I am about to tell you something, and I need you to do your best to do what I say.
Go right this minute to go see Kathleen Hanna’s biopic, “The Punk Singer”.
I’m glad to live in LA, where Cinefamily has a print and is playing (in LA? NO EXCUSES. GO. NOW! I’m making this post on a Saturday night, which I never ever do, because I want you to go and take advantage of the Sunday showings). I looked, and it’s playing in plenty of other metro areas. Roll out, my friends.
I’m not a movie reviewer, so that’s not what the rest of this post is gonna be about. I’m not a critic, really. All I know is that this documentary brought up so many things for me– basically I was five minutes in and choking back tears, and not because of some sob story in the storyline. Kathleen Hanna just gets it, and it just makes you wanna do better and work harder and love stronger.
I’ve been thinking about how I want to write this, since walking out of the theatre. I tried talking about it with Ben on the way home, and ended up crying as I tried to get out, “I just remember being young, and learning about Riot Grrrl, and not feeling alone anymore.”
And I think that’s the power of Kathleen Hanna. She let you know that you weren’t alone, and that you had a friend, and you didn’t have to take it anymore. She’s smart and articulate and funny. She’s empathetic and a doer. She’s a real fucking heroine.
There were two positive events that set me on the path that I am on now. The first was learning about Riot Grrrl with my best friend, Crystal. We were 12, the perfect age to realize that things sucked, and they’d been sucking for a long time. Things changed. The way we communicated changed. The way we wrote changed. The way we dressed changed. We dreamed of starting our own bands. We started making our own clothes. We started being ok with being the “weird girls” because we were filled with purpose and an understanding toward a greater good. You wanna make fun of us? You wanna kick us around? How about fuck you. We had plans.
The second was in college in Fresno. I was finally in a band and I really loved my bandmates. I did not love being in a band. And I wanted to make art. It was a shitty moment where I felt like I was abandoning my amazing friends– trust me, they got better once I wasn’t playing with them– and having to go out into the great unknown, all alone.
A few things followed me through these spaced out, definitive events.
1.)Feminism. I was lucky to learn about it in seventh grade! I was lucky that Riot Grrrl was a thing, and was tenticling all the way out to our little town. I learned to think critically. I learned that there were things that were expected of me. I learned that I had power and a voice and that I can use these to educate and change my world.
It still makes me really bummed when I hear people I love say they aren’t feminists, because really, they are, and they’re scared of the word.
2.) Kathleen Hanna. Kathleen Hanna. Kathleen Hanna. I know, it’s so obvious to anyone who was involved in 3rd wave feminism! But everything comes back to her, and it hit me last night while I was watching the movie. I feel so connected to other women, and really it’s because of Kathleen’s own work; her own ability to connect the dots and articulate them.
3.) Zines. True. Fucking. Freedom.
I am still very much that angry 12 year old, in some ways. As much as I try to infuse everything I do with love, sometimes the only thing I have left to give is frustration. I think sometimes I’m grateful for it. I think. It propels me just as much.
Please go see this movie. Take your friend who won’t admit she’s a feminist. Take your mom or your teenage sister. Take your best friend and hold hands and just feel so happy that you get to live in this world and make change happen. And then go home and make something.
That’s what I’m doing.
That’s all I can do.