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Catcall: Why Pussy Riotwon’t be silenced

Questions over musical ability are largely irrelevant in the discussion about recently jailed Russian punk band Pussy Riot, writes CATHERINE KELLEHER (aka Sydney singer Catcall).

Five months ago, three members of Pussy Riot were arrested for staging a punk performance in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. They have since been convicted of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred and were handed a two-year jail sentence over the weekend. Pussy Riot are the most famous band in the world right now, but the formation of the collective in November 2011 had nothing to do with musical ambition or songcraft, and everything to do with a protest against Russian President Vladimir Putin and the separation of church and state in Russia.

I may be just another artist coming out in support of Pussy Riot but we have one small thing in common: We are both influenced by Riot Grrrl, an underground feminist punk movement that originated in the Pacific Northwest of America in the ’90s. Riot Grrrl heavily affected me as teenager and this was years after the movement was at its peak. I started playing music because of bands like Huggy Bear and Bikini Kill, Sleater Kinney and Bratmobile. These bands, performers and artists made me want to create anything and everything, inspired my interest in feminism and gave me confidence. They gave me no fear.

To me Riot Grrrl was about being able to do anything you want regardless of your gender or orientation; it meant questioning conservative tradition and having a voice. Those of us who were influenced or affected by the Riot Grrrl movement are being transported back with Pussy Riot, albeit to a protest on a much grander scale, and with greater implications.

It’s not really about whether Pussy Riot are a “good band” or not, and when people make comments about the music being “this”, or “that” they’re really missing the point. My first punk band, Kiosk, probably wasn’t very good if you look purely at the music and songcraft. We were making music regardless of skill, just because we wanted to, just because we wanted to say things and we were young and inspired. We put those songs we created forward with all our might and it excited a small group of people and irritated many. Pussy Riot are protest artists using punk, the loudest and best medium to make their point heard.

“Those of us who were influenced or affected by the Riot Grrrl movement are being transported back with Pussy Riot.”

It’s really easy to write off artists and musicians when they want to speak out politically. You see the condescending “stick to music” line when anyone dares to have an opinion about anything. Their detractors will call their performance and protest “misguided” and people on the internet will call their music “shit”.

But Pussy Riot have achieved what they originally set out to do and then some. They have drawn the attention of the world to their protest and in the process uncovered the frightening efforts of Putin to silence anybody who dares show dissent. They have been incredibly brave in not conceding their positions and right down to sentencing, they have remained strong. As band member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova said in her closing statement: “We are freer than everyone sitting across from us on the side of the prosecution.”

Pussy Riot are about freedom of expression and the fight against oppression. Their protest is not limited to women or those who identify themselves as feminists. While officials in Russia are searching for other members of the collective to arrest, Russians who oppose Putin have a new cry, “Free Pussy Riot”, as the protest mobilises against him. The band have now released a new song ‘Putin Lights up the Fires’, and I love the track. Pussy Riot won’t be silenced.

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berlinchair101

berlinchair101 said on the 23rd Aug, 2012

http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m96yz8Yxeb1qz9ddwo1_500.png

grattan

grattan said on the 26th Oct, 2012

Vladimir Putin: "If Pussy Riot had not broken the law, they would now be doing the housework."