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Lions Roar : November 2006
SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2006 25 ANI DIFRANCO is one of America’s most thoughtful and so- cially committed musicians. As a teenager she founded Righteous Babe Records, which continues to support grassroots community organizations and promote independent artists, and she has been an important feminist voice for women growing up in the 1990s. DiFranco recently released her eighteenth studio album, Reprieve, and received the Woman of Courage Award from the National Or- ganization for Women. At the award ceremony, she revealed that she is pregnant with her first child. DAVID SWICK: Congratulations on your pregnancy. I hope you’re feeling well. Thanks. Yeah, I’m doing better than most. Three months and I haven’t barfed once. Really? You’ll have to tell the world your secret. Oh, it’s dumb luck. As usual. I’ve long appreciated your commitment to society and the future. Now that you are pregnant with a child whose life will encompass the twenty-first century, the future must seem more present, more real. Does it make you more afraid, too? Yeah, that classic question keeps arising, “Why? Why bring an- other person into this doom?” Especially right now: socio- politically and environmentally we are, in this country, faced with all these dire crises. It’s hard to feel hopeful, and it’s hard to answer why you would bring one more unsuspecting victim into this scenario. I just keep coming back to the basic understanding that the forces of life and creation must continue. Even in the face of the forces of death and destruction. What do you do to stay sane and optimistic? There are many different ways I struggle to retain my sanity in the midst of insanity. I hate to say it but I do not turn on the TV or watch the news. The news I do get I get by word-of-mouth, from alternative publications, things online, The Nation magazine. Something that keeps me balanced about myself and my work is to not read any reviews or anything ever written about me. Is there some spiritual philosophy behind your work? I’m sure there is, but I don’t have any particular religious or spir- itual context I put it in. It’s a philosophy of connection and love for this planet I come from. Whether you feel connection and oneness in terms of reincarna- tion—I am this now but I will be that tree later— or you put it in terms of Godinallofus,Ithinkit is all inherently the same understanding. Who has guided you to your way of viewing the world? There has been a lot of teaching along the way. Teaching from my parents about caring for and accepting and treating other people well. Tons of reading—I couldn’t even begin to describe my consciousness-expansion through reading. And teachers who taught me either through their actual words or just the presence of their spirits. Somebody like Pete Seeger. I don’t remember any actual words that we’ve exchanged, but his presence, whenever I am in it, is very instructive. Very peaceful, very inclusive. You’ve said, “The biggest crime is to throw up your hands and say, ‘This has nothing to do with me. I just want to live as comfortably as I can.’” What is the root of your concern for other people? My connection with them, my oneness with them. The older I get, the more I am aware of the fact that we are not just one fam- ily here on this planet, but one organism. Cutting off one limb is not a good idea for anyone. I am coming around, with new vigor, to my initial, instinctual feminism. Focus on relationship and connection is a sensibility that desperately needs to be infused into our government and into our culture. The global patriarchy we live within has a lot to do with all these crises we face. The fallacy of individuation and the hierarchy of individuals is at the root of all these social diseases. What do you make of the fact that the word “feminism” has fallen into disrepute? Even some young women are saying, “I want noth- ing to do with that.” My whole generation by and large won’t identify themselves as “feminists.” It’s a dirty word. And it’s not accidental—it was a deliberate campaign by the conservative right to take that word, Q&A Next-Wave Feminist ANI DIFRANCO PHOTOBYMARKDELLAS