Kurt Cobain might have died in 1994, but his legacy still lives on in several different ways. Cobain, the former lead singer and guitarist of Nirvana, was a strong advocate for women, which came out in his music, interviews, and journals.
In a 1991 interview with NME, he talked about how society and crisis centers deal with sexual assault. He said, “Rape is one of the most terrible crimes on earth. And it happens every few minutes. The problem with groups who deal with rape is that they try to educate women about how to defend themselves. What really needs to be done is teaching men not to rape.”
He said, “I was talking to a friend of mine who went to a rape crisis center where women are taught judo and karate. She looked out the window and saw a football pitch full of boys, and thought those are the people that should really be in this class.”
One of Nirvana’s songs, “Polly” from the album Nevermind, addressed sexual assault and the strength that survivors display. Cobain wrote the song after reading a newspaper article about a 14-year-old girl who was abducted after leaving a concert. Krist Novoselic, Nirvana’s bass guitarist, explained to NME, “It’s about a young girl who was abducted. The guy drove her around in his van. Tortured her. Raped her. The only chance she had of getting away was to come on to him and persuade him to untie her. That’s what she did, and she got away. Can you imagine how much strength that took?”
Cobain’s published journals are filled not only with his lyrics, drawings, and writings, but also with the way he saw the world. On page 177 of his journal, he talks about “–isms” and how they interact and impact the world around us. Cobain says, “Yeah all –isms feed off one another but at the top of the food chain is still the white, corporate, macho, strong ox male. I mean, classism is determined by sexism because the male decides where all other –isms still exist. It’s 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.”
Cobain continues to explain the ideas expressed in his journals by expanding on why he thinks sexism continues to exist. He says, “There are thousands of green minds, young gullible 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.”
Sexism begins at a young age. The idea that men are superior to women and are supposed to fit into certain stereotypes is ingrained in us by society. This needs to change. As Cobain explained, “What really needs to be done is teaching men not to rape.”
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