Party Whipped: The Trials and Tribulations of a Teenage Feminist

By Sophie Rae

I think I’ve always been somewhat of a feminist, even if I didn’t know it.

When I started playing in bands when I was 9, I didn’t have any idea that my gender would be an issue. Music was what I loved, and to my Trash and Vaudeville size 00 jeans-wearing self, playing super-distorted covers of Clash songs seemed like the most natural thing in the world.

First gig! Yes, as a matter of fact I DID think I looked cool.

But as we kept playing and as my naiveté began to dwindle (I had reached the age of 12 and my peak of intellectual maturity), I started to notice something weird. In interviews, I was asked to talk not about my music but about my favorite lip gloss flavor or my latest boy-band crush (which all young girls presumably have, I mean, why not?). Sound-men walked me through using a guitar amp as condescendingly as when Emily Gilmore called Luke’s diner “rustic” (Gilmore Girls, anyone?). Apparently, not everyone thought my being a girl was quite as normal as I thought it was.

And it was just as I discovered sexism, that I discovered Riot Grrrl. I knew that there was absolutely no reason that I should be treated any different than a male musician or be judged on a different scale. And that was exactly what the Riot Grrrls were saying. I liked the grinding guitars on Bikini Kill’s Rebel Girl and the manic vocals on Sleater-Kinney’s album The Woods. I liked listening to records with titles so explicit that iTunes felt the need to change them to P***Y Whipped, which my 12-year-old self of course took to stand for “Party Whipped.” Way to go iTunes, mission accomplished. Mostly, I loved the idea that music wasn’t just a guys’ world, but that girls could, and should, be a part of it too.

Kathleen Hanna with Bikini Kill!

But I didn’t really catch on to the Riot Grrrl or feminist community until this year, when my band played the absolute coolest show in the world: a Kathleen Hanna tribute show at the Knitting Factory, which was put on for a documentary being made about the goddess herself.

For the first time, Riot Grrrl wasn’t just me alone in my room jumping around to Bratmobile, it was me as part of a community of people who love the music I love and who believe in what I believe in.

After that show, I ran to the bookstore and bought The Feminine Mystique. I started reading feminist blogs like Feministing and Ms.Magazine. I practically memorized the Riot Grrrl Manifesto. I know “empowered” is such a predictable word to use to describe my reaction to all this stuff, but it’s totally how I felt. Finding out that I am one of many, many women who aren’t ok with sexism and want to DO something about it gave me so much confidence in my ideas and in my ability to act on them.

And I started to wonder, why am I just finding out about this community now? How could this fascinating, incredible world have remained a secret to me for such a long time? I think it’s partly because I was just too wrapped up in my own world of school and my band and stuff.  But mostly, I think it’s because Riot Grrrl and feminism just aren’t part of the current teen-universe (the teen-i-verse as it shall now be referred to). The teen-i-verse is limited, mostly to bad, swoopy-haired boy-bands and pop princesses whining about the swoopy-haired boys; and as a result, lots of teenagers who would be totally inspired and empowered by Riot Grrrl and feminism, just aren’t given that chance.

Why can't boy-bands look like this anymore?

And I know this zine won’t solve the problem; I know this zine won’t give our culture the radical transformation it so desperately needs.

But a grrrl can dream! Right?!

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13 Comments on “Party Whipped: The Trials and Tribulations of a Teenage Feminist”

  1. Ella Timmons says:

    i think alll boy bands should look exactly like that

  2. Rebecca says:

    Sophie, This post made my day. Not only do you express so articulately and beautifully how effed it is when sound guys try to explain your instruments to you or say “do you realize your amp is feeding back?” and the like, but the fact that discovering riot grrrl has meant so much to several generations of women since its inception is a testament to its power and ongoing necessity. 15 years ago I also jumped around the living room to Bratmobile (on heaviest rotation was their cover of Cherry Bomb) with my best friend after we finished the first issue of our zine (on paper!, xeroxed at Staples). We read The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf and The Second Sex and every zine we could get our hands on, sometimes trading through the mail. Here’s to you for keeping riot grrrl alive. This blog is off to one hell of a start.

  3. John Rambo says:

    BOYCOTT AMERICAN WOMEN
    Why American men should boycott American women

    http://boycottamericanwomen.blogspot.com

    I am an American man, and I have decided to boycott American women. In a nutshell, American women are the most likely to cheat on you, to divorce you, to get fat, to steal half of your money in the divorce courts, don’t know how to cook or clean, don’t want to have children, etc. Therefore, what intelligent man would want to get involved with American women?

    American women are generally immature, selfish, extremely arrogant and self-centered, mentally unstable, irresponsible, and highly unchaste. The behavior of most American women is utterly disgusting, to say the least.

    This blog is my attempt to explain why I feel American women are inferior to foreign women (non-American women), and why American men should boycott American women, and date/marry only foreign (non-American) women.

    BOYCOTT AMERICAN WOMEN!

    Are you a man who is interested in marrying indian women? Please visit Indian-Wife.com, India’s 1st International Marriage Site:

    http://www.indian-wife.com

  4. Mauve says:

    Super infmortiave writing; keep it up.

  5. Fanny says:

    Yup, that shuold defo do the trick!

  6. pandarano says:

    Pandaranol can play and win duck duck goose


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