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Allied Arts & Media

Just to Say I Love You: A Mother’s Day Playlist

Photo: Jonatas-Domingos

When you think of Mother’s Day you may experience visions of spa dates, flower bouquets, decorated cards and brunch with a round of mimosas. However, these are odd times where the spas are closed, mail arrives slower than usual and your waiter/waitress appears at your door with lukewarm meals wrapped in plastic. With the current social distancing measures in place some might not even get to hug their loved ones on this day, but there are so many other ways to give mom thanks that you can enjoy together from anywhere; music, for example.

Whether you get together in the living room over banana bread and Tik Tok ideas or sing along over a video app, here’s a 10 song playlist that goes out to all the mama bears to show appreciation for all that they do each and every day.

  1. Kanye West – “Hey Mama”

Over soothing “La la’s” sampled from Donal Leace’s “Today Won’t Come Again” Kanye pours love, devotion and thanks into rhymes for his late mother Donda West. The song appears on his 2005 album Late Registration, which was released just two years before she passed away. Having been extremely close with his mom Kanye talks about their relationship; the ups, the downs, her unwavering support and Ye wanting nothing, but to give her the world.


  1. UMI – “Mother”

Singer/songwriter UMI casts sunshine, the ocean and a myriad of animals as the stars of this music video alongside clips of her and her mother having a picnic somewhere green. The visuals act as a celebration of not only mothers, but also Mother Earth and all the life it provides.


  1. Jhené Aiko ft. Namiko Love – “Sing To Me”

Okay, tissues will be needed here! In 2018 Jhene Aiko and her daughter Namiko (nine at the time) performed this song on VH1’s Dear Mama: A Love Letter To Moms television special. With a barrage of “I love you’s” and lines like “You are my world, my favourite girl” the song is as sweet and touching as you’d expect from a mother and daughter duet.


4. Beyoncé – “Ring Off”

As private as Beyoncé has been about her personal life throughout the years, her music allows her fans a glimpse of the woman behind the bodysuits and perfectly choreographed dance moves. With a nod to her hit song “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)” the ballad is addressed to Beyoncé’s mom who, in 2011, went through a divorce with the pop idol’s father after he was allegedly unfaithful. Beyoncé praises her mom for making the difficult decision to move on and promises better days ahead.


  1. Ashanti – “Mother”

Ashanti showers her mother with compliments, acknowledgment and love on this track. If you can’t find the words yourself, this could be the perfect tune to sing to mom. That is, if you can hit all the high notes.


  1. Chance The Rapper – “Hey Ma”

Here we find Chicago-born Chance The Rapper kicking it at his childhood home everywhere from the front steps to the roof. Photographs from his youth are held up in front of the exact spot they were originally taken years before. The song isn’t just about Chance’s own mother, but all the women who’d played important roles in his life, most significantly, his grandmother. He’s playful throughout in the visuals boasting about his success and how he’s finally able to give something back to those who gave everything for him to get there.


  1. Queen Naija – “Mama’s Hand”

Youtube star and singer/songwriter Queen Naija shares her family with us on “Mama’s Hand”. The song and video are an ode to her son who she beams at over a video call in the intro as they say “I love you” and “I miss you” to each other. The ending finds Queen Naija getting cozy with her boyfriend and Youtube partner Clarence White, while she was pregnant with her second child.


  1. The Shirelles – “Mama Said”

Get up a dance to this dash of 60s doo-wap! As it is, unfortunately, only two minutes long you’re going to want to put this one on loop.


  1. Meghan Trainor – “Mom”

This upbeat joint will have you bragging about mom all day long. “You might have a mom, she might be the bomb/ But ain’t nobody got a mom like mine,” sings Trainor. Included is an audio-clip of Meghan calling the song’s muse, Kelli Trainor, just to say she loves her.


  1. Ciara – “I Got You”

Dedicated to her son Future, Ciara coos the familiar melody of lullaby “Hush Little Baby” while sharing footage of them laughing and playing in the visuals for “I Got You”. New mommy at the time, Ciara incorporates these stunning photos of her cradling the newborn baby and heading home from the hospital all smiles. Throughout the song she promises to protect him and to always have his back.

I’m not crying, you are.

To listen to the playlist on Spotify, click here.

Happy Mother’s Day!

LiisBeth is an indie, all womxn-owned feminist media enterprise who is fuelled by reader donations.  If you enjoyed this playlist, share it!  And please consider supporting this work: [direct-stripe value=”ds1554685140411″]

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Feminist Practices

Can a Professional Matchmaker be a Feminist?

Photo by Jana Sabeth, Unsplash

Fourteen years ago, I got a job as a matchmaker at a high-end dating agency in downtown Toronto. It was awful. Once I learned how the company operated, my dreams of putting perfect matches together were shattered. Our members had paid ridiculous amounts of money to join our closed network; they could only be matched with other people who had also paid to join. And as far as I could tell, most of these members wanted nothing to do with each other. Salespeople charged outrageous and whimsically fluctuating prices, and the company embraced dishonesty as a policy. No wonder our clients were always angry.

As a “dating consultant” in the Matching department, my job was to try and convince these disillusioned people to say “yes” to each other. I heard “no” a lot and spent far too much time making notes on people’s disappointment with our company, and more hauntingly, their loneliness. It was frustrating being unable to help my clients, and I was disgusted by the sexist sales structure. Women routinely paid three times as much as male clients—often well over $10,000 for four to six “introductions,” which our company (and most traditional matchmakers) defined as the exchange of contact details. I learned that this is the norm for “traditional” matchmaking and dating agencies.

Still, I enjoyed putting people together—especially the clients who hadn’t heard from us in years—and I managed to make some good matches in that wasteland. I also learned some valuable things about human nature: People really cling to stereotypes when it comes to dating, even if they seem enlightened about everything else; most people would rather hear the truth than a comforting lie; plus, everyone—and I mean everyone—self-identifies as youthful, with a good sense of humour.

But most of the time, I was ashamed of the way the company forced me to lie and stall people. I quickly tired of fielding justifiably angry phone calls. I actually began advising my favourite members that they would be better off spending their time and energy on a dating site.

That company folded—a victim of the 2008 economic crisis—while I was on maternity leave. I hadn’t imagined that I would ever go back there, but I was surprised and disappointed that I never had the chance to say goodbye to my members. Fortunately, a handful of them had given me their email addresses. In 2012, when I launched my own business, Junia Matchmaking Services, they became some of my very first clients.

Ann Marshall, founder of Junia Matchmaking Services

I operate almost exclusively online, using existing dating sites. I consider myself a matchmaker, but also a dating coach and online dating surrogate/concierge. Essentially, I am e-Cyrano. I’m often better at writing about you than you would be yourself. I write dating profiles. I also curate and edit my clients’ pictures. Sometimes I even take the photos myself. I then set clients up on dating websites like POF (formerly PlentyOfFish) and Match, where I run their profile(s) entirely. I’m the online version of them.

I get the irony in what one of my clients said about my service: “You don’t realize you aren’t being yourself until you are finally allowed to be.” Bonnie, 55, is living with the man I found for her on POF a little less than a year ago. “I was looking in all the wrong places,” she laughs, admitting that she was stuck on “eye candy.”

My services are particularly valuable to women, although I serve clients of all genders, including non-binary people. Most people outside of my industry aren’t aware that men consistently outnumber women on dating sites and apps. This gap persists because so many women are hesitant to “put themselves out there.” Many women hire me because they’ve heard of or had a “gross” experience online. I’ve been using dating sites professionally for eight years, and I know a lot about the privacy settings, which keeps intrusive messages to a minimum. I immediately delete offensive or sexual remarks and block users who display any impatience. I’m always amazed by how many people think 24 hours is too long to wait for a response to a question about the last book you read.

I also pay very little attention to the unsolicited messages my clients receive; rather, I spend my time searching the websites for prospects who meet my client’s criteria, running those candidates by my clients, and then sending friendly messages to any matches a client approves—signed with my client’s name. If the conversation goes well, and the client is willing to meet the person I’ve been talking to, I will set them up on a first date.

My clients don’t wait to hear from the people they might want to meet, because I am starting that conversation for them.

My mission is to make my services accessible and affordable to anyone who wants to use them. I have virtually no overhead, working from an office in the basement of my Guelph, Ont., home. Many—but not all—of my clients would have difficulty finding representation with a traditional matchmaker, including singles disadvantaged by intersecting forms of oppression. I often work on behalf of older women, LGBTQ+ people, people with disabilities, and people of colour. My regular clients pay a monthly fee of $475 (including HST), but I offer services on a sliding scale for seniors, students, artists, and anyone else on a limited income or facing financial hardship. I never turn away anyone I think I can help.

I work with clients month by month until we’ve found someone they want to keep seeing—or until they’ve gained the confidence to work their profile for themselves. I don’t always get to hear the follow-up story. My definition of “success” is pretty fluid. Marriage isn’t always the goal. People come to me for different reasons. Some haven’t dated in 40 years and they just want to learn the “ropes.” Some want to find a lifetime love but never live together. Some just want to have sex again, with or without love.

They also come to me at all stages of life; my youngest client was 24, and my oldest was 77. That client, Georgina, is getting married to a 73-year-old in June. A lot of former clients keep in touch. I get invited to at least one or two weddings a year—the ones where one spouse has told the other of my role. I can also take credit for about a dozen babies so far.

Right now, things have definitely slowed down as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. Almost all of my clients have chosen to put things on hold for the moment. It’s hard for people to imagine paying hundreds of dollars to “meet” someone they might not actually meet face to face for a year. But it’s also an excellent time to be online dating, for that exact reason. You can be as picky as you like right now! And, well, the only safe way to search for love now is online.

But nudging matchmaking into 21st century reality isn’t only about being online. While the industry remains heavily burdened by patriarchal convention, there is a growing number of matchmakers willing to stand up and be counted as feminist. Many are members of a large Facebook group, “Professional Love Connectors”. Tammy Shaklee, an Austin, Texas–based matchmaker who runs the company, H4M, is a “straight ally” who exclusively serves the LGBTQ+ community, providing one-to-one introductions for clients all over the United States. She’s also committed to making social justice a pillar of her work, and H4M donates thousands to LGBTQ+ charities every year, while encouraging its mainly affluent clientele to do the same.

Another group member, Amy Van Doran, says “feminist” is the word that started her career. She is the founder of New York City’s Modern Love Club, and defines a feminist matchmaker as one who “enables women to have as much agency in the dating process as their male counterparts.” She runs her “hyper-curated” old-fashioned matchmaking business out of an East Village gallery space in Lower Manhattan. She fills her company’s Rolodex by interviewing 54 people a week during “office hours,” and hosting regular art openings and events in the evening that draw an eclectic mix of artists, professionals, and other NYC singles. There’s a dedicated “free dating spot” right outside the storefront in warm weather months, for visitors who want to get to know each other on the premises. From that potential pool, she agrees to arrange matches for only “16 remarkable clients a year.”

Fees are hefty, starting in the $20,000 range, and Van Doran only takes on those she really feels she can help—and who can obviously pay. But that doesn’t mean the standard cis-het, white professionals only—she’s more interested in what’s going on inside a person’s head. Van Doran prefers to match “really interesting people, with a lot going on intellectually.” In her experience, the more unique, original, and engaging a person is, the harder it is for them to find love in the wild. That’s where she comes in; not just putting two people together, but convincing them to take a leap of faith or see potential in someone they are inclined to dismiss.

She cites the recent match of her yoga instructor in New York City with a man she met at Burning Man who lived on a commune in Oregon. “I was like, ‘Listen. Hear me out. This guy is your guy.’ It was so weird, but it was just obvious.” Her client listened. He left the commune. They now live in upstate New York, and they’re getting married.

Van Doran says she helps her clients free themselves from “thinking that you have to date a certain kind of person.” She believes criteria such as matching incomes, racial preferences, and even height parameters are obstructing the most important part of the matchmaking process. “We need to get away from all that and just ask, ‘Does this person make me happy?’ Everything else is going to change.”

One challenge of matching extraordinary people—and women in particular—is that they often expect a partner to bring exactly what they offer to a match, in terms of ambition, education, or material success. Van Doran challenges her clients to stop thinking that they have to date someone with a very similar lifestyle and career. “You don’t need two people who are running at top speed all the time.”

In my own matchmaking work, I have discovered that while complementary lifestyles can be extremely important, opposites who don’t tick all of each other’s boxes often make good matches. Van Doran and I both agree that the most important thing in finding a good match is paying attention to how a person makes you feel. Do you feel heard when you are talking to them? Do they make you laugh? Do you smile when you think of them? Are you excited to see their name come up on the phone? Would your best friend, your grandma, or your dog get along with them? Now that’s a match!

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