It’s sort of ironic that my first girlfriend stole my Bratmobile CDs back in high school and wouldn’t give them back. Back in the days of my oh so naïve youth, when I really thought that punk rock had something to do with sharing ideas and creating a space for people who weren’t white, middle class white boys, Bratmobile was one of the best things to ever happen to me. They were probably the first all-female band that I ever heard. While the music isn’t much more than imbalanced surf punk, I loved every moment of it. They really helped me break apart some of the walls the clouded my vision and brought me to the unfortunate-but-necessary realization that I wasn’t the well-rounded, open-minded and sensitive male that I thought I was. Some seven years later, I’m still trying to figure out some of these ideas for myself and how to apply them to my life, but it’s nice to have Bratmobile giving me shit about it again.
Lead singer Allison Wolfe has always created very personal stories about boys and girls and rock ‘n’ roll and gender roles and has always been confrontational. She’ll get called a bitch and a “feminazi” from so many bullshit boys in this scene for the duration of her career. When boys have a problem with girls saying that they are fed up with bullshit over and over again perhaps they should realize that even after years and years and centuries of bullshit men are still acting like assholes to women.
Yet there is still something so appealing about Bratmobile. I don’t know if it’s this West Coast ideal I have of what a female surf band should be like, but there is something so refreshing about the sarcastic skewed pop aesthetic that makes me feel warm inside. They’re almost comforting except they make you feel so self-conscious. That is where the power lies in Bratmobile. They aren’t ready to make you feel good about your self. They want you to doubt what you think about your own role in the gender struggle and the behaviors you transmit, no matter what you think you believe.
Since Bratmobile went their separate ways so many years ago, the faces of women have one again taken a back seat in the punk rock world. Music has become more boring on an even greater scale. It’s no longer funny or radical for boys to pick up guitars and be loud and yell about the scene or the faux pas struggle of being disenfranchised. The return of Bratmobile is an important back step in recent music and cultural history that needed to be made. If you’re upset that they aren’t riding the waves of the new boring boy trends, then you weren’t paying attention the first time around. Bratmobile and so many of their contemporaries were not trying to emulate the punk boy movement, they were trying to make their own space by reconstructing and reinterpreting a great formula. If you’re upset that they’re still pissed off about the same old shit, then you weren’t paying attention when they first took the stage and put it in your face to smell. This isn’t new by any means; it’s just fucking necessary.