Pretty Little Ladies

White boy : I don’t think it’s a problem cuz
most of the girls ask for it

Kathleen : Uh huh, how did they ask for it?

White boy : The way they act, the way they…
I…I can’t say they way they dress because
that’s their own personal choice

White boy : Some of these dumb hoes,
those slut rocker bitches walking down the street,
they’re asking for it, they may deny it but it’s true.   (sampled dialogue at the beginning of Bikini Kill’s ‘White Boy’)

They’re funny things ladies.  Just when you think you have them all worked out as pretty, scatterbrained lovelies who spend all their time thinking about kittens and gossiping happily, they go and get all cross about stuff.  Some ladies had so little cooking to do that they went and got ideas in 1992; I know, imagine!  These ideas, very wrongly, involved the lovely ladies not needing to look all lacey and leggy all the time.  That was bad.  Some ladies decided that they could form bands and get quite grumpy about a whole range of issues; don’t do it ladies! Who’ll do the ironing now?

No, Donald! No.
No, Donald! No.
Rather than help us fellows put down this nonsense by cutting off these ladies housekeeping money, irresponsible journalists fanned the fire of their insurrection and a new movement was born, Riot Grrrl*.  It saddened me to think of all those sweet girlies (grrrlies?), playing bass in bands like Bratmobile and 7 Year Bitch and not getting married.  Honestly, what would Martha Stewart say?


I liked the riot grrl movement a lot, there was a lot of taking the punk I-can’t-play ethos to extremes, more self-righteous fanzines than anyone ever needed and lots of women writing slogans on their stomachs and hands, for reasons I never quite understood.  Best of all was the timely foregrounding of all manner of feminist issues – groping at gigs being a very prominent one at the time, much cathartic discussion of gender stereotyping and building ‘safe spaces’ for women, all-woman shows became a thing for a few bands for a while and just a general willingness to scream about the female experience**.  It was never built to last, it only had a fairly niche appeal once you moved away from a young, educated demographic and the scenesters started getting too earnest by far, humour was never a prominent thing here^ and things splintered quickly.


For my money the two most interesting acts associated with riot grrl were Bikini Kill and Huggy Bear, so when I spotted a split LP of them both I snapped it up.  It’s called either Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah, or Our Troubled Youth depending on which band’s side you’re listening to^^, I tend to just call it Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah.  It was released through the Cat Call and Kill Rock Stars labels and has a pleasing DIY feel about it, except my copy hasn’t got the insert full of polemic and lyrics that it should do.

When she talks, I hear the revolution
In her hips, there’s revolutions
When she walks, the revolution’s coming
In her kiss, I taste the revolution!
Rebel girl, rebel girl
Rebel girl you are the queen of my world


Bikini Kill were a great ragged band at times, their best track ‘Rebel Girl’ is nothing short of brilliant – hard-hitting, playful and sexy^* a proper 90s punk rock classic.  It’s on Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah too, but unfortunately in an earlier 4-track recorded version and not the iron-clad version they included on Pussy Whipped, it’s still pretty good.  The whole of the Bikini Kill side is pretty damned harum-scarum, pausing only briefly to pound some sensitivity into the slower ‘Outta Me’.  I’m fond of ‘White Boy’ and ‘This Is Not a Test’ but this is not an ideal intro to the band, more for the hardcore devotee.  Seriously though, is there anyone in the music biz as cool as Kathleen Hanna?*^


So to Huggy Bear, who were a UK band who courted controversy by being stroppy, swearing and having A MAN IN THE BAND!  Yup, things did get a bit doctrinaire about trifles like having male members (sniggers).  What Huggy Bear also had was a neat sense of musicality and they were able to mix their virulence with a nice dollop of pop to sugar the medicine.  Our Troubled Youth is a far easier, more fully formed-formed listen than its’ Yank counterpart here, the production is much stronger and tracks like the Peanuts-sampling ‘Hopscotch’ almost have a Sonic Youth edge to their melodies.  My particular favourites are the very pop ‘Aqua Girl Star’ and the rattling ‘T-Shirt Tucked In’.


It’s been fun listening to this relic from a small scene in another era, particularly on the eve of the USA having a chance to elect its first female president.  I just think it would be nice if Bikini Kill get to reform for the inauguration and blast it out one last time on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, a primal scream to heal the shattered states:

Lay me spread eagle out on your hill, yeah
then write a book on how I wanted to die.
It’s hard to talk with your dick in my mouth
I will try to scream in pain a little nicer next time



707 Down.

*the adorable ninnies even spelt it wrong.

**I’m a little hazy about what that actually entails other than getting inexplicable angry at fixed times and occasionally giving birth.

^as, in my experience, it too seldom is amongst folks who share my leftie, pinko beliefs; lord save me from earnest fools.

^^take that patriarchal fascist compulsory LP alphabeticisers!

^*fights entirely inappropriate urge to type ‘just like the way I like my chicks’ there.

*^that’s rhetorical, dumbass – the answer is ‘nope’.  Le Tigre were just awesome beyond belief.

26 thoughts on “Pretty Little Ladies

  1. Never felt like more of a poseur than when I first discovered and started listening – in secret – to Bikini Kill. I always imagined that they’d not want me as a fan, and that just made it even more punk. “Rebel Girl” is hard pop perfection, and Pussy Whippedknocks my socks (and sandals) right off!

    And hey, aren’t you cute with that whole “inauguration reformation” fantasy …

  2. They’re the same jerks who say things like ‘punk is rebellious! Look how we dress differently! Now dress exactly like we do!’ Dumbasses.

    It’s very easy to be saddened by the human race. He says on the day of the US election…

  3. It’s important to take a stand and be heard, but it’s a shame it even needs to happen. I mean, punkers are punkers, Who cares if you’re a boy or a girl? Exactly.

    I’ve never heard this split disc, but now I wanna!

  4. Never really found my way to the whole Riot Grrrl thing. I just don’t think punk has ever really made any sort of impression on me, actually. I get the importance of some of these sub-genres, but it’s all just a bit too brash for these ears.

    Still, I enjoyed this one…

  5. I just picked up ‘Spitboy Rule’ a bio by Spitboy drummer Michelle Cruz Gonzales. Spitboy were a little known all girl band from SF and they were briefly courted by the RiotGrrl scene but rebelled even against that. They actually went out and mixed it up with the boys and confronted a lot of the misogynistic BS that was occuring at punk shows back then. They had a thick and powerful sound too:

    1. That’s a really great clip – I’d not even heard their name to be honest. MCG sounds and looks like a character in a Love & Rockets comic.

    1. Thanks Bruce. I think middle-aged fellas should have our own burgeoning punk movement, Middlecore – maybe protesting about the price of bread compared to 2010, or how we love wearing cardigans? Time to saddle up my trusty new Middlecore outfit, Socks With Sandals, you in?

  6. Really enjoyed this one. Bikini Kill made some pretty powerful music. I didn’t listen to them till after I’d read that Kathleen Hanna was Adam Horovitz’ wife. I watched a really great doc about Kathleen Hanna a year or so ago. Made me respect her and her work all the more.

    I’ve never heard of Huggy Bear. Seems as though I should have, though.

    1. Thanks Mr. I really like BK but Le Tigre are where it’s at for me, a totally unique, fun, serious band. I still haven’t seen that doc, I must remedy that.

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