JC: Yeah, same. I feel like maybe I didn’t want to make a scene. This guy’s way bigger than me if I were to say something back.
CDP: Fear of being misunderstood is difficult. That scene was very emotionally harsh. You don’t want to feel like you’re lame or something.
JC: I was full of a lot of rage and anger back then, so there became a point where I was fueled by the sexism and wanted to stand up to it, for myself and for my sister. One time, I made out with a guy, and he was like, “Do you want to go to the bathroom and give me a blowjob?” I was so offended. I would never say, “Do you want to go to the bathroom and eat me out?” I was like, “Fuck you. You’re gross. Never into you again.” There are so many moments as we grow up that we don’t understand it, and so when it happens it kind of throws us for a loop.
CDP: It’s a social domino effect wherein one little girl watches another little girl stand up for herself to influence the rest of the group.
JC: Totally. I remember my best friend at the time would not take shit from anybody, so I really learned a lot from her.
CDP: I had a kind of “hurt puppy complex” growing up, so I was the underdog, with a doormat life. There was so much resentment as a result of not standing up for myself when I should have.
JC: I remember one time when I was a kid, before I started a band or even found punk, I went to New York with my mom. We were on the subway, and she lifted her arm to hold onto the pole in the fully-packed subway. It was super hairy, and I was so embarrassed like, “Oh my God, how could my mom think it’s okay to put her arm up?” I always think back on that because now I have full, hairy armpits and most of my friends do.
“It was seeing F-Minus that made me decide
to pick up an instrument,
and I always wonder that it must have been
because there were women on stage.”
— Jennifer Clavin
CDP: That’s the early priming that all the Disney movies try to accomplish with their standard of beauty—being clean-shaven, white, doe-eyed. It starts when you’re a kid and it’s so cool that people are more conscious about that in the consumer world.
JC: Usually I hate on the Internet, but maybe that’s one good thing about it: having the young girls follow your Instagram and realize, “She has hairy armpits.”
CDP: So, how did the zine come to be?
JC: We had just released Welcome The Worms and were touring for almost a year straight, playing shows almost every day. There were so many interviews going on around me and the release of the new record, and a majority of the questions were like, “What’s it like to be a girl in a band?” Or the headlines would say All-Girl Band. I’ve been playing music for over 10 years, and my first band, Mika Miko, used to get this question all the time. We were all girls for a while and then we had a guy drummer. It used to bother me so much because the questions always seemed like they were saying, “So you put all your girl friends together to start a band to make a statement.” And at that time, I was like, “No, we are just friends. These are my friends. We all learned how to play music together, not trying to be like ‘fuck the men’ by starting an all-girl band.” But we got asked that question so many times. We were also always labeled “riot grrrl” back then.
CDP: It just feels weird to say that a woman playing music is an act of resistance in itself.
JC: I know, right? That has really bugged me. I feel like I just got used to all those questions. You kind of let it go in one ear and out of the other. You’re just like, whatever, I feel sorry for the person who’s asking me this, but at the same time I just don’t feel like making a big deal about it. So, this started happening again with Welcome The Worms. It was the first record where I went so deep inside myself and really wrote about honest stuff. It took a lot out of me. But then, once again, we’re doing interviews and they were based more around my gender than what the record is about.
CDP: You had just poured your heart and soul into it and are now in a generous position to elaborate on what you are writing about. And if no one asks you what you’re writing about, it just kind of feels like you put all this into it and are not given the opportunity to share the real content.
JC: If we’re given such a limited time to talk, ask me stuff that matters.
EXCERPTS FROM CAN YOU DEAL?
Jennifer Clavin (Bleached): Growing up I didn’t feel comfortable with society’s standards of being a “girl”. Not that I wanted to be a boy, I just wasn’t interested in wearing makeup, the color pink or talking about boys. I wanted to learn how to skateboard and play music.
My best friend and I would dress up like boys and go to the local backyard punk shows in either east LA or the valley. I had cut off all my hair at that point. We would put on baseball hats, tape our boobs down and just hang out. When I would get mistaken as a boy I felt so accomplished. I wanted my name to be Victor no matter what I looked like and to be honest, I still love that name.