"Riot Grrrl: Then & Now" Lecture from Kathleen Hanna

Confession: I've never seen Kathleen Hanna live before.

Between being deemed too young to go to shows (I discovered Bikini Kill when I was twelve), being in college full-time and working four jobs, and not finding out about shows until the day after they happened, I missed out on every chance to see Kathleen Hanna live . . . until YESTERDAY.

Kathleen Hanna has been on tour giving lectures on her experiences with the Riot Grrrl movement. So when I heard she was coming to Portland to give a lecture at The Revolution Hall, you can bet your sweet ass that I bought tickets as soon as they were available, because there was no way in hell I was going to miss this.

Her lecture was funny, quirky, informative, inspiring. Hearing about her experiences with being in bands that I loved and being a part of a movement that heavily inspired who I am today, memories of how much of an impact she had on my life were firing at rapid pace. Like, I wish I could sit with her and just say thank you.

I remember her music inspired me to challenge a lot of things and to not be afraid to have a voice. I remember being thirteen and an avid music magazine reader, and writing to one specific magazine *cough* Hit Parader *cough* and calling them out on the fact that in the last year of issues they had put out, they had not featured a single female musician. They never printed my letter, but I was happy to see that two issues later, they finally started incorporating musicians of both genders in their issues again. I remember being fourteen and talking about how much I thought the "double standard" was bullshit and that anyone, regardless of gender identification, should receive equal treatment. I remember being sixteen and writing a letter to the school's principle, threatening to start a protest on campus if she didn't overturn the decision to suspend two of my friends, a lesbian couple (who had been suspended for kissing on campus . . . nothing that straight couples on campus would get busted for). I remember so much, and I feel proud of who I am.

Her lecture lasted about an hour and then she opened up the floor for a little Q&A. Many of the people there were uber fans, but one question got under my skin. There was a young woman who called out Kathleen Hanna by asking about her target audience and questioning the accessibility of her message/mission when "she's" charging $33 per ticket. Now this is where I'm going to spend way too much time and energy . . .

There's a quote by David Lynch that goes, "If they don't pay for it, they won't respect it."

Let's face it, nothing is free and time is money. Had Kathleen Hanna offered to lecture for free, how many fucking people would've shown up because they had nothing better to do? How many die-hard fans would've been turned away because some douchebag who's never heard of Kathleen Hanna before and insists on talking the entire time is taking up a seat? Okay, and if free is a stretch, then let's talk about discounted tickets. Kathleen Hanna had mentioned during her lecture that art isn't free. When she was in Bikini Kill and shows would be $5 at the door, a lot of people would show up just because it was a cheap show. And sometimes, these people were fucking rude because they could care less about her or the band or the message they were trying give. When she was in Le Tigre, and tickets were $12, it weeded out a lot of the assholes because no one wanted to pay $12 for a band they didn't care about. So now tickets to see her speak are $33. What does that mean? There will be EVEN LESS assholes at the event. Kathleen Hanna has been a long time idol of mine, and had she charged $100 for a ticket, despite being poor as shit, I would've found a way to get that money -- even if it meant picking up every goddamned penny I found on the street until I had enough. And if you want to talk about the accessibility of her message, have you never heard of the internet? You can find almost anything online. Interviews, websites, forums -- people talking about Riot Grrrl, feminism, punk rock, etc. Sure there's a lot of shit to sift through, but I promise, it's there.

I walked away from this lecture feeling inspired. Kathleen acknowledged that there were a lot of flaws with the Riot Grrrl movement, and recommended that people DO NOT try to bring it back. She wants for people to learn from the mistakes of that movement and build something new, something better. Oh, and that everyone should make flyers. Because flyers are awesome.

If you were at the event and want to talk about it, hit me up in the complain section of this website. If you weren't at the event and want to know more about, you may also complain.

Keep it creepy.


Tiffany Scandal is the author of There's No Happy Ending and Jigsaw Youth. She currently lives in Portland, Oregon with her three black cats.


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