Kathleen Hanna’s Music Says a Lot. There’s More in the Book.

THERE IS PLENTY that Hanna did not want to recount in the book. She was not eager to relitigate the Courtney Love incident, but “if Santa came up and hit you with a baseball bat, you’d have to put it in your autobiography,” she said. She titled her memoir “Rebel Girl” with reluctance; it feels so close to “riot grrrl,” and she remains conflicted about being overemphasized in that vast and leaderless movement.

Also, she had never before spoken publicly about being a mother. “I didn’t want to get asked work-life balance questions at every single interview,” she said. Motherhood, like victimhood, was another artistic pigeonhole she hoped to avoid. But “Rebel Girl” is a book about her life, and Julius is a big part of it. “I asked him if he wanted to be in it. And he was like, I’m going to be mad if I’m not,” she said.

Hanna was speaking in front of a coffee table piled with books, but the memoir is not one of them. She does not want Julius to pick one up and start reading. “He understands that some things happened to mom that, you know, made her jumpy,” she said. He, too, has learned to drag his feet on the carpet before he enters a room.

On the issue of work-life balance, “I’m the asshole dude who’s like, My art comes first,” she said. She credits Horovitz with shouldering caretaking responsibilities — for their son, but also for Hanna, while she battled Lyme disease (which she documents in the book), and as she dealt with the fallout of excavating her life.

In her 50s, music has opened up new opportunities for Hanna. “It’s really great right now to be a musician because I’m getting the kind of respect I never got in my 20s and 30s,” she said. She has set boundaries for herself, too: “I’m not constantly being burdened by, like, trauma-bonding with people who I don’t even know.” And the book, perhaps, will help to relieve some of the pressure on her body. She doesn’t need to always be showing up and explaining herself.

“Now I can be like: It’s in the book, it’s in the book, it’s in the book.

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