Ani DiFranco practices what she preaches. On her website, aptly named Rigtheous Babe, she promotes the female artists she has signed to her label of the same name and catalogs her work in the music community. She continues to stay true to her roots as a third wave feminist icon as an activist and political voice. She is a self-made artist, she has never been signed to a major label, and she carved out her place in the 1990s music scene on her own terms. Her refusal to participate in a flawed, patriarchal system is what drew me to her as an artist. While her lyrics are sharp and unapologetic, her music remains approachable and inviting. Ani has the rare ability to scathingly critique the gender inequality in our society in the form of a love song and her lyrics are clever and poetic. She represents a a blunt and realistic femininity and doesn’t feel the need to conform to industry standards. Ani DiFranco is a talented singer-songwriter but she’s also an activist, a mother, bisexual, a visual artist, and an all-around bad-ass.
DiFranco’s words are lyrical and poetic but lack the cryptic and subtle qualities of Mitchell and Bush. Her lyrics are honest and heartfelt, deeply personal while maintaining a revolutionary edge. DiFranco’s fearlessness and refusal to opt into a system she cannot reconcile herself with give her music the ability to create social change and dismantle patriarchy if not in practice at least in the minds of her listeners. The unapologetic attitude in her music in and her social activism have made Ani DiFranco a feminist icon of the Third Wave.
A blend of folk melodies with revolutionary messages is typical of DiFranco’s work. She continues the legacy of the tragically short-lived Riot Grrrl movement in her anti-establishment beliefs, contempt for mainstream media and absolute creative control but her delivery is softer and perhaps more palatable to the average North American woman. Her folk-inspired musical style breaks from the punk sound of Riot Grrrl but maintains a revolutionary edge. Perhaps her delivery is what gave DiFranco staying power, access to the mainstream and a fairly diverse audience. While Riot Grrrl was being demonized in the media and pleasantly repackaged as Girl Power-lite in the Spice Girls, DiFranco was flying somewhat under the radar and delivering feminist messages to the masses.