Groundhogs Day

I never realized what a sausage fest Groundhogs Day is. Yet another glass ceiling we have to break through.

Wise words from The Slits

“Don’t create
Don’t rebel
Have intuition
Can’t decide

Typical girls get upset to quickly
Typical girls can’t control themselves
Typical girls are so confusing
Typical girls – you can always tell
Typical girls don’t think too clearly
Typical girls are all predictable

Typical girls try to be
Typical girls very well

Typical girls are looking for something
Typical girls fall under spells
Typical girls buy magazines
Typical girls feel like hell
Typical girls worry about spots, fat, and natural smells
Sniky fake smells

Typical girls try to be
Typical girls very well

Don’t create
Don’t rebel
Have intution
Don’t drive well

Typical girls try to be
Typical girls very well

Can’t decide what clothes to wear
Typical girls are sensitive
Typical girls are emotional
Typical girls are cruel and bewitching
She’s a femme fatale
Typical girls stand by their man
Typical girls are really swell
Typical girls learn how to act shocked
Typical girls don’t rebel

Who invented the typical girl?
Who’s bringing out the new improved model?
And there’s another marketing ploy
Typical girl gets the typical boy

The typical boy gets the typical girl
The typical girl gets the typical boy

Are emotional”

– Typical Girls – by The Slits

The Slits are a British punk band that was formed in 1976. They originally were Ari Up, Palmolive, Kate Korus, and Suzy Gutsy. Then Viv Albertine and Tessa Pollitt replaced Korus and Gutsy.  They are kinda punk/reggae/avant-garde sounding.  I can’t get into all of their songs personally, but there’s a couple songs I really like.  It’s just that I’m not much for the avant-garde sound and Ari Up’s voice can really rock or it can make me really crazy, but I have to give them respect for their musical ingenuity and general sassiness!

This song is my favorite of theirs. If the “Typical Girls” song is too kooky for you, this song is definitely more melodic and very danceable. It’s their remake of the song “Heard It Thru the Grapevine”:

Girl Power – a book by Marisa Meltzer

Recently I read the book, “Girl Power” by Marisa Meltzer. She basically analyzes all of the most relevant (to her) female artists of the past 2 decades in respect to feminism and how they may, or may not, have been directly or indirectly influenced by riot grrrl having existed.

It was really good. It basically echoed a lot of my thoughts on the state of feminism in music. She talks about riot grrrl a lot of course, but she critiques it too. She doesn’t just praise them. Even though their message was strong and amazing, they had big flaws and they need to be examined. Hopefully, there will be something like it again, but even better.

She wrote a chapter about the Michigan Womyns Festival that was really funny. It poked fun at it but she does also give it props. She also talks about Camp Trans that trans women hold next door. They started Camp Trans when the Michigan Womyn’s festival discovered a tranny in the midst (*gasp!*) and made it decreed that only women born women could attend. So Camp Trans was started as a reaction. Her experience at the camp made me totally wanna go! It may not have huge bands and 1,000 spotless Port-o-johns like Michigan, but it sounds so cute and welcoming of EVERYONE.

On a side note, I love when she talks about Sleater-Kinney, describing their breakup as making her feel like her childhood was officially over. Which is exactly how I felt. It felt like the end of an era to me. Like the 17 year old girl I was, going to see SK in small venues in NYC, wide eyed and in awe of the message and feeling of inclusion, was now officially grown up. It was a weird feeling. And interesting to me to read about someone feeling that very same thing.

She doesn’t just examine underground bands either. She takes a look at bands like Hole, L7, Babes in Toyland, Liz Phair, Alanis Morrissette, The Spice Girls, Britney Spears, Pussycat Dolls, and even Mandy Moore and Miley Cyrus to name a few. And she doesn’t just lambast them all for not being riot grrrl enough. She gives credit where credit is due as well as pointing out flaws and showing how each artist helped further women. Or how maybe Miley Cyrus is ridiculous to us older women, but is a decent role model for younger girls.

She also talks about trends like raunch culture. Like how women will wear stuff like Playboy tee shirts and take pole dancing classes. These things always irked me but I didn’t know how to verbalize it or couldn’t figure out exactly why it bothered me. However, I realized in reading this, that it looks more like women are being duped by that shit rather than women are *owning* something that normally stands for their objectification.

Anyway, I liked that it was a balanced look at many different female artists. Plus she wasn’t all serious either. Spice Girls may be bullshit, but they are a good time for what they are. So long as you don’t take them seriously and just draw the positive from them. All in all, a very good read. It made me feel nostalgic 🙂

As a bonus, here’s 2 clips I found on Youtube of Sleater-Kinney’s last show ever. :*)

This one is one of my favorite songs of all time:

Start the riot!

I love me some Bikini Kill! When I was in high school this was one of the bands that inspired me. And still does. Here are the lyrics to the song Kathleen Hanna is singing in the video (cos i know you couldn’t understand a damn word she was saying):

I can sell my body if I wanna
God knows you already sold your mind
I may sell my body for money sometimes

But you can’t stop the fire that burns
inside of me
You think I don’t know
I’m here to tell you
I do

You think I don’t know
I know the truth
about you

Jigsaw, jigsaw youth
We go with the kids
Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah

Jigsaw, jigsaw youth

We know there’s not
one way, one light, one stupid truth
Don’t fit your definitions
Don’t need your demands
Not into
win lose reality
Won’t fit in with
your plan

So where have all the riot grrrls gone? I know they are out there somewhere… I know I have friends who still consider themselves riot grrrls (and actually I know more boy riot grrrls than girls… Cheers to Coleen, Aleix, and Ray!)  But really, the time of riot grrrl is pretty much over.  And that is fine, I can totally accept that, things come and go, but I’m just curious about when we are going to have a strong musical  movement to take its place?  

I mean, we have The Gossip fronted by Beth Ditto, who are a band that is queer and fat positive, and they are awesome, but we don’t have any other girls or guys out there who are taking the mic and challenging people to think and question the status quo. I think we’ve become complacent. 

And there’s really no rocking women right now. What we have is a lot of Miley Ciruses and Taylor Swifts. And you know, I like some mainstream female pop artists too. Lady Gaga…Britney…I am all about it. I’m not a hater. Not every song has to be a battle cry, but I think its time for some new girls to rise up and challenge people to think about where we are as far as women’s rights.

So yeah, I know riot grrrl is over and has been gone so long now that I’m sure most people out there dont even know what I’m talking about. I probably sound like one of those 50 year old women that still say “groovy” and “far out” and think naughty thoughts about Mick Jagger.  Yet, I do know that people are inspired by history and past fads. (Otherwise, bad 80’s fashions wouldn’t have come back so hardcore this decade.) So I guess I’m just hoping that some young whippersnappers out there will read this and be inspired to start their own riot.  Cause someone out there needs to start singing some lyrics that force us to think about the fact that we are still not all seen as equals.  Gays still can’t get married, women still dont make the same amount of money as men, gays still cant fight openly in the military, women still have to work harder to get up in this life, etc etc ad nauseum right?  So lets get people talking and thinking politically and encourage conversations, new ideas, and not rhetoric.  Let’s help those that are held down or feel alienated realize that they are not alone and there is a source of power and understanding out there. Because I know thats what this music did for me.  I would do it, but no one wants to hear me sing.  I’d  make Kathleen Hanna sound like Celine Dion. 

Kathleen Hanna from Bikini Kill
Beth Ditto from The Gossip

Riot grrrl was an underground feminist punk movement that started in the early 1990’s, and it is often associated with third-wave feminism …Riot grrrl bands often address issues such as rape, domestic abuse, sexuality, and female empowerment…In addition to a music scene, riot grrrl is also a subculture;  zines, the DIY ethic, art, political action, and activism are part of the movement. Riot grrrls hold meetings, start chapters, and support and organize women in music. – Wikipedia

Queercore…may be distinguished by lyrics exploring themes of prejudice and dealing with issues such as sexual identity, gender identity and the rights of the individual; more generally bands offer a critique of society endemic to their position within it, sometimes in a light-hearted way, sometimes seriously.  – Wikipedia

Um, that first song is called “Suck My Left One”…what’s not to like??  Its followed by “Rebel Girl” (1992)

Roseanne Barr, one of the original riot grrrls

Yet another reason why I will always love the Roseanne show. My friend Aleix brought this episode to my attention recently. Its one where Roseanne and Jackie pick up a girl hitchhiker (played by Jenna Elfmann) who schools them on the riot grrrl revolution. Man, I miss the 90s sometimes! Check it out:

I’ve also had the great fortune to have met Roseanne. A few years ago, Coleen took me and her family to go see Roseanne do standup at a casino in Connecticut. During the show, she asked everyone to write down a question and as part of her schtick she would pretend to psychically answer the question. So for my question, I wrote some crazy dramatic soliloquy having to do with me wanting her to communicate with my dead rabbit, Biggie, and I drew some sort of strange bunny/angel illustration to go with it. Unfortunately, she didn’t pick my question though and the show ended.

So after, she came out and we got to go up and meet her. I gave her my question for her to autograph and she read it over and thought it was hilarious. She even asked if she could have it to use in her show!! I was so flustered and shocked, I idiotically said, “No” cause I wanted her to sign it so badly. I don’t know why, I have always cared less about getting autographs from celebs, but I was soooo star struck by her that I just lost my freaken mind!!

The next thing I knew, I just started babbling about how I was totally behind her when she got in trouble back in the day for singing the national anthem and spitting on the mound. And that I just didn’t think the public’s reaction was fair and I totally thought it was mean of everyone. She was just like, “yeah, umm, I didnt understand why everyone was like, so upset about that.” But I’m sure she was thinking, “Umm, why is this girl bringing up something that happened in like, 1991 right now??”

She was also completely unimpressed with the fact that Coleen and her family also share the last name of “Barr”. Turns out, she explained that her last name is actually Barrovski and not even Barr. She just shortened it for show biz. *sigh*

BUT regardless of all that embarrassment, she is still one of my absolute idols and I love the shit out of that lady! Her show was just pure sarcastic genious and the Connor family was just so real and absolutely relateable. I feel like I’m watching my childhood every time I watch it and I still laugh and cry as if I don’t know each episode inside and out. I know there are a lot of Roseanne haters out there, but if you ask me, that show had substance, feminism, and class (albeit white trash brand of class, but class none-the-less!). And if you tell me you hate that show, honestly, a big part of me will never trust you or your taste.