Many are at the very least familiar with punk rock but even those who claim to love the genre remain unaware of its subset: feminist punk rock . In the D.C. area, a movement had been started to focus on more political issues. In the Pacific Northwest found herself wanting to pursue something similar. Previously interested in spoken word she wanted to be in a band instead to increase her audience and influence. Kathleen Hanna’s spoken word was often about very serious issues, so it was natural for her to have this in her music. The first band she was in was called Bikini Kill. It was around in the 90s when a lot of attention was being drawn to the Seattle scene. Concerts were often so out of control that people left with broken bones. Kathleen Hanna wanted her concerts to be a safe space so she often called women to the front of the crowd and kicked out anyone who was disrespectful.
Unfortunately, Kathleen Hanna’s unique style made her an easy target for threats. The press often wondered why she would write songs about a serious topic. People questioned what could have gone wrong in her life for her to feel she has spread this message of promoting women. Dealing with these false assumptions were difficult for Kathleen Hanna and, as a result, Bikini Kill decided to do a press blackout (no interviews or contact with the press whatsoever). They would focus solely on their music and the audiences that enjoyed it.
Yet she also made friends during a tumultuous time . One of these friends was famous musician Kurt Cobain. They both influenced each other’s lives and music; Kathleen Hanna even unintentionally inspired him to title the hit “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”
Most recently she has been diagnosed with chronic lyme disease. It went for years undiagnosed so her symptoms are more severe than what is normally associated with lyme disease. She does not tour like she used to for this reason but continues to be a strong influence on what is considered to be third wave feminism.
If you’re interested in learning more about feminism check out the POW or Esteemed enrichments.