Much beloved figure within punk rock feminism, Kathleen Hanna is an icon for our generation. Standing on stage sreaming about girl's rights ("rights. rights. you do have them"), writing about sexual abuse in a way that opens your guts on to the page, and constantly encouraging other feminists to find their voices and own ways of resisting, Hanna has been an incredidly influential figure in the rise of riot grrrl and third wave feminisms. She's been the soundtrack and mentor for many young feminists learning how to make zines, make noise, change their scenes, and start a "grrrl style revolution, right now!".
So it's pretty exciting to hear that Kathleen has donated a whole stack of personal papers from the years 1989 to 1996 to the NYU's Fales Library in the States, which has a brand new Riot Grrrl Collection. The histories of queer/grrrl/Lady actions are still to be told, especially in our own words. When more materials are available for the historical record it helps us move beyond all the fourth-hand news that often gets reported, and distorted, in popular press and academic accounts. Knowing our histories not only gives us the courage to stand up and speak out, it also passes on valuable information about tactics and strategies. We need a mountain of these histories to keep us strong and to keep us moving.
Hanna and her co-conspirators over the years have contributed massively to an underground challenge to male dominance in women's everyday lives. Riot Grrrl was not just a North American thing but has been picked up across Europe, Down Under, in Latin America, South Africa, Malaysia and the Phillipines. Whilst its power as a subculture fuelled by sounds and fanzines have diminished over the years- as is only right for a healthy, self-generating feminist counter culture- its legacies are still incrediby powerful and shape many punk rock feminist dreams still.
Kathleen Hanna, we salute you!