Kathleen Hanna & Miley Cyrus: Breaking The Chain


You’d imagine that Kathleen Hanna, founding member of the riot-grrl movement, ardent feminist and lead singer of ground breaking bands such as Bikini Kill, Le Tigre and The Julie Ruin would have little time for Miley Cyrus.

After all, isn’t Cyrus the antithesis of all that Hanna stands for? Living proof that the world at large has considered her message and summarily rejected it, preferring to keep its female pop stars constrained by the twin shackles of sexual availability and the male gaze?

hanna cyrus

I don’t. To me, Miley Cyrus represents the world’s failure to countenance the notion that the increasingly sexualised representation of women in the media has implications for real women in the real world. Her mechanical grinding and robotic production values scream male fantasy and are equally damaging to young women and men.

I was therefore mortified when I heard that Hanna had reached out to Cyrus via social media after Cyrus had posted images of Hanna at her defiant best. Hanna is ours. Not theirs.

But that’s the problem, isn’t it? This notion of what women ‘should’ be colours all of our perceptions to the point where even those of us trying to get it right find ourselves caught in the crossfire. In Western society young girls learn from a very young age to view other girls as competition. Without realising, we learn techniques to attract men, to evaluate each other and in doing so, create artificial, yet seemingly impenetrable barriers between us because of looks and age and while we are capable of making and maintaining intimate personal relationships with other women, we remain suspicious of those outside our personal sphere until the day we die.

What I would have given to have had a woman like Kathleen Hanna in my life at the age of 21. What heartache I might have avoided with a woman by my side who had been through it all and survived, who could take me to one side and tell me that personal appearance means jack shit, it’s creativity that counts, that I’m not an object and that the things I hated most about myself are actually the things that make me unique and special. I’d have got here a damn sight faster, that’s for sure.

I will be overwhelmed with joy if Kathleen Hanna connects with Miley Cyrus. Cyrus is uniquely positioned, has the ear of young women all over the world and boundless energy and talent. Under the tutelage of Hanna, she could direct a new wave of feminism that might dwarf anything that’s ever been achieved before.

Something I’m sure Hanna herself would be delighted to see.

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