As far as Mardi Gras warm-ups go, femmo rockers Le Tigre’s Saturday night turn at the Gaelic Club was a pretty good one. A veritable who’s who of lesbian Sydney made up a lot of the unusually short crowd -“ when it’s about 80 percent women, everyone gets to see -“ but there were plenty of young, cool gay guys there as well.
After their music, their matching costumes and their ridiculous dancing, the best thing about Le Tigre is their uncompromising commitment to feminism. A full club chanted along to their song F.Y.R. and its Feminists, we’re calling you!/ Please report to the front door! lyrics. When boyish member JD Samson introduced another song she said, in her small, sweet voice: This is a song about butch lesbian visibility, and everyone cheered.
They fly their Feminist flag high. During their not-totally political shows (they do a version of the Pointer Sisters’ I’m So Excited, for example) projections of anti-war and pro-women’s movement photos are shown on the back wall.
Hopefully, the women punters at the band’s sell-out shows leave with a sense of empowerment. And, hopefully, the men leave with a sense of respect.
But people are so scared of that F word. It is the political leaning that dare not speak its own name. During an interview to mark the 20-year anniversary of the Feminist Bookshop in 2004, one of the founders told me she still had men put their head in the door and ask, Can I come in? But I’m a man. And isn’t feminism about women staying away from men?
In my first lesson of gender studies (which was a standard sub-major for lesbian journalism students), the tutor asked if anyone identified as a feminist. Most of the all-woman class put up their hands. One who didn’t, said, I don’t believe I’m a feminist. I believe I’m an equalist. I don’t think there’s any reason for feminism to exist outside the minds of weak women. She came around, in the end.
Acknowledging one’s feminism is kind of like coming out, but without the cultural buffer created by crap reality TV. There’s no Feminist Eye For The Socially Unaware Girl/Guy.
But hopefully, with cool young people like the women of Le Tigre out there making these statements, it won’t be something that has to be spelled out all the time. As Le Tigre and the Pointer Sisters might say, I’m so excited.