My Blog__ New Rage, Old Age

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This rant was written for Nicole Villeneuve.

Kate Carraway of EYE WEEKLY has noticed the 90s revival and I've noticed it too. As someone who clings to Sonic Youth, Babes in Toyland and 7 Year Bitch like a security blanket, this 90s throw back in fashion, art, music and culture has me a little excited but also a little worried. It has made Carraway the latter.

In her article, "Riot Grrrl Redux", Carraway explains that we have seen a shift happening in popular culture where kids who were born in 1994, like Tavi Gevinson or Taylor Momsen, are getting excited about a time they never knew by wearing certain clothes, blogging nostalgic phrases about Riot Grrrl Power or just wearing lace and calling it "badass". She also notes that this 90s kick-back was perhaps pioneered by ex-Sassy readers and 90s teens alike, people who miss how great that time was for music, art, fashion and especially feminism.

Carraway is annoyed for two reasons. The first being that these young band-wagon jumpers do not fully appreciate the social and political roots of 90s heirlooms like Francesca Lea Block books and Huggybear records - how could they really? Second, that even though these girls are blogging and networking about how great the 90s was, how cool it all appeared, their lack of experiental knowledge is getting in the way of one thing that made riot grrrl feminism so great back then: rage.

"The best and defining part of riot grrrl was rage, but the revival we’re making is about clothes and records," Carraway writes. "We’re posturing, but not pissed." Maybe for some.

Riot Grrrl was great. It meant a lot to me. It shaped the way I was able to understand music and for that, I will always respect the accomplishments of those feminist bands. However, riot grrrl was a very contextual (and arguably exclusionary) movement that doesn't exactly work with what women in music deal with today. Tobi, Kathleen and the gang paved the way for us female musicians to have the space we do now, just like Patti, Tina and Kim did for them.

I am angry, but I am not angry for the exact same reasons that the riot grrrl's were and therefore, I am a new breed. I have new politics and new ways of expressing my social understandings through music. One thing that I have learned to just brush off, as most female musicians who make slightly aggressive music do, is that lazy critics will refer to what you are doing as "riot grrrl" even when it isn't. These comparissons, while flattering, are blatantly sexist. My band is made-up of three women and one young dude. We play loud music. I understand how these two factors lead up to the constant Bikini Kill references. In some ways, we're practically asking for it (oh no, she didn't) but there is nothing intrinsically riot grrrl about our band just like there is nothing intrinsically riot grrrl about any all-female band today because we have moved past that political landscape. Why does Carraway want us to repeat riot grrrl rage? Why can't we have our own politics of anger?

Besides, even though anger may be seemingly detected through performance ferocity doesn't mean someone is actually angry and visa versa. My good friend Andrea Lukic and I have talked about this many times. Anger is sometimes real and other times just assumed by the audience or critic. Carraway asked, "Where is the rage?" Maybe she needs to look a little deeper, beyond her peripheral vision, where she will find a whole slew of women who might not be screaming, but are still soliciting their rage. Rage happens in multiple forms. Rage is not as easily heard as a scream.


(Oh and by the by Carraway, Courtney Love was never a riot grrrl. She hated the riot grrrls. She even wrote that mean song about them, "20 Years in the Dakota", and punched Kathleen Hanna in the face just for looking at her.)

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  1. […] writers from all over critizied the movement for being void of politics, while others attempted to figure out what this throw back to “Revolution Grrrl Style Now” realty meant for women today. Others just […]

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