Since the presidential election, said blue-haired, 16-year-old Cally Mansfield, “When I would think of what I could do to try and help this country, I felt our superpower is music.” Looking at the two young women sitting beside her, she added, “We are three strong ladies who felt this is how we can make a change.”
Mansfield, Storey Littleton, and Sadie Reed are all students at Paul Green Rock Academy in Woodstock. When Abbe Aronson and Acacia Bowman, two of the academy’s five business partners, asked for help with a benefit concert for Planned Parenthood Mid-Hudson Valley, the three young women offered to curate and direct the event. The concert will be held at 8 p.m. Friday, February 10, at The Lodge in Woodstock. Students from the academy will perform along with special guests Simi Stone, Amy Pickering, Ambrosia Parsley, Dan Littleton, Zach Djanikian, Chris Maxwell, and others.
After the election, said Reed, “All I could do to calm myself down was listen to ‘Rebel Girl’ by Bikini Kill.” She and Littleton, both now 15, had a band “a few years back” that specialized in covering feminist punk songs. Now Reed will be performing “Rebel Girl” at the benefit concert.
Littleton, too, was discouraged after the election. “I sank into a bit of a depression and felt pretty unmotivated,” she said. “This has been a good way to feel involved and talk to kids my age about what matters.”
“In our country right now,” Reed added, “it’s scary for women and everybody. Planned Parenthood has been so important in people’s lives, and if they’re trying to defund it, I feel it’s important to support it.”
The three women all went to the January 21 march on Washington.
“Grownups can always tell people what to do,” observed Aronson. “It’s important to the rock academy for the girls to have a big hand in curating the evening.”
“It was a challenge going over the hump of the first ‘I’m taking charge,’ ‘This is who I am,’” admitted Mansfield. “Sometimes dudes will backlash at that. A woman in power can be scary, but it was a good experience for me on learning how to guide people. We had to deal with some mansplaining.” In case you haven’t heard, “mansplaining” is the modern term for a man patronizing a woman by acting like an authority on a subject.
Working on the show, said Littleton, “taught me to take ownership of my power and confidence.”
“I fully let my mama bear out,” agreed Mansfield. “What made me happy was realizing the trust and respect we’ve gained from people.”
As organizers, they emailed the rock academy students to ask for volunteers to perform and met with the performers to choose songs. They cast the musicians and ran rehearsals for the concert, which will include songs by Riot Grrrls, Solange Knowles (Beyoncé’s sister), Bikini Kill, Heart, Stevie Nicks, Patti Smith, Salt-n-Pepa, P. J. Harvey, Bob Dylan, Fugazy, Vanity 6, Björk, and others.
One of their roles has been to discuss the event with other students, who sometimes disagree with their agenda. “But people don’t know the statistics of Planned Parenthood,” said Littleton, “Most of what they do is not abortions but preventative care.”
According to data from Planned Parenthood, 54 percent of its clients are between the ages of 25 and 39, and last year the five Hudson Valley clinics provided over 23,000 screenings for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
Planned Parenthood Rocks! will be held Friday, February 10, at The Lodge, 20 Country Club Lane, Woodstock. Doors open at 7 p.m., and music starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20, available at the door. There will also be a live auction of luxury items, and special surprise guests are expected.