Somewhere Janet Weiss, drummer of all-girl band Sleater-Kinney and also Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, is sitting around wondering what sex she is. She’ll soon remember, though. She’s female. And hence will her “proper” American thought process commence: how can I, like, become better than dudes?
Well, if she’s like most American girls, this mission will start with the removal of all her clothes. Enter Jessica Hopper, who poses in tight pants and fu**-me boots for her New York Times shot, and who will now proffer essentially a paradigmatic superiority of women, at what could otherwise be an event of rock and roll: “We deserve better songs than any boy will ever write about us.”
Ok, let’s just assume for practicality purposes, or for HER sake (though I have no idea why I’d ever care about Jessica Hopper if she weren’t shouldering her way into a Carrie Brownstein event), that she’s joking. The question is, why does she choose to write about rock and roll? Why not nail polish, or high heels? There are plenty of woman-oriented enterprises out there, aesthetic realms in which sex actually matters.
I’m sorry, but the fact that her favorite band is Bikini Kill is sort of a red flag for me. The reason she divulges, in addition, has nothing whatsoever to do with Bikini Kill’s sonic template, but rather just their lyrics. So what I see is a jealousy before men’s rock and roll domination. And whether or not this is justified, I mean I’m not trying to rub it in her face or anything, but taking rock lyrics as philosophical discourse undermines the feeling created by the music itself. The best rock songs, like Wild Flag’s (Carrie Brownstein’s) “Endless Talk,” and Pearl Jam’s “Corduroy,” are personal, the products of love.
Now, I am not making a comment, here, on feminism. Feminism has never been something I’ve opposed, on an autonomous level. But this Carrie Brownstein event at the Museum of Contemporary Art in downtown Chicago, a signing for her new memoir Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl (the title of which I’ve just learned has to do with an eating disorder of the mother), has the potential to be a stage of transcendence of music’s actual progress, and an opportunity for female advancement on an EQUAL STAGE WITH, not one superior to, men. And if I were to utter some romantic French phrase here, it would be something along the lines of J.D. Salinger’s character Buddy, pontificating on the sex-eschewing practices of little kids: “All legitimate religious study must lead to unlearning the differences, the illusory differences, between boys and girls, animals and stones, day and night, heat and cold” (67-68). I mean, how else can music truly be the new pornography?
Salinger, J.D. Franny and Zooey. Little, Brown and Company: Boston, 1961.