Rabbit Does More Than Fume

In my recent post, Rabbit Fumes In the Back Row, I yelled about someone making a “go make me a sandwich” joke during an school council election speech; one that I’m pretty sure has to be approved by teachers. This made me really, really, really angry. Like, time to bring out the feminist adamantium claws angry. (If you didn’t get that, go read Rabbit Fumes in the Back Row). It pissed me off to such an extreme degree, in fact, that I decided to do more than yell on my blog.

Yep! I wrote a letter. I am still communicating with teachers to figure out how to send it to the right people, but I’ve started to figure it out. I’m actually a little shaky because I got this huge adrenaline rush writing it. Talk about a feminism nerd. Then again, I’m the girl who wears her homemade Betty Friedan and Kathleen Hanna pins pretty much every day.

Speaking of Kathleen Hanna, I want to thank Bikini Kill and my mom. Because you know I had on my headphones on and was growling along to “White Boy” as I wrote the letter. And also, my mom is pretty much Awesome Feminist Mom and she helped me figure out who to send it to and such. Seriously, though, my mom is sitcom-mama levels of awesome. You know how on cheesy sitcoms the sidekick will have a parent that represents a minority or “very special issue”? Like the sidekick’s dad will be gay and explain on the show how gays are just like everyone else* or the mom will be a feminist? Yeah, well my mom isn’t a creepy sitcom mom, but she’s pretty great. I would not be a feminist without her. And no, she didn’t brainwash me by reading me The Female Eunuch while I was still in utero or something. She just happens to be a asskicking strong woman who I admire and who is awesomely independent and who even let me play with Barbies and read Seventeen until I went on my walkabout in the Australian bush and met my spirit animal. My spirit animal is Simone de Beauvoir, by the way. I sort of wish it had been a bear or something though. Simone de Beauvoir is much harder to carve into a totem pole than a bear, or fish, or eagle or something.

The text of my letter is below, although I censored some stuff. While normally I am entirely against censorship, I would prefer not to give away anyone’s names or the school I go to, because for all I know you are a creepy stalker. So I will have to settle for writing myself a stern letter about the harms of censorship.

To Whom It May Concern:

During yesterday’s assembly, a comment was presented as humorous; however, I found it to be personally offensive as well as sexist and degrading. In (student name)’s speech, she suggested that we create incentives for students to attend events; she quoted several students, including one who claimed that an incentive for them would be “a woman who would make them a sandwich”. The connotation of this joke is that a woman’s voice is not important, and that their role is to shut up and serve men. This is a pretty common “joke” that is always inappropriate, oppressive, and intended to silence women.

I was surprised and concerned that no (school name) adults made any effort to intervene and that it was passed off as humorous. At (school name), we pride ourselves on our tolerance and I know that no comments that were similarly oppressive, such as a racist joke, would never be allowed. As a young feminist, I was appalled and offended that this was allowed. I don’t feel safe in an environment that would support sexist comments without any reprimand. Jokes that demean my worth as a young woman do not make me want to attend (school name) events, and it is debasing to all the young women at (school name) to hear these kind of misogynistic comments in a supposedly fun environment like an assembly. I hope that this can be addressed soon.

 

(Rabbit)

 

*This would be great, if I didn’t hate sitcoms as a general rule. And the “very special episodes” are always super patronizing.

 

Women Musicians

I really hate the category, “women in rock”. I don’t get it – “Ooh, look! The guitar player has boobs! Obviously this must affect her playing greatly.” And yes, I think that music produced by women often is different, but I think that is just because men & women have such different experiences in society that their music is going to come from a different place. But I do have a special place in my heart for really badass female musicians. Lynn Breedlove, Joan Jett, Ari Up, and my personal idol… Kathleen Hanna. Kathleen Hanna is often credited as one of the founding mothers of the Riot Grrrl* movement in the 90s as part of the band Bikini Kill (along with equally awesome Tobi Vail, Kathi Wilcox and Billy, whose last name I can never remember.). If you go to the Bikini Kill archives, there are a buttload of comments saying how Bikini Kill changed their life** and made them realize that women can, in fact, be musicians.

When I first became interested in the Riot Grrrl movement, I really identified, but I honestly didn’t get the motivation behind making girls realize they can play music too. I’d always sort of thought, “well, duh, if I want to play music I’ll play music. Obviously.” And I didn’t think too much of it, mostly because I’ve not really encountered much sexism when it comes to women and music, at least. Except this one time, which pissed me off extremely.

When I first got into Bikini Kill, I went through a bit of an obsessive phase. My friends got sick of me talking about Kathleen Hanna and my chants of, “Rebel girl! Rebel girl! Rebel girl you are the QUEEN OF MY WORLD!” It’s entirely possible I lost a great deal of my hearing blasting “Demirep” and singing raucously along. And then I met this guy, T, who is really cool. I don’t want to sound like he’s a jerk (even though this was an asshole thing to say) because T is really awesome and understanding. When we went to go see The Green Hornet (which I hated but anyway.) his first comment upon seeing the main character with his one-night-stand in the opening scene was, “he’d better respect her”. Needless to say, the boy got a high five. T also has really good taste in music. Not many of my friends are into the same kind of music I like, which in some cases is understandable. But it’s always good to meet a fellow music lover. So I tried to tell T about Bikini Kill around the time I first met him. Our conversation went something like this.

ME: “So there’s this really cool band, called Bikini Kill, and the singer is badass” (I’ve mastered the art of speaking in bold and italics)

T: “Oh, really? Is he cute?”

Dead silence. Um. Hoo boy, you have no idea how ironic it is that I was talking about Kathleen Hanna when you said that.

ME: “Well, she’s pretty cute.”

T: “Oh.”

So boys, next time, do not assume that a musician, just because they are badass, is male. Because I will send my flying monkeys after you, and what remains will not be pretty.

*A great book? Girls to the Front by Sara Marcus. It’s effing fantastic.

**I actually heard a great story about a girl who drove around blasting “Suck My Left One”. I can’t drive yet, but I DO have really massive headphones that you can hear from about a mile away. Suburban jocks, beware!