Kurt Cobain a Feminist or Mere a Hypocrite?


Kurt Cobain was a popular American musician of 1980’s-1990’s, who was found dead at his home in Seattle on April 8, 1994. The investigating officers revealed that it was a suicide by a self-inflicted shotgun wound to the head. As he was merely 27 years old, the circumstances of his death raised many questions and became a topic of public debate.

Kurt got to the ladder of fame through Nirvana which he formed with Krist Novoselic in Aberdeen, Washington and his second album Never mind. Following the success of Never mind, Nirvana was labeled as “the flagship band” of Generation X, and Cobain was named as “the spokesman of a generation”. However, he was often uncomfortable and aggravated about how his message and artistic vision have been misinterpreted by the public.

kurt cobain

But it wasn’t only his music which made him the talk of the town, his firm perspective toward feminism and some social issues like racism and sexism brought him the stir. He once said to his audience “If any of you in any way hate homosexuals, people of a different color, or women, please do this one favor for us… Don’t come to our shows and don’t buy our records”. After that Kurt Cobain was considered to be against sexism, against racism, and against homophobia and emerged as a feminist activist.

kurt quotes

Cobain didn’t stop there and also questioned the notion of masculinity. “I’ve always had a problem with the average macho man – they’ve always been a threat to me” he said. There are multiple depictions of Kurt as feminine, including the music video for, “In Bloom,” and in various live performances where he wears a dress. When talked about wearing dresses, Kurt responded, “Wearing a dress shows I can be as feminine as I want”. In the song “Been a Son”, Kurt addressed the topic of masculinity by singing about a girl that should have been born a son, basically critiquing the idea that male children are cherished more than female children.

feminine kurt

In another song “Sappy,” Kurt sings about a girl that is in a controlling relationship, yet she thinks she’s happy. Throughout the song he explains how she think she’s happy by making her boyfriend happy, but comes to the conclusion that she’s not where she needs to be. “Sappy” is a critique on how our society tells women that their happiness lies in pleasing and serving a man.

Rape me
Rape me my friend
Rape me
Rape me again

I’m not the only one
I’m not the only one
I’m not the only one
I’m not the only one


Hate me
Do it and do it again
Waste me
Rape me, my friend


Rape me!
Rape me!
Rape me!
Rape me!
Rape me

Although most of his songs divided the audiences into two parallel sides of which one song was “Rape Me”. This song went beyond just a story of rape and into a critique on the traditional representations of race, class, and gender in American television. The well-known song, “Rape Me,” is as Kurt says, “an anti-, let me repeat that, anti-rape song,” that presents rape as a crime of violence and power, not one of sexual desire. Kurt said, “It’s like she’s saying, ‘Rape me, go ahead, rape me, beat me. You’ll never kill me. I’ll survive this’.” Even after several clarifications from Cobain’s side the song was believed to be pro-rape by many and was used by assailants during reported assaults.

Though Kurt had always claimed to be a feminist, but according to the book ‘Kurt Cobain’ by Christopher Sandford, there is an account of a rather cruel (bordering violent) incident with a woman. The women condemned all claims which exemplified Cobain as a feminist and revealed “If (the other couple) hadn’t come back when they did, he would have raped me”. “As far as I’m concerned, all the stories about Kurt- the Feminist are a sick joke. He hated women……” she said.

Certainly the world is divided into two groups, one who considers Kurt Cobain a feminist and the other one for whom he was just a hypocrite. After reading all the stories about Kurt my mind is also separated into two positions so I would refrain myself from being judgmental and leave the answer to you and let me tell you by choosing your answer from a “feminist” or a “hypocrite” you’ll also enter one of those groups.






About the Author: This article has been contributed by Ariba Saeed, our intern. Ariba is a graduate from St.Stephen’s College, Delhi, an institute which gave her wings to fly high in sky. At present she is pursuing PG Diploma in Public Relations from Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan with an anticipation of churning her career dilemma. She is an optimistic soul who not only preaches optimism but lives with it every day. Her mother is her idol of patience, strength and hope. Her writing is plagiarism free as it comes straight from her heart. 



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