Smart, Dirty, & Raw

Turn that song down
Turn that static up

I can’t remember exactly when I discovered punk rock, or exactly when I declared myself a feminist, but I do remember when the two came together delightfully: Bikini Kill.
Bikini Kill was not of my time or of my generation, but I can imagine they had the same effect on me as the many riot grrrls writing zines and starting bands in the early 90’s. By the time I discovered Bikini Kill, Le Tigre was on the verge of putting out their first album. Either way, I was utterly fascinated.
It was post-grunge but pre-iTunes era, so I was listening to college radio and downloading sound clips from places like CDNow and Amazon(oh, Steve Jobs how you have revolutionized the Internet). The old underground and the new world of the Internet were both giving me new ideas. I had a clip of “I Like Fucking” on a probably now-defunct media player called Sonique. It was only about 25 seconds, but it was enough to convince me. Through the Internet and a newly-forming online zine community, I found out about riot grrrl and suddenly realized that this band that sounded so deliciously underground was actually incredibly influential.
Bikini Kill’s music gave a voice to not only my burgeoning sense of feminism, but a newfound sexuality as well. They were a band for every girl who knew that feminism didn’t mean hating men or having a politically correct sex life. I didn’t like girls, but all the sudden I wanted to be a “Rebel Girl”. I wanted to be as confident as Kathleen Hanna. Bikini Kill’s music was smart, dirty, and raw all at the same time. I wanted to be all that and more—Bikini Kill opened up a new world for me, musically and personally. It didn’t take long for me to become the proud owner of Bikini Kill’s entire discography, plus a really cool t-shirt that I wore at least once a week to school. They introduced me to Kill Rock Stars, which in turn introduced me to the first real show I ever went to, Sleater-Kinney, as well as many others. Hell, they even made me want to move to Olympia and go to Evergreen State College.
You can love ‘em or hate ‘em, but Bikini Kill remains a powerful and influential band. Bikini Kill at once branded a new, exciting version of both punk rock and feminism. I hope that somewhere a 15 year old girl is discovering Bikini Kill for the first time, and she’s falling in love with raw guitars and explicit lyrics. And I hope that it’s gonna change her life just like it did mine.
-Jennifer Bell

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