Kathleen Hanna has been one of my idols since high school, when I first heard of the Riot Grrrl movement (a feminist punk revolution that she helped spread nationwide with her band, Bikini Kill). She seemed to me to be the bravest, coolest, loudest woman I'd ever witnessed in the punk rock world (or anywhere, really). My opinion hasn't changed over all these years, but my appreciation for Kathleen Hanna and her work has deepened, intensified, and carved out a special place in my heart, and it has helped shape some of my personal philosophies. Watching her music and other artistic endeavors evolve over the years has kept me in a state of awe whenever I think of powerful women that I consider to be feminist icons. For these reasons, to quote a Bikini Kill song, I consider Kathleen Hanna to be a "Queen of My World."
Check out some of the material that has fueled my undying devotion to this Rebel Girl:
This album will give you a great introduction to Bikini Kill, as it's their first demo cassette, released in 1991. After this demo, they went on to release their self-titled album on the indie label Kill Rock Stars and pioneer the Riot Grrrl movement.
This album is Kathleen Hanna's first solo project, which she released in 1997 while on a break from Bikini Kill. In working on this project, she ended up collaborating with several musicians, with several of whom she went on to form the band Le Tigre. Nowadays, The Julie Ruin perform as a full band and just released a new album, which you'll see later in this post.
Le Tigre's punk-dance record, This Island, mixes dance and punk beats to create an album that is so entertaining and yet also socially aware, especially when it comes to issues of gender politics. It has more mainstream appeal, perhaps, than Bikini Kill, but still provides cutting feminist commentary on contemporary society.
Before I saw this film, I already expected to love it, since (as I mentioned a few times before) I'm a big fan of Kathleen Hanna. And I did love it. But it was about so much more than Kathleen's music, and it hit me hard when I started to learn about some details of her experience, specifically when it comes to her battle with chronic illness. Even if you don't love Kathleen Hanna, even if you aren't the least bit familiar with any of what I've been raving about in this blog post, this film is worth watching as a fellow human living on the same earth as Kathleen Hanna. Pro tip: have some tissues handy.
One of the great things about admiring Kathleen Hanna is that she is still putting out new material! The Julie Ruin just put out this new album, and I've been using hoopla to listen to it on repeat lately. You should consider treating yourself and doing the same.
In conclusion, PLEASE REPEAT AFTER ME: