Riot Grrl Kathleen Hanna On Bikini Kill’s Beginnings

“I wanted to be a part of a family. I wanted to be someone who helped girls who’d been abused feel less alone because I’d been one of those girls. How is it that the world is half women, so many of us have experienced rape, battering, and verbal abuse, yet there were very few songs about these issues? I also wanted to make sure young women knew that feminism wasn’t dead just ’cause that’s what all the books and magazines were saying. …

It was pretty fucking grim, way worse than I had thought: a guy in a band yelling “Incest Is Best Put Your Sister To The Test” before they started their set, constant accusations that we only got attention ’cause we were women, being physically assaulted by men before after and during our sets, being screamed at by men during shows, sound guys threatening to turn off the polarization or whatever it’s called so I’d get shocked every time I sang into the mic. And, of course, very few girls came to shows in the beginning. It wasn’t a welcoming atmosphere, more like a fucked-up, violent cigar club.”

– Original Riot Grrl and singer of Bikini Kill Kathleen Hanna, on the band’s inspiration and struggles in the punk rock scene. Hanna was interviewed, along with Sleater-Kinney’s Carrie Brownstein, Ian MacKaye and the founders of the band’s label, Kill Rock Stars, as a part of Spin’s oral history of the band.