Kathleen Hanna in Punk Planet

Some quotes from an interview with Kathleen Hanna from a 1998 issue of Punk Planet.

On competition:

“I think for me, the frustration stems from being a woman who wants to do art. What’s really frustrating to me is all the sexist shit that you get and then all the capitalistic shit, which is basically people being really competitive. It sucks, because there is enough to go around for everybody. But the fact is that some rich white businessmen are hoarding it and we’re supposed to be down here fighting for the crumbs and that causes a lot of problems. I know this sounds like it’s off the subject of what happened with Bikini Kill, but to me it’s not. I don’t think it’s a phenomenon with the band that I was in. I think it’s a phenomenon with capitalism.”

On people:

“It can be really painful to have to face how fucked-up shit is and how scared people are. Scared of being alive. Scared of things that are amazing. Scared of things that aren’t like television or aren’t dead. A lot of people can’t deal with three-dimensional human beings, they only know how to deal with other products – they see themselves as other products. When the world only treats you like a dot on a marketing scheme, you can learn to treat yourself and other people like that.”

On the arts:

“I’m on this new trip of saying, ‘I’m an artist, dammit.’ I think that what I do is important enough that I should get paid for it. I’m not talking about getting paid a hell of a lot. I don’t need a house in Malibu or wherever people get houses, but I don’t feel bad making a little money off of what I love. I want everybody to be able to do that. It seems really American to not respect the arts. I’ve been to Europe and they really respected artists and writers. It was important to them what food tasted like and what buildings looked like. They had squats with really good sound systems. It was so different than the United States. People there cared about food and art and literature. It wasn’t a sidebar or a luxury for a certain class of people. It was recognized as an integral part of survival. Here, it’s like you’re supposed to feel guilty if you’re an artist or a writer. You’re supposed to not want to make any money off of it and feel really bad if you do.

Art is a job. It’s just not a sucky job. It’s important and it’s valuable to the community. You should get paid for what you do. I’m really sick of the whole idea that art is this lazy thing that slackers do. I just visited this liberal arts school where a lot of the people there had this really oppositional view of art and activism. You either had to be an artist or an activist, there was no way that those two things could work together.”

On sacrificing and suffering for the arts:

“But why is it an ideal to sacrifice at all? Why isn’t it ideal to have a really good time while you’re doing things? I think it’s a joyous thing to fight back against oppression. I think it’s all about saying, ‘I love life.’ Sometimes I hate life and it’s a big-ass drag but I’m still having an interesting time being here. The whole idea of suffering sounds very Christian to me.

I think life being a drag totally happens – it’s got to happen. Life can’t be happy and funny all the time like you’re in a Carpenters video. But at the same time, suffering isn’t cool. Sure, you get bummed out and sad sometimes, but I don’t understand the suffering part. I especially don’t understand why art is wrapped up in the idea of suffering. Who thought of that? [laughs] Obviously it was thought up by someone who has never had to suffer. I don’t want to always make art about that and I don’t want to stay in some sort of debilitating situation so that I can feel like I’m making ‘authentic’ art. Why can’t we make art that’s really strategic, smart, joyous, and satisfying?

Why are we allowing capitalist thought to define everything? Why does that get to decide how everything goes down? And why is it about being legitimate in the eyes of the people who own the majority of the wealth? Why do they get to decide these things?”