What’s Current: Aretha Franklin, queen of soul, has died

What’s Current is Feminist Current’s daily news roundup.


  • Aretha Franklin, the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, passed away this morning in Detroit. She was 76. Rest in power, sister.
  • A 24-year-old woman has died in Buenos Aires after her attempt to induce a miscarriage at home using parsley resulted in septic shock and infection. The death of the woman, known only as “Elizabeth,” comes less than a week after Argentina voted against legalizing abortion.
  • In Victoria, BC, the police have received over 50 reports about a man making sexually harassing phone calls to female employees of local businesses.
  • In the Netherlands, a criminal investigation into multiple reports of sexual abuse within the Jehovah’s Witnesses has been launched.
  • Mexico City has banned the use of female models known as “edecanes” at events put on by the municipal government:

“At Mexico City government events, models have generally been hired to greet guests, pass microphones around for questions or simply smile onstage alongside mostly male speakers…Women’s rights advocates argue that the widespread use of models at political and corporate events commodifies women as ornaments and perpetuates macho attitudes that put women at risk for gender-based violence.”

Lisa Steacy
Lisa Steacy

Lisa Steacy is an Assistant Editor at Feminist Current. She has a B.A. in Women & Gender Studies from the University of Toronto. However, the women she met in her five years as a frontline worker and collective member with Vancouver Rape Relief & Women’s Shelter deserve almost all of the credit for her feminist education. She lives in Vancouver with her partner and their cats.

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  • Re: The Jehovah Witnesses sex abuse cover up. I believe it was either last year or the year before, the PA Attorney General was presented with a list of 775 sex abuse complaints by Witness members’ families. These all occurred between 1997-2001. A woman employee at the Watch Tower resigned after seeing and apparently copying the complaints. Later, she released them.

    I think if anyone was to delve into any religion or religious denomination or sect, one would find something very comparable to the more titillating priest phenomenon. In this case too, all complaints were hidden away and never dealt with by the Witnesses. But it has never become a network news headline.

    The only religion sex abuse that matches the priest coverage is that of individual Star televangelist, and this always revolves around one man, so it doesn’t carry over into the religion itself. It’s similar to a #metoo outing of a celebrity. But we never see any headlines, let alone resounding headlines addressing sex abuse in the Episcopal, Presbyterian, United Methodist, or Unitarian Churches. ($$$)

    Yes, I’m absolutely for the priest victims but as an ex-Catholic who spent a hell of a lot time around the Catholic clergy from age 8-20 (when I left the Church) I never experienced nor did those close to me experience the slightest hint of sexual interest, this despite my being sexually abused or assaulted six times by gay men during that same period. But this was before sexology and the sexual revolution made its impact outside of the metro areas, so maybe things changed considerably afterwards.

    • Zoë Lafantaisie

      I’m sorry you had to endure that repeated trauma Gerry – thank you for sharing your story. Telling these truths helps everyone. xo

  • Meghan Murphy

    I am so sad today 🙁

  • therealcie

    It really burns my biscuits that when I went to find a picture of Aretha to feature on my blog for a tribute, such searches as “Aretha Franklin Weight” popped up. Most people don’t realize just how grossly misogynistic the whole diet and weight loss industry is. Another person’s weight is none of anyone’s damn business. Not even if you’re “concerned for their health.” (Hint: it’s never about health.) Not even if they’re over (insert arbitrary number) of pounds/kilos. Not ever.
    I wish that people would flat-out refuse to buy magazines which talk about people’s weight, “best and worst beach bodies” or any of that crap.
    Aretha Franklin was an amazing person at any weight. Her weight is no-one’s business. Full stop.

    • Rachel

      I agree. Isn’t it funny that the “people” these weight loss articles, comments and diets are aimed at, happen to be female 99% of the time.

    • marv

      The oppression of plus sized women is horrid and commonplace. The medical profession does it too.


    • Alienigena

      Sometimes I think the weight intimidates people, males in particular. Maybe they are disgusted by it but maybe they are just a bunch of whiny babies who just can’t cope with women who could bench press them with a little bit of weight training. I gained some weight (not a lot) after injury then lost it and some additional weight as well due to illness. I didn’t feel better at all during the weight loss nor after because I was ill. I really came to despise people who go on and on about weight loss as the be all and end all. They need more than a smack. Even personal trainers who scold people to not focus on rapid weight loss still seem to be fixated on weight loss and not much else. Some of us just want to feel better, stronger, not compete for best beach body.

  • marv

    “I was listening to a story about Aretha Franklin on public radio today, and they started off the segment by saying, “An American icon died today” and I got SO offended.

    I understand that people around the world may identify black people in this country as “American” but as a black person who grew up in this racist crapbag of a country, I cringe at the thought of this country being able to claim her legacy.

    Because, let’s keep it real – Aretha Franklin was hugely successful IN SPITE OF the racism that was, is and will continue running rampant in this country.

    Aretha Franklin was a Black icon, not an American icon. If you don’t agree, argue with your auntie, because I said what I said.

    #ArethaFranklin #BlackIcon”

    Brenda Sanders

  • Hekate Jayne

    As a teenager in the 80s, Aretha Franklin was one of many female musicians that shaped my future and my attitudes about music and art. Since I was born of parents that consisted of my mother hating all pop culture because of religion and a father that thought that HeeHaw was the best combination of comedy and music and that Hank Williams was the best musician ever, I was in my 20s before I learned about the rich and exciting history of rock, pop and r and b.

    My favorite Aretha Franklin piece is one that she collaborated on with, of all things, an English white guy. The irony. Lol. It’s on my YouTube playlist and it’s not just that the song is great, it is the nostalgia that hearing it brings. I am sure that most of you know it, but if you don’t, here it is. In the first line, she refers to herself as a warrior. That will always, always make me smile.


    • Cassandra

      Well, to be fair, Hank Williams was pretty great. I puddled up though, when I heard about Aretha. She was one in a trillion.

  • SkyLark Phillips

    RIP Aretha…Queen of Soul

  • SkyLark Phillips

    Aretha had a rough life. Her father was a minister, but she had a rough road growing up. Yes, I agree that impregnating a 12 year old girl is creepy and pervy, and probably still illegal even back then. Sounds like statutory rape.

  • Alienigena

    “Not a single person has asked if I was okay, or how I am dealing (I am dealing fine, but nobody asked). I had a “silent” (for a woman, not a man), but potentially very deadly condition.”

    I am sorry people treated you in this dismissive way given that your condition could have been fatal. I don’t think people really care about one another they just treat ill people like an inconvenience or malingerers. Doctors don’t seem to have even basic curiousity a characteristic I would think should be a prerequisite if you are diagnosing people and determining whether a particular treatment has any efficacy. As to men getting pity, they just seem to need to stub their toes and everyone fawns all over them.

  • Alienigena

    And what if you are genetically programmed to weigh more than average (according to markers detected by 23andme.com) as I appear to be. Do they just leave you alone if you don’t have excess weight (and acceptable fat/muscle distribution) and are basically healthy? Probably not. Members of the medical profession are frequently apathetic, incurious and bonkers.