Kathleen Hanna

American musician and feminist activist

Kathleen Hanna (born November 12, 1968) is a musician, feminist, activist, and punk zine writer. In the early- to mid-1990s she was the lead singer and songwriter of Bikini Kill, before fronting Le Tigre in the late 1990s and early 2000s. In 1998, Hanna released a solo album under the name Julie Ruin and is currently heading a project called The Julie Ruin.

Kathleen Hanna


  • While sexism hurts women most intimately, it also damages men severely.
  • 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 Solidarity 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.
  • I realized that was a pretty radical thing to do, because if you're present, you're going to be different every time. You're not going to give everybody what they want, which is the cardboard character. But you will give those five people there who get it what they want, because they'll be like, "I could totally do that." Whatever crazy shit they have in their heads. Maybe they'll realize, if she's getting away with it, maybe I can totally get away with this thing that I think is better.
  • Interview Index (2000).
  • You don't necessarily have to have talent, you can just get up and do something and see where it takes you. 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.
  • 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.
  • People have always had these weird things about how you have to be really good looking to be a singer. I mean, it's not like Stevie Nicks or Linda Ronstadt were dogs. It's not like this is some new thing. But there was at one point a larger variety, but now the catchphrase is "the whole package," the "American Idol" reality that you're a model first and a singer second.

On riot grrrl

  • We wanted to start a magazine, and Allison Wolfe and Molly Neuman from the band Bratmobile had started a little fanzine called Riot Grrrl and we were writing little things for it. I'd always wanted to start a big magazine with really cool, smart writing in it, and I wanted to see if the other punk girls in D.C. that I was meeting were interested in that. So I called a meeting and found a space for it, and it just turned into this sort of consciousness-raising thing. I realized really quickly that a magazine wasn't the way to go. People wanted to be having shows, and teaching each other how to play music, and writing fanzines, so that started happening. It got some press attention, and girls in other places would be like "I wanna do that. I wanna start one of those."
  • Because we don't wanna assimilate to someone else's (boy) standards of what is or isn't.
    • As quoted in The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Music, Paul Du Noyer, ed. (2003).
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