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Hey Bitch: The Feminist Performance Art Revolution

Photo: Dana Lynn Pleasant

by Mia Phillips

Music and performance are powerful tools when used for social and political activism, and Hey Bitch is no exception. A visual representation of her album Bitch Craft, Bitch’s show, Hey Bitch: A Musical Journey to Planet Bitch, is a perfect blend of humor, music, and activism used to tell a story that shines a light on issues relating to feminism. Although the show touches on heavy topics such as childhood trauma and misogyny, she feels it is important to keep a sense of humor when handling sensitive matters saying, “I feel like we need to have a sense of joy and playfulness in order to also, you know, be able to express and accept, you know, the rage and the hurt that’s going on in the world.” 

Bitch wasn’t always a powerful feminist icon, she grew up as a quiet and timid child named Karen and remembers feeling powerless in her surroundings. She recalls feeling like she was always too much. But when she discovered her love for playing the violin, she used it as a creative outlet to express herself and find her voice. She describes the feeling like divine intervention was at work when she played, sensing a force she could not see surrounding her. 

“I sometimes wonder if there was something like otherworldly or past-life going on when I first started playing that violin… It felt like a way to express something that I could never put into words. There was a soul or a beauty that I wasn’t seeing around me that I could hear. That’s been the violin,” she says. 

Bitch recognizes that during her childhood, she wasn’t the only one facing patriarchal-influenced struggles. She says her mother always wanted a career but felt a societal pressure to have children instead. This resulted in Bitch’s mother growing resentful of her role as mother, which prevented her from being fully present as a mother. This patriarchal norm her mom fell victim to, and the suppression that she faced as a result of her childhood are what Bitch looks back on as inspiration. She recalls going to scary and vulnerable places from her past to share in her show and hopes to empower her audiences. She says, “There is power in vulnerability.” She also taps into what she calls her “activist rage,” which she uses as fuel for her feminist activism and performance art, which go hand in hand. 

When Bitch went to college as a young adult, she allowed herself to be herself fully. Learning more about the feminist revolution from her peers, she found the confidence to speak up. Inspired by the movement, she adopted the name Bitch as a form of protest. She wanted to take back an insult commonly used to put women down and give it a new, positive meaning. It was also in college that she began experimenting with using her musical talent for political activism, using the voice her violin gave her to say something powerful. 

The power imbalances of the world are so prominent in this society that she cannot see herself using her art to express anything else. Using music to express herself politically has helped her make sense of the inequalities in our world, she says, “Sometimes I’ve wished that I was the kind of artist who could just sing about, you know, the moon on the windowsill and love in the air or whatever. But I can’t help myself making social commentary, because it’s how I process the world.” 

A passion for performance activism has stuck with her throughout her life and that passion has now brought her to Provincetown. The lively artist culture here is something that Bitch holds near and dear to her heart. She says, “Provincetown has been such an important place for me as an artist, because it was the first place that I feel like reflected me and saw me as an artist, back in the late 90s, when I came here with [friend and musical collaborator] Animal. And, it’s always been a place for me, that has never told me that I’m too wild or too big or too loud.” 

Inspiration for her show also comes from her friend, Animal, who brought her out of her shell and helped her create her art. “I have that quiet English girl inside me, and Animal basically dared me. And I will forever be indebted to him for that,” she says. Other artists that have inspired her musical work include Laurie Anderson and John Cameron Mitchell; she credits them with inspiring her to add layers and dimensions to her music and artistry. 

She hopes her show can make others who can relate to her struggles and rage feel less alone and find humor and joy in the process. She says, “I’ve heard so many people, if they were quiet children or shut-down children, or whatever their life experience was, it seems to have resonated. And that makes me feel good, because ultimately, I think of art as a social service.” 

Hey Bitch: A Musical Journey to Planet Bitch is performed Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m. through September 4 at Post Office Cabaret, 303 Commercial St., Provincetown. For tickets ($35) and information call 508.487.0008 or visit

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Graphic Artist

Ginger Mountain

Ginger Mountain (MS Communications Media, BA Fine Arts/Teaching Certification K-12) has been part of the graphic design team at Provincetown Magazine since 2008. Ginger has worked as a creative director, individual contractor, and freelance designer with clients representing many areas —business software, consumer products, professional services, entertainment, and network hardware to name just a few — providing creative layout and development of a wide range of print media content. Her clients ranged from small local businesses to large corporations and Fortune 500 companies, from New Hampshire to Georgia

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