Clitoris Rex is a punk band from Springfield, Missouri in the United States, comprising of two members, Becca Doss (vocals and guitar) and Teresa Hornsby (drums n soul)
Teresa has been playing drums since she was 10 years old. We were surprised to find out that Teresa, originally from Knoxville Tennessee, is a published Bible Scholar! Her primary focus is Gender/Queer Theory and Biblical Hermeneutics.
As for Becca, Originally from West Plainsin in Missouri, she is currently working towards her masters in counselling and hopes to work with the LGBT community.
According to Teresa and Becca, Clitoris Rex is the way that they express their passion for social justice. It is their artistic outlet (through word and music) to express the rage (and sometimes, though not often enough, their delight) that manifests from being lesbians and feminists in the conservative Midwest. So we decided to ask them a few questions:
What motivated you to deal with the subject of feminism- empowerment of women in your art?
“Sexism and homophobia are, unfortunately, pervasive issues in societies across the globe. Because they are so foundational, they often go unnoticed and many of the struggles and issues are not addressed- or dismissed by the general public. This makes it exceedingly frustrating to try to advocate for women, women’s rights, the rights and issues for people of colour, as well as the rights of the LGBT community. Clitoris Rex is the embodiment of this frustration. Our music provides us an outlet to speak our minds- to protest on a broader stage and to have our voices be heard. Also, we strive to be visible advocates. Many times especially for our LGBT community members- specifically our trans folks- there is a feeling of isolation, like there’s no one in the world who understands or cares or would fight for you. We hope that by being OUT in the community- including venues and spaces within communities- we can help people to positively identify others who do care who are OUT and out there fighting, refusing to be silent.”
Tell us why you chose this submission?
“We chose the video ‘Stand Up Grrrl’ because, to date, it is the most accurate representation of the message we want to put out for the world – men and women alike. The song itself speaks to several aspects of women’s rights movements not only in the U.S., but globally. Also, it is the best quality audio recording we have at this moment. We are scheduled to record three additional songs within the month.”
Why have you chosen the medium you use for your art?
“We are musicians. This has always been our medium. Music is the only thing that crosses every boundary – language, ethnicity, race, sex, class, geography, etc. It requires no mediator – it is direct and without apology.”
What is your process when creating?
We don’t really follow one specific process. Sometimes the music comes first, sometimes the lyrics. Sometimes songs happen in a flash and sometimes they require a bit more to flesh them out and really get the point across. It’s organic, we just let each song develop in its own way.
Who are you influenced by?
“What inspired you and your art? We are influenced by anyone who dared to speak truth to power. More specifically, we are Riot Grrrls. So…Kathleen Hannah and Mia Zapata of course. But the roots of that passion go back to women like Janis Joplin, Tina Turner, Bessie Smith, etc. It’s the music that gives voice to a particular sort of suffering. The art erupts out of being frustrated with any other type of direct or linear communication.”
What does feminism mean to you and do you consider yourself to be a feminist?
“Are we feminists? Abso-freakin-lutely! Feminism is simply enjoying the full rights of being human, regardless of one’s sex, race, class, ethnicity, religion, etc.”
Do you feel women have to conform to social norms and stereotypes to be taken seriously?
“We think it depends on the situation. We do think, by and large, women who do conform to certain norms and stereotypes are allowed to move about covertly in a sense – fly under the radar. We are not sure that conforming to social norms and stereotypes equates to being taken more seriously; sometimes conformity can lead to dismissal or disrespect. However, we have found venues and club managers who know us and take us seriously. Do you have any experiences of this? We have played previously in bands and at venues where the fact the front person (Becca) was a nonconforming gay woman was an issue with the owners. We got questions like, “Why don’t you smile more? Why are you so angry?” We wrote “Mr. White Haired White Man” in response. Typically we find club owners approach the male members of bands to pay and settle up any tabs. We typically have to go seek out club owners and specifically ask for payment.”
Do you think that women and men are equal in today’s societies around the world? Have you any experience of this?
“As women, it is extremely difficult if not impossible to go through life without experiencing some of the negative effects of sexism. Sometimes they are blatant- such as the realization you do not get paid as much as your male co-worker for doing the same job, or you are not allowed to continue your education along with your male peers and siblings. Many times, however, the effects of sexism are so pervasive that they become a constant murky current- a current you are so used to swimming against that you lose comprehension of what it would mean to swim without it. You don’t realize it because society, education, culture has been structured to tell you that if you are not represented in history books, in governments, in schools, in certain careers it is because you do not have aptitude or your gender made no substantial contributions to history or civilization.
As women, we have experienced and will continue to experience the effects of living in a sexist society.”
What causes and world issues are you passionate about?
“We are passionate about advocating for Equal Rights and Women’s rights. We are also involved in local and national LGBT campaigns and issues in the U.S. Currently we are heavily involved in a local campaign to keep non-discrimination protections for citizens of Springfield Mo (our hometown) on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. To protect members of our LGBT community from experiencing discrimination in employment, housing and in services received (such as medical services). We are also vocal activists for the rights of trans community members.”
How can your art be used to create change and is this something you want for your art?
“We definitely hope our music helps to create change. That is one of our primary goals. We put ourselves out there in protest, and as visible allies in order to create a foundation for change.”
What does the statement ART SAVES LIVES mean to you and has art in anyway “saved” your life in any way?
“Our art- our music and band- are cathartic and a form of protest. It continually saves our lives- allowing us an outlet of expression and a platform for protest. Also, as we expand ourselves we meet and establish great relationships with other incredible musicians, artists and people. These are probably what fuel us most- the human connections that are made as a result of our music and us putting it out there. Sharing our music is sharing a deeper part of ourselves and it is a wonderful experience to share it with others and make those connections.”
What made you want to get involved with our non-profit ART SAVES LIVES INTERNATIONAL mission?
“Fame. Really. The more famous we are, the more we can get our message out.”
What are your goals as with your art?
“To continue to raise awareness for women’s and LGBT issues. Subsequently, to continue to use our art as a means to avoid self-imploding”
What is your next project or piece that you are working on?
“We are working on expanding our touring area- eventually we hope to tour overseas and in the UK. We continually produce new songs and volunteer with local and regional campaigns for both women’s and LGBT rights. We want to be a force, raising awareness to women’s and LGBT issues. We are gearing up specifically for the next presidential political cycle in the US. We feel that this is the perfect platform in which to get this message out.”