In Lust You Trust

It occurs to me that I have not had a music post in a while. Well, this shall be remedied from now on. Every Thurs. I shall have up a music video (or…a documentary type video accompanying it. If I do the Runaways that’s going to have to happen. but that’s getting way ahead of myself.)

So. This week’s edition: 7 YEAR BITCH: IN LUST YOU TRUST.

logo7 Year Bitch is one of those bands that challenge the ‘female’ voice as a voice of gentleness and softness. From 1990-1997, 7 Year Bitch challenged the notion that Rock and Roll was only for men.

The women of 7 Year Bitch were anything but quiet. Vocalist Selene Vigil, guitarist Stefanie Sargent (who died of a heroin overdose in ’92 and was replaced by Roisin Dunne), Valerie Agnew and Elizabeth Davis made sure that they would be heard. Their first album, Sick ‘Em!, is one of raw power, stregth, aggressive music and defiant vocals.

Not long after Sargent died of a drug overdose, another event happened that altered their world.

The Gits, fronted by Mia Zapata, and 7 Year Bitch were both in LA talking to record labels and discussing the possibilities of touring together. The Gits was a punk rock band that had a big influence on the women of 7 Year Bitch–in fact it was due to the support of Zapata and the Gits that 7 Year Bitch got their first shows.

One night Selene Vigil, Valerie Agnew and Mia Zapato were in a bar just hanging out and talking. Mia had been a close friend to 7 Year Bitch, especially in the wake of Stefanie Sargent’s drug-induced death. She encouraged the band to keep going on-music was the most important thing and Sargent would have wanted them to go on.

Early in the evening Zapata left the bar. Not the next day, but the day after, the women of 7 Year Bitch found their world shattered with the news that Zapata had been killed. Police weren’t forthcoming about the information and said that Zapata had been strangled. But Agnew was certain that there was more to the story.

“I told everybody I knew, and we did an interview in a local paper in which I said, “Despite popular belief, Mia was raped and murdered,” because the press was trying to pawn off her death as a drug-related crime, and saying she had left the bar drunk–something which had nothing to do with the fact that what happened to her was a very brutal crime. It was a brutal rape and a brutal murder and the killer left her on the side of the fuckin’ road–he threw her out of the car”–Valerie Agnew

After prodding the police and any friends of Zapata’s who might have seen the body, the truth came out.

A man raped Zapata, strangled her and left her on the side of the road. Like discarded garbage.

7 Year Bitch went on tour soon after but felt a weight–they knew something had to be done. The murderer was never found and eventually, after waiting for the police to find something, 7 Year Bitch and other artists such as Joan Jett began to get upset with the police. They staged benefit concerts (headlined with big acts such as Nirvana!) and the proceeds went to a private investigator. The collective known as Home Alive soon began.

The collective brought about self defense classes as well as weapon-training classes. Not so much because they believed weapons were a solution, but to demystify the power that weapons hold. In addition it was a way to raise consciousness about the problems that women were vulnerable–such as rape. viva zapata!

The second album released by 7 Year Bitch, ยกViva Zapata! was named in tribute to the strong woman who’d influenced their career. The album came out in 1994 and the cover art is a portrait of Zapata by Scott Musgrove.

The last album released by 7 Year Bitch was in 1996 and soon after the women were through as a band. Yet their impact is important. They did not use their music as a ‘tool’ for feminism, they let the music speak for itself. Their lyrics unquestionably reflected that they were women, but they came at the lyrics from a clear position of strength. On their first album, Sick ‘Em!, released before Zapata’s death, they had a song called “Dead Men Don’t Rape.”

You ain’t got the right tellin’ me I’m uptight
And I’m not obligated to give in ‘cuz you’re frustrated
No, my revenge is death, ‘cuz you deserve the best
And I’m not turned on by your masculinity

Dead men don’t rape
I don’t have pity not a single tear
For those who get joy from a woman’s fear
I’d rather get a gun and just blow you away
Then you’ll learn first hand
Dead men don’t rape

You’re getting sucked into society’s sickest
Don’t go out alone you might get raped
But not by a dead man ‘cuz
Dead men don’t rape

You ain’t got the right tellin’ me I’m uptight
Dead men don’t rape

 

These lyrics are important. Rape continues to be common and there are still problems with the way rape is perceived. This song emphasizes that women do not have to continue to be victims and that they can take power into their own hands–be strong and survive.

I’m not going to go into a discussion on the lyrics and what they might imply right now unless asked to do so, because I do want to keep this focused on the music. the lyrics themselves bring up a lot of other issues that should rightly be discussed, but won’t be right here.

It’s clear by the fact that no one discusses 7 Year Bitch that they were not mainstream or super popular back when they were a band, but it’s important to acknowledge what the band did for music and for women in music. They took to the stage with an aggressive power that not many women in music have. They opened themselves to the public and they worked to make sure women could be empowered through their lyrics and their participation in the Home Alive collective.

The women of 7 Year Bitch may be the kind of women you can’t take home to your parents, but nonetheless they are strong role models.

7 Year Bitch

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