Getting a bad reputation

kathleen and billy
I started listening to Bikini Kill as a sophomore in high school. This was definitely the most challenging year for me as far as teenage angst goes. The previous year I had been student council secretary and was the poster child for white, wholesome youth. At the end of my freshman year however, I had started to struggle with depression and began to question a lot about my community and myself. I arrived at school the next year noticeably changed.

At this point I started listening and learning about a lot of female-led music. Bikini Kill kept coming up in things that I would read and it seemed to me that they had the reputation for being the most radical female-led Riot Grrl group. As soon as I could I bought their EP. It soon became the soundtrack for the rest of my sophomore year.

As a young Mormon woman, I had rarely, if ever, seen women expressing themselves the way that Kathleen Hannah and other Riot Grrls did. It truly intrigued me.

My mom was very concerned with the image I was slowly building. One day after seeing me talking with some classmates she disapproved of, she told me that I was risking “getting a bad reputation.” I quietly smiled, remembering lyrics from my favorite Bikini Kill song:

“We’re the girls with the bad reputations, we’re the girls we’re gonna make you paaayy, We’re the girls with the bad reputations, we are gonna have our waaayy…”

As soon as I got home I went downstairs to my bedroom and started playing the song. I felt that there were other girls out there like me when I heard the lyrics. The next morning the words appeared on my bedroom wall, I had written them out to remind me to be proud of who I am, regardless of what anyone else thinks.

I certainly owe a lot to Bikini Kill and other strong female musicians that set a good example for me. To this day I continue to follow my heart and could care less about my reputation.
-Janice Formichella

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