Last week, I bought my husband a copy of Kurt Cobain’s Journals. I have always been a fan of Nirvana, but I would be lying if I said that I automatically connected with all of Cobain’s lyrics.
What initially began as a quick browse through the pages resulted in my reading the journals cover to cover in one sitting. There is an instant feeling of guilt for reading such private thoughts, as there is with reading anyone’s diary.
I am not the first to connect Kurt Cobain and feminism and I won’t be the last. In his journals, he clearly pushes against the notion of ‘isms,’ but it is clear that he identified with the many schools of thought surrounding gender and race equality.
‘I like the comfort in knowing that women are generally superior, and naturally less violent than men. I like the comfort in knowing that women are the only future in rock and roll.’ (Cobain p. 110)
‘I like the comfort in knowing that the Afro American invented rock and roll yet has only be rewarded or awarded for their accomplishments when conforming to the white mans standards. I like the comfort in knowing that the Afro American has once again been the only race that has brought a new form of original music to this decade. i.e (hip hop/rap)’ (Cobain p. 111)
‘I’ve lost my MIND many times, and my wallet many more. In the simplest terms:
1. Don’t Rape 2. Don’t be prejudice(d) 3. Don’t be sexist 4. Love your children 5. Love your neighbour 6. Love yourself
Don’t let your opinions obstruct the aforementioned list’ (Cobain p.114)
‘Yeah, all Isms (sic) feed off one another but at the top of the food chain is still the white, corporate, macho, strong ox male. Not redeemable as far as I’m concerned. I mean, classism is determined by sexism because the male decides whether all other isms still exists (sic). Its up to men. I’m just saying that people can’t deny any ism or think that some are more or less subordinate except for sexism… I still think that in order to expand on all other isms, sexism has to be blown wide open…but there are thousands of green minds, young gullable (sic) 15 year old boys out there just starting to fall into the grain of what they’ve been told of what a man is supposed to be and there are plenty of tools to use. The most effective tool is entertainment’ (Cobain, p.177).
‘It was like what Kathleen said about how in high school there was this class that you went to and they were teaching the girls how to prepare themselves for rape and when you looked outside and saw the rapers outside playing football you said ‘they are the ones who should be in here being taught not to rape’ how true.’ (Cobain, p.179)
Step # One: Remember that your older brothers cousins, uncles, and your fathers are not your role models. This means you do not do what they do, you do not do what they say. They come from a time when their role models told their sons to be mean to girls, to think of yourself as better and stronger and smarter than them. They also taught things like: you will grow up strong if you act tough and fight the boys who are known as nerds or geeks…’ (Cobain p.276)
Kurt Cobain’s values are clear in his journals, and it is his unwavering belief in the failure of a society founded in sexism that I admire most about him as a human being.
By Haylee Slater