By Courtney Harrell
By Kyra Scrimgeour
By Jena Ardell
By Mary Willson
By Bree Davies
By Tom Murphy
By Tom Murphy
By A.H. Goldstein
The sense of danger and the radical message that underscore "Dyke March" pretty much guarantee that the song won't be played on the radio, unless it's on programs like Testosterone Detox, a weekly women's music show on KVCU Radio 1190/AM whose playlist reflects a love of Le Tigre. The feeling is mutual.
"I've got a Testosterone Detoxbutton on my jacket," says Hanna after she and Samson finish making enthusiastic exclamations at a mention of the show. While some might posit that the existence of such shows tends to marginalize women's music -- why should program directors try to work women's music into rotation if there's a whole show devoted to it? -- Hanna and Samson find it a boon for female rockers who aren't Melissa Etheridge or the Indigo Girls.
"I think it's great that the people who have that show can have an audience in Boulder," says Samson. "It's incredible that there are so many people who are interested in listening to the kind of music that they're playing." Hanna concurs. "I think it's awesome. I think it's really hard to be a female DJ at a college radio station; people wouldn't have to have shows that specifically focused on women if there wasn't such rampant sexism and homophobia in the world. I totally applaud them for doing something about it."
Applause aside, the fact remains that when women's music is cordoned off into one time slot (in the case of Testosterone Detox, Tuesdays from 9 to 11 p.m.), the dynamic is one of preaching to the converted, which seems counterproductive when artists have as much to say as the women of Le Tigre do. It's all well and good to make music for the masses who get it -- like a cheering section for people who take each other seriously. But shows that revolve around a shared worldview can also provide ammo for those who favor the term "feminazi," or even those who are just uncomfortable with sassy women.
"Assholes think that because we're women, feminism is a shtick. If you say anything at all progressive politically, people hold you to really crazy, insane standards that they wouldn't hold anybody else to, as a way to put you down," gripes Hanna. "A lot of bands that are politically conservative, perpetuating the status quo -- nobody questions what they want in their rider when they play a show. Nobody questions their sound specs or if they want water when they're playing. But with us, people get really bent out of shape that we ask for really normal things. It becomes a really big issue."
Of course, there's the obvious followup: Would it be like that if Le Tigre were men?
"Of course not," Hanna retorts. "I think it would if we were progressively political gay men, or men of color. But I think if we were straight white men singing, 'Oh, baby, baby, baby,' it wouldn't."
To quote Ann Powers, co-editor of the 1999 book Rock She Wrote, "While film's gaze has always rested on woman as spectacle, and sports gives men a chance to sublimate by reveling in the sight of each other's bodies, popular music since the birth of rock and roll has focused overwhelmingly on male sexual expression." So naturally, the Establishment's response to someone like Kathleen Hanna and a band like Le Tigre is to give them as much shit as possible, for how dare they try to set rock conventions on their ear?
Perhaps it's that modern man is uneasy with the fact that the women he's watching are watching him right back and holding up a mirror, to boot. What he sees ain't pretty, and he knows it, which is why Le Tigre will always have a job to do. At least they'll always have fun doing it.