(January 27, 2023). One friend sent it to a group text. Pandemonium nearly ensued.
Another posted it on his Facebook page: the NY Post—a conservative tabloid paper owned by the same people who run Fox News—had run an article crying foul (which it later corrected in an update…but didn’t retract).
A third friend also cried foul, even after I informed him it was a hoax, claiming that it wasn’t beneath extreme activists to stoop to this kind of protest bordering on absurdity. He then rambled off a list of other “egregious” demands—mostly related to gender neutral bathroom access and sports competition eligibility—to illustrate his point.
What was “it” in this case?
Aretha Franklin’s 1967 top-10 smash “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.”
The song had been the subject of a January 20 tweet by a group called TCMA: Trans Cultural Mindfulness Alliance, with the following quote: “Aretha Franklin’s 1968 song “Natural Woman” perpetuates multiple harmful anti-trans stereotypes. There is no such thing as a “natural” woman. This song has helped inspire acts of harm against transgender women. TCMA is requesting it is removed from Spotify & Apple Music.”
The original tweet, which, in addition to getting the song’s year wrong and containing questionable grammar (that last sentence), included zero evidence to support its claim about the song sparking violence. It was then followed up with more rhetoric from TCMA, including LaBelle’s 1975 No. 1 smash “Lady Marmalade” being offensive because it “assumes that only cisgender women can be prostitutes”; and later praise for the Commodores’ 1978 No. 1 hit “Three Times A Lady” for being about a non-binary woman who “switches genders three times in the course of their relationship”).
That song was actually inspired by writer Lionel Richie’s mother and dedicated to his then-wife Brenda Richie and had nothing to do with gender fluidity.
Before even learning of those last two red flags (LaBelle’s and Richie’s songs) calling into question TCMA’s seriousness, I had likened the original “Natural Woman” tweet, which was accompanied by a picture of the Queen of Soul’s first greatest hits album for Atlantic Records, to a hoax…another example of Twitter run amok, especially in the wake of Elon Musk’s takeover late last year and the social media platform’s increased disregard for policing fake content.
Except I, too, had allowed my own biases to set in and immediately likened the original post to a Russian hacker seeking to demolish our 2024 political agenda before it even gets off the ground with fake rhetoric meant to divide our nation as it had so successfully in 2016 and 2020.
Yet when the original post was determined to indeed be a hoax, or more specifically a parody of the “woke movement,” it was hard to decipher who was closer to the truth, my friends or myself.
Oh, I was right about the hoax part. Except when it was revealed not to be a Russian hacker seeking to manipulate U.S. politics but a “Norwegian group” trolling the trans movement and “wokeness” in general, it turns out my friends might have been closer to the true premise and sentiment behind the tweet than I was.
After all, it was the “extreme woke agenda” that these friends were taking issue with—similar to the parody post itself—without regard for the fact that the song in question was written and recorded more than 55 years ago (years before this issue entered our politics), or that it was written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin, not Aretha Franklin—technicalities I gave weight to that few other people seemed to think were relevant to the issue being discussed.
Indeed, I—a person more offended by Mary J. Blige’s “so inspired” obliteration of the song’s original lyrics in her 1994 remake—had dug too deeply into the tune’s actual history, without regard for what actually drives people these days.
In the age of social media, where tweets can purport “facts” just as readily as well-vetted, well-researched news can, it didn’t matter who actually wrote the song or when it came out or that there were multiple versions of it out there. Aretha’s “Natural Woman” is the most well known, and it contained the words “natural” and “woman,” which made it an easy target.
The person owning the offending account @TransMindful confirmed on Monday, Jan. 23 that their tweet was a joke, stating that it was intended as a commentary on “woke” culture and “media stupidity,” and adding that “not ONE media outlet contacted me prior to reporting this s**t lol.”
But an earlier TCMA tweet had read: “For clarification, the TCMA is not a parody organization. We are a group of trans individuals seeking to make culture more fair for transgender individuals. We are based in Norway but are seeking to open a chapter in each European country and also North America.”
So which was it? Parody post? Truthful post by a Parody account? Neither?
The TCMA account bio currently reads: “Founded January 2023 exclusively by trans individuals promoting cultural changes to ensure the inclusivity of trans individuals. If you think it’s parody it is.”
A Google search of “trans cultural mindfulness alliance” shows that the newly founded group exists only on Twitter (no official website or other platform presence seems to exist).
The Twitter account continues to be active with tweets posted as recently as Thursday, January 26, taking jabs at “trans-hate.” It would seem contradictory that a “group” purporting to expose and denounce hate is simultaneously parodying the “woke” movement (or “mob” as many conservative politicians now refer to it).
For all we know, TCMA could really be one person trolling the Internet for attention. It’s sad that they’re getting it…both for the actual trans community and for those who don’t identify that way.
The original controversial “Natural Woman” tweet has received 1.2 million views since its creation a week ago.
Meanwhile, here’s Aretha’s classic Kennedy Center Honors performance of “A Natural Woman” for your listening and viewing pleasure.
Reluctant social media user DJRob (he/him/his) is a freelance music blogger from somewhere on the East Coast who covers R&B, hip-hop, pop and rock genres – plus lots of music news and current stuff! You can follow him on Twitter at @djrobblog.
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One thought on “<strong>Aretha’s ‘(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman’—the latest Internet hoax exposing our sensitivity and vulnerability</strong>”
Another distraction🤦🏽♂️ This song and the artist are classic and timeless. I have a lot more to say, but not on any form of social media. #maturity