Kathleen Hanna was born in 1968 and became interested in the feminist movement at the young age of nine years old. Her entire musical career has been deeply influenced by the ideas of fighting the patriarchy and working toward true gender equality. Let's take a look at Hanna's life, music, and legacy.

Kathleen Hanna Discography

Year Title Band Format
1991 Revolution Girl Style Now! Bikini Kill Self-released Album
1991 Bikini Kill Bikini Kill EP
1993 Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Bikini Kill & Huggy Bear Split Album
1993 Pussy Whipped Bikini Kill Studio Album
1994 The First Two Records Bikini Kill Compilation Album
1996 Reject All-American Bikini Kill Studio Album
1997 Julie Ruin Julie Ruin Solo Album
1999 Le Tigre Le Tigre Studio Album
2001 Feminist Sweepstakes Le Tigre Studio Album
2001 From the Desk of Mr. Lady Le Tigre EP
2004 This Island Le Tigre Studio Album
2013 Run Fast The Julie Ruin Studio Album
2016 Hit Reset The Julie Ruin Studio Album

Causes Kathleen Hanna Supports

Q&A With Kathleen Hanna

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Kathleen Hanna on Social Media

More Information

Kathleen Hanna is an American musician, activist, and a pioneer of the feminist punk movement called Riot Grrrl. She is also best known for her performances as a singer of the band Bikini Kill and the electronica group, Le Tigre.

Kathleen was born on November 12, 1968 in Portland, Oregon. She moved with her family to Calverton, Maryland when she was three years old. Her father changed occupations frequently. As a result, she grew up moving from one place to another, living in Laurel, and then Bethesda.

Later on, her parents divorced and she moved back to Portland. There, she attended Lincoln High School and graduated in 1986. In her autobiography, Kathleen confessed that during her teenage years, she was obsessed with drinking alcohol and doing drugs.

Her mother was a housewife who also volunteered to help victims of domestic violence, working as a counselor at local churches. Kathleen, having witnessed her mother's work, became interested in feminism.

Around the age of nine, her mother brought Kathleen to Washington D.C. where she heard feminist icon Gloria Steinem speak at a rally. Her interest in feminism grew even more after that event. She became inspired by Betty Friedan's "The Feminine Mystique" and by "Ms." magazine.

In an interview with "Bust," a women's lifestyle magazine, Kathleen said that she used to cut pictures out of "Ms." "I would make posters that said 'Girls can do anything' and stuff like that," she revealed. She also mentioned that the first time she had ever been in a large gathering of women was when her mother took her to Solidarity Day.

At the age of fifteen, Kathleen had an abortion. In an interview with "Salon," a news and culture magazine, she said that it was one of the best things she did on her own. "I'm really, really passionate about pro-choice, because I wouldn't be here talking to you right now if I'd had a kid at 15," she added.

After high school, Kathleen moved to Olympia, Washington. There, she studied photography at the Evergreen State College. She loved school, but it was frustrating for her to deal with professors who were openly sexist. She was also disappointed that there were not a lot of courses on women's studies.

Kathleen had a work-study job in the school's darkroom and eventually, she set up a photo exhibit with another artist named Aaron Baush-Greene. Their works were about AIDS and sexism. The school administrators took it down after it was up for only a few days.

While still in college, Kathleen started a women's art gallery with her friends at Olympia. It was called Reko Muse. She did this in response to the school's blatant censorship and lack of suitable space for exhibits.

In between art shows, Kathleen and her friends put on rock concerts. Soon after, she created her own band called Amy Carter, a feminist punk group.

Later, Kathleen formed another band, Viva Knievel. They went on a two-month North American tour before disbanding. When she returned to Olympia, she teamed up with guitarist Billy Karren, bassist Kathi Wilcox, and drummer Tobi Vail to form Bikini Kill. They soon became part of the town's music scene, playing songs about feminism and political awareness.

Signing with the independent record label Kill Rock Stars, the band released several LPs, singles, and toured the UK and the US. Some of their songs became underground feminist anthems, including "Rebel Girl," "The Anti-Pleasure Dissertation," and "I Like Fucking/I Hate Danger." Bikini Kill recorded two full-length albums, "Pussy Whipped" and "Reject All American." They were released in 1994 and 1996 respectively.

In April 1998, Bikini Kill broke up and Kathleen worked on a solo project called Julie Ruin. She met with her friend, Johanna Fateman, to collaborate on a live show. Within a year, the two formed a band called Le Tigre.

The band's first album was self-titled and was released under the Mr. Lady Records label. In 2004, the group switched labels to Universal Records and worked on the project, "This Island." In 2005, Kathleen left the group because of health problems. She was diagnosed with Lyme disease.

In 2010, Kathleen decided to rebuild her old project and called it The Julie Ruin. On December 11, they played their first show at the Knitting Factory in New York City. The band played Bikini Kill and Le Tigre songs.

In September 2013, the band released their album, "Run Fast." The group went on tour but shortly after, it was cancelled due to Kathleen's health issues. Her Lyme disease condition had deteriorated. She had to undergo a 3-month treatment program. In June 2015, she recovered and results showed that she was Lyme-free.

On March 10, 2013, "The Punk Singer" was released. It was a documentary that explored the life and career of Kathleen. The film traced her troubled past, her works from Bikini Kill to The Julie Ruin, and her fight with Lyme disease. It was directed by Sini Anderson and premiered at SXSW in Austin, Texas.

Kathleen Hanna, being one of the most important icons associated with the Riot Grrrl movement, continues to influence many feminist musicians of recent years.

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