Mar. 27th, 2013

[identity profile]

Soldier Through This
You Look So Fine - Single

: As I've mentioned, I spent a lot of time downloading Garbage b-sides in high school -- grade 11, to be specific. I devoured them, as quickly as dialup could handle, and I loved many, but "Soldier Through This" was always my favourite. It was one of those songs I'd hammer into my own interpretation, then blast for hours and days and year after year. Ten years ago, I listened to this song incessantly; I listened to Garbage incessantly. And ten years later, I saw them live.

The show itself was bliss, simply: two of my favourites, a cheerful buzz, a gaggle of unknown gay boys dancing with their arms around us and calling out the words; everyone screaming and pounding the floor for a band that deserves more cheers than are possible to give. We were there to worship at the feet of Shirley Manson and Butch Vig, and they provided.
But the last time I was at Metropolis, it was for Tegan and Sara, and that was an oh-so-different experience.
I'll get into this in more detail another time, maybe; I don't know if I'm ready for it, or if there are words. But here's the thing -- I have been shuffling my feet outside the lesboqueer door for a few months now, and I can't get up the courage to knock, and not a single person has looked over to let me in. I feel edgy, not in an entirely negative way, but in a way that makes me feel unaccepted by a community that is, generally, unaccepted. I feel I am not cool enough, with short enough hair or an opinion on feminism that fits precisely into a queer blog definition. I feel alien in a community that should welcome me.

At Garbage, I felt like I was home.
I was never a queer kid. I was never a hipster or an intellectual or a fashionista. Ten years ago, I was an alt kid. I was a goth girl. I was black makeup and shirts with laces up the arms; I was fetish parties and industrial club nights; I was, generally, unaccepted, but I never felt it mattered. I had my friends, of course -- Claire and Meg and all the other alt-kids, or people who happily accepted that I drew intricate designs on my face with black pen -- but more importantly, I felt I belonged there. Surprisingly, & though I know people more deeply entrenched in 'the scene' would disagree, I never once felt judged by my fellow goths or alt-kids. We all danced the way we wanted and talked about everything. There wasn't a right way to approach a conversation or an ideology. There was a solid alliance and that was that: we were the weird ones, and we may have had nothing else in common, but fuck if we didn't give each other invisible nods if we passed on the street.

I beamed at Garbage ----- grinned so hard I thought my cheeks were going to seize up ----- and it was because it was ten years later, and they still felt like home. And then, between songs, Shirley Manson brought up Prop 8, and "just so you know where we stand ---- ", started playing "Queer."

You don't have to be a lesbian, or even bisexual, to have an opinion or a voice on queer issues. You just have to love people, genuinely, and care deeply for what you put out into the world -- be it a simple line in a conversation or a song about the queerest of the queer. "Queer" was cracking hearts before Tegan and Sara even cracked a demo ---- and much as I love those little lesbeans, I don't love them the way I love Garbage. And I didn't feel the way I did at their show, surrounded by proud women clutching their girlfriends, as I did the moment Shirley started her "da da-da da da-da"s.

I belong to a different crowd. And it doesn't mean I won't ever be part of that community, and it doesn't negate the power of seeing out women onstage. All it does is remind me that I do belong, and my weird little alt-kids -- ten years ago, ten years later -- always welcomed me with open arms.

And I'm able to soldier through this -- and thank you, Garbage, for so deeply and powerfully reminding me why.
[identity profile]

What Girls Are Made Of
Not Your Kind of People (Deluxe Version)

Seeing Garbage perform was all the exclamation points.  Standing in that crowd, shouting out the lyrics, jumping because I just couldn't contain my excitement--I felt like a teenager at her first concert.  I remember having this picture of Shirley Manson pasted on one of my binders in high school and thinking that she was just about the coolest, toughest, not-afraid-to-share-her-opinion woman ever.  The images I collaged on my agenda and binders were not only an expression of what I liked or who I was, but a kind of talisman.  Toting those images around with me was reassuring, in a way; they were a protection, a reminder that people had managed to create and thrive under any number of circumstances.

I would have loved "What Girls Are Made Of" when I was in my last few years of high school, when I was just forming my own ideas about feminism and what it meant to identify as "feminist".  I like that this song emphasizes the strength of women and doesn't hide or shame uniquely female experiences like, say, getting your period, "We can bleed for a whole week straight/Every month, and the pain doesn't faze us".  It's strange, especially when I was a teenager, how embarrassed I was about getting my period (I feel that I wasn't alone in this).  I was ridiculously stealth about it.  Like God forbid anybody see me in the bathroom holding a...pad!  And now, here's a song that's like, whatever, it's cool; it's pretty awesome that we (the collective female, we) just deal with it.

That, and I loved songs with well-timed, well-placed swear words.  Something like:

Do you really think I give a shit about anything you said
Or what you ever did?
Say what you want, but I'm not listening
'Cause I'm not fucking about

would have had me snarling into an invisible microphone in front of my bedroom mirror (when I was home alone, of course; swear words--hearing them, saying them--inevitably made me feel guilty, haha).

I love that this song opens with a strong bass line.  It sounds like a curled lip and an arched eyebrow.  The lyrics eviscerate.  And, while being driven to drink isn't necessarily the healthiest response to another person's actions, the speaker is not a passive, wilting, delicate flower.  She threatens:

Watch me cutting every string
One by one
See me cut out all the rot
Bit by bit

she stomps her feet, she is heard and doesn't give herself up to defeat.


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