Culture Dose | Activism for All Ages

A friend of mine recently finished up her master’s thesis on emotional intelligence – the sentence “resist psychic death” kept washing over her. She couldn’t put her finger on it until a google search led her back to Bikini Kill lyrics:

I will resist with every inch and every breath
I will resist this psychic death
I will resist with every inch and every breath
I will resist this psychic death

There’s more than two ways of thinking
There’s more than three ways of being
There’s more than four ways of knowing
There’s more than one way of going somewhere

As is often the way with a culture dose, we try to find connection – Resist psychic death is utterly embedded in the works highlighted this week. Beginning with the Riot Grrrl rage then moving backwards and forwards to Jane Fonda’s Hanoi Jane days (arrested by an establishment who felt nothing but contempt for her anti Viet Nam stance) to one of the facing of the climate movement (still getting arrested for her unwavering activism)in her 80s. And finishing up with Bikini Kill’s “younger sisters” The Linda Lindas todays version of Riot Grrrls embodying a voice of the hopeful next-gen feminists.

Read: The Riot Grrrl Collection

From the Publisher:
Before the Internet or desktop publishing, the zine and music culture of the Riot Grrrl movement confronted sexism and oppression, creating a powerful new force of liberation deep within and outside of the women’s movement. While feminist bands like Bikini Kill and Bratmobile contested the male-dominated punk scene, their members and fans developed an extensive DIY network of activism and support.

We say:
The Riot Grrrls came on the scene when “feminism” first became a bad word and society was attempting to gaslight women into believing they had achieved equality. This was a way to channel rage while creating community and acknowledging and affirming the lived reality of young women in the ’90s. This book’s a decade old but still feels relevant.

Watch: Dear… (the Jane Fonda Episode)

In 2015, Jane Fonda, wrote in a note to herself that the happiest she was in her life was now.  That was because she didn’t “shut down and become cynical.” She continued in her note-to-self,  “You will become an activist. You will discover that doing this will give your life a meaning you don’t think is possible right now. It will be the rent you pay for life.”

The entire letter, well worth a read, is only more relevant 7 years later when the octogenarian, is profiled in RJ Culter’s Season 2 of Dear…

The series, a riff off of the “Dear Apple” ad campaign, goes beyond celebrities “doing good’. While each person would be better served by a different kind of long format doc into their complex and often painful lives, the real focus here is on the people who have been moved to do something meaningful with their own.

It’s a great little short form reminder of people committing to change during these somewhat cynical dark times. So while any one of the 23 minute episodes might fall short, added together, it paints a portrait of commitment and possibility. Who doesn’t need to see a bit of that now? (Other notable episodes that can lead you to other more complete bios are Gloria Steinem (Hulu Mrs. America. Julie Taymor’s, The Glorias), Jane Goodall (Brett Morgan’s 2017 Jane), Ana DuVernay (Selma, 13th)

Listen to: The Linda Lindas

Bikini Kill continues to rock the world, often as inspiration for the new generation battling the same toxic shit, even when there’s a twist. The reaction to a classmate telling a young Chinese girl that her dad told her, right before lock down, to stay away from Chinese people led to this response: “this is about him and all the other racist, sexist boys in this world”. Cue music and the band of revolutionaries playing in their high school library, filmed by one of their dads, went viral. This led to them being the opening act for Bikini Kill’s recent tour.

Now deep in the midst of their own tour after dropping their second album last year, catch the Linda Lindas if you can –singing covers or their own compositions. Their energy, their faith in each other, their belief that hope will wash away today’s pain, moves easily from the heart wrenching to the upbeat. There isn’t quite the in-your-face fury of the original riot grrrl ethos –or the aesthetic– but in a country heading down a dark hole, this band captures the urgency of the kids energizing the revolution.

–kl dunn

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