Riot Grrrl

About Riot Grrrl

Riot grrrl is mainly remembered for its music and its height in popularity in the 1990’s. Some bands such as: Bikini Kill and Bratmobile, used music as a way to portray the struggles of women. Bikini Kill and Bratmobile confronted issues such as incest, rape, abortion, and many other issues that trouble women.
Riot Grrrl began in 1991 in Olympia, Washington. A few girls (mostly from Bikini Kill and Bratmobile) decided to get together and talk about their main interests of feminism and punk rock. The first time they met it was all fun. They put up posters to get attention of other open-minded girls. Then, they found out they had other things in common: they were all vegetarians; against drugs; and had all been molested as children. At one meeting a very smart girl took notes, photocopied them, and turned them into a cool fanzine. That’s how it all began. Zines are a big part of the riot grrrl scene. Most riot grrrls believe in DIY (do it yourself). DIY, meetings, zines, and music are a big part of the riot grrrl movement. Riot grrrls don’t discriminate and accept diversity. Riot Grrrl is an underground feminist punk movement. Riot grrrl culture is often associated with third-wave feminism, which also grew rapidly during the same early 1990’s timeframe. It is often viewed as a third-wave feminism cultural movement, and sometimes seen as its starting point.
However, riot grrrl’s emphasis on universal female identity and separatism often seems more closely allied with second-wave feminism. On the other hand, third-wave feminism attempted to foster an acceptance of the diversity of feminist expression. Riot grrrl arose after the queercore movement, although the distinction between the two movements is at times blurred, given bands such as Team Dresch and Fifth Column who embraced both genres. Riot grrrl has been seen as third-wave feminism’s starting point and is often associated with third-wave feminism. Riot grrrl bands address issues such as: rape, domestic abuse, sexuality, racism, and female empowerment. Some bands that are associated with the riot grrrl movement are: Bikini Kill, Bratmobile, Excuse 17, Heavens To Betsy, Huggy Bear, and The Frumpies. Riot grrrl is also a subculture: zines, the DIY ethic, art, political action, and activism are part of the movement. Riot grrrls are known to hold meetings, start chapters, and support/organize women in music. Regardless of popular belief, riot grrrl is not a bunch of women that hate men and want to be better than men. Riot grrrl is an empowerment of women but not empowerment over men, but the will to have equality with men. There are males in the riot grrrl movement also known as riot boys. Riot boys believe strongly in the riot grrrl movement just like riot grrrls. There are no right or wrong definitions of riot grrrl, in fact, everyone has their own definition of what a riot grrrl is.

What Is Riot Grrrl?

Riot grrrl is an underground punk feminist movement. Riot grrrl incorporates feminist ideals and uses them to de-gender the punk scene. In a scene based on progression, resistance, and rebellion, grrrls look around and realize there is no room in this world for male domination and discrimination. Most men look at women as sexual conquests, entertainment, or attendents to hold their bookbags while they dance. Everyone becomes a hypocrite, preaching anti-sexist ideals, all the while practicing what they were brought up to do: treat girls like they would treat their mothers or even like wives-like property. This is why riot grrrl originated in the first place. Over half the world’s population is made up of women. White, Black, Asian, Hispanic, rich, poor, straight, gay, bisexual, transgendered, disabled, all female…we are all women. We have become a silent majority. Stand up and fight!!!!!! Riot! Riot loudly, Society has put a gag in our mouths; rip it out and fucking riot!
Riot Grrrl can also be described as: a grassroots third-wave feminist movement and “women-oriented” music scene of empowered women (and occassionally men) deeply connected to the punk rock scene in the early and mid 1990’s. Mostly youth oriented, riot grrrl was neither an organization or a specific thought, but instead thrived on non-hierarchal chapters set up across America and parts of Europe connecting mostly young women with music, a thriving zine scene, and direct political action. Riot grrrl was dedicated to expressing radical, grassroots feminism through art and activism. There is no one specific example of a riot grrrl, in fact the best example is contrasting different people who associated themselves with the movement. Some bands associated with the movement were: Huggy Bear, Bikini Kill, and Bratmobile. To be a riot grrrl, You don’t have to listen to riot grrrl bands, even though it helps to understand the riot grrrl movement better. You just have to believe in the riot grrrl philosophy and the riot grrrl manifesto. I would never give out a set definition though because that would automatically exclude another grrrl. Everyone has their own definition of what riot grrrl is, whether you’re a riot grrrl or not.

What Are Riot Grrrls?

Riot grrrls are a loosely set up network of underground feminists (and sometimes men) and music fans. Riot grrrls are from all ages, backgrounds, cultures, races, and sexual orientations all over the world. It’s about GRRRL power: women getting together to help and encourage each other, getting rid of sexist stereotypes of what girls are supposed to be…quiet, soft, sweet, innocent, helpless, etc. There are some men in the riot grrrl movement. Grrrls can be found anywhere, from honor roll kids to downtown club kids. We are not all punk, all white, all lesbians, all musicians, all zine writers/editors, all vegetarians, all women, all victims of abuse, or all straight-edge. You can even start up your own riot grrrl chapter in your area/town/state/country to get the word out about riot grrrl and to meet other riot grrrls. True riot grrrls don’t discriminate. Anyone can be a riot grrrl. As long as you believe in the riot grrrl philosophy and what the movement is really about, YOU can be a riot grrrl.

The article below was taken from and the article is located here.

A few of our goals (from RiotGrrrl USA)

-to create grrrl (and boi) unity
-create a rise in all-girl punk bands in the mainstream
-console abused and oppressed women
-send e-mail to companies with sexist commercials and/or campaigns
-to discuss and debate feminist topics
-to support each other
-to make friends and meet people with similar beliefs and interests
-to pass the Civil Right Movement

What are the Riot Grrrls?
Young, alternative, feminist grrls and grrl-friendly boys. We are pro-expression, and pro-androgyny. We are anti-authority, anti-racism, anti-sexism, anti-homophobia, anti-ageism, and anti-fascism. We are not dykes and bitches, although we celebrate rather than shun these qualities. We are grrrls, the epitome of femininity, meaning we celebrate who we are, and deny the mainstream all-American fashionplate girl. We can be individuals and be female, we can be powerful and be female, we can be smart and be female, and we won’t let media and sexism tell us otherwise. We are working for a world free of oppression and discrimination. In Solidarity!

Riot Here! Riot Now! And What The Heck Is A Riot Grrrl? (All of this was taken from:

Riot here! Riot now! What is riot grrrl? It’s about love, girl-love, self-love, love grrrl style. It’s about grrrls taking control of all parts of our lives. It’s about making everyone that you encounter understand that you, and all women, deserve respect and that you’re not going to do what someone else wants, just because its expected of you. Fuck expectations! Fuck being told that we have to like boys, that we have to go to school, or get married or anything! Riot grrrl is about taking control of our own lives and telling other people what we will do. And that means that we each get to decide what’s right for us, not having the patriarchy dictate how we spend our time, or who we spend it with. Grrrls don’t get enough support and it’s time we started supporting each other.

(I believe the above definition was taken from a DC riot grrrl writing in the early 90’s.)

So what the heck is a Riot Grrrl? (If anyone knows where this came from, let me know so I can give credit.)

Depending on who you ask, it is:

*A music movement that has its roots in punk rock and must be understood within that context. Defining riot grrrl is much like defining punk. There is no central organization, no authoritative definition, just an attitude concerned with pointing out social hypocrisy and empowering people too.

*It is activist music, zines, meetings, and other activity that builds a supportive environment for women and girls. It is concerned with feminist issues such as: rape, abortion rights, bulemia/anorexia, beauty standards, exclusion from popular culture, the sexism of everyday life, double standards, sexuality, self-defense, fat oppression, racism, and classism.

*The network of zines that are produced by girls and young women who identify with the music that is associated with riot grrrl. The zines are often intensely personal, but that personal outlet is translated to larger political action when the zines are available to the public, bringing people together for consciousness-raising activities.

*The ethos of Riot Grrrl is about supporting each other, empowering each other, making things happen without backstabbing, no competition, and no more-grrrl-than-thou-ness. Grrrl power is not about what the boys think, grrrl power is about separate space when we need it, and including supportive boys when we need that but the choice is ours.


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