Records That Made Me a Feminist, by Brea

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.

The Hot Rock, released in 1999 on Kill Rock Stars

The Hot Rock, released in 1999 by Kill Rock Stars

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.”

The Glass Intact, released in 1998 on Mud Records

The Glass Intact, released in 1998 on Mud Records

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.


  1. feministmusicgeek

    Thanks for sharing, Brea! “The Hot Rock” is one of my favorite S-K records because 1) I seem to remember music critics at the time calling it their “dance” record — perhaps someone even called it their “New Order” album and 2) that cover. Seriously, it’s one of the best covers ever. I love that they’re carrying their own gear, appear to be in a strange city while on tour, and Carrie is hailing a cab.

    I especially love your discussion of Elizabeth Elmore and the importance of relating to her voice. I remember not being able to sing along with dudes because their registers were different from mine and . . . well . . . they just didn’t sound like me. Growing up, it’s really important to be able to identify and emulate other people as you’re trying to figure out who you are, so having a girl who can sing just like you is really important. Thanks for bringing that into the discussion.

    Also, I’ve never really listened to Sarge, so thanks for giving me another band to check out.

  2. Pingback: Covered: The Long Blondes’ “Someone To Drive You Home” « Feminist Music Geek
  3. Pingback: Covered: Sleater-Kinney’s The Hot Rock « Feminist Music Geek

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