I remember how back in the day, when I wrote Fallopian Falafel, every once in a while, I would get an email from some person who wanted to interview me because they were writing an article/essay/thesis about riot grrrl in Israel. Every once in a while, I would have a journalist ask me about feminism in Jerusalem and Israel, how is it expressed, where can you find it, what groups am I affiliated with…
I never knew what to answer. And now I know why.
Riot grrrl in Israel does not exist.
And I don’t know if it’s because the country is still too young to have reached a stage where such a movement is necessary, or if it’s because it has more important matters to deal with, or if being Israeli means being loud anyway so loud female punk bands are not getting the recognition they deserve.
What I do know is that with all the shit women are still going through in Israel, feminism is necessary and relevant as it still is everywhere else. So is riot grrrl, mainly because it appeals to a younger crowd.
So after reading Girls to the Front by Sara Marcus, I keep thinking how sad it is that I didn’t live in Olympia or DC around that time, and that I wasn’t a bit older in the early 90s. I would have no doubt been on Kathleen Hanna’s mailing list and gone to all the riot grrrl shows and gigs and meetings, and it would have rocked.
Then, I thought, if I missed it then, why not recreate it now? And what if it already exists?
I have been searching the internet incessantly, trying to find a lead, something that hints at some form of riot grrrl revival in Israel. The only thing I found was an underground riot grrrl/queercore gig that took place back in 2000-motherfucking-7. It was the same show I found several years ago, one or two days after it already happened, and I beat myself over the head because of that for a few good weeks.
The rest of the stuff I found include a WordPress blog about Ladyfest Tel Aviv, which also already happened back in the summer of 2011. I don’t know how I missed it. I was rather busy that summer, going to a metal festival in Belgium, a short vacation in Amsterdam, organizing Crafts for a Cause with my friend Deb, hanging out with my friend from Sweden, Nelly, plus switching jobs, and trying to figure out how to make ends meet with a severely reduced income and an insanely increased rent. I was completely out of the loop.
I also found a lot of feminist sites and forums in Israel where, except for the feminist element, do not appeal to me at all. Mainly, these sites are run by religious people who try to attract women by emphasizing the feminist rhetoric of Judaism. I think it’s cool and I agree with it, but that’s not the kind of feminism I am looking for, and it has nothing to do with riot grrrl.
The other kind of feminism I found was a radical left-wing feminism that fuses feminism with everything I am not: vegan, anarchist, peace activist, animal activist and queer. Again, I have absolutely no problem with people who fit these categories, and I admire their idealism, but this is still not what I am looking for. I’m looking for a place where I will feel at home. Where I will feel like I fit in. Where I will feel accepted despite the fact that I am not left-wing; that I don’t always obsess over products that were not tested on animals; that despite myself I’m as straight as an arrow; that despite the rampant corruption, I still believe in a democratic state; and that I do enjoy the occasional chicken leg.
And again, none of these sites even so much as mention riot grrrl.
All these journalists, students, and writers who contacted me about Fallopian Falafel are all from outside of Israel. I should have asked them if, while researching feminism in Israel, they came across anybody aside from me, who was more or less my age and who was enthusiastic about riot grrrl without pushing any other extraneous ideas about religion or about the plight of Palestine.
When my friend Deb moved to Israel, I was happy to find someone who I could hang out with and engage in some grrrl-related activism. Although Deb is also pretty left-wing, she accepts the fact that I am not, and when we’re together, we stay focussed on the thing that brings us together. I don’t push my ideas on her, and she doesn’t push hers on mine. And she accepts me as straight, just as I accept her as queer. Being raised in the States, the main difference between her and other Israeli feminists is that she knows how to separate feminism from other left-wing initiatives. Israeli-born feminists see them as automatically inter-related. If you’re a feminist, then you must be pro-Palestinian and vegan and anarchist and gay. Well, I’m sorry to disappoint you but none of this is true for me, and I consider it another kind of prejudice, just like when people think that if you’re a feminist, you shave your head and don’t shave your legs and you hate men.
I am a feminist, and the only other thing I would like to see being automatically related to that is riot grrrl.
Peace, love and my blog is not called “Riot Grrrl in Israel” for nothing.