Hari Srinivasan: Like all musical styles, punk rock has its own history and traditions, and the baton inevitably fades as performers emerge.
For a new generation, punk rock veteran Kathleen Hanna, co-founder of the band Bikini Kill, continues to be an inspiration, especially for young women transitioning into the male-dominated genre.
Christopher Booker of NewsHour Weekend has a story.
Christopher Booker: Last May, a young band called Linda Lindas performed at the Los Angeles Public Library as part of Teenage Tuesdays.
beautiful beautiful A: Shortly before the quarantine, a boy approached me and said that his father told him to stay away from the Chinese. So it’s about him and all the other racist, sexist boys in the world!”
Christopher Booker: Quite unexpectedly, this performance went viral.
beautiful beautiful: Racist, sexist, boy, you…
Christopher Booker: The video for their song “Racist, Sexist, Boy” has been viewed millions of times on the Internet…and led the young band to late-night television.
Jimmy Kimmel: Linda Lindas!
Christopher Booker: For those invested in punk rock, Linda Lindas’ brief bombardment of social media channels was solid proof that the future is in good hands.
But there was something else too, the T-shirts are a not-so-subtle nod to one of the most original punk bands, Bikinni Kill, and its singer Kathleen Hannah.
In the early 1990s, the Bikini Kill band, led by Kathleen Hanna, was arguably one of the most influential musical groups—an integral part of the homemade art, music, and political movement called Riot Grrrl that rose to prominence with the rise of alternative music. dominate the airwaves and pop culture. However, the Riot Grrrl scene existed in small clubs and college campuses far beyond the commercial mainstream.
Kathleen Hanna: This girl thinks she’s the queen of the neighborhood
Kathleen Hanna: We booked tours ourselves. We had no manual and did everything ourselves, including fixing the van most of the time. Any woman or girl on our show. I took their address and wrote them a postcard saying, “Here, we’re going to be here this day, put a heart or a star in your hand.” if you see another girl with this you will know she is interested in feminism and you guys could start a conversation and it started to work.
Christopher Booker: Taking the hammer into the male-dominated world of underground music, Hannah became an icon of punk rock feminists – and purpose , as Bikinni Kill’s fame rises —
Kathleen Hanna: If so, if you challenge the status quo, a bunch of jerks will come out of the tree like termites and try to attack you. Some big magazine will write something about how we’re just a bunch of sexual assault survivors who hate men. And we were destroying the punk scene and our shows weren’t really musical. They were statements. I mean, I could tell you a million stories. But endure it, and then go on stage and shout: “Hey!
Kathleen Hanna: All girls to the front, all girls to the front. Boys, be cool for once in your life, come back, come back.
Kathleen Hanna: If I got into it to please, it doesn’t seem like the right business to get into it. As if we should all end the oppression of all people. It’s not about being a white woman climbing the corporate ladder or making it to a major label or I’m playing a big festival and it’s all settled. It’s about everyone coming together, and feminism really is that for me.
Christopher Booker: In the late 90s, Bikini Kill slowed down. Hanna released a solo album and also formed a trio called Le Tigre. Now a seasoned music veteran, she’s made her mark. The Bikinni Kills’ advocacy of what has been dubbed Girl Power has become an integral part of the culture, with their song “rebel girl” becoming an unofficial anthem, appearing in movies, TV, and even Miley Cyrus’ Super Bowl 2021 performance.
Miley Cyrus: This girl thinks she’s the district queen.
Kathleen Hanna: The weirdest part about how the stuff I was connected to has leaked into popular culture is that I walk into Target and see the female power shirt, all the shit we’ve been through. You know, sometimes it was worth it.
Christopher Booker: But culture does not stand still, and recent years have not been quiet. Bikinni Kill decided to reunite shortly after the 2016 election because, according to Hannah, she still felt the way she did in the 90s.
Kathleen HannaA: I feel exactly the same amount of anger. I mean, sexism has not ceased to exist. You know when we were, actually we were going, we were checking out different booking agents that we wanted to work with. And one of them, a man, said, “Better strike while the iron is hot, you know, with that kind of Cavanaugh.” And you know, and it’s like, don’t worry, I think the sexism is still going on, you will exist, as you will next year. I don’t think we need to rush into this. It’s been around for a long time.
Christopher Booker: You catch yourself checking what you say because of what we now call, call or cancel culture.
Kathleen Hanna: I’ve always been in a position where if I say something in a weird way, or I have an interview away from home, or something like that, or even if I have a great interview, someone will object to it. and I don’t care. I mean, I can’t live like this.
Christopher Booker: While the pandemic has postponed the 2020 Bikini Kill tour until the spring of ’22, Hannah has been busy and spending time working on her Tees-for Togo organization.
Kathleen Hanna: So what are tees for Togo?
Christopher Booker: Tees-for-Togo, founded in 2018 and working in partnership with an organization called Peace Sisters, sells designer t-shirts for $40 apiece, each helping a girl get to school in Togo, West Africa, for one year.
Turns out the t-shirts Linda Lindas wore in her viral video clip weren’t just band t-shirts, they were Tees-for-Togo t-shirts.
Kathleen Hanna: Just to show how wonderful the internet is. So they go viral and these shirts, Linda Lindas, bought by themselves, are wearing them in the video. And then the next day I sold thirteen thousand dollars worth of shirts.
Christopher Booker: Hanna says Tees-for-Togo has donated more than $40,000 to the Peace Sisters this year, enabling the organization to hire a grant writer, and the number of girls the organization has sent to school since its inception has tripled.
Christopher Booker: When you think about a band like Linda Lindas, compared to your experience, what advice would you give them for the world they enter as people, as young people who have something to say and eat and who want to say what? -something in a cynical world?
Kathleen Hanna: I always think of it like this: a kid was spitting at you in your class and you’re like, “Oh, that kid hates me”, that kid just wants to get your attention, and the same thing happens if you’re the one who speaks out on general view. There will be people who want to have some sort of relationship with you and if they can’t have a positive relationship with you they will have a negative relationship with you and I would tell them that spitting means that people are paying attention and that everything is negative things mean it works and if you don’t get such negative comments, are you really a punk?