In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well. This week: Our favorite songs under two minutes long.
Bikini Kill, “Statement Of Vindication” (1996)
I had wanted a girl, my wife a boy. Obviously we would’ve been happy with either, yada, yada, yada, but I wanted a daughter. If I had to explain why, I’d point to growing up under the influence of three women—my mom and my two sisters, who are 11 and 13 years older than I am. I’d always had lots of girl friends, which tended to flummox my girlfriends, so I never had a problem relating. When my wife and I looked at the sonogram in her doctor’s office, I wanted it to be a girl more than I probably realized.
It was. Curiously, “Statement Of Vindication” by Bikini Kill was one of the first songs I listened to after I heard the news. I don’t remember if it was the first, but I listened to it over and over as I rode the train to work, daydreaming about the person this little image on a screen would become. A song that has a riot grrrl icon shouting “You are your own worst enemy!” is hardly “With Arms Wide Open,” but then again it has nothing to do with parenthood—at least maybe not for anyone else. I knew I was bringing a female into a world that will occasionally treat her poorly simply because of her gender, and I wanted her to tolerate none of that bullshit. I was radicalized.
Bikini Kill singer Kathleen Hanna tolerates no bullshit, especially in “Statement Of Vindication,” when she’s as direct and commanding as ever. This is late-period Bikini Kill—Reject All American, the album it kicks off, would be the group’s last—but Hanna sounds as vigorous as she did on “Double Dare Ya” years earlier. The lyrics are vintage Hanna: “Mirror, mirror on the wall / Who’s the fairest of them all? / I don’t, I don’t really care, you know / I don’t, I don’t really care.”
Later, as the rest of the band sings, “You try to make me crazy / You try to make me scared / You try to make me crazy,” Hanna punctuates the end of each line with a screeching “Don’t you put the blame on me.” Then after the band sings, “I think you’re a fucking drag,” Hanna goes off, shouting, “YOU. ARE. YOUR. OWN. WORST. EN-E-MY, na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na.”
Maybe it seems odd to connect that to fatherhood, but it cuts close to my hopes and dreams for a little girl who’s about to turn 3. Don’t tolerate any of that bullshit, kid.