Tell Me About Riot Grrrl in Le Tigre’s Words
Posted by grrrlriot on April 5, 2008
TELL ME ABOUT RIOT GRRRL!
Taken from Le Tigre’s website at http://www.letigreworld.com
We are proud that Le Tigre is often considered one trajectory of Riot Grrrl, i.e. we are one art-damaged, deconstructive, performance-art, electronic pop off-shoot of the grassroots punk feminist organizing and cultural production of the nineties! This is not to say that Riot Grrrl does not exist anymore — we still hear of local chapters that are active — but the members of Le Tigre are not personally involved with Riot Grrrl now. (If you are in a Riot Grrrl group or any feminist group and would like us to link to yr website please email us. What is Riot Grrrl? What happened to it? We are asked these questions all the time and they are really difficult to answer. Many individuals, bands, zines, artists and scenes were lumped under this term once the “sexy new” punk feminism gained a little media attention. This gave the false impression that there was a centralized ideology or leadership unifying disparate constellations of feminist art and agitation. Journalistic narratives of Riot Grrrl also tended to isolate it from both a larger feminist history and from its own cultural moment in which a variety of media-savvy activist groups were changing the face of social protest (for example, ACT-UP!, Queer Nation, the Guerilla Girls, and WAC). So while we would not presume to define Riot Grrrl we can characterize it and make some observations that reflect our personal experiences (you can read about Kathleen’s involvement with the early Riot Grrrl meetings in DC in her herstory section).
In the early days of Riot Grrrl, exciting and strange girl bands were forming and touring, new feminist and queer aesthetics, vocabularies, and activist strategies were taking root in punk scenes, and intense penpal alliances were being forged. The founding members of Le Tigre (Kathleen, Jo, and Sadie Benning) met via their participation in this loose underground network of like-minded artists.
Riot Grrrl was, in part, a response to male dominated punk/hardcore scenes. As much as it reacted to and critiqued certain masculinist values and structures of punk rock, it was intrinsically connected to the DIY, anti-corporate, anti-capitalist values of those underground scenes (as well as intertwined socially and aesthetically with them). The way that punk music mocked notions of rock ‘n’ roll virtuosity and traditional stardom, the bands that were associated with early Riot Grrrl questioned the posturing and conventions of a boy-ruled punk scene by making stripped down punk music paired with feminist subject matter and performance strategies. Riot Grrrl meetings were similar to the feminist consciousness-raising groups of the 70′s. Mixed in with the practical work associated with making and distributing zines, promoting shows, organizing conventions, and doing activism, there was much discussion of women’s experiences of sexism, sexual abuse, assault and harassment, body-image, queer identities, and how all of these things intersect with class and race.
Riot Grrrl is/was not without its flaws, failures, inadequacies and dramas which we shall not enumerate here. But for whatever it’s worth, Riot Grrrl as a cultural phenomenon did, and hopefully will continue to make changes in the popular discourse surrounding “women in rock” (or whatever you wanna call it), and has created a lasting international network of feminist promoters, labels, writers, dj’s, journalists, musicians, artists, and fans so that a freaky band like Le Tigre could exist, make records, tour, and stay up all night writing crazy shit for our website!