I think I always knew about Sleater-Kinney, but I never really listened to them before I heard this song. Like really heard it.
If I had to guess, I would say that the song is probably supposed to be sarcastic in undertones, judging solely on what I’ve learned about Carrie Brownstein’s sense of humour on Portlandia. And since they’re sortof punk rock, it might just be a commentary on how people rely on material possessions to bring them happiness. Here’s what comes to mind when I put it on repeat.
Listening to Modern Girl reminds me of the way I felt about Hole’s “Violet” back in the 90s. It makes me want to wake up really early, drink coffee and smoke lots of cigarettes while I drive a really long distance shouting the lyrics at the top of my lungs. This song picks me up, it perks me up and makes me feel like I can face the world. The entire world. It doesn’t matter to me what social commentary Sleater Kinney meant to disseminate with Modern Girl. I blast this as my anthem–not because I’m a punk rock socialist. It is my anthem because my life, my whole life, IS a picture of the sunny day.
I have a beautiful baby who loves me. I have an amazing husband who loves me. I can get a really fucking awesome donut if I want, and buy a television if I really wanted to. And even if I didn’t have any of those things, my life would still be full of sunshine. Because that’s how I want to see it.
There are so many things that can stand in the way of happiness. Things that seem so important to the value of our lives, but instead of propelling us forward, they push us down or hold us back. Negative thoughts and actions have no purpose, but rather, they simply sap your drive to live and your will to see all that is good and lovely.
I don’t live in some weird euphoric utopian paradise zombie state, though reading back on what I’ve written, it may sound that way. I hurt and I cry and sometimes I think I simply can’t go on. Dwelling on those horrific feelings, while it seems to temporarily offer comfort and relief, doesn’t really offer any value, to me or anyone else. It simply draws energy away from the things I want to accomplish in this life.
I grew up in a pretty negative environment, surrounded by some pretty significant negative influences. I was so negative I can remember an era in my life where I would actually say to people that I didn’t want to live past 30. My first thought now is to laugh at such immature rationale, but when I really reflect on the implications of those things I was saying, I get scared. If things hadn’t changed and I hadn’t made a conscious effort to shed the negativity, I might not have made it to 30. And I never would’ve been able to enjoy this extraordinary life that I get to live today.
Happiness is a choice, and several years ago I made that choice to be happy. Surely I have days now and again where again I find myself smack in the middle of misery and despair. But I try to remind myself about the choice I made as quickly as I can. Rather than slowly wasting away in the dismal and gray, I can choose to live on and thrive in the shining sun.
Thank you, Sleater-Kinney, for writing and recording Modern Girl. It helps me remember to make that choice. Over and over again. And that’s what makes me a modern girl.