I think that's such an important message, especially for younger women, to know, 'I don't have to come out of the womb painting like Frida Kahlo. My very first thing that I make isn't going to be an around-the-world sensation.' You have to paint a hundred really ugly, barfy, diarrhea paintings before you come up with that one where you start to really get into your groove.
I saw a video on YouTube of a girl who had very similar reactions to late-stage Lyme disease as I did. And I thought it was crazy. And when I saw her basically have a seizure on camera that looked very much like my seizure I felt, "Oh my god. That's me." And so it was really important to me, and I said to Sini, 'We have to find some way to not just talk about Lyme disease, but to show it.
What (some) bands do is go, 'It's not important that I'm a girl, it's just important that I want to rock.' And that's cool. But that's more of an assimilationist thing. It's like they just want to be allowed to join the world as it is; whereas I'm more into revolution and radicalism and changing the whole structure. What I'm into is making the world different for me to live in.
Younger feminists actually care about stuff that came before them, the same way that I totally cared about and loved and felt so lucky to have access to the feminism that came before me. To have younger people take what me and my friends have done, and to say 'We have access to that, but we're going to put that through our own Internet generation filter and we're going to make it into something that speaks to us and is a lot smarter.'
I'm really going off of watching John Waters speak one time and I remember he just kind of talked and it was totally interesting. I wanted to hear about his life and how he got started and when did he think he made it, stupid stuff like that. And what his relationship with the mainstream is because he's so far out there, but then he became part of the mainstream in this weird way. He was really funny, though. Yeah, I have to work on my jokes.
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I've always thought that "punk" wasn't really a genre. My band started in Olympia where K Records was and K Records put out music that didn't sound super loud and aggressive. And yet they were punk because they were creating culture in their own community instead of taking their cue from MTV about what was real music and what was cool. It wasn't about a certain fashion. It was about your ideology, it was about creating a community and doing it on your own and not having to rely on, kinda, "The Man" to brand you and say that you were okay.
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I always get 'What's wrong?' or 'Lighten up.' Half the time, when guys tell me to smile, I'm not even frowning, I'm thinking! Then I'm like, Oh! Some men don't want women to think! Do they all have walkie-talkies? Are they all in this together? Like, 'OK, she's thinking, someone say something. She's reading, go distract her.' It starts feeling like that sometimes, doesn't it?
I do have personal relationships with a lot of "fans," in quotations. I answer all my mail, I get emails from fans, and I try to answer them all. That's important to me, but occasionally there's the thing where people basically ask me to write book reports for them, and I don't have that kind of time. I feel like there's a certain sexism involved, like because I'm a woman I'm supposed to constantly be like giving to everybody.
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If you really hate me, you should at least have the courtesy to take out a piece of paper and write it down and mail it to me. If you're a worthy nemesis, I want to see your handwriting. I want to see your name and your address, and if you don't have the guts to give me those, then you're not a worthy nemesis.
I was lucky enough to go to college for four years. At what was supposedly a hippie school with no tests and no grades, blah blah blah, I wasn't learning that. I was taking photography classes. That stuff just wasn't talked about. It was like, "Does this picture have the right about of grey in it?" It wasn't even an art school. It was a state-run school.
I'm a big proponent of open adoption, because it allows a relationship between the birth mother and her child so that the kid isn't like, "Where did I come from?" And to have it be like, "Look, you have a bunch of people who love you." Not just the parents who are raising you on a day-to-day basis, but also to have contact with your birth mother and hopefully your birth father. So that you can be like, "Oh, they love me too, and they love me so much that they knew they couldn't take care of me but they're still in my life to some extent."
My mom was a housewife, and wasn't somebody that people would think of as a feminist, and when Ms. Magazine came out we were incredibly inspired by it. I used to cut pictures out of it and make posters that said, "Girls can do anything", and stuff like that, and my mom was inspired to work at a basement of a church doing anti-domestic violence work. Then she took me to the Soidarity Day thing, and it was the first time I had ever been in a big crowd of women yelling, and it really made me want to do it forever.
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Most of my records are never going to be commercial successes, and I don't expect that. It's just all a learning process to me. If something appears as a failure, fine. If there's success, fine. I like the record, and my friends like the record, and that's kind of all I can really care about.
In 1985, I was living with my sister in Virginia, and since I was still in high school, I worked at McDonald's to save money to get an abortion. It sounds really terrible, but it was the best decision I ever made. It was the first time I took responsibility for my actions. I messed up, had sex without contraception, and got pregnant at 15.
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Me and my friends in high school were the only girls who went to hardcore shows. It was three of us, and the rest of the audience was male. We didn't really think about it. We weren't thinking we were alienated or whatever, but eventually, as there started to be violence in the scene we were in during high school, we started to be turned off by the violence.
Clearly, gay marriage is on the top of the agenda right now. It's pretty amazing, considering where stuff was at when I was in high-school, when there were no LGBT Gay-Straight Alliances or any of that stuff. Am I a huge Lady Gaga fan? No, but I think some of the stuff she does that helps LGBT kids is amazing. And it's great that that's mainstream. It's fantastic that there's a pop star who's willing to put herself out in that way.
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I'm totally into Taylor Swift. I think she has super-clever lyrics, and I love that she writes her own music. Some of the themes she writes about are stuff I wish was there for me when I was in high school, and I'm so happy she really cares about her female fans. She's not catering to a male audience and is writing music for other girls.
I always tell girls who say they want to start a band but don't have any talent, well, neither do I. I mean, I can carry a tune, but anyone who picks up a bass can figure it out. You don't have to have magic unicorn powers. You work at it, and you get better. It's like anything- You sit there and do it every day, and eventually you get good at it.
People need to stand up, women need to stand up for each other and say, "No you can't kick this person like they're a dog. You can disagree with someone politically, you can have arguments, definitely privilege needs to be discussed in real productive and valid ways. But it's not real criticism if it's just like, "you're a disgusting bad person."
I don't appreciate it when women - or men - bandy about these stupid stereotypes about feminism that are age-old, and that are meant to keep people turned off from it. It's like, "All you have to do is Wikipedia feminism to know that it's not about man-hating - so shut up." That makes me annoyed.
I talked a lot early on in my career about intersectionality and how racism and classism and sexism and homophobia and capitalism are all connected with each other, and they're these crazy systems that are feeding on each other and are also damaging. I can't even go into the whole spectrum of it. But I feel like kids today are so much more savvy about that conversation. And I'm so thrilled when I get to meet younger people who are doing that so much better than I did.
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So many women have experienced horrific forms of male violence throughout their lives, and why isn't there a song about how you get depressed because of it? And you don't know what to do, and you don't know how to talk to your friends and how weird it is to be a feminist in that situation, where there's sort of the expectation that you're super-strong superwoman but you're just, like, eating pizza in your house avoiding talking about it.
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My original goal in the '90s, after I found feminism and I was the first generation in my family to go to college, was to spread this information that feminism was still very much alive, and that you can't believe the media telling you that it doesn't need to exist and that it doesn't exist.
I always knew she was being funny, but when I tell my therapist that my mom played the trust game with me and let me fall on the ground, my therapist does not find that funny. She's like, "That's the reason for everything! That's why you have such a hard time with trust!" And I'm like, "I don't really have a hard time with trust. I thought it was funny."
My vision of punk rock was these dudes who were spitting on the audience and moshing. That's why I kind of left that scene. Then I see all these people around my same age or between 17 and 25 that were making music themselves in their own town. They weren't just singing, but creating. I see them putting out this music where there are tons of women involved in the scene and involved in the bands.
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The only thing I collect is art. I collect it because I like looking at it. A lot of it is really personal stuff that my friends have made, paintings that my husband's mother made, and things that I bought. I buy abstract art on eBay, and I buy some outsider art on eBay, or what is called folk art, I buy a lot of. I have a lot of professional art work as well as more stuff my friends' kids make. To have a wall of art to look at, I feel really surrounded by love, because so much of the work is related to my friendships.
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