Corin Mama Mania

a.k.a., The more things change…

Guest post by Lisa. We’ll get back to Margot’s museum blogging soon. Promise.

What’s the difference between these two pictures?

Most of the people who know me know that I love Corin Tucker. I love Sleater-Kinney so much, and don’t get me started on Heavens to Betsy. I see my life as somehow inextricably wound up with Sleater-Kinney: it was Karey who handed me that h2b cassette, and around the time the first S-K album came out, we were a new couple. We followed them with a passion, awaiting each album release and going to as many shows as we could (somewhere around 30 of them, by our count). When their hiatus and final tour were announced, I was pregnant. Their final NYC show was scheduled for one week after my due date. We bought our tickets and I counted on that 41+3 first-time-mother statistic, just so I could make it to that show. As it turns out, when that hot, hot day in August came, I was recovering from a c-section, ecstatically tired, and holding and nursing our 15-day-old daughter. Karey went to the show alone–it was the first time I missed an S-K show in a city where I lived, and the first time one of us went to an S-K show without the other. I listened to the show over the phone as I rocked our little baby. The movement into the next phase of our life felt punctuated by that final tour.

So it’s been with great anticipation that I have waited for this Corin Tucker album. As I have casually leafed through the coverage, I have been unsurprised by disappointed by the obsessive focus on Corin’s mom-ness in all of it. Not so much that it has been noted and talked about–this is a good thing, and she does it herself–but the tone and dismissiveness of it all. It feels like nothing so much as the coverage of Riot Grrrl. Riot Grrrl was so much about age and gender; it was front and center of the content and the emotion, and yet so many who tried to observe and analyze it from the outside seemed somehow blinded by the very phenomenon they were witnessing, such that the commentary ran along the lines of: “They are girls! And so young! And so angry! And a little bit cute!” It was dismissive of that which we were insisting was no longer dismissible.

So now we’ve got Corin, the mom, who talks about being a mom, talks about making a mom album, and gets coverage as a mom: “Tucker appropriately looked more motherrrly than riot grrrly…” (Spin). And it feels so RG–both in strategy and in the observational obliviousness to that seems to be accompanying it. If you’re going to call us sluts and dykes, we’re going to beat you to the punch and have it written on ourselves already. If you are going to blather some triteness about what being a mom-rocker means, I am going to be surrounded by babies and talk about my family. As some who were involved in RG choose motherhood, that’s going to become part of our politics and experience. We’re not going to leave that out. (I want to be careful to point out that none of this is to say that being a mom is a more special or precious sort of experience of being a girl or a woman; it’s not. Being a mother and being child-free need to be equally valid choices.)

We’re so used to this trope that motherhood sucks out our energy, creativity, intelligence; mothers don’t rock, mother’s aren’t political. And if they are, they keep politely quiet about being mothers, or–worse (to me)–use a sanitized, saccharine version of motherhood to make a special appeal. Don’t expect much; she’s a mom. This is pretty good, you know, for a mom. Whatever spark we had passes through and leaves us like a placenta. And we know that like the pack of lies we were once told about what being a girl means, that none of it is true. We asked for the world to rethink what being a girl is, and to let girls control their own means of production. Isn’t it time to rethink what a mom album is?

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