Kathleen Hanna and Grimes

Tonight is the MTV Video Music Awards; surrounding the awards show, MTV has been airing a series of interviews with artists online. One of them is a feminist dream conversation between Grimes (tonight’s VMA red carpet co-host) and Kathleen Hanna. Throughout clips, Grimes and Hanna talk about feminism and politics, riot grrrl, Beyoncé, and more. The most engaging of the videos is the first, where MTV asked both to discuss how their feminist politics have been empowering and challenging.

“I wasn’t political going into music,” Grimes says. “I didn’t really know anything about feminism at all … I didn’t even really think of myself as a female.” But she soon started encounter stuff that was pissing her off all of the time, like being compared to only female musicians, and generally being not taken seriously.

Hanna and Grimes talk about the many definitions of feminism. “I feel like a huge part of talking about feminism in pop culture is explaining what it is … When you say ’I’m a feminist’ it’s pretty open-ended,” Grimes says. “It can mean a lot of things.”

Hanna ends by making a spot-on point about how the conversations about feminism and oppression in music should be more common — feminism and oppression should be a talking point with artists regardless of whether they have come out and labeled themselves feminist.

“The problem I have is, you come out and say you’re a feminist, and suddenly nobody ever talks to you about your music. You’re supposed to play every domestic violence shelter benefit. Which I am totally thrilled to play. But why aren’t guy bands asked to play things like that? …. The responsibility is on you to always talk about sexism or racism or homophobia. Why aren’t guy bands who are apolitical supposedly, asked the same questions as people who say ’I am political’? Because I believe everybody is taking a stand. Whether it’s apathy or stepping forward and saying I care about ending all oppression in the world.”

Watch all three videos below.

On feminism & politics:

Get More:
2013 VMA, Artists.MTV, Music

On Riot-Grrrl:

Get More:
2013 VMA, Artists.MTV, Music

On Beyoncé:

Comments (3)
  1. Those are some excellent videos. I agree that a lot of the problem with feminism in music today (or ever) has been that artists seem to be pigeonholed in the the criteria of what a feminist artist should be, so a lot of their work end up being having to explain feminism or making subtext more overt in order to contextualize for people who don’t really understand the implications of their work. Getting Kathleen and Claire to discuss it is excellent, because they are offering distinct ways to have feminism relate to their music and work.

  2. It’s funny that she had trouble articulating her need to articulate how she feels.

    • That bothers me sometimes, but she didn’t really have trouble making me think about what she was saying and understand it in some way. So for me: Goal of Language = Accomplished, thank you much Grimes

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