April 06, 2010


Older generation female rocker ladies making uninformed judgment calls about women making music today, and how (sorry, Jude) no one is angry anymore how the nineties were so much better, when we had Liz Phair and Hole and Belly and L7 on MTV* (aka the blinded nostalgia trope of the aging rock n' roll feminist) IS REALLY FUCKING UNPRODUCTIVE.

It also shows they are not digging deep enough, or seeing the forest for the trees. Lily Allen, regardless of what anyone thinks, is basically the Sex Pistols of girls making bedroom electronic pop. Feminist empowerment example and a real woman to boot--so, we get Little Boots out it rather the Slits. Big fucking deal. If you think "angry women in punk" is a faction that has somehow receded, or that L7 in it's day was some how better than the generation of women now in all manner or metal bands--you have gotten too far removed from the action. Go browse the 7" new arrivals like you did last in 199X and you'll see a lot more women in the bin now than you ever did then. Spend 11. 4 minutes on Myspace and catch up. It never disappeared, we just missed it because we were so busy clinging tight to copies of Guyville; we refused new ideas as relevant.

Riot Grrrl wasn't the end result, it was the catalyst. That's what it was supposed to be, thats what it was meant as--not a static thing. It didn't have stick around forever to count as successful--movements come in waves--it did it's job perfectly. So much is different post RG, so much permission and power and inspiration was funneled down steadily--whether it's to the league of young girl shredders, or rock camps, or explicitly feminist and queer show collectives being run by women whose tether to RG was simply catching the tail end of Sleater Kinney.

Feminism has to move on, salute new icons, be excited by the varieties of archetypes of women in music, be they Gaga or Nite Jewel, that are self-directed, self-produced, not operating under the shadow of a Svengali hand. To not appreciate the difference in agency, or appreciate the different struggles of women now, like it's contest of who had it worst, a game of radical oneupsmanship--we might as well just start talking about how we had to walk both ways uphill to school in the snow with no shoes on. Our battles are not to be hung on the necks of the new waves of girls like an albatross.

I remember in about 1995 or 96, reading an interview with Exene that was really heavy on "kids today" attitude and the last time I saw her she was on the mini stage at a Girls Rock camp benefit gushing about how great this was because it was time for a new feminism, and it was great that these young women (and little girls) have it totally different than we did. She can appreciate that because she is paying attention, she is part of it, in staying present in music and accepting new generations on their own terms she is showing new girls that they are part of a continuum, not just passing on this epic mantle of struggle. The impact of earlier punk feminism is so totally evident in so much music that is happening, and it needn't and SHOULDN'T replicate what came before or paved the way for it--the sense of permission endowed in the work of women making music today is as radical--if not more so--than if they were parroting Bikini Kill lyrics. That is how current feminist work honors older feminist work is with it's progress and new paths--that is all we should ask of it as feminists. BLAZE THE FUCK PAST US.

The hope was, in this supposed 90's golden era (that is so repeatedly harkened back to), that we would move beyond it. Not park and roll around in it for another 18 years. The hope was that punk rock would get better so that we wouldn't always need a Riot Grrrl to intercede and open our eyes. If we are fondly recalling Alanis Fucking Morrissette as some sort of speaking-truth-to-power icon over supporting women who are making music today then punk feminism is in deeper shit than we ever were.

* Also, if we are accepting this antiquated recognition/version of making it as the pinnacle, we need to upgrade the dream.

Posted by jessica hopper at April 6, 2010 01:27 PM | TrackBack