Kurt Cobain’s comments on rape from 25 years ago are still so important now
Kurt Cobain is one of the greatest ever rock ‘n’ roll icons—and for good reason. Not only did Nirvana change the world of music forever, but Cobain was also a brilliant bloke who was passionate about feminism.
In an interview with NME back in 1991, Cobain explained his thoughts on how he believed society should look to eliminate rape. One of the important factors he believed was educating men about rape and the musician spoke about a female friend who had begun attending rape self-defence classes, he said: “She looked out the window and saw a football pitch full of boys, and thought those are the people that should really be in this class.”
Sexual assault was the subject of ‘Rape Me’ from In Utero, which was Cobain’s attempt to write an anti-rape anthem. He explained the meaning behind the track to Spin: “It’s like she’s saying, ‘Rape me, go ahead, rape me, beat me. You’ll never kill me. I’ll survive this and I’m gonna fucking rape you one of these days and you won’t even know it.'”
The subject comes up again on the track ‘Polly’ from Nevermind although the message of the track was lost on many but was clarified in that very same 1991 cover story by NME by Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic. He said: “It’s about a young girl who was abducted, the guy drove her around in his van. Tortured her. Raped her. The only chance she had of getting away was to come on to him and persuade him to untie her. That’s what she did, and she got away. Can you imagine how much strength that took?”
A couple of years later, in a 1993 interview, Cobain delved deeper into where his passion about equality for women came from: “I couldn’t find any friends (at school), male friends that I felt compatible with, I ended up hanging out with the girls a lot. I just always felt that they weren’t treated with respect. Especially because women are totally oppressed.”
This was a bold stance to take back in the early nineties when musicians and politics were not as aligned as they are today, which shows how ahead of his time Cobain was and how he was not just a trailblazer because of his music but because of his refreshing attitude towards how society should function.