The video below of Kathleen Hanna explaining the genesis of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is confirmed as truth by many other sources: she actually wrote “Kurt smells like Teen Spirit” on a wall and Kurt liked it, and wrote the song not knowing that her words were actually a put down to him about a girls’ deodorant.
The video is funny (and, in parts, NSFW), especially the part where she talks about how–as a self-proclaimed feminist–she took up stripping to pay the bills in college. She realizes the irony of what she has claimed she is (a feminist) and what she is doing (taking off her clothes for cash), and it bothered me. Because here is this awesome girl who’s made her own way in the world–kicking ass–and feeling judged because of the freedom she has to make her own choices.
And I get that we live in a culture that sexualizes (then represses) nearly everything, and that women do not always have the freedom or the emotional strength to make healthy choices. And are–sometimes–coerced or forced through desperation into situations where they are damaged physically or emotionally. I get that.
But, if a woman is making her own choice–with no coercion or other messed up situation–why can’t she take her clothes off for cash and still be considered a feminist? Why can’t she admit she enjoys sex, or listens to rap music or looks at Playboy or watches XX? Why can’t she be and do EXACTLY whatever the hell she wants to be and do?
We women are raised in a petri dish called “feminism”, wherein we are encouraged to be little robotic replicas of the same person and, if we vacillate too far away from that schtick, we judge each other mercilessly and point the finger at each other over our perceived lack of dedication to women’s rights.
But why on earth are feminists’ freedoms AT ALL limited by our own definition of feminism?
That’s just utter bullshit.
Making collective decisions based on a construct wherein we all feel pressured into thinking the same way or making the same choice is the very same unhealthy coercion that has kept women down for eons. There is no freedom in conformity; there is no “liberation” in forced behavior patterns. And we are not inept or lesser or damaged if–in a healthy mind-set of complete self-acceptance and freedom–we choose to do or listen to or enjoy things that we WANT to do or listen or enjoy regardless of their suitability for the entire fellow female population.
If it is–as many have attested–that Kurt was a feminist, then it must have been so discouraging for him to see the inequality, the hypocrisy and the passivity, and witness his female friends and family suffer under the fallacy that they were not equally as capable as he of making choices for themselves.
So let’s do ourselves a favor, follow HIS example and stop making passive-aggressive power grabs by pressuring our fellow females into feeling badly about their feelings and their choices. Because when we finally stop judging one another–and truly accept each other’s capability for making our OWN choices–that’s the point when we will finally start kicking some serious butt.