Old Riot Grrrl Writings


Girl Love Is? (This is from the zine “Tennis and Violins” by Kristy Chan.)

* treating all girls with respect
* hugging your girlfriends and being there for them
* protecting each other and providing a feeling of safety when we walk down the street or go out
* making space where women/girls feel unthreatened and unintimidated
* talking about abuse and rape when no one else will listen
* making other girls feel unafraid to eat in public or around others
* making other girls feel comfortable in their bodies
* being kind to your mom and not expecting her to wait on you
* not judging women/girls on their looks and/or hating them for being pretty
* not competing for boys’ attention
* not looking/acting dumb on purpose so boys will like you
* not picking your new boyfriend over your old girlfriends
* calling people on their shit, including your girlfriends because it helps us to stay aware of things we do that are fucked up and things we need to change
* not feeling homophobic around your girlfriends and refusing to touch them
* learning and teaching each other how to do stuff and be active
* screaming in public
* knowing that girls can do anything boys can do
* stopping jealousy
* realizing that girls who have sex aren’t ‘sluts’ or bad and respecting their sexual choices as something that you might not understand or have any business of speculating on
* being pro-choice
* knowing that you are connected to all girls and the way you view yourself is related to their self-image as well
* sharing resources with other girls
* helping each other see our beauty and build our own culture around what we see
* wearing make-up and tight clothes because we want to
* being sexy and powerful
* being honest and straight-forward with your girlfriends because mind games suck and keep us divided
* talking about our feelings
* holding hands
* feeling okay about being naked around each other
* having sex and making out (if you want to) and liking it
* understanding that girls that we may not like are people, too and are affected by the same institutions that affect all of us
* not letting the words ‘feminist’, ‘slut’, ‘whore’, ‘bitch’, etc. be used as insults against us
* refusing to let companies prey on our insecurities in order to get our money (how many times have you bought some low-fat diet shit because you feel insecure about your body or bought make-up to hide your face that you think isn’t pretty?)
* trying to understand how oppression and the status quo work and how we fit into it
* reclaiming our customs and rituals (hanging out in the bathroom, slumber parties, shopping, the color pink, whatever we fucking want)
* self-love

-Note about the article below: This isn’t about the Spice Girls version of “girl power”. We’re talking about “grrrl power” as in riot grrrl. I got this from an OLD riot grrrl website I used to visit called ++ riot grrrls please stand up ++. The website is no longer around, but as you can see archive.org comes in handy for old websites.

Grrrl Power is…

feeling okay about being a girl: Be proud! We ROCK!

promoting girl love and friendship: A kind of sisterhood. Don’t talk to me about cliques or sororities; in this clique there are no rules, no certain way to be, and we don’t leave anyone out!

encouraging one another: Telling each other it’s cool to be who they are and let them express themselves!

teaching: girls, boys, men, women, old or young about grrrl issues things that effect each one of us (equality, individualization, the right to speak your mind and let your thoughts run free).

respecting each other: to realize the individuality of every girl on this planet, not to divide people into groups like race, religion, ethics, etc., to look down upon derogatory names and phrases against girls and anyone else.

respecting yourself: respect yourself for who you are. Not realizing you have flaw, but character, things that make you who you are. Realize and respect your strengths, interests, opinions, and beauty. Realize your self-empowerment.

being able to: say what you want to say and not be afraid, voice your mind and opinion, to express yourself in any shape or form, to wear what you want to wear and look the way you want to without being degraded for it. It’s about not letting anyone judge you, because it’s not about limitations!!!

Punk Rock Love Is…. By: Aaron Cometbus

Punk rock love is fucking behind the dumpster down the street from the show. Fucking in the shower at the Hotel Carlton. Making out in the recycle bin. Looking at her tattoos while she’s asleep. Taking showers together. Playing checkers with cigarette butts. Watching her band play. Dumpstering veggies together and then going back to her place and cooking up a feast. Knowing the same parts of the same songs. Both of you having the same ex-girlfriend.
Punk rock love is having to tie her shoes for her cuz she’s too drunk. Kissing under the overpass. Her sending you her whole diary to read. Her giving you ten rolls of duct tape for your birthday. Her beating up skinheads. Going to the prom on her motorcycle and checking in the helmets at the coatcheck. Getting astonished stares from all the jocks who thought you were gay, now they fell dumb cuz you’re with an older punk rock bombshell and they’re with their friend’s little sister.
Punk rock love is meeting her outside the club and her saying come home with me or I’m gonna kick your fuckin ass. Going home with her and she almost kicks your ass anyway. Sharing hairdye. Riding double on a bike. Being loud and not caring. Sneaky eyes and sleeveless t-shirts. The sun coming up and you realizing that there’s other people on the beach. A good sleazy one week stand. Still being friends afterwards, most of the time.
Punk rock love is her sneaking out in the middle of the night to meet you in the park. Running your fingers over her spikey hair. Her chewing on a flower and you having to call poison control when her tongue swells up. Bringing her to the laundromat for a date. Sharing a sleeping bag and waking up freezing in the middle of the night and her, bleary eyed, trying to heat it up with a blowdrier. Social Unrest playing “Ever Fallin In Love?” at the gig you’re both at the night after she dumps you hard. Starting smoking again after that night.
Punk rock love is her drawing on you. Her sleeping on her back. Her being mad at you for being such a jerk. Her thinking it’s cool that you stink and your hair stands up by itself. Her having weird roommates who worship eggs. You waiting in the doorway for hours hoping she might pass by. Even in the snow. Her singing along with Descendants records over the air on her late night radio show. Her picture on the front page of the morning paper, getting arrested. Her borrowing your favorite black hat and never giving it back. Punk rock love is finding a girl that drinks as much coffee as you do. Going into the cafe where she works and she looks up and smiles and doesn’t notice as she trips over a pile of 50 dishes. They hit the floor one by one and when it’s all done everyone in the cafe applauds and you both turn beet red.
Punk rock love is both of you doing fanzines. Years later her teaching English to college freshmen, you still doing fanzines. Her wearing glasses though her eyes are fine, using crutches though her legs are fine, and talking with a fake speech impediment. You just thinking it’s rad girl style, until later when someone brings up the concept of self-imposed handicaps.
Punk rock love is getting your first kiss and almost losing your virginity at the same time, meanwhile you’re trying not to wake up the other person sleeping in the same bed. Groping in the bushes by the freeway and later you realize that all the passing cars could see you. Exploring the wasteland together. Holding hands out on the fire escape. Lying in the grass in her backyard. Lying on the astroturf in her bedroom. Drinking tequila on her porch, on your birthday. Riding on her motorcycle early in the cold morning and you’re holding on tight and steam is rising off the river and you’re thinking how she is maybe even better than the Ramones.
Punk rock love is both being broke. Love letters. Finding out she sang “Stay Free” at her high school talent show. Finding out she’s a little crazier than you thought when you finally get her in bed. Her boyfriend getting mad. Walking around with her and her nephew and everyone giving you dirty looks cuz they think he’s your kid. Walking around with her and being happy and proud. Being sad together. Being sad by yourself. Missing her.

The Punk Feminist By: Jeannie Gynarchy and was taken from her old riot grrrl website that no longer exists called “Grrrl Love Is Good Love”.

I make all my decisions based on my feminist and punk beliefs, whether it be what gas to put in my car, what I eat for lunch, or what I’m going to do about a crisis. I go to a liberal university and no one gives a fuck what anyone else is doing, so they don’t care what I look like. It’s much different when I have to venture out into the real world, people stare, point, whisper, security trails behind, but I’m used to it. I feel sorry for people like that, whose lives are so mundane that something as simple as pink hair throws their whole life into turmoil. Being a girl alters the way I see the world in that I see everything in an oppressive light. I’m more aware of oppression of myself and of every other womyn. I am also aware of the oppression of other groups, such as gays and African-Americans. I know that society wants me to look pretty, keep my mouth shut, and my legs wide open but I refuse to let that happen. I fight that everyday and in everything I do. Feminism means to me not playing the part our society has written for us. I don’t want my daughters growing up with the same shit I had to grow up with. Playing with perfect Barbie dolls and wearing pretty dresses and having only kitchen sets and Betsy Wetsie for toys. Feminism means doing whatever the hell you want to and not having someone say you can’t do that because you are a girl. Feminism provides an outlet and an answer to the anger and frustration I feel every day. It provides sisterhood, shelter, and defense for me. But, because of feminism I come off abrasive and pessimistic. I can’t just sit back and relax and let sexist things slide. I can’t just take a joke. I become more and more disgusted by day at what we allow to happen in our culture and world.

What Is A Riot Grrrl Anyway? By: Spirit 1-6-95. I have never spoken to her, but I found this online long ago and liked what she had to share about riot grrrl.

I was fourteen when I first heard about riot grrrl. By that time it had been all over MTV, fashion and news magazines and newspapers yet this was the first time I had heard of it – in a small local entertainment newspaper. I don’t know how long riot grrrl had existed before the media got its slimey hands all over it but I know, from experience, how much it changed afterward.

I was attracted to the idea of riot grrrl initially because the beliefs I thought riot grrrl was about were ones I had always had myself. The San Jose punk scene isn’t very political or issue oriented (not to say that it should or shouldn’t be) so I often felt alienated and isolated in my beliefs which were all generally anarchistic, anti-fascist, anti-sexist, and anti-homophobic. Most of the time I was the only girl around, when there were others everyone knew they wouldn’t stay long – they were always just fucking one of the guys in the scene and they were never punx. I was surrounded by “punks” to whom punk had no meaning and my motivation was suppressed. My impression of riot grrrl as conveyed by that small article was: punk rock girls having the beliefs fore mentioned, creating a scene alternative to the one that they found themselves rejected by. It was that simple. Who can argue with that? The early riot grrrl scene was inclusive of boys and girls, preserved D.I.Y. punk rock methods and morals, and
wasn’t threatening to any other groups, people, or interests. Riot grrrl – the idea, the movement, the non-localized group whatever – inspired literally hundreds of girls to do zines, start bands, collectives, distributions, have meetings, etc. The uprising of riot grrrl has been the only activity in the scene most of us have seen in years yet most of you probably don’t know what a riot grrrl is and does, why we face so much opposition or who started it.

I won’t offer a definition because it wouldn’t be fair to other grrrls to whom riot grrrl may mean something totally different. I will however offer my insight on what I have seen happen… After the height of mainstream media coverage, many of the more productive and popular chapters such as Olympia and D.C. decided to sort of “close up shop”. Refusing to answer most of their mail, rejecting interview requests, changing their meeting locations or cancelling them all together seemed like the only way to stop further exploitation, misquoting, and such. If a barrette wearing, magic markered, thirteen year old looking 20 year old was what the words “riot grrrl” would be translated as, they didn’t want it. The mainstream media-what seemed like the best medium for communication, the best way to spread “girl love” – had failed us. In fact, it had come close to destroying us. In some ways I think it did. Lots of girls have been inspired by the idea of riot grrrl after having heard about it through some magazine or TV show. They’ve begun to question, challenge, create, demand…others have learned nothing more than a hot, new, cute way to dress.

The most destructive and inaccurate image of a riot grrrl portrayed by the media was that of a lesbian, man-hating, ignorant, violent, bitter, bitch, an image that has followed feminism before it was feminism. Unfortunately, some girls, imitated the most negative aspects of this image blindly, giving riot grrrl a bad name. I disapprove of all violence outside of self-defense and am hurt when I hear stories of riot grrrls beating up boys “for no reason” or “because they are boys”. Usually these stories are bunk by the time they get back to us but I know this sometimes (rarely but sometimes) happens and it’s embarassing. Does this scenario sound familiar? It should…to each and every one of you. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, turn on MTV right now. Chances are there’s a Green Day, Rancid, Nirvana, or clone of one of those three bands on. Is a rich, homophobic, sexist, jock with a wallet chain and Doc’s a fair representation of a punk rocker? Is Sid Vicious even a realistic punker? What’s happening to punk right now and what happened to it in the early 80’s is exactly what’s happened to riot grrrl. For those of you who have had bad experiences with girls who call themselves riot grrrls, please remember that we are all fucking different! In every class, race, scene, etc. there are pollutant people – people who just want to get a piece of the action or feel like they belong.

How can we fight the patriarchal, corporate, racist system when we’re fighting each other? When punks are rejecting riot grrrl for not being punk enough, when riot grrrls are rejecting punks for not being conscious enough, it is apparent that all of us have let the media’s image of us affect our behavior and treatment of each other. Riot grrrls – the strongest, the truest of us will outlast the trendiness. Our networking through mail, the internet, through music, through zines and through the punk scene keeps us closely knit and strong. Just as the punk scene itself does the same – no matter how many records Offspring sells or how many cheerleaders wear Doc Martens with 100 dollar outfits.

So where’s the riot? The riot can happen inside each of us, male and female. The riot is something that happens everyday. We are changing the rules, the codes, the fucking standards.

Think of Crass, Vice Squad, The Avengers, Blondie, Naked Aggression, Spitboy….think of Emma Goldman, Valerie Solanas… riot grrrl didn’t invent punk rock feminism. We are simply reclaiming our place/voice in punk rock- a voice we’ve always had that’s been trampled on.

The following quote is from Jennifer Miro of the old punk band, “The Nuns”. She is commenting on what she saw happening towards the end of 1977. “Later it became this macho hardcore thrasher punk scene and that was not what it was about at first. There were a lot of women in the beginning. It was women doing things. Then it became this whole macho, anti-women thing. Then women didn’t go to see punk bands anymore because they were afraid of getting killed. I didn’t even go because it was so violent and so macho that it was repulsive. Women just got squeezed out.” I’ll be damned if I ever let that happen to me or any grrrl I know again.

DISCLAIMER FROM SPIRIT: I DON’T CONSIDER MYSELF A SPOKESPERSON FOR RIOT GRRRL, ONLY FOR MYSELF AND I HAPPEN TO CONSIDER MYSELF A RIOT GRRRL. MY WORD IS NO MORE THAN MY WORD OF EXPERIENCE AND INDIRECT KNOWLEDGE (READING, STORIES I’VE BEEN TOLD, ETC.) THEREFORE WHAT I SAY ABOUT RIOT GRRRL SHOULD BE CONSIDERED ONLY ONE GIRLS P.O.V.

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