Grrrl Germs (short story)

Dear Journal,


I never tell anyone this, but when I was a little girl, I would call Goddess “God.”  I know there are many hick children in Appalachia whose parents have illegally ignored the Gender Reversal of 1996, but I am no hick.  I go to freaking Evergreen State College, for Goddessake.  My classmates may all wear leather boots, leather coat, leather panties, etc., but they’ve been so integrated into the system that their idea of feminism is far too radical.  They pose with AK-47s in their bedrooms and try out their S&M gear on every boy at school.  They proudly call themselves sluts.  I call them that too, but the term “slut” leaves a bitter taste in my mouth, like I’ve sinned against Goddess by saying it.  Which is odd because I’ve been agnostic since age ten.  Even Mom doesn’t believe in Goddess.  But then again, Mom was a lot more radical before I was born.  Mom won’t admit it now, but she played a pivotal role in the Gender Reversal of 1996.  That’s right: Mom was in a riot grrrl band.  The riot grrrl band, actually.  Bikini Kill.  Although I got this Bratmobile tattoo when I was seventeen, so I should give credit to other bands as well.

People (mostly immature teens) joke about the name “The Gender Reversal” because it sounds like a sex change, something that was, is, and will always be taboo and “weird”-sounding to the mainstream.  But there’s really no better way to describe the ideas created by Aunt Kat than a gender reversal, because that’s what it did.  The male gender, which was once supposedly equal to women but not-so-secretly dominant, has become weakened and vestigial through the efforts of riot grrrl.  A formerly underground culture of anarchist, radical feminist women has become so dominant throughout America that the Y chromosome has become obsolete.  Men as a gender are spit on, mocked, stabbed, strangled, and shot by AK-47s on a daily basis.  Women aren’t all angry, violent, and man-hating, but there are enough of us who are that the percentage of Americans who are male has decreased from 49% to 12% in eleven short years.  It’s still decreasing rapidly due to high murder rates and a new form of asexual reproduction involving semen and vibrators purchased at sperm banks—which stimulate the clitoris and, if necessary, break the hymen—thus making men unnecessary

Mom thinks we as a nation have gone too far in our pursuit for gender reform, and I agree with her.  Women actually made it to complete equality by 1995, but since then, we’ve been going too far beyond equality.  Unfortunately, I don’t know many people other than myself and Mom who are so opposed to the changes.  This is probably due to the fact that I’ve never met a man in my life.  Men were banned from my town—Olympia, Washington—in 1997, despite all of the great male contributions to it.  Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons, went to Evergreen.  So did Calvin Johnson, lead singer of the only all-male band I listen to, despite my friends’ taunting of me.  Beat Happening, that rad Calvin Johnson band, broke up in 1992, but Mom still has all of their cassettes, and I listen to them on a daily basis.  Jamboree, Black Candy, Dreamy, S/T, and my favorite, You Turn Me On.  Mom and apparently Dad (Dad died before I was born, and for nineteen years I didn’t know his name) played in a band with Calvin in the mid-80s.  They were called The Go Team.  Mom has some of their stuff too, but I don’t care for it as much as Beat Happening.  It’s just weird listening to Mom play music, because she has never sang or played an instrument in my life.  She really put all of her life behind her when the Gender Reversal came around.

You’ve probably heard of Mom’s band Bikini Kill.  They released a lot of music on Kill Rock Stars, a record label which has fully supported the Gender Reversal from day one.  Mom refuses to speak with two of her former bandmates, but the lead singer of Bikini Kill is my Aunt Kat.  She’s not a blood relative, but they’ve been friends for so long that they’re basically sisters.  Mom is Aunt Tobi to Kat’s three kids.  I still something hang around Kat’s youngest daughter, who is a year younger than me, but she’s very rebellious, much more than the Gender Reversal’s brainwashed teens.  She goes out clubbing every night drinking Vodka laced with GHB and abusing her asexual reproductive gear in public.  Then she spends all day fucking shit up around Olympia.  I suspect that Aunt Kat encourages Traci—that’s her daughter’s name —to be so rebellious.  Mom and Aunt Kat disagree on many things.  Mom’s idea of classic rock is Heart or Janis Joplin.  Aunt Kat’s idea of classic rock is Courtney Love, who by the way, we all despise.  Mom, Aunt Kat, myself, and even Traci are all disgusted at the media whore and tabloid queen Courtney Love has turned herself into.  The fact that she’s now a senator and is running for President in 2012 doesn’t help, because I always say “fuck the government” and “fuck politicians.”  Mom was telling me about a similar figure in her childhood named Barbra Streisand, from before the Gender Reversal.  I actually recorded Mom’s rants on Courtney Love for a sociology class I took last semester at Evergreen.  I still have the transcript, and the evidence was more shocking than I imagined….

“So when did you realize how much you hated Courtney Love?” I asked her, holding my camcorder still.

Mom winced.  “I know a lot of people say this, but I hated her from the moment I met her.  I was dating your father at the time, and she always was trying to steal him from me.  We’d be seeing the coolest K bands, like the Pastels, the Vaselines, Thee Mighty Caesars, Young Marble Giants—I can go on forever naming K bands I’ve seen—and that slut Courtney would be all drugged up on H, trying to drag your dad into the nearest john with whatever she’d been smoking.  Dad would usually come crawling back to me, but one day he didn’t.  I never even saw him again, but that was nine months before you were born.”

I turned my camcorder off immediately.  “Wait, you mean Courtney’s my mom?”

“All I know is that I’m not your birth mother, because the only pregnancy I ever had ended in an abortion.  I know this comes as a shock, but…”

“But how did I end up living with you?  I mean, how did I get from a disappeared Dad and Courtney Love’s uterus—to you?”

“I’ve told you about how your dad died, right?”  Mom grimaced in a tic motion to the left.

“Yes, but I don’t really grasp how this is relevant.  How did…”

“I know I told you that Dad killed himself,” murmured Mom.  “But that’s what people want you to think.”

“What people?  You’re the only person who’s told me about Dad at all, and mostly just now.”

“Everybody talks about your dad, Frances, honey,” said Mom, applying lipstick to her worn-out mouth.  “He’s been dead since 1994 but it doesn’t make a difference.  People buy millions of his CDs!  Maybe they’re embarrassed because he’s a male artist and the Gender Reversal has made male artists unlikeable, but millions of people still secretly love your dad, his band, and his music.  I still love his music, and I know he would not have approved of what Courtney Love has done to the country.  What started as a positive milestone in feminism has degraded itself into a disgusting, violent self-parody, with millions of men being murdered every day by militant conformist radicals.  Courtney’s done a lot of bad shit to this country, and it all started when she killed your dad.”

“So she fucked him, had me, and then she killed him?”

“She’s a very unstable character, Frances.”

“But you haven’t established who my dad was.  He wasn’t Calvin Johnson, was he?”

“Close.  Your dad was a fan of Calvin Johnson, but later developed a disdain for those who he considered ‘Calvinists.’  Frances Bean—your father was Kurt Cobain.”

“Kurt Cobain didn’t kill himself, Courtney did?” I asked Mom.

“You figured it out!”

I suddenly recalled an old memory which had always baffled me.  It had to have been around the time of the Gender Reversal, when Courtney Love (my birth mother, ugh) first ran for state senator.  I was just a toddler, being locked in a bedroom by a blonde woman with huge red lips.  I once assumed this woman to be my Aunt Kat, who still occasionally bleaches her hair.  But now I know that I was, like Dad, a victim of Courtney Love.

“So—how did I end up living with you?”

“Courtney never had much sense, but somehow she realized that she couldn’t balance being a single mother, a grunge musician, and a politician.  So when you were barely three years old, she drove over from Seattle to give you to me.  From then on, your last name has been Vail, not Love, or Cobain.  It was actually Cobain beforehand, not Love, but I never really wanted you to know about your father, not even his name.  I guess I struggled with the fact that he had given his consent to Courtney to cheat on me.  But a good thing came out of his stupid infidelity, and that is you.  But I have to say, even though you were birthed by Courtney and raised by me, you’re still the spitting image of Kathleen—I mean Aunt Kat.”

“I’m like Kathleen Hanna?  Whoa.”

“Hey, I was in Bikini Kill too,” Mom snickered.  “I had as much of a part in riot grrrl as Aunt Kat did.”

“But I always thought riot grrrl music was the basis behind the Gender Reversal.”

“Ugh.  I wish people didn’t think that.”  Mom reached for a handkerchief.  “Courtney Love and her movement of bands created this mess of a country.  Courtney wasn’t associated with riot grrrl.  She was her own scene, kinderwhore or something.  Aunt Kat isn’t a horrible radical at all.  She’s like me.  We have visions for women to be successful, but just as much as men.  We’re not anti-men, we’re just pro-women.  Her daughter on the other hand…Traci’s a piece of work.”  I laughed nervously, nodding.


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