my #streamteam november

When you were 16, who did you want to be? In 1993 I wanted to be me, but louder, stronger, braver and cooler.

Aka Kathleen Hanna.

It was the middle of the Riot Girrl movement and I had just bounced from boy bands like Nirvana and Mudhoney to the all-female yowls of Bikini Kill and Bratmobile and Heavens to Betsy and L7.

My head was shorn tight and the stubble dyed. My clothing was elderly Asian Man Vintage, all acquired from Value Village. Marching quietly (a weird concept but totally possible) down high school hallways filled with people I was SURE I didn't like, I kept my earbuds jammed in my ears and siphoned off some of the giddyup from these women.

Their voices were off-key but it worked. They banged on drums. They didn't smile, They wrote zines. They traveled in vans and played for muggy rooms of people just like me. I wanted in. I wanted them to be my best friends and mentors and teachers.

Kathleen Hanna, the lead singer of Bikini Kill, was the poster child for everything I thought was excellent. Her haircut and style and sweet & sour voice and stage presence - it was alien and so appealing.

I shifted gears extra efficiently in my Honda hatchback as I chugged around my tiny town listening to Rebel Girl on cassette.

Those lyrics, fuzzy and strong, tumbled out of the tinny speakers, and make me think that there were greater possibilities to being a girl. 

I could look different.

I could be different.

I could do both and still feel beautiful and alive.


I don't know what fresh hell high school will ladle out for my daughter years down the road, but I hope she can suction cup herself to a movement and a voice that makes her feel as alive.

I saw Kathleen Hanna and her new band Le Tigre open for Beck years and years later. The vibe and sound was different; this was more fun and less fuck you. But the passion and energy was still that fire-in-the-veins YES and it was wonderful.

And then - nothing.

To be honest, I'd lost track of music after Stella was born, and a new band and song and TV series and movie was THE BEST THING EVER. Pop culture is fast. It races by when you're concentrating on jamming nipples into a mouth.

Then this month when I finally wrestled control of Netflix away from Stella and her deep-seeded love for Team Umizoomi and Richard Scarry's Busytown Mysteries, I stumbled upon The Punk Singer.

A documentary all about Kathleen Hanna, from the beginning until now, and why she has been so quiet for the last few years. 

The old footage is so SO good, a tremendous awakening smack to my memories. The women interviewed that I recognized are still burning bright but not so baby-faced anymore. Warriors who made their own rules and made 16-year-old suburban girls dare to do, say, feel and express things that weren't always comfortable.

It was a flashback that unearthed so many emotions. Unfortunately one of the prevailing thoughts was "ugh, how little I did with those big thoughts." But you know what? That's okay.

I've still got a lot of stomp left in my step and I know how to use my voice in smart ways that matter. That's all due to the words, both whispered and yelled, that filled my head back in 1993. And I think you should watch the Punk Singer to hear exactly what I mean.

the punk singer poster


What are you watching and loving on Netflix Canada? Keep the recommendations coming, yo!

As a member of Netflix Canada's #streamteam I will be giving you the straight goods on what I'm watching each month in exchange for a yearly membership. It's a match made in heaven, really.