Anna Minard claims to "know nothing about music." For this column, we force her to listen to random records by artists considered to be important by music nerds.
Ladies, Women and Girls
Bratmobile! A good friend, no doubt trying to make me feel better as an idiot, asked me if that was "a kids' band." That sounds perfectly plausible, but no: Bratmobile, I have found out for real and for sure, is another Olympia band, an OG riot-grrrl group, punk girls here to shout it out and talk about real shit and be tough.
So I'm putting my ears to the test: Does it matter that they're women? I've grown tired (okay, who am I kidding? I was born tired) of shouty white boys who are here to tell you about all their feelings and show you their hairdos and never bathe. I mean, that's rad for you, dude! I want you to express yourself. I want you to go "duh-nuh-nuh-nuh" a lot in your basement, and then practice with your friends, and let allllll your angst out, and maybe even shout at the government—especially that. I could take or leave all the safety pins and I'm not sure I totally get the eyeliner, because even I can't get both eyes to match when I spend 10 minutes and use a dillion Q-tips, so how much time are y'all spending in the bathroom every day? But whatever. All of these things = well and good. I just don't generally enjoy the auditory part. I like rebelliousness and I like creativity and I like sharing. But I also like more, y'know... musical music. There's a flatness to punk vocal delivery that bugs me, as well as a predictability to the rhythm.
What happens if the musicians are women? Do I like it more? Does it change? Well, yeah, it turns out it kinda does. Not so much that I'd listen to this album all day, not so much that I'm going to become a Bratmobile evangelist. But it just reads differently to hear women yelling, "At least all the guys know if they fuck with me/That I'll fuck them up indefinitely." Even for me, context matters—and content. Girls calling themselves brats, girls being loud, girls threatening to fuck you up—it's just different. You can feel it. Listening to Bratmobile—oh-oh-oh-oh-oh—makes me feel tough, just like listening to female-fronted hiphop does, and in a way that dude music could never touch. The bravado is one small spell conjuring some ancient lineage of female badassery, one link in a long chain that I can access through M.I.A. and I can access through Sylvia Plath and I can access through the British suffragists who carried bullwhips to fend off unruly bros.
So try this: Put on Bratmobile, and turn it up, and let it get in your blood. (Afterward, we can all take naps and then listen to something quiet while we knit, I promise.) Do you hear spells? Do you hear something more than yelling? Because I do. Somehow, I do.
I give this a "fuck the patriarchy" out of 10.