Courtney Love: The Grunge Queen Feminist Our Teenage Selves Needed

Courtney Love

I love Courtney Love. I always will love her. Say what you will about her -- but you cannot deny that she has made an impression in the two-plus decades she's been in the public eye. We here at The Stir are honoring a woman every day of the week for Women's History Month, and today, I'm shining the light on the grunge queen, whom I affectionately refer to among friends as CLove. (Like JLo, or JLaw. Not pronounced "Clove.")


The thing about Courtney is that she's human like the rest of us. She has flaws. She is by no means perfect. She sometimes makes side-eye-worthy comments or questionable decisions. But the strong, powerful, opinionated woman behind some of the best music to come out of the '90s alt-rock era -- and beyond -- is someone who deserves recognition and credit.

Who She Is

Courtney Love -- born Courtney Michelle Harrison -- had a turbulent childhood in California; by the time she was a young teen, she was dancing in strip clubs. Her nomadic lifestyle eventually brought her to LA, where, as she continued to improve her own self-taught guitar skills, she formed the now-famous band Hole. (That's the very short version of her background.) By the mid-'90s, Hole had broken out majorly into the mainstream, particularly with the success of their definitive second album Live Through This -- and with the media whirlwind surrounding her husband Kurt Cobain's tragic suicide around the time of the record's release. Hole went on to release two more albums, and Courtney has continued to put out solo work.

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You may also remember Courtney's Golden Globe–nominated turn in 1996's The People vs. Larry Flynt, which wasn't her first (or last) acting role (did you catch her recently on Sons of Anarchy?). And in addition to being a musician and actress, CLove is also a visual artist: Her autobiographical art show -- And She's Not Even Pretty -- was featured in New York's Fred Torres Collaborations in 2012.

Throughout her life and her career, Courtney has dug her way out of drug problems, financial issues, custody battles, and fights over ownership rights. She's been called a murderer, even by her own father. And the thing with Courtney is that she continues to somehow live through it all.

How She Is Shaping History

Back in the early '90s, before Twitter trends and hashtags were a thing -- and before every mildly famous celebrity started jumping on PC bandwagons on their social media pages -- Courtney was speaking for the outsiders. And she wasn't using "feminism" to promote herself; she was using her music to promote feminism. In Hole's songs, she sang in her signature raspy wail about abortion, rape, pregnancy, motherhood, body issues, abuse, and prostitution, among other topics most musicians today won't even touch. And she didn't tone down her music once she gained some mainstream fame.

If you want to understand the essence of Courtney's music, just look at the names of some of her songs. "Pretty on the Inside"; "Teenage Whore"; "Asking for It"; "Hit So Hard."

And they're so good, too. Her songs. Her music. I dare you to turn on "Violet" and tell me you don't feel something.

Some of her naysayers have found it easy to brush her off as too loud; too crazy; too out of control. To do so is to miss the point completely. Yes, Courtney helped give a voice to feminine rage. And indeed, her wild rock-star antics have rivaled any male rocker's shenanigans. But why is it that when Courtney does it, it's often deemed immoral and gross and wrong?

Her Words to Live By

Courtney Love be the football captain

To repeat what the queen says above:

Do not hurt yourself, destroy yourself, mangle yourself to get the football captain. Be the football captain. That's it.

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Why She Inspires Me

Courtney is so beyond fearless and monumentally talented, I personally can't imagine not being inspired her. In a world where women are always saying "sorry" (and then being chastised for saying "sorry"), and in a world where women are so often the prey of predators, I truly love seeing a woman like Courtney, who doesn't apologize for who she is, who stands powerful and strong, and who doesn't let all the nonsense that's been flung her way take her down.

I found Courtney's music as a young teen, and I'm grateful that I had her to listen to while growing up.

Continue to slay, QUEEN.



Image via Dennis Van Tine/Geisler-Fotopres/dpa/Corbis

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