“Let us arm ourselves. Let us show the men that we are not their inferiors in courage or virtue. Let us rise to the level of our destinies and break our chains. It is high time that women emerged from the shameful state of nullity and ignorance, to which the arrogance and injustice of men have so long condemned us.” Théorigne de Méricourt
“In my 20’s, a lot of people were like, ‘She’s so confident, she’s such a strong feminist!’ But that wasn’t how I actually felt. I felt really freaked out and unsure of myself. And I’m sure that made for great shows, because it was like I was falling apart in front of people’s faces.” Kathleen Hanna, Former lead singer of Bikini Kill
Recently my sister opened my eyes to a completely new world; Feminist punk rock. I am ashamed to say my knowledge of this genre ran as superficially deep as knowing a few songs by Siouxsie & the Banshee as well as knowing the scene had a vague connection with Kurt Cobain. Kurt was one of the outspoken talisman for the scene and as this Esquire article shows, he was heavily influenced by the Riot Grrrl bands. (I realise the implications of writing a feminist-slanting article whilst linking to Esquire… pls don’t shoot the messenger!)
We all owe a huge debt to Bikini Kill front woman Kathleen Hanna as she was responsible for the name ‘Smells like Teen Spirit’; She spray painted Kurt Smells like Teen Spirit onto his infamous house in Olympia, Washington (of which the essence of punk-rock was distilled within its walls), to honour his girlfriend of the time, BK drummer Toby Vail’s choice of deodorant.
If you, like me, are a relative newcomer to the Riot Grrrl scene, watch this clip on Kathleen Hanna reading their manifesto. The fact they had a manifesto is a testament to the organisational and revolutionary zeal of these ladies…
Sini Anderson’s documentary on Kathleen Hanna is well worth a watch too, here’s the trailer:
Sleater-Kinney are naturally the next band worth checking out. To my delight I saw the band was on Subpop, who over the years have introduced me to literally so many great acts and even rebellious poets such as Steven Jesse Bernstein – a post on this man himself will be forthcoming at some point…. but lets just say when it comes to embodying the spirit of rebellion and rock ‘n’ roll… that man is beyond comparison….. excuse me while my pupils dilate, and I weep sugary-sweet tears as my heart bursts at the mention of that man…. I love him.
Carrie Brownstein is the lead singer of Sleater-Kinney and as well as being famous for her music, she is also a comedian who c0-wrote the Emmy award winning Portlandia.
Here is a selection of other notable acts from the Riot Grrrl collective showcasing their key songs:
Heavens To Betsy, Complicated
Bratmobile, Cool Schmool
Patti Smith, Land
Good to see my sister is harbouring an ever-blossoming passion for creativity and has found a real, revolutionary genre to sink her teeth into; I was much the same at her age but my passions and interests led me to the Beat Generation of 1950s America and all the counter-culture, jazz, free-spirits, hippie movement/revolution that was hot on conservative americas heels….. The gorgeous Beats will be getting some good writing soon… But in the mean time here’s Alan Ginsberg and Bob Dylan:
By Tom Proctor