Kurt Cobain – Feminist

Found this great article on Kurt’s Feminism; from quotes about why he won’t deal with Guns n’ Roses, to wishing he was gay to piss off homophobes, to quotes about his controversial anti-rape songs such as “Rape Me” and “Polly”.  Again, due to subject matter, reader discretion is appropriate here.

The article is posted in this location:


But the website is so full of ads, I thought I’d save you the trouble and post it here:


If Generation X had a king it would be Kurt Cobain. His devil may care attitude arguably defined a generation of people. His haunting melodies and desperate screams spoke to youth disenchanted with societies’ expectations. He cared about a lot of things despite what his attitude projected. He was one of a handful of male feminists who reached enough fame to project their ideas on a mass scale. Through his songs and even in his interviews he repeatedly noted how much he detested sexism. Up until his untimely suicide in 1994 and despite his drug abuse and personal issues, he never wavered in his attempt to prove that men, even famous rock band having men, could be proud unadulterated feminists.

Kurt was open about his dissociation with the masculine ideal.  He was quoted as saying “I’ve always had a problem with the average macho man – they’ve always been a threat to me.”  His mellow nature defied traditional gender roles. ‘Territorial Pissing’ may have been in response to the disenchantment he had experienced with masculine behavior.  During his music video for one of his hit singles ‘In Bloom’ he donned a dress and also wore a dress during an interview with the Los Angeles Times noting “Wearing a dress shows I can be as feminine as I want.”

In junior high school Kurt noted that he was very into heavy metal but that he grew out of it. In an interview with Metal Express in 1994 he commented “I have nothing against heavy metal, except that some of it is pretty sexist”.  This was very different from the male prominent bands of the time, who made a considerable amount off of the degradation of women in music.

His progressive beliefs put him at odds with Guns and Roses, Axl called him a ‘pussy’ for not agreeing to tour with him. Kurt says he didn’t agree to tour with him because he believed him to be a racist homophobe referring to lyrics in his song ‘one in a million’ where he says “niggers and police” and “immigrants and faggots” and in ‘It’s so easy’ where he sings “Turn around bitch, I got a use for you”.

Whilst performing at a “No On 9” benefit, (supporting defeating of Measure 9 an anti-homosexuality measure that said homosexuality was “abnormal, wrong, unnatural and perverse and they are to be discouraged and avoided”) he was approached by a kid that suggested he and Guns and Roses patch thing up. He responded with, “No, kid, you’re really wrong. Those people are total sexist jerks, and the reason we’re playing this show is to fight homophobia in a real small way. The guy is a fucking sexist and a racist and a homophobe, and you can’t be on his side and be on our side. I’m sorry that I have to divide this up like this, but it’s something you can’t ignore.”

In an interview Kurt describes an encounter he had with Axl where Courtney jokingly asked Axl to be the god father of, then nine month old, Frances. He turned around and told her “shut the fuck up bitch” and instructed Kurt to “shut her up”. Cobain then told the reporter he had not encountered a situation like that since the sixth grade.

Cobain was against all forms of prejudice. In the liner notes of Incesticide he wrote “If you’re a racist, a sexist, a homophobe, we don’t want you to buy our records.” In high school Kurt was often called discriminatory names alluding to him being homosexual because he was good friends with an openly gay male student. Despite this, he began to embrace the taunts and acted as though he was gay saying he, “really enjoyed the conflict” He got arrested for spray painting “Gay sex rules” onto an Aberdeen bank and “God is gay” on a van. He insisted he was ‘gay in spirit’ and said “I wish I were gay, just to piss off homophobes”. No Alternative is a compilation album the proceeds of which went to AIDS Prevention to which he provided the song ‘Sappy’.

Good friends are hard to find but Cobain managed to find them. Cobain was good friends Bikini Kills’ Kathleen Hanna, a strong proponent of the feminist scene who no doubt was an influence on his views. She was the inspiration for his titling of the song “Smells Like Teen Spirit” after spray painting “Kurt smells like teen spirit” on his front wall. Toby Vail, the drummer from Go Team and collaborator with Bikini Kill and all around feminist activist, dated Kurt. She was also featured very fondly in his song ‘Aneurysm’ written during their relationship. He supported his wife Courtney Love’s band Hole and said that ideally he would quit Nirvana and be a guitarist for her band.  At the time Hole was considered a highly feminist band. Love used to pass out a guitar to a girl at the end of each concert to encourage young girls to enter the male dominated music scene.

Kurt’s sarcasm was tragically misunderstood. Along with his vintage acoustic guitar proudly having 1972s Nixon Now plastered on it for ironic effect, many of his songs were made to be so much that they weren’t. He was forced to re-iterate time and time again that In Utero’s hit single “Rape Me” was a song against rape. Kurt clarified bluntly, “It’s an anti-, let me repeat that, anti-rape song” Insisting that it was meant to be blunt so that people would not misinterpret it.  “It’s like she’s saying ‘Rape me, go ahead, rape me, beat me. You’ll never kill me. I’ll survive this.’”

Tori Amos, an open rape survivor, defended him on this point saying that the songs shocking effect was done on purpose, “It’s a defiant song… When I first heard it I broke out in a cold sweat, but when you get over that you realize he’s turning it back on people.”  Continuing to promote how truly against rape he was, he and Courtney Love preformed at the Rock Against Rape benefit in Los Angeles in 1993.

‘Rape me’ was not the only song that Kurt wrote to give light to the issue of rape. ‘Polly’ from Nirvana’s  Nevermind album is yet another anti-rape song. It retells a story he had read in the newspaper of a 14 year old girl named Polly who had been kidnapped by Gerald Arthur Friend in 1987 after a rock concert and tortured with a propane torch, then raped. He wrote it in homage to ‘Polly’ and re-imagines her daring escape from her captor. When he heard that there had been a group of boys that had raped a girl whilst singing the song ‘Polly’, he denounced them in the liner notes of his album Incestiside calling them “a waste of sperm and eggs” and said he “has a hard time carrying on knowing that plankton like that” were in his audience.

‘In Bloom’ addressed the disparity between the audience he wanted and the one he had. In the song he sing “He’s the one who  likes all our pretty songs and he likes to sing along… but he don’t know what it means” and ‘all apologies’ where he wrote “I wish I was like you, easily amused”.

Cobain was perfect by no means, but he did contribute to feminism in a great many ways.  Since Kurt Cobain’s suicide we are left to wonder what effect he could have had on today’s sexism.  With his undeniable ‘cool’ factor, could he have inspired more men to identify themselves as feminists? Unfortunately, we will never know. On the upside, his widow Courtney Love has talked seriously about producing a film about Kurt’s troubled life. Maybe some of his activism will show up on the silver screen soon. We’ll just have to wait and see.


Well there it is.  And another thing: Please write to the manufacturers of products who are using Kurt to sell their shit. 

Look at this:

Fender using Kurt’s image to sell guitars.  The Jaguar comes pre-scuffed for that “road-worn” look:


Sweetie says: More stuff Kurt is posthumously endorsing:



Not *one* shoe, mind, but a *line* of them.  Kinda made me want to barf a little bit.  Some shoes also come “pre-scuffed”.

This link is to a series of fashion photos based on Kurt’s “personal style” and song titles:


Which Kurt scoffs at, insisting he “always wore pants” (referring to the guy in long underwear leaning against a fire hydrant).
I reminded him that I saw him pull his junk out onstage while accepting an MTV award one time.  He just shrugged it off.  He *was* technically wearing pants at the time.

Kurt’s House Call

I’m locking comments on this thread for soon-to-be-obvious reasons.  Anyone with sexual violence triggers should skip this entry.  Please understand I do not want sympathy, pity or even empathy.  I wasn’t even sure if I’d post this entry publicly, but then I thought, maybe I’m not the only one.

Last night, I knew what I was in for.  It did not escape my notice that all of the past life regression / integration George & I have been doing in the past two days have involved my incarnations solely as women.  I knew I had (have) some shit to work out.

Last night’s meditation began differently.  Instead of George, Kurt stepped forward.  I honestly haven’t felt as close to Kurt as I have with John & George, I guess I always thought he was around for Sweetie.  Last night, he was there for me.

He sits cross legged in front of me and takes my hands and says, “I’m going to be right here with you, okay babe?”  There’s George, standing to the side.  I understood that George is support/backup, and that Kurt’s going to be doing the active facilitating.  “I haven’t done this before, is that okay with you?”  I then understand that this is part of Kurt’s training too.  This is work he needs to learn how to do, as part of his angel training, and George in this case is his teacher.  I’m learning too, students helping students.  I nod again in understanding and consent.

Here we go.

So, a part of myself that I’ve discussed with only four people in my life is this:  After I hit puberty, I began to experience vivid, flash-back style memories of being raped.  I didn’t remember exactly when or how this had happened.  The memories would come out of nowhere, punch me in the face with terror, and leave utter devastation in its wake.  They were incredibly real.  Once, I was on a public bus, and a flash hit – my mouth felt like it was full of semen, and I needed to throw up.  Random shit like this could hit anytime, anywhere.  For a few years, this phenomenon seemed to fade into the background, but in my 20s it came roaring back.  Usually once or twice a day.  For months.

I didn’t know what to do with these memories.  I wondered if some of these things really had happened to me, and I’d just blocked them out… but some of these flashbacks couldn’t have possibly happened to me.  I have a vivid, visceral experience of someone… Yeah, I don’t even want to write it.  Suffice to say, I know exactly what female genital mutilation feels like – but my own labia are intact and unscarred.  That couldn’t have been me.

I thought I was going crazy.  Once, I went to a psychiatrist and explained what was happening.  She got me to talk about what I was seeing for an hour, then “time’s up” and sent me back out on to the street, utterly raw and without one single tool to cope with these memories.  I felt so, so much worse that I did when I walked in.  That day I made a decision, to never talk about these strange and frightening memories ever again.

I was actually a healthier decision than it sounds.  Basically, I decided not to be defined by trauma.  I did refused to be either victim or survivor.  I chose to walk away from these memories, whatever they were, whatever they meant, they had nothing to do with who I was now, who I chose to become.  I set about putting the individual memories in mental Tupperware and stacked them in a corner of my mind.  I was able to do this only because I talked to a friend who had also, at one point, suffered from flashbacks of childhood sexual violence.  She assured me it would get better, and the memories would become like “watching a tv, rather than re-living it.”

I believed her.  And I think it’s because I believed her that it worked.  The relentless flashbacks dimmed in severity, then frequency, and then stopped.

But I knew they were still there, encased in Tupperware in the refrigerator of my brain – and cleaning this fridge out was a chore I hoped to postpone indefinitely.

So when I nodded in understanding and consent to Kurt, acknowledging that I am finally ready to examine the contents of those secret boxes, I anticipated a huge emotional purge.

I was surprised.  The process was almost academic.

Kurt was, well pretty damn genius.  And heroic too, I have to say.  I felt like I was being rescued, in a way, except that I never felt like I was in danger.

There was one memory where I was a young woman, 14 or so, and I was fooling around with this boy I liked very much.  I enjoyed everything we did up to a point, where I began to feel a bit nervous and uncomfortable, but I liked this boy and so I didn’t speak up.  All this, “remembered” as though I was re-experiencing it in this girl’s body.

Then, there was a moment when I said “Stop!” and he didn’t, and I understood what was going to happen – when discomfort transformed into terror – and it that precise instant, Kurt pulled me out of the memory.  Back in my current body, back in my bedroom, sitting in meditation posture, Kurt holding my hands in front of me.

“Alright?” he inquires.  “Yes.”  And I was.  It felt like I’d just mistaken a ball of lint for a huge spider, and for just a moment my adrenaline peaked.  But then I realized it was just harmless lint.  I was relieved.  Unhurt.  I almost felt like Kurt had pulled me out too soon.  Wasn’t I supposed to feel more than that?

“Absolutely not.  I will not let you relive one more second of violence.  You have done enough.”  In rapid exchange of questions and answers, I understood that not some – ALL – of these memories belong to past lives.

That bit of information I didn’t fully integrate until I shared the story with Sweetie.  In the re-telling, I reached an epiphany – I actually have not been raped.  Not in this life and hopefully, knock on wood (ha) never again.  Then the tears came – tears of relief.

And how fucked up is that?  To be so damned relieved that I haven’t been raped THIS TIME.  That all of those memories belonged to other lives, other bodies entirely.  I felt a huge unburdening.  Nothing is wrong with me.  The memories are real (not delusional, not crazy) but they did not happen in this life (I do not have repressed trauma.)

How many times did this happen to me?  “48.”  Fourty-eight times.  Fourty-eight memories, all tangled up in a giant yarn-ball of trauma to be slowly, carefully, unraveled.

Kurt, George tells me, is a sort of specialist in healing this type of trauma.  I spent a few hours today learning just how much of a feminist Kurt Cobain was.

Here’s a video of Kurt in concert.

Of this video, Kurt showed me he could see this young woman in the mosh pit getting pressed up against the gate by this groper dude.  Generally you don’t mind your personal space in a mosh pit, but this guy was pressing up against her in a really invasive way, and tried to feel her up while she fought him off with her elbows, but she was trapped against the barrier and couldn’t get away.

Kurt sees this brewing and in the few moments he waited before intervening, he had hopes that the nearby OTHER GUYS would notice and do something about it.  But they didn’t, so he stopped the concert and dealt with the guy himself.

Today, I came upon this documentary – the rise and rise of Kurt Cobain.  The whole thing is worth watching if you’re interested, but I’m going to post the second part, and if you skip to 2 min 40 sec in, you’ll see what I mean.  Part of Nirvana’s mandate was to teach men not to rape.


(It’s late and I can’t figure out how to embed youtube videos, so screw it, you can click on the link.)

I think he was also teaching men how to respond when they see another man being a dick.  I think the band’s approach was brilliant.  “Yeah, we got a lot of practice,” Kurt says. “A lot of dickheads go to concerts just for the mosh pits.”

Intervene, embarrass, point, laugh.  I’ve used that approach myself when some dude tried to feel me up on a crowded public bus.  “EXCUSE ME, but did you get a good enough grope of my ass there buddy?”  Dude backed right off but protested it was accidental.  “I don’t see you pressing your dick against any of the guys.”

He got off at the next stop.  I shaken and angry.  And why hadn’t one of the dozens of people on board stepped forward to help me?  Not one person spoke up.  That’s part of the problem.

Kurt says, “When I was 13, I had this friend.  She was like, my best friend.  One night we were just talking and she just disintegrates and told me she’d been raped by this guy we both knew.  I was just in shock, I couldn’t believe someone would do that.  My friend was just destroyed, and she never recovered from that.  She started using and just self-destructed.  We weren’t ever as close after that either, because she didn’t trust males at all, and who could blame her.  I felt like a piece of shit for even being in a male body beside her.  Just getting too close to her made her cringe.

Gradually, as we grew up, I found out that more girls I knew had been hurt.  I eventually found out that every woman I cared about had been raped – every one.  And I understood why feminists were so angry.  They should be, and so I became a feminist.  I was fuckin’ pissed off that these macho, ignorant, self-interested meat-heads just take what they want in one moment and wreck someone’s whole life.”

Kurt, quiet, calm, sincere:  “I want you to know that I am going to keep you safe. ”

Even so, I find myself procrastinating about tonight’s meditation.  So here I am, writing a blog entry when it’s almost midnight and I have to be awake in five hours.

This whole thing is so surreal.  It’s trauma, it’s actual memories with a real, accumulated affect upon my physical, emotional, psychic and spiritual health.  It’s necessary and I welcome this healing.  Even though I know it won’t hurt, I understand it will take time.  Kurt is very careful, and these are not memories to be purged en-masse, like I experienced with George.

“We have a lot of time,” Kurt (re)assures me.  “There’s no way to rush through this, we just take it one at a time.”  All fourty-eight.  One at a time.

So if I don’t blog for a while, you’ll know what I’m doing.  I decided to post this entry, on the off chance, just in case, I’m not the only one haunted by past life sexual violence.  Maybe I’m not the only one.



Here’s some other Kurt / Nirvana feminist findings I wanted to share, but couldn’t work into this entry.   watch this video of Kathleen Hannah and her story of Kurt, feminism, vandalism and Smells Like Teen Spirit:  http://youtu.be/xWO4JnP2T40

a great article on Nirvana’s “secret” feminism

A link to a webpage of Kurt’s art

An example: (I particularly enjoy how he wrote in “fart” behind this guy in the first frame)