Kathleen Hanna on leadership

Posted by Saraline , Monday, May 3, 2010 8:17 PM

A few days ago, somebody posted this interview with Kathleen Hanna of Bikini Kill and Le Tigre in ontd_feminism:





In the interview, Hanna discusses how she feels about donating her zines and other papers to the New York University Library. More information about this is available in this article at Village Voice:

After a series of trivializing articles appeared in Newsweek, USA Today, and some alternative press outlets, many in the Riot Grrrl movement called for a media blackout, which left much of Riot Grrrl unrecorded in anything other than private and piecemeal fashion. A Riot Grrrl archive would thus function as a remarkable resource, providing scholars of feminism, gender theory, and music history with a trove of unpublished and undocumented primary sources. As Jenna Freedman, a librarian who maintains a zine collection at Barnard College, explains, "I think it's just essential to preserve the activist voices in their own unmediated work, especially because of the media blackout that they called for. What the young women have to say in the unedited, un–'corporate stamp of approval' way is really powerful."

Another thing that Kathleen Hanna discusses in this interview is leadership:

I want more interesting leaders. I think the thing that um is really hard for feminist women who are also interested in challenging like all kinds of oppression is that we're freaked out about leadership, and so there's not more interesting leaders, and a lot of times we kill off our own leaders. I mean not because I think because we're women but because we're in a culture that you know we create products and then we destroy those products, the same way that we lift people up and it's like the kill your idol syndrome, and then we're like, "They're not good enough, and this is wrong," and we get all picky about everything and I just, I don't know, I just wish there was more feminist leaders to choose from and more variety.

I think I agree with her. A recent example of "kill your idol syndrome" is some of the negative reaction to Jen McCreight's Boobquake. And maybe we were all a little hard on McCreight:

The main feminist objection to Boobquake seemed to be that the women who participated were letting ourselves be exploited. They argued that many men reacted to the event with sexist, "Show us your tits!" idiocy—a reaction McCreight should have foreseen, and was therefore responsible for. Even if the intention behind the event was good (a point on which anti-Boobquake feminists differ)—even though the event was initiated by a woman and voluntarily participated in by women—the result was simply another round of female bodies being objectified by men.

Ah. I see.

Women ought not to display our sexuality—because men can't be trusted. In the presence of a display of desirable female flesh, men will lose control of themselves. Women ought to dress modestly, and ought not to encourage other women to dress immodestly... and if we persist in our immodesty, and men respond by behaving badly, it's women's fault.
-Greta Christina

On the other hand, I also agree with Kathleen Hanna that it's better to have more leaders, and because there were some people who disagreed with Boobquake, Negar Mottahedeh and Golbarg Bashi created Brainquake. Because we had Boobquake and Brainquake, we had more leaders to choose from and we could choose to follow the movement that we were more comfortable with.

Now, don't think that just because I think that it's better to have more leaders that I've changed my mind about men as feminist leaders. I still think that the oppressor leading the oppressed is counter-productive to the feminist movement. It doesn't seem that Maymay sees himself as an oppressor, but I've noticed some viewpoints from his supporters that are a danger to feminism. There were two comments in particular in response to this debate (one on Maymay's twitter and the other on the Femquake facebook page) that I found to be very unsettling:

I think it means more when more privileged people acknowledge the problems and contribute to solutions.

and:

If anything, I think it’s better that you’re a man.

If we're going to place more importance on men's roles within feminism than on women's roles, then what's the point of even having feminism?

If you agree with Maymay that men can be feminist leaders, then I suggest that you read Feminism 101. There are some good articles in their FAQ about what roles men should have in feminism and why. If you read that and you still think that men should be feminist leaders, then we're not in this together.


0 Response to "Kathleen Hanna on leadership"