For three nights only, a feminist wet dream came true: Bikini Kill reunited, performed “For Tammy Rae,” and we all died happy. You remember the first time you heard Bikini Kill? Your soul lifted out of your body and you became a Feminist, capital F. For many, Bikini Kill is reminiscent of discovering your own feminism, punk, and “counter-culture” scene.
Pitchfork reports that on November 4, 2017, at The Kitchen in NYC, Bikini Kill reunited temporarily to help promote the 33 1/3 book focusing on the Raincoats’ self-titled album. Tobi Vail, Kathi Wilcox, and Kathleen Hanna performed “For Tammy Rae” for the first time together since ’97. Ironically, “For Tammy Rae” is about separating oneself from the constant bombardment of media and advertising, with lines like “past the billboards and the magazines/ I dream about being with you/ we can’t hear a word they say/ let’s pretend we own the world today” – however, a punk band reunited to promote a feminist band and a feminist press isn’t the worst way to promote media. The Raincoats’ debut album is reviewed by Pitchfork as an album where “you hear a cultural genesis story” — like the genesis of Bikini Kill and the beginnings of feminist punk. Bikini Kill’s genesis was in the '90s, resulting in three album releases, followed up by some recent re-releases.
The shock that was Bikini Kill cannot be underplayed. In a time when pristine, perfect femininity was the norm, shockingly feminine and badass women were seen as too extreme. Hanna used to freak audiences out by taking her top off during a performance and having phrases like “Kill Me” written on her stomach. The shock of seeing a woman take her top off on stage, without any intent to sexually arouse the audience but rather to bring a political agenda to their attention, is not only brave but radical to its core. You can’t ignore femicide if the band you’re watching is singing about it and using their bodies to directly discuss it. Imagine Cardi B, Miley Cyrus, or Lorde taking their tops off during a performance to use their body to discuss gun violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, or any other social issue under feminism’s umbrella? The “mainstream media” would lose their collective shit.
So, check out the short clip of this magical moment below, and don’t forget to celebrate Riot Grrl Day on April 9th!
Header Photo via BikiniKill.com
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