Now kids, sit around and I shall tell you a story.
I was listening to Suede on my iPod on a beach in South Carolina last spring break. I had found this compilation of British music from the 1990’s at my local library which introduced me to Cocteau Twins, My Bloody Valentine, and a great many more. I just closed my eyes and pretended it was 1992. I’m so infinitely cool, I know.
The particular song from that compilation that strangely led me to feminism was Metal Mickey by Suede. It’s pretty catchy:
I had to find out what on earth dashing lead singer Brett was singing about. Google told me that Metal Mickey had been written about some band called Daisy Chainsaw.
I quickly looked up Daisy Chainsaw on Wikipedia. Courney Love was a Daisy Chainsaw fan? Wasn’t Courtney Love the wife of Kurt Cobain, I asked myself? Wikipedia described Daisy Chainsaw as being an influence for riot grrrl bands, though it was not directly aligned with the movement. Whatever that meant.
After another google search I happened across the riot grrrl manifesto, which completely changed my entire life.
After reading it I was like YES YES YES! I felt free. I walked down the beach and felt like I was truly myself, and like I had just stumbled upon something absolutely fantastic.
I pasted a copy of the riot grrrl manifesto inside my locker at school, so that if anyone tried to hurt me in any way I could just look at it and say “Eff patriarchy!”
and feel so much better. Because if you’ve ever tried to be a 12 year old girl who doesn’t fit the norm it’s hard.
I went from wearing skinny jeans that made my hips bleed to wearing sweatpants and skirts and whatever the heck I wanted. I questioned the world around me and became so much more comfortable with myself, my sexuality, my body, my everything. Because society made us expect certain things of each other that just aren’t healthy. Girls are told to be “feminine” and boys “masculine” and that’s that. But who says we have to follow that? Girls and boys, if you’re reading this know that gender norms are a pile of rubbish.
I know that riot grrrl wasn’t perfect. It wasn’t completely inclusive and according to Courtney Love via Wikipedia it was too doctrinaire and censorious. But can’t we put this aside and just appreciate what a positive influence it was in certain people’s lives (ahem, mine)?
Kathleen Hanna and company taught me that I can be who I want. They gave me power in a time when it was not easy to even be alive. Thinking you’re the queen of the neighborhood is pretty awesome.