grrrl fight

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“I wanted to make something that I wanted to hear that I wasn’t hearing.”

Happy Moxie Monthly! As release date approaches, we’d like to honor a Moxie girl central to our story: Kathleen Hanna of Bikini Kill! Instrumental in the beginning of third wave feminism and the inclusion of women in punk, her title of Moxie girl is well deserved. And while most know her iconic songs and what she stands for, we’d like to dig a little deeper and show you how she got where she is today.

Kathleen Hanna was born in Portland, but spent much of her early life constantly on the move. At age 9, she first became interested in feminism when her mother started attending rallies and reading feminist publications. The two quickly bonded over feminism, her mother checking out feminist literature like The Feminine Mystique and subscribing to Ms. Magazine, and young Hanna cutting up those magazines to make her own feminist posters and collages. The two had to hide their new interest from Hanna’s disapproving father until the divorce.

Her passion grew every year, and she began to express her experiences and frustrations with sexism in other mediums. In college, she and a friend set up a photography exhibit dealing with subjects like sexism and AIDS; it was promptly taken down by the school, and Hanna cites this act of censorship as her first foray into activism. She also got into spoken-word poetry, but finally switched to music after a discussion with feminist writer Kathy Acker, who admired Hanna’s desire to express herself but noted that she’d be better off in the music scene where she’d have more listeners.

She started and played in many bands, including Amy Carter, The Julie Ruin, Viva Knievel, and finally, Bikini Kill, which became a staple of the Olympia music scene in the 90s. She and her band emphasized political action, awareness, and empowerment of women. Her songs, zines, and ‘girls to the front’ ethos not only encouraged women to enjoy punk, but helped keep them safe while they were doing so, out of dangerous mosh pits and safe from harassers.

Looking back, Hanna acknowledges criticisms of the riot grrrl movement as a largely white, cis, and middle class movement and regrets it was not more inclusive. She looks forward to new projects, like the People of Color Zine Project, that aim to make riot grrrl intersectional and accessible to all.

And although that about sums her up, we can’t get enough of Kathleen Hanna! So before we go, here are 5 fun facts about this riot grrrl:


  1. She invented the title of “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. Referring to the deoderant, Hanna scrawled “Kurt smells like teen spirit” on his wall.
  2. She battled Lyme disease. The chronic illness made it difficult & even impossible to play some days, but she was pronounced Lyme free 2015.
  3. She was a hostess at a gay bar. Her signature hostess songs were The Clash’s Should I Stay or Should I Go & Kool and the Gang’s Celebration.
  4. The biggest feminist issue to her is poverty “because if you’re just trying to put food on the table, you’re not part of the conversation.”
  5. She’s still making music! Julie Ruin reunited and released an album, Hit Reset, just last year.
An Interview with Jennifer Mathieu, Author of MOXIE

Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu hits shelves in a few short weeks! 🎉 To celebrate the release of this brand-new inspiring novel, Team Fierce Reads asked Jennifer some questions about the book and life as an author.

TEAM FIERCE READS: What makes Vivian fierce?
JENNIFER MATHIEU: Viv sees a problem in her school and overcomes her natural shyness and fear to fight that problem with all her heart. That’s not easy to do, but she does it.

TFR: If you’d met Viv when you were a teen, would you have been friends?
JM: Oh, TOTALLY. I’ll be honest, Viv is a lot like I was in high school. I wasn’t as shy, but we share a lot of the same characteristics. So yeah, I would have been Viv’s friend and I would have been a Moxie Girl, too!

TFR: Describe your book in 3 words:
JM: Teen Feminist Army

TFR: If you could give Viv one piece of advice, what would it be?
JM: I would tell Viv that her instincts are right and she should keep the fight going. I would also recommend a few bands she might like since she’s so wild about Bikini Kill! My top recommends would probably be Sleater-Kinney and Fea, a band out of San Antonio!

TFR: What’s one fun fact most people don’t know about you?
JM: My first language was Spanish! My mom and dad came to the United States from Cuba and Chile, respectively, and I didn’t learn English until I went to school.

TFR: What’s your favorite part of being an author?
JM: Meeting readers both in person and online. I’m especially grateful when a reader shares with me how much one of my books validated them or inspired them. It doesn’t get better than that.

Learn more about Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu, on sale September 19th!