Poet, spoken word performer, actor and playwright Sarah Jones ‘s legal battle against the FCC over censorship of her poem “Your Revolution” has not stopped her fight for women’s global equality for women.
Jones, described her battle with the FCC to a sold out crowd after her latest solo performance, “Women Can’t Wait” at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco on Friday March 15. To an elated crowd she read the infamous poem.
Written in 1999, as a response to the misogynistic rap lyrics inundating mainstream radio, “Your Revolution” was deemed to be indecent by a listener of Oregon’s KBOO radio station’s music show “Sound box” in October that year. A complaint was filed and in May, the FCC fined KBOO $7, 000 for broadcasting “unmistakable, patently offensive sexual references” that “appear designed to pander and shock.”
According to Jones, the lyrics were not meant to shock but to draw attention to a well ignored problem.
“I wrote “Your Revolution” as a response to the music on mainstream radio which often treats women as sex objects and play things,” said Jones. “It makes no sense that the government is trying to ban a song that offers an empowering alternative to the degrading messages that play freely on the radio every day.”
Refusing to give up her first amendment rights to free speech, Jones filed an unprecedented lawsuit against the FCC on Jan. 29 2001.
It has been a “trying year” she wrote on her Web site where she keeps her fans up to date on her battle with the FCC. Yet Jones is nowhere near quitting and is preparing for a long battle against censorship and the head of the FCC, Michael Powell, the ultra-conservative son of Secretary of State Colin Powell.
Her legal battles have not stopped her from doing what she loves best: performing. Having gained critical acclaim for her solo shows such as being featured on the Lyricist Lounge, Vol. 1 album, Jones continues to perform in her second solo show, “Women Can’t Wait”, which highlights the plight of women all over the world.
Originally commissioned by the International Women’s Rights Organization, and Equality Now, “Women Can’t Wait” is based on a 1999 July report prepared by Equality Now. Written and performed by Jones the play depicts women from India, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Uruguay and the United States as they prepare to address governments at the United Nations.
Serious yet comically entertaining, Jones brings to life the harsh and unjust laws faced by many women through out the globe. Like a chameleon, Jones masterfully takes the body language and voice of each woman’s native country aided by the use of flowing sheer violet scarf.
By simply tying her scarf around her long dreadlocks, Jones transformed herself into Tomoko Nishida, a Japanese woman. As Nishida, Jones revealed the discriminatory civil code of Japan, article 731, which forbids women to remarry within six months from the day of divorce or annulment of her marriage.
As Alma Fonseca from Uruguay , Jones told a tale that explained the penal code of Article 1 16 of Uruguay that promotes extinction of a crime by marriage. In the case of rapes, violent assaults, statutory rape or abduction of a woman, a man may have his crimes excused if he marries his victim.
The list of injustices go on as Jones fashions her scarf around her head to become yet another woman who has been abused or neglected by the very government who claims “that all persons are equal under the law….”
Sadly, as black woman in America and still being censored by the FCC, Jones knows too well what it means to be “equal.”