MARINA’s climate and feminist activism in Purge the Poison

Art by Slick Satan. IG: @slicksatan https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/slicksatan/

Please can we talk about MARINA (now without The Diamonds) and more specifically, her latest song Purge the Poison.

When I like something, I *really* like something, as in I am obsessed with everything about it – cue loving MARINA’s track on first listen. Seeing music combine worlds with politics and activism is (most of the time) a heartwarming, encouraging thing. Sorry to do this but “in 2021”, songs like these are increasingly important to speak volumes in reaching people worldwide so that the realness of environmental concerns and how society conducts itself in terms of economic and institutional systems and how we treat each other can be reflected on and not just tuned out.

The stellar opening line “all my friends are witches – mystical bitches making our own sisterhood” is enough to drag me out of passive listening. As Genius suggests, the infamous lyric explanation site, MARINA is reclaiming the derogatory terms ‘witches’ and ‘bitches’ that are usually used against independent women where they now exist in a whimsical sense. At the same time, this lyric is also a reference to the historical connotations first raised in Man’s World: “burnt me at the stake you thought I was a witch, now you just call me a bitch”.

She croons “while society is falling, we are quietly reforming, protecting the planet, healing our own damage”, the sisterhood alluded to along with humanity has been banding together amidst the pandemic to repair the effects of what has been done to the environment and society. Within this last year alone, during the global panoramic, we have witnessed many calls to action from racial injustices to gender-based violence showing how people can come together for crucial movements. The healing of our damage is perhaps alluded to the earth and also, then, to past damage that brought about archaic societal structures.

Climate change concerns first took precedence in Man’s World‘s chorus, “mother nature’s dying, nobody’s keeping score”, and now MARINA is using the voice of nature herself to plead directly to the listener: “what have you been doing? Don’t forget I am your home”. And in the same breath, the experimental songstress reminds us that “virus come, fires burn, until human beings learn from every disaster” in that how we treat the environment and its repercussions seen in the Australian and Californian bushfires, and the emergence of the virus from animals. Certainly not to suggest that we have to go through horrific events to ‘learn’ things, but instead, that because they have occurred as a result of harmful behaviour, we can come away with new tools and a way to prevent further destruction, to put right our missteps.

The pre-chorus is just as confronting to “show us our humanity – racism and misogyny” which stands out more than ever with the wills of social media broadcasting and amplifying wrong doings. There’s even a shout out to our socio-economic structures and its repercussions: “capitalism made us poor”. Then our attentions are drawn back to the environment and mother nature’s perspective in the chorus: “need to purge the poison from our system until human beings listen, tell me who’d you think you are”. The rapidly sung opening to the chorus mirrors the flurry of how quickly the ‘poison’ needs to be purged out of our system and this is nicely followed by the same message sung slowed down, in a two-syllable count where it becomes clearer. She continues that “its your own decision but your home is now your prison” which is sang repetitively and drilled into our minds.

Verse two has a ‘Riot grrrl’, 90s rebellion feel with its wonderfully brash delivery and background yells. MARINA discusses the 2007 cultural mess, “when size zero was the rage, Britney shaved her head and all we did was call her crazed” then fast forwards to the Harvey Weinstein case and pinnacle MeToo movement. Touching on society’s damaging effects on women from the fashion, beauty and media industries – and patriarchal institutions to boot.

The myriad singer also references the new world order conspiracy, but does so in reverse. Focussing on acceptance and love rather than for capitalist gain and world enslavement – this new world is an empowered, equal one.

“I just want a world where we can see the feminine, we only make up one quarter of the government”

She says that it’s time we regenerate after this time of loss as we’re “taking back what’s ours”. Honestly, if you want some energy in an uplifting boost or a tune to exorcise anger, this is your song.

This track, following suit to Man’s World, is putting MARINA on an empowering, politically minded trajectory for her upcoming LP for this era and I for one am here for it.

5 comments

    • Thanks so much! And Marina used to go by Marina and the Diamonds so you may find more under that and she’s known for a bubblegum pop feel – the Riot Grrrl genre is a separate feminist punk movement from the 90s seen in music and zines (we have a previous article on this!) with artists like Bikini Kill, so not so much Ani Di Franco if that helps!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hey thanks for your reply. I like some Bikini Kill. Didn’t they eventually become Julie Ruin? I will check out more Marina (and the Diamonds) for sure. Really appreciate learning about her.
        Side note…it’s oddly coincidental I was just posting about diamonds. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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