When I was fifteen, I wanted the whole world to know how much I loved Ghost World and Bust magazine and Sleater-Kinney. So I got a pair of cat-eye glasses and never spelled the word “your” with the o or u. (Here is a discussion thread about why people spell it “yr.” At the time I had no idea.)
After a while, I stopped wanting people to know that I loved those things, because I didn’t want to be one of those people who loves those things. Nobody wants to be that easy to pin down. Also, I got to know people similar to me and became familiar with our annoying habits. People who like other things have annoying habits, too, but I don’t know them as intimately and so they don’t rankle in the same way.
I am one of those women who grew up loving Ghost World and Bust magazine and riot grrrl. I can spot other women like me a mile away and I have stereotyped us unfairly. I assume that we are obsessed with identity politics but secretly stupid when it comes to every other kind of politics. I assume that identity politics have gobbled up our sex lives. I assume that we have fun mostly at vegan potlucks and zine fairs because every other type of fun is sexist. I assume that we wear Emily Strange socks and other things our mothers would call “funky.”
(Other people think these things about us and I totally hate them for it.)
I think most women who grew up with similar interests probably make similar assumptions. But while people who grew up liking metal can make fun of themselves for liking metal, and people who grew up liking indie rock can’t stop making fun of themselves for liking indie rock, to the point where it’s just another annoying thing about people who grew up on indie rock, we Bust/Ghost World/Sleater-Kinney people never seemed to joke about ourselves. (Except to the extent that we also grew up on indie rock. This is getting complicated.)
That’s why the show Portlandia is such a relief to us. In Portlandia, Carrie Brownstein from Sleater-Kinney (the John Lennon of our people) is actually funny and makes fun of the things associated with us. This demonstrates that we are all in on the stereotype and that none of us want to live it. I mean, some people probably want to live it, but at least I’m not the only one who hates them.
It also demonstrates that we were awesome all along, despite the annoying things about us. Have you ever been to a vegan potluck? They’re actually pretty fun.