Tribe 8 was one of my favorite bands of the 1990s. I followed them to the end of the earth — well, to the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival. They changed the world that year, smashing generation gaps and sending the ladies of the land into the moshpit. They never got their due and still don’t; in Pitchfork’s recent list of punk feminist anthems, their seminal voice is woefully MIA — still too rad for that site’s chamber-music cultural feminism aesthetic. So I was thrilled to catch up recently with guitarist Flipper, now going by the name Silas Howard and an accomplished director of film and television. Here‘s how I wrote it up for the LA Weekly.
Tag Archives: Tribe 8
Second up in my new Hero series: Chelsea Handler not only mocks Vladimir Putin’s machismo in this photo she has thrice posted on Instagram (and thrice had censored); the actor is taking a stand for topfreedom, aka women’s right to be as free to show their flesh as men are. Forcing women to conceal and bind their bodies while men are free to strut their stuff is just another way of shaming and containing us. Back in the heady, busty days of 3rd Wave feminism, I wrote about the topfree movement for The Village Voice: the proud feminists of Titi Liberation and Tribe 8 singer Lynn Breedlove. I became a bit of an activist for the cause myself. I’ll never forget the glorious feeling of marching down Fifth Avenue in New York with the Riot Grrrl NYC contingent of the Gay Pride parade, shirtless, with Slits-style mud smeared across my torso and the words “Media Slut.” It felt good to be able to shed confinements under the summer sun, just like men can do every day.
Anywaze, back to Handler: Kudos to her for letting her nipples fly free. At least she’s wearing a helmet.
There’s nothing like playing a batch of your favorite records to set your head right. Thanks McAllister and Cass Monster for allowing me to take over She Rocks KXLU last night. Here’s what I played:
Bratmobile- Cherry Bomb
The Runaways– Yesterdays Kids
The Runaways- American Nights
Joan Jett- Bad Reputation
Suzi Quatro- 48 Crash
The Bags- We will bury you
Tribe 8- Manipulate
Fifth Column- Donna
Hole– Softer Softer
Suture- Pretty Is
Jayne Cortez – Sacred Trees
Nina Hagen- Future Is Now
In the 1990s I had the tremendous fortune to hang out with some of the smartest, coolest women I’ve ever known. We bonded over love of Bikini Kill and Tribe 8 and disgust at the anti-feminist backlash. We argued politics, poetry, punk, populism, pretentiousness. We made pirate floats for the Gay Pride Parade and strode topfree down Fifth Avenue.
I was reminded of just how savvy and fearless those sheroes were when I watched Grrrl Love and Revolution: Riot Grrrl NYC, Abby Moser’s documentary about those times. In our late 20s at the time, Abby and I were old to be grrrls. Sometimes, especially as a journalist, I felt like a spy in the house of girl love. But coming up in the rock scene, I had never had sisters like these, and they inspired and amazed me. Abby caught us in direct action: Making music and meetings and zines and readings. There’s Sandra pontificating like a brainiac. There’s Melissa with her effusive energy. And there’s terrific footage of Kathleen Hanna snarling “Suck my left one” at a pro-choice march in Washington.
Yeah, I’m in there too, looking really dorky at meetings. I’m so grateful these women tolerated my presence. I also got to add my perspective, almost two decades later, speaking as a scholar from my LMU office. Abby’s looking for help getting her documentary out there. I say it’s a must-see, a reminder of what girl power was before, well, what it wasn’t.