Intersectionality or Performative Activism: “March March” by The Chicks

“March March” by The Chicks

“March March” by The Chicks is a protest song that explicitly addresses several current political issues, as well as the history of activism in the United States. The Chicks themselves have a history of activism and controversy. In 2003, they criticized George W. Bush and the invasion of Iraq, leading to backlash from their mostly conservative (at the time) fanbase. The Chicks have recently become even more politically active, changing their name from The Dixie Chicks due to its confederate connotations.

The song begins with a strong drumbeat and a classic twang that country music fans easily recognize. However, the lyrics are less typical of a country music song: “March, march to my own drum […] hey, hey, I’m an army of one.” The music video begins with a montage of protests over the years, including videos of a black man dancing in front of a line of police officers and a person with their back to the camera waving a pride flag. The song references a broad range of political issues, implying that work towards equity and justice cannot be separated into different fights. 

This idea is expanded upon by Kimberlé Crenshaw in her opinion piece “Why Intersectionality Can’t Wait.” Crenshaw explains that intersectionality was her attempt to “make feminism, anti-racist activism, and anti-discrimination law do what I thought they should — highlight the multiple avenues through which racial and gender oppression were experienced so that the problems would be easier to discuss and understand.” Audre Lorde also discusses the importance of intersectionality, just through different language. In “There Is No Hierarchy of Oppressions” she writes, “I simply do not believe that one aspect of myself can possibly profit from the oppression of any other part of my identity.” The Chicks do not leave the meaning of their protest song up for interpretation. At the end of the music video, they even have text listing the websites of organizations including Black Lives Matter, March for Our Lives, Native American Rights Fund, and Planned Parenthood. However, rather than focusing on one particular type of injustice, “March March” is about encouraging listeners to stand up against inequality and discrimination wherever they may encounter it, a core idea of intersectional feminism.

However, the broad scope of The Chicks’ song could also be seen as a limitation. The lyrics have only brief references to specific activist groups and are not grounded in any ideology. The Chicks, three white people, may be taking advantage of relevant social justice issues that primarily younger audiences care about in order to become culturally relevant again. It is difficult to know all the intentions behind the song since activism is much more beneficial to one’s career than it was when The Chicks originally spoke out in 2003. Additionally, it would have been great to see The Chicks use their platform to collaborate with performers from marginalized communities, as a way to elevate the voices of individuals who have more personal experience than The Chicks with many of the injustices mentioned.

3 thoughts on “Intersectionality or Performative Activism: “March March” by The Chicks

  1. This was a great analysis, especially in the way that you brought in specific readings from class to expand on the ideas brought up in the song. It’s interesting to think about the intentions behind the song, since their activism was controversial in 2003 but is more widely accepted, and celebrated, today. I agree that collaborating with artists from the marginalized community and therefore using their platform to allow others to speak instead of centering themselves, as rich white people, in the conversation.

  2. I really liked how you incorporated analysis of lyrics and the visuals in your discussion of “March March.” All the connections you made to class readings were very insightful, and I think the limitations you discussed were very thought-provoking. The idea that this may be performative activism is essential to note, and I appreciated how you suggested The Chicks collaborate with performers from marginalized communities.

  3. This is a really good analysis of this song. I agree that The Chicks do a good job of illuminating the fact that intersectional oppression is the much broader pressing issue that cannot be overlooked by singling out the dismantling of only one form of oppression. I think it is important that bands such as The Chicks are communicating this idea to audiences in popular culture, as it is commonly unknown and disregarded.

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