I’m a child of the 90‘s. Apparently. I was born in 1991 but by the time we crested over to the new millennium I was only 9 years old. Despite my youth in the 90’s and early naughties, there were some particular events, or, releases, that stood out to me and provided an anchoring point for the rest of my life.
I look at myself and enjoy my resilience. My fierce independence and passionate feminism. Going after what I want and getting it. Being an all round badass bitch that many people want to hate on because I occasionally have an opinion/a massive ego/slight narcissism/a vagina and like to use it.
And apart from wonderfully strong and creative women in my every day life, and inspirational fictional characters, there were also some women in my youth belting out pop ballads straight to my heart and straight to my badassery.
Released at the beginning of 1999, No Scrubs by beloved girl group TLC became an anthem for many young women of the late 90’s and early naughties.
The lyrics “I don’t want no scrub, a scrub is a guy that won’t get no love from me, hanging out the passenger side of his best friend’s ride, trying to holler at me” are not only the chorus of a dazzlingly popular song, but a piece of advice for an eight-year old me, dancing in the rumpus room of my friends house.
In a society where the culture has attempted to morph itself around the fact that women are not validated until a man says so, having these lyrics ingrained into me at a young age told me that a) guys who are catcalling you or hollering at you is wrong and b) guys who do that are super lame and don’t deserve your attention.
Just the other day I was walking through the supermarket carpark after work when a car full of young guys sped up towards me (in what could have turned out a very dangerous and harmful move having they misjudged their speed and the distance), beeped their horn at me and then hollered at me.
Sorry guys but I’m not going to drop that business skirt because you yelled out in a neanderthalic-guttural way and endangered my life.
I don’t want no scrub.
Before the over-fanaticised rise of Beyonce Knowles and/or Carter that you can read about here, Queen B was smashing the R&B Pop charts with girl group Destiny’s Child.
Released and recorded in 1999 was smash-hit Say My Name. I was, admittedly, as all I seemed to be doing between the ages of 8 and 12, was dancing around living rooms with my friends, and developing the ruthlessness and prowess to be the badass that I am today.
Another song on calling fellas out but this time it’s not unwanted sexual harassment on the streets, but boys thinking they can just walk all over your supposedly fragile and docile female self.
Sometimes we excuse actions of others. ‘Well, he loves me’ or rather ‘I love him, so it’s okay’. It’s not okay. And Destiny’s Child are here to help. And were there when you were a little girl. You may have forgotten because you were too young to understand.
It can be scary calling out someone you trust and love on some shady dealings. But at the end of the day, your health and preservation is worth so much more than someone who is running game. Lying to you, etc.
There was a time when an ex-partner of mine acted increasingly suspicious, even to the point where other girls would answer is phone. And I left him get away with it in an incredibly weak moment of mine, but only for a time. Until I had enough.
And to that I say “I am not the one to sit around and be played” and thank Destiny’s Child for giving me that early, easily-accessible, pop, life-lesson on playas.
In 2005 Gwen Stefani was embarking on a solo career and I was finally old enough to appreciate her as an artist, and as a woman, where I was too young in her No Doubt days.
Hollaback Girl has got to be one of the tracks many girls my age can single out as being their attitude song. About hitting back at anybody who gives you shit.
And that is what this song is directly inspired by.
Courtney Love commented that “being famous is just like being in high school. But I’m not interested in being the cheerleader. I’m not interested in being Gwen Stefani. She’s the cheerleader, and I’m out in the smoker shed.”
Of course, this is offensive and derogatory to which Stefani said: “Y’know someone one time called me a cheerleader, negatively, and I’ve never been a cheerleader. So I was, like, OK, fuck you. You want me to be a cheerleader? Well, I will be one then. And I’ll rule the whole world, just you watch me.”
And you just watch me take over the world too.
“I heard that you were talking shit
And you didn’t think that I would hear it
People hear you talking like that, getting everybody fired up
So I’m ready to attack, gonna lead the pack
Gonna get a touchdown, gonna take you out
That’s right, put your pom-poms downs, getting everybody fired up”
These are probably some of the most important lyrics a 14 year old girl can listen to and take ahold of.
It became expected in highschool that people would talk shit about you but I was never going to let them get away with it.
Unfortunately it doesn’t go away. Even as an ‘adult’ in a ‘professional environment’ people are still going to talk shit about you.
Even friends, still.
But it always comes back, so put your pom pom’s down.
I’m sure there’s plenty of power-divas I have missed, those three stood out to me as a very young girl and are messages I still fall back on today when times are feeling a little tough.
Through my later teens and young adult-ness – Lily Allen and basically anything Lily Allen has written, ever. Same goes with M.I.A. These ladies take no shit from anyone and are outspoken about everything from politics and political corruption, racism and other social injustice, feminism, vaginas, and even relationship woes.
Next time you’re at a house party, or with some friends, or just by yourself, I implore you to get out that 1990’s – early naughties (with a few cheeky M.I.A and Lily Allen tracks from today) and dance and sing to your hearts content. Cry about boys, finger snap and booty shake your way to confidence because you don’t want no scrub, you ain’t sitting around to be played and you definitely ain’t no hollaback grrrrl.