As I was itching for some riot grrrl tunes the other day, I rediscovered my extensive Hole collection (oh yeah – even My Body The Hand Grenade, a collection of demos, b-sides and live tracks). It brought me back to those days in junior high/high school – being a relatively “good girl,” but deep down, harboring a wild/curious streak just deep enough to make complete conformity seem like a death sentence. I had friends, but never felt like I fit in anywhere. I got good grades, but wasn’t booky enough to be a nerd. I liked heavier music, but wasn’t hard enough to be a punk. Wasn’t athletic by any stretch of the imagination, so that left out sports. And I loathed the cheerleaders.
I was just me. I didn’t have a label, although I secretly wished I did. I thought it would somehow make understanding and describing myself easier.
I developed a hardcore girl crush on Courtney Love as I wore out my cassette of Live Through This. I loaned it to my friend Jenna on the bus and she was instantly a convert. I remember her going on some philosophical discourse about how Courtney’s problems are so much bigger than ours. As hip as my mother was, she couldn’t understand my fascination. When she saw Courtney, she saw some white trash hellion dressed like a two-bit whore who was never taught how to cross her legs. She wondered where she went wrong with her parenting that her 13 year-old daughter would gravitate toward this kind of lunatic.
I was too young to know how to explain it at the time, but to me, Courtney was the poster girl for angry young women who were fed up and wanted more. To me, she was the goddess who threw up her finger at what females were “supposed” to be. She wasn’t the perfect, cookie-cutter poptart that most little girls grow up idolizing. Her hair was a mess. Her makeup was smeared. Her clothes resembled gems from the local Salvation Army and didn’t always fit in the right places. She was crass, full of rage, and obscene. She battled inner demons, addictions and roller coaster relationships. Oh, and on top of all that, she could shred guitar with the best of the boys – and probably scare the hell out of them.
After the circus that was Kurt’s death, it wasn’t very cool to be a Courtney fan. Of course, being a loudmouth bitch made her an easy target for blame. But over a decade later, I’ve still stayed true. Approaching age 27, I can still put on some Hole and I’m instantly connected to my inner hellion. The relatively “good girl” who plays by the rules, but still has that wild streak deep enough to make conventional adult life look like a death sentence. The girl who’s still fed up with the status quo and is still butting heads with what she’s “supposed to be” in this world that doesn’t always feel like hers. She’s ready to throw up her fingers.
*In no way am I ignoring the other riot grrrl goddesses that made angsty chicks like me feel like we had a voice – Joan Jett, Kathleen Hanna, Donita Sparks, Allison Wolfe, to name a few. Their contributions to feminism and music can never be replicated.*
Overall, I admired Courtney because she just didn’t give a fuck. She did and said everything I was too scared to. While I’m not as shy as I used to be, I definitely haven’t reached a level of outspokenness yet. But when I finally do – look the fuck out, world.