I think Bikini Kill was one of the founding members of my feminism. Sure, I’d been pro-choice and pro-women’s rights since I was small, but BK opened the doors to something radical for me.
The first time I heard them I was about 15 (1995). I was in the car with several other teenage folks, and I remember thinking, this is good. Then I heard the voices of women and themes I could understand and I said, “I must have this! What is it?” Shortly after, I had a supposedly monogamous relationship turn not so monogamous and I was pissed. Not that it was a profound relationship (are they at that age?), but BK definitely helped me through that tough time. I started to feel proud of who I was and demand the right to be heard. I finally wrote about my sexual assault experiences and shared them with friends.
Thankfully I live in the Pacific NW, so the feminist music and zines were accessible to me. I even wrote a zine of my own addressing sexual assault, girl friendships, cathartic poetry and language as the base of female oppression. Small towns aren’t too keen on that stuff, but I’m pretty stoked that I did it anyway.
Ever since that time, I’ve been that outspoken girl you need an acquired taste to enjoy. I’ll correct you for saying things that are not people correct. I rock just as hard as any dude in the front row at the rock show. I will always work in some field that contributes to the betterment of women’s lives.
Unfortunately, I never got into the actual playing of the music. I’m a connoisseur, but I never harnessed that talent within myself. Fortunately, I (and many, many other women) have found roller derby. It feels like the new riot grrl. I’ve seen it work wonders for so many of my friends. I get to be feminine and tough all wrapped up in an eight wheeled package. I get exercise, camaraderie, community and the chance to show it off. I dig it.
I was so sad to find out that I missed the boat as far as being able to see Bikini Kill was concerned and that the riot grrl movement in general was squelched. However, they still live on for me. Anytime I need to feel powerful in who I am (like on the way to a bout), I just listen to my old BK tapes. Thank you for that.