in lieu of an interview with branny, i’ve decided to go ahead anyway with a brief lyrical analysis. my knowledge of feminist expression through language is pretty limited, so i’m going by the more obvious examples in her lyrics.
“golden resistance“ (verse and chorus)
‘oh no, ok
either, or any other way?
whats fucking the difference if you take it or give it?
oh no, ok
who cares anyway?
asexual, bisexual, maybe i’m just an
take a, take a, take a, take a look at my ride [rpt]
and tell me what do you like?
use me, abuse me, use me, abuse me, use me, abuse me,
just make sure that you chose me.’
here, we have a pretty blatant reference to sexuality, suggesting it doesn’t matter (‘maybe i’m just an’), and also creates a bit of ambiguity. unlike various other queercore bands (not that riot co necessarily was one, but some of the values are shared), there were no concrete or obvious references to sexuality in the lyrics – ‘golden resistance’ is the most obvious expression of sexuality.
from where i stand, the rest of the lyrics are quite gender neutral – through use of ‘you’ instead of ‘he’ or ‘she’ for the most part – but without a transcript of the lyrics, its a bit hard to gauge accurately. however, through past conversations about the lyrics with branny, it can be inferred that she wanted to remain as neutral as possible in her writing – i’d say any references to sexuality are more subtle and hidden.
her general neutrality in lyric writing does not then isolate the band – one does not have to be gay to relate to or appreciate both the lyrics and music. for example, her depiction of an unfaithful partner in ‘what have i become,’ singing “i’m angry/i’m jealous/i’m paranoid/and i’ll kill anyone/who fucking comes near you,” is relatable and not gender specific.
by coincidence, both examples of lyrics used in this post make use of explicit language. again, without a transcript, its hard to judge, but they could be the only 2 instances of swearing in the music – i’m not sure how the lyricist feels about the inclusion of that in her work. i don’t think its that much of an issue; maybe if explicit language was used more frequently it would be – we didn’t want to be another “angry dyke band,” and that would have pushed us over the edge.
just because gender and sexuality issues weren’t raised in the lyrics, it doesn’t mean that they didn’t affect the band dynamics. the internal power struggle, which was never really noticed or mentioned when the band was together, relates directly to gender expression – if masculine traits typically involve aggression, confidence and self-assertion, then there was a lot of that going on. that combined with typical “girl-to-girl aggression included gestural meanings such as fighting, looks or stares, eye-rolling, and other behaviors that spoke the messages of the experience” (adamshick 2006, p98) …was a recipe for disaster.