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Slow Songs For Fast Hearts: This started as a review of the Evens...


This started as a review of the Evens...

I probably would’ve gone to see The Evens anyway, whether or not Ian MacKaye was in the band, but it has to be said that I was curious to see what the “legend” was like in real life, having never gone to a Fugazi show.

So the thing is, I was a little mad at Ian after this dumb comment he made on the Kerri Koch directed, 2006 documentary on Riot Grrrl, “Don’t Need You”. On the documentary they were discussing the Fugazi song “Suggestion” in which Ian begins the song by taking on the persona of a woman (“Why can’t i walk down a street free of suggestion? Is my body the only trait in the eyes of men?”).

Apparently some women had got in his face about it at the time and said something about how he had no right to sing about that. And he was aghast, angry, incredulous, and said he was all, “Fuck You!!”, kind of like, how dare you tell me what I can and can’t sing about!

Ok,in my opinion it’s cool he did the song, and really there’s not much Ian MacKaye could have got out of positioning himself as a victimised woman (except the annoying fact that he’d get way more pats on the back for being a guy and pointing out sexism that then any girl would), so you can’t accuse him of appropriating for selfish reasons. He was just joining the conversation about sexual inequalities that was becoming louder and louder with the advent of riot grrrl.

BUT!! What kind of a reaction is that to a feminist protest? “Fuck You”?? Hello! wasn’t that the kind of bull-headed, aggressive male outbursting that riot grrrls had to cope with every day?

Wasn’t the point meant to be that boys were the ones who were supposed to shut up and listen and be taught by the girls for a change, rather than be the ones always doing the telling, the dogmatising?

Why would you just slap them in the face with a Fuck You. Be quiet. You’re wrong. I’m right. Your notion that women’s experience of sexual violence can only be voiced, explained and presented by women because up until now that experience has been warped, ignored or exploited by men is WRONG, Fuck You!

If feminist women were saying that kind of thing to him, didn’t he think, hey! maybe I need to sit back and figure out their point! instead of overreacting and acting like his precious freedom of speech was being threatened?

Maybe he did consider that at the time, I mean I only saw that interview, not the context around it. But the way he discussed it on this, a documentary about riot grrrl, with such forceful singlemindedness – Fuck You! All bug eyed and irritated. Couldn’t he have worded it differently? And why did they keep that comment in in doco anyway? Is it because they thought he provided a much needed male point of view? Where was Billy Karren?

Before I saw “Don’t Need You” I read a review online somewhere which mentioned how it has interviews with a lot of the key players like Kathleen Hanna, and Corin Tucker, and then it said something like “and of course, Ian MacKaye, what punk documentary would be complete without him?”. And I’m thinking, uh, a documentary on Riot Grrrl perhaps?

So ok, cool, he recorded Bikini Kill’s first album, and that’s important, but did we really need to have him singing their praises to drive home the fact they really were awesome? And then have him dismiss the concerns of other women involved in Riot Grrrl? Nothing against Ian MacKaye and his contributions, but I just find it weird that his view was thought to be so particularly important in this context.

All I want to know is when will we start to review the musical canon that is so taken for granted and stop using bands like Fugazi as shorthand for great, and start believing in our own greatness just as is, no boy-idol approval necessary?

Posted Mar 15, 02:56 am | By Melissa |
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