Imagine if you were a young girl growing up in the 60's or
70's. The world around you was just discovering women as true
people. Everywhere there were women's movement rallies, supporting
a new era of feminism.
Courtney Love was one of these little girls, following around
her mother who was involved in these rallies. Unfortunately,
she didn't really understand the fight at that age. She instead
"wondered why nobody on these marches was wearing heels."
The movement is obviously more interesting to her now. She
spends a lot of her life screaming out as the front woman of
the band, Hole. She was an angry rocker fighting for herself.
However, most of the time she was either drunk or stoned. Now
she has turned into a Versace-clad actress and has just released
a new Hole album. Things have worked out pretty well for her.
She recently attended one of the many feminist nightlife benefits
in Manhattan, the "Ms. Foundation's 25th anniversary party."
Other benefits include, "Show," which is the living
work of art by Vanessa Bancroft, designed to make media images
of women more realistic. It features fifteen models in bikinis
and high heels, bored and staring into space.
Another was "The Vagina Monologues," where actresses
came together to raise money, to fight domestic violence in a
performance piece about female private parts designed by Eve
Ensler. The benefit featured such actresses as Whoopi Goldberg,
who gave comic relief, Glenn Close, who discussed an honour to
an obscene word for female genitalia and Marisa Tomei, on the
subject of pubic hair. The "Village Voice" called it
"the most important and outrageous feminist event"
of the past 30 years.
Although these rallies are very important, we sometimes wonder
where they came from. This takes us back to Gloria Steinem, who
protested male violence in Vietnam in the 60's. This was the
time when women wanted to have equal opportunities and rights
as men. They believed that the raising of a family should be
shared equally and that women are just as useful as men in the
You would think that statements like these would light the
flame for women everywhere to want to become feminists. So why
do so many think that feminism is dying? It's simple really.
The Spice Girls, Ally McBeal, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Jenny
McCarthy, Pamela Anderson: these are the role models of the mainstream
90's. "Girl Power" is the new catch-phrase that is
supposed to represent everything Gloria Steinem and Co. taught
in the 60's. Well then why does "Girl Power" appear
to many as simply following celebrities and self-obsession? Your
physical size and look can actually control whether or not you
will get respect. This is true among many female role models.
Look around you and you will see. The Spice Girls have a large
following of young girls. You would think with that much publicity,
they would teach them something useful. Instead we see little
girls prancing around in short skirts and platforms, wearing
too much make-up and having nothing else intelligent to say but
"Gil Powah." Then there's Buffy who kicks the butts
of vampires every week on television. So why does she never break
a sweat? Her make-up and hair are always perfect in every shot,
even if she is getting bitten by a vampire or lying in a hospital
Calista Flockhart as
Ally McBeal is quite possibly the most popular female
character on television- a ditsy lawyer from Boston who always
manages to wear that short skirt, even in the cold Boston weather.
She is always asking herself why she has so many problems and
is chased by a dancing baby who was created in her own mind.
In other words, she's a mess.
Then there's Jenny McCarthy and Pamela Anderson. I refuse
to look up to a couple of women whose trademark is jumping up
and down in a skimpy bathing suit and posing nude for Playboy
magazine. To me, all these women were created by men, for men.
However, if you look past all this, there are still a lot of
women who teach you to be yourself and to fight the male oppression,
with whatever your talent is, whether it be writing, music, politics,
art, acting or sports. Sometimes, however, being yourself is
hard to do when you don't know who you are.
Teenagers today are drowning in media and have so many choices,
that they just become confused. When they look around, they see
some people saying, "be yourself, don't follow us."
Well, maybe to some teens, being "themselves" is acting
and dressing and even feeling like someone else. If they like
the person, then that person is who they want to be, even though
they don't know if their crown-wearing idol is an original. They
may have been in the same situation when they were younger and
chose to be like someone.
There are lots of people out there to influence you. For example,
in music, women have suddenly been considered true artists. Canadian
artist Sarah McLachlan created the festival of
music, "Lilith Fair," that included only female artists
and was a huge success. This is amazing but, to me, they should
be trying to break down the barriers towards men, not put more
up against them. If a women calls herself a feminist because
she hates men, she is not. She is just bitter.
In music, there are a lot of talented women who write just as
beautifully, like the musicians in the group Hole, Ani DiFranco,
L7, Tori Amos, Fiona Apple, Sheryl Crow and Alanis Morrisette.
These artists have the same kind of mood to their music. They
are some of the true Riot Grrls who were created by female bands
in the early 90's to get the bratty, post-pubescent attitude
back that psychologists say women lose. This wasn't accepted
as much in the 60's and 70's. When women were discovered, they
sang safe lyrics that didn't challenge the listener and especially
not the world, which has been done today.
The thing that Courtney Love, Ani DiFranco, Tori Amos and
Alanis Morrisette and many others have in common is the personal
level of their music. They tell the truth, which is the most
important thing. Tori has sung about her miscarriage, her rape,
sex, break-ups and bad moods. Courtney has screamed about her
teenage stripping days, rape, drugs, sexual abuse, artificial
beauty, her jail days and boyfriends. Ani has preached about
her own sexual orientation (she's bi-sexual), men, feminism,
appearances and she is one of the most successful independent
artists around. She chose to sell albums out of the back of her
truck rather than join a major label. Later she created her own
record label called "Righteous Babe Records" and has
become very successful. Alanis has achieved international stardom
just by being in a bad mood.
Following the Riot Grrl movement is a kind of small therapy,
where you can talk about your horrible experiences. However,
Courtney Love has said that "the tragic is easy." Here's
what she had to say in an interview on the television station,
"You either do your own thing without the help of a major
label and that's great, you know, God bless you. Or you go and
you do your Nirvana thing, or you do your Soundgarden thing,
or whatever, and you use that as your subversion, because you're
just gonna get dropped. You're just gonna end up being a bartender
and bitter anyway. You know? I mean, you don't scratch your balls
and then say, OK, now I'm on a major label and I'm not
gonna write hooks for the people, I'm gonna prove how clever
I am,' in the luxury of a major label. I believe we have had
incredible careers because we were able to make a completely
raw primal record, a completely, like, middle-level cathartic
record and a completely polished, what I think is a master work,
I think she is trying to get the point across that to last
in the music business, you have to have
more than sad stories. The element of talent of course has to
be there and she believes that Hole have done this. When she
looks back at her "under the influence days", she recalls
that, "you're writing morphine poems for the cat."
With Riot Grrls, it's the power of talent and attitude. With
Ally McBeal, it's the power of the short skirt.
There is a major reward that women can look forward to - that
we are being recognized and listened to. We just have to make
sure that the right women speak for us. As Gloria Steinem has
said, "Feminism is a revolution, not a public relations
It's there and we will be fighting until that revolution has
reached the entire world.