Riot grrrl

From Academic Kids

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Riot grrrl (or riot grrl) is a form of hardcore punk rock music, known for its militant feminist stance. The genre first appeared in the early 1990s as an offshoot of alternative rock and punk music and as a response to prevalent attitudes of punk machismo, building also on a history of all-women bands. A key factor in this movement was the support for girls not needing to be musically trained to start a band.

The term more generally referred to the band members and followers of a wider movement with a DIY empowerment ethic, characterized by the Oxford English Dictionary as "feminist resistance to male domination in society and especially to the abuse and harassment of women." Riot grrrl lyrics often address issues such as rape, domestic abuse, sexuality and female empowerment. As summarized by The Guardian in its April 15, 1995 supplement:

When the Riot Grrl movement began in America in 1991, its intention was to redress the balance of power via the punk rock underground using slogans (words like ‘rape’ and ‘slut’ written in black marker pens on exposed stomachs or bare arms), fanzines, meetings and women-only shows.

The group Bikini Kill is widely considered the most representative of the sound and the unofficial leaders of the genre. With the rallying cry, "Revolution Girl Style Now!" they and other bands like Bratmobile created a mini-movement to combat the male-dominance of the punk scene and, by extension, the rest of the world.

Riot grrl musicians mostly shunned the major record labels, signing instead with indie labels like Kill Rock Stars.

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Like its contemporary, grunge music, riot grrrl arose in the fertile music scene of the Seattle and Olympia in Washington, though it wasn't limited to there. Others arose across the United States, especially Washington D.C., and the United Kingdom, such as Huggy Bear.

Historically, the term stems from the all-female opening night of the International Pop Underground convention in Olympia on August 20, 1991. It was coined by Alison Wolfe (of Bratmobile) in response to a comment by Jean Smith (of Mecca Normal) that, "We need to start a girl RIOT!"

Breaking out from the music, riot grrrl activities included national conventions in D.C., the Pussystock festival in New York City, and a slew of zines, notably Girl Germs, Satan Wears A Bra and Quit Whining. Riot grrrl's momentum was supported by an explosion of self-published zines that covered a variety of feminist topics, frequently attempting to draw out the political implications of intensely personal experiences with sexism, mental illness, body image, sexual abuse, and homosexuality.

Much to their chagrin, the riot grrrls found themselves in the media spotlight during 1992, featured for dragging feminism into the mosh pit in magazines from Seventeen to Newsweek. This led to conflict within the riot grrrl community because many felt that "Riot grrrl" could not be defined; it meant too many things to too many people. Fallout from the media coverage led to resignations of people like Jessica Hopper, who was at the center of the Newsweek article. Riot grrrl leader Kathleen Hanna of Bikini Kill called that year for "a press block" and reporters from papers like the Seattle Times, Washington Post, and Houston Chronicle found themselves fleshing out riot grrrl articles by describing exactly the way in which various scenesters hung up on them.


Since most riot grrrl bands weren't very prolific, the movement's initial spark of enthusiasm faded after a few years, but it still continues to play a role in Indie rock culture. The movement's legacy lives on in bands such as Sleater-Kinney and in girl-positive independent music festivals such as Ladyfest.

Many of the women involved in Riot Grrrl are still active today. Kathleen Hanna is a member of Le Tigre, Kathie Wilcox is in the Casual Dots, and Bratmobile has recently released another album. Mainstream media outlets have been proclaiming the death of Riot Grrrl for the last ten years but the musicians and spirit of the movement endures today.

See also

Punk rock | Punk genres
Anarcho-punk - Anti-folk - Crust punk - Gothic rock - Hardcore - Horror punk - New Wave - No Wave - Oi - Pop punk - Post-hardcore - Post punk - Riot grrrl - Ska punk - Death rock - Psychobilly - Two Tone
Other topics
DIY - Punk pioneers - First wave - Second wave - Punk cities - Punk movies - Skinhead - Skinhead films - Ska

External links

fr:Riot grrrl sv:Riot grrrl


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