In an effort to reflect on how music came to inform political beliefs, I asked some people if they’d be willing to share the records that made them feminists. The first entry comes from my friend Brea.
i’ve been thinking a lot about this. at first i thought of how important my first mix tape with riot grrrl bands and spoken word was. i had never heard anything like Heavens to Betsy screaming, “Stay Away!” or the spoken word artists whose names i’ll never know.
then i thought of when The Hot Rock by Sleater-Kinney was on constant repeat in my car my senior year of high school. i’m not sure how i would have survived without “Banned from the End of the World.” but my feminist awakenings happened earlier. i really had to dig in my head to think about what album it was that i decided that i loved female vocalists.
it took a while to figure that out for me – my love for female vocalists that turned into a radio show i did for several years in college. i loved them because i could sing along in ways that i couldn’t sing along with all the dudes. trying to hit the notes Mike Ness hits is just a joke.
it was like first i discovered punk and i was like, “fuck yeah.” and then i discovered that i, too, could play an instrument and put out a zine and the world got better and became clearer. but there was always something missing between Minor Threat and The Get Up Kids. growing up in a small town, i grasped at what i could and it was much easier to find bands like NOFX than Bratmobile in the local Hastings or even in mailorder catalogues.
and then, there was Sarge. i have no idea how i found this band. i think my friend Marisa from Dallas bought their cd somewhere. and it was love at first listen. Sarge played kick-ass indie rock. Period. and i was really done with a lot of punk at that moment, probably when i was about 16, and really considered myself very “indie.”
but the best part about Sarge was that that girl, Elizabeth Elmore, could sing and she sang like a girl. she sang like me. i don’t know why that was important but it felt like i was playing in bands, loving music, but not really connecting to a lot of the music i listened to outside the whole punk rebellion part. Sarge sang about shitty boys that did you wrong, being called a slut, and having crushes on girls. they felt rebellious and cool and most of all, Elizabeth’s voice sounded like mine. i could hit those notes. i could sing along at the top of my lungs.
i think that’s where my love of music really started – with bands that i could relate to, sang about stuff i knew about, and most importantly, sang like me. it made me realize that i could do so much more than try to be a part of the local boys’ punk scene. i could create my own scene, write songs about things i wanted to sing about, and most importantly, sing like a fucking girl and love it.