the ticket as his Vice President. They won handily in 1973 and Juan's health declined quickly the next year. He died on July 1, leaving Isabel to ascend to the position of La Presidente (which is a feminine article with a masculine title but the Argentine Constitution only refers to Presidente and never to Presidenta so what are you gonna do...). 

She is the first female President of any country in the world.

She probably used the state police to silence her opponents (she was arrested in Spain for the forced disappearance of an activist in the 70s but Spain is not extraditing her [also she's still alive]), and definitely used the military to help her stay in power. The economy of the country tanked and she wasn't helpful to the CIA, so her reign ended in March of 1976. She maintains a low profile in Spain, probably living off some large amount of money that may have been embezzled from state industries in 1975. Maybe, maybe not. 

Women can make history for bad things too.

* There is a wide spectrum of rock & roll gravitas for the artists included in the 31 I will include. I feel like a reasonable case can be made for each, and everyone one of these is at least as worthy as Randy Newman, 2103 inductee.

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