GIRLS KICK ASS FEATURE
the light Gale Force 'l‘en female storm warning attached. For another adopted heroine. Kim Gordon. Riot Grrrls‘ aims were very positive. "l‘hey‘re showing girls that they can tnake their own culture and their own identity during those tender teenage years.‘ she says. Liz Iivans however. expresses the mixed feelings of the majority. ‘They definitely made an impact. 'l‘hey
created an environment that made it easier for young teenagers or women to get up on stage in
a band and made people think about gender. Although they were a hit too puritanical and self-defeating and by the end of it male journalists thought it was a bit of a laughing- stock.‘
On the coat-tails of Riot (,h'rrl in 1993 came‘
Queercore with hands like Sister George. Parasite and Louise 'l‘rauma. An offshoot of the US gay and lesbian movement. they were railing more against Old (‘ompton Street‘s Pink Pound and the ‘camping grounds‘ of Erasure and The Pet Shop Boys than the straight male rockers. But before you could even say ‘8*M*.»’\*S*ll. Crackle and (Brit) l’op’ along came the concocted New Wave of New Wave scene. Once more it was back to the comfortable Loaded mentality of born- again. all-male punk hands.
Of course. real headway can only he made when the music industry and music refrain from the very powerful business of packaging fetnale musicians into ludicrously prejudicial niches according to image. thus negating their songwriting talent. As Liz Phair says. ‘lt‘s the “of course” clause. Guys in indie hands may be called genius but it‘s very rarely used for women.‘ She continues. ‘Women have to he so much better than men to get the same positive adjectives used.‘ How often is Tori Amos portrayed as the kooky. hippy-dippy babe or Courtney Love as the loud-mouthed. kinderwhore role-model or Tanya Donnelly as the fey. sugar sweet doll‘.’
of day once more. this time with a '
From dizzy sex queen to ice-queen. stereotypes are ready and waiting.
As Amy Raphael asserts in her introduction to Never Mind The Rolloi‘ks. gender is as integral to the music industry as apple-pie is to America. "l‘he infrastructtn'e of rock is essentially male: from A&R to producing. from record company executives tojournalism. female musicians may
: he successful — but in a man‘s world and on a
man‘s terms.‘ liven Kim Gordon found
problems when she assumed the temporary role as Sonic Youth‘s hand manager when they signed to Geffen. ‘No one would have a serious conversation with me.‘ she said recently. "l‘he only women are in publicity. art . . . There are women in A & R but they don‘t have any power.‘ As the bastion of lads‘ own world the Iinglish
Seminal and sassy (clockwise from top right): P.J. Harvey. Courtney love. Tanya Donnelly aid The Slits.
music press are way behind their American contemporaries. Liz Evans talks about the lack of female music journalists when she was working at iVM/z‘. ‘Out of the three or four there, only one wrote features.‘ she says. ‘It was very. very difficult to get ideas across at editorial meetings.‘ she continues. referring to the magazine’s initial slow response to Riot Grrrl. "l‘he NMlz' are quite tabloid. they really need to rethink their methods.’ Raphael too. says that a ‘lack of proper representation of femalecentric bands covered in Q and Select‘ led to her book and the decision to give 100 per cent copy control to each interviewee. She goes on to cite some worryingly low statistics regarding female musicians on the front covers of magazines like NM 15. Q and Select.
Despite the media hype. what distinguishes this generation of female rockers is that they are cutting through the ephemeral image issue and writing strong music. From Liz Phair's sexually uncompromising lyrics in ‘Exit ln Guyville’ to R]. llarvey's swaggering ‘5()ft Queenie‘ or Kim Gordon’s rock chick take on ‘Kool Thing’. the diversity. the power and the sass have never been more evident.
As Sonya Aurora Madan of Echobelly says: ‘This is the era of the female singer songwriter. . . at the moment there are a lot of women who are very articulate and able to he very good frontwomen. and I think we'll look back‘on this time as being a period of change.‘
Never Mind The b’o/loe/v's — Women Rewrite Roek by Amy Raphael is published by Virago in April at £9.99. Women, Sex and Rock 'n ' Roll — In Their Own ll’ords by Li: lira/is is out now and is pubis/zed by Pandora at £8.99.
Hymn 7;) Her — ll’omen Musicians Talk by Karen () 'Rrien is published by Virago in April at £9.99.
The Sex Revolts — Gentle); Rebel/ion and Rock 'n ' Roll by Simon Reynolds and Joy Press is published by Serpenr's 721i/ in January at £12. 99.
The List 13-26 January I995 7