In a way, really, I'm embarrassed of me. I hear Ani's music and a little window opens and there I am: 20 years old, the last bits of a nice, comfortable suburban life stuck to my cheeks, wrapping up my liberal arts degree in a college town of bars and pizza shops, saddled with a doomed crush on my friendly neighborhood feminist. Armed with half a survey course in feminism and years of listening to the Indigo Girls, I thought I'd figured this whole sexism thing out. Ani was the soundtrack to that. Hell, it was like she was singing my journal entries. New York City is dirty but SO cool! Those big glass high-rises ARE full of assholes! Anti-abortion protestors ARE the worst! The coffee IS just water dressed in brown! Any tool IS a weapon if you hold it right! (Actually, I still love that quote; I have a concert t-shirt that says that on the back. I never wear it.)
I don't mean to belittle Ani's politics, or the politics of any of her fans. I believe in the equality of men and women and that long-term sexism and misogyny have done horrible damage to our society and our world. It's just that it's so earnest and so forthright and, in some ways, simplified and smoothed out, so lacking in nuance. The '90s wasn't really a time of nuance, though. There was a great resurgence in political songwriting that was welcome and exciting...in 1992. Listening to old Ani now is kind of like reading editorials in a college newspaper from 25 years ago. You kind of want to sit her down and say, "Chill, okay? You're doing too much."