Riot Grrrls were originally born out of the Punk scene where rebellion was expressed in attitude, appearance, style, and music. Defining Riot Grrrl is much like defining Punk. There is no central organization, no authoritive definition, just an attitude concerned with pointing out social hypocrisy and empowering people to do it yourself creating a culture of their own when they see that the mainstream media does not reflect their concerns or provide outlets for their efforts. Riot Grrrl is a supportive environment for girls and young women who are concerned with feminist issues such as rape, abortion rights, bulimia/anorexia, sexism, sexuality, double standards, self-defense, fat oppression, classism and racism. Riot Grrrl is a network of fanzines that are produced by the angry girl revolutionaries who identify with the music that is associated with Riot Grrrl. The fanzines, self-designed and self-written, uncensored and uninhibited photocopied publications are often intensely personal. That personal outlet is translated to larger political action when the fanzines are available to the public, bringing people together for conventions and other consciousness-raising activities. The ethos is about supporting each other and empowering each other. In actuality, Riot Grrrl is a frame of mind. It's a way for them to come together in a common cause: Revolution Girl-Style Now!
Since no specific person or people claim they created it, Riot Grrrl has meant many things to many people. Most girls do not attempt to define it anymore. EVERY GRRRL IS A RIOT GRRRL. All you need is a healthy dose of pissed-of-ness at the treatment of women in our society. We are NOT all punk, all white, all lesbians, all musicians, all fanzine editors, all vegetarians, all victims of abuse, all straight edge. There is no stereotypical Riot Grrrl.
The early Riot Grrrl scene was a loose-knit affiliation of feminist Punks, formed circa 1991 in Olympia, Washington and Washington D.C. The philosophy of DO IT YOURSELF and YOU CAN DO ANYTHING seemed to apply mostly to boys, who were the ones making the music and dictating the styles. By the early '90s, more and more girl bands started springing up, but ironically they found themselves battling sexism and discrimination within a movement originally based in a consciousness about youth and oppression. With the rallying cry…Revolution Girl-Style Now! Bands like Bikini Kill formed a small movement to combat the male dominance of the Punk Scene and, by extension, the rest of the world.
Inevitably, Riot Grrrl was born : So there's this revolution happening all across the country and all across other countries and it's the revolution girl style and as a girl revolutionary I want to say something about it.
This revolution is so real and so deep for me. It is something I have been waiting for my whole life, something that I think is imperative to my survival or at least my sanity. This revolution is in my heart and my soul, and it's in the heart and souls of other girls/women I know and fuck you it's valid and fuck you it's for real. Over the past few years, magazines, newspapers and news shows have begun to pay a great deal of attention to Riot Grrrls. At first, most Riot Grrrls were open to use the media as a way to spread the word to other girls. Soon, though, feeling that they had been misinterpreted, commercialized and made into a new fad and trend, Riot Grrrls changed their minds : I'm sick to death of defending riot grrrl every time I turn around, I don't even know why it should have to be defended. Riot grrrl is not what Seventeen, Newsweek or the LA Weekly make it out to be or any other media thing. The media attention has taken riot grrrl and twisted it distorted the name to mean little if anything of importance.
No person can speak for all riot grrrls, they can only simply give their opinion (like I am) and it should be taken as such. After the height of mainstream media coverage, many of the more productive and popular chapters such as Olympia and D.C. decided to close down. Refusing to answer most of their mail, rejecting interview requests, changing meeting locations or canceling them all together seemed like the only way to stop further exploitation, misquoting and such. If a barrette wearing, magic marked, 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 and the best way to spread girl-love"-had failed. While lots of girls had been inspired by the idea of Riot Grrrl after having heard about it through a magazine or a television show, they began to question, challenge, create and demand. Others have learned nothing more than a hot, new, cute way to dress. Riot Grrrl activities includes the annual Pussystock festival in New York City, National Riot Grrrl conventions all over the country and the distribution of fanzines. Riot Grrrl conventions hold gatherings of over 100 young women from all over the country who come together to empower themselves and each other. During these conventions, girls have the opportunity to meet other girls, share fanzines, perform in their all girl bands, perform spoken-word pieces, talk, scream, cry, laugh, complain, enlighten and educate though workshops that focus on several issues, including rape, racism, sexuality and animal rights (many Riot Grrrls are vegan-strict vegetarians). Fanzines are filled with girlish drawings and cartoons, poems and dreams, music, book and other fanzine reviews, and vegetarian recipes.
Fanzines are an opportunity to express fully without fear of judgment. They are also a way to inspire: Lately, I've been getting quite a few great zones. An explosion, if you will. And what I've got to say about them is that they all are incredible. Everyone's got something to say, everyone is motivated to make change, everyone is excited, ready to get involved, make a difference. And they have. Just by going out and doing a zone says something-it means that this thing called empowerment is in effect. Time to make a statement. And it ain't no feeble attempt. These zines scream….I AM MAKING A DIFFERENCE. How much more rad can it get? I'm excited to find out.
Through meetings and fanzines, Riot Grrrls have created their own support system which is there for each other's survival and well-being. Due to class and race, although somewhat mixed, the majority of Riot Grrrls are White and recognize that they are "privileged". Through the advantage of education, Riot Grrrls are aware of a vital survival tool … expression. By getting out their frustrations, shame, hopelessness, and rage, through singing, drawing, performing spoken word and especially writing can be a catharsis (healing process). Our rage is our power don't let it fade don't let it die feed it to your daughters kill all confusion but teach her don't hate too easily because hate cancels out the power rage supplies. Rage can be defined as a feeling of intense anger. Anger can be defined as a feeling of great annoyance as the result of rage. One may ask what do girls fewer than twenty have to be angry about. There are a lot of girls who feel like outcasts, with no one to relate to. These young women see hate around them and are angry about it. They want to end rape, violence, prejudism, homophobia, and sexism. With Riot Grrrl, they are finding out something vital: that it's okay to be angry (hence the grrr in Grrrls). One girl says that she doesn't need to prove herself worthy of respect…Okay I've had it and the keys of my typewriter will feel the anger and rage that you should be receiving right now. But you have no clue. You probably never will-but that won't stop me. I can scream on paper when you brush me off, when you bind my tongue. I won't shut up. I won't be intimidated. I WILL tell you when you are hurting ME, when you hurt ALL girls with what you say and do. I WILL tell you NOT to use words like slutwhorebitch. I WILL NOT shut my mouth just so you can be nice and secure in your opinion, an opinion which includes sexist jokes, racist remarks and homophobic comments….gender pride, oppressive ideology and blind hate blind hate blind hate. You know who you are you because when you read this you are thinking that this feminist should SHUT UP STOP LOOKING FOR TROUBLE SHE'S PROBABLY PREMENSTRUAL OR HATES MEN IT'S NO BIG DEAL EVERYONE LAUGHED AT THE JOKE ABOUT THE BLOND PROSTITUTE THIS GIRL IS MAKING A BIG DEAL OVER NOTHING SHE DOESN'T KNOW WHAT SHE IS TALKING ABOUT ANYWAYS.
Yeah, you know exactly who you are. You aren't all of mankind, or one person alone, but you make up a big and power- hold-ing part of society...AND IT"S ABOUT TIME YOU FOUND OUT THAT THE WAY YOU ACT SOMETIMES IS NOT RIGHT, IS NOT ACCEPTABLE TO ME OR MY FRIENDS. It's about respect. And no I won't shut up. In addition to rage, it is clear that a lot of girls continually feel disrespected, especially by acts of violation and humiliation. These acts come in all forms, mental, physical, and verbal abuse, and rape. One out of three women will be raped in her lifetime and four out of five victims know their attacker. These are the facts Riot Grrrls are painfully aware of…listen up, daddy and listen well. you broke my heart, daddy. You ruined my life. You keep us women under control and you think your male power will keep you outta trouble. I hate you. if I thought I could get away with killing you, I would. Not just for me, for mom and for all the other women you mindfuck daily. You better watch your ass, 'cause someday I’m gonna come up from behind and boy are you gonna be sorry you hurt me. don't even try to be friends like you think I don't remember. I remember. I wake up screaming and I remember your eyes looking at me and your fist beating me and your dick raping me and my mind is reeling and wanting everything to stop now. I’m so angry when I see your face, I want to vomit. When I can't even fuck without you there, without crying.
When I can't look in a mirror without your voice telling me how ugly I am, telling me what kind of a girl I am. When I look at my mother in fucking poverty while you bask in your wealth, I feel sick. you make me sick. you made me hate myself. you took my little girl self and you fucked her all up. She loved you, but I don't. I might hate myself, but I hate you more. Though Riot Grrrls are united in speaking out against rape, abuse, and other injustices, they also (like all adolescent girls) struggle with friends, relationships and boys. While many express their boy concerns, others are finding courage to adopt a lifestyle that is simply unexceptable to so many. The controversy over whether homosexuality is a choice or a biological fact is not the issue. Like many Riot Grrrls declare I want the freedom to define my own sexuality: the Spanish inquisition was held in my bedroom when information leaked to the authorities that I had slept with a boy. People ask us what’s up with you because you say you're a lesbian, but then you like boys. I asked to be more precise in my terminology. I disagree that I have an obligation to make sure everyone understands my sexual preferences. I want the freedom to define my own sexuality. That freedom is my right. there is this idea that bi-sexuality is a transition between gay and straight-it's just a phase, it's not a serious lifestyle.
I refuse to answer gays who don't think I’m gay enough or straights who don't think I’m straight enough...I will not answer to anyone. Self-image is a topic every girl struggles with. I hate mirrors. I really do. I can’t stand my reflection, my face. I know I’m not ugly...I feel ugly. There are stacks of studies which show that girls lose their sense of power as they approach adolescence. These studies show that 53 percent of school girls are unhappy with their bodies by the age of thirteen, and that 78 percent are unhappy with their bodies by the age of eighteen. Many Riot Grrrls fight back against society and the media which plays on your insecurities and try to set standards that maybe not everyone can follow. One size fits all is just one more way society has of telling me I do not exist. One of the many Riot Grrrl principles is to accept parts of self that have traditionally been crushed, judged, and ridiculed, and to actually glorify them, transforming these newly formed attributes into something that is cool….I am not a size 6. Or size 8 or 10 or 12. I am size 14. I am 5'11" and I weigh 178 lbs. no matter how hard I try, I will never be supermodel skinny. (And I have tried). nor do I want to be. I have big thighs. I have stretchmarks. I have a big belly. And I am finally learning to like it. I am finally trying to accept myself. After all the pain, all the fat torment, all the you'd be so pretty if you just lost 15 pounds! I finally don't care. I am beautiful. Beautiful to nobody's standards but my own. I am not 36-24-36. I am 38-32-38. Here I am. I will never do ads for Victoria’s secret. I bet her secret is that she can't wear her own designs without feeling gross. Call me fat...whatever. I’ll eat it up. Because I don't count calories and your words are zeros anyway. Glorifying is quite evident in the Riot Grrrls appearance, style and appreciation for childhood and childlike things. From wearing cat-eye glasses and mismatched clothes to carrying Sesame Street lunch boxes as purses and wearing brightly colored barrettes in their hair we have also seen a growth of girl ness epitomized in high and low fashion. From the runways of Paris to urban thrift stores, baby doll T-shirts and dresses, little patent leather shoes, plastic barrettes in the shape of teddy bears and tiny bows have brought girl-style to the for front of trendy fashion. It's a style. However, that carries with it a serious attitude. There is definitely an attitude that goes with it-much more confident, not caring what society or what men think about it. The whisperings of the girl movement started coming out of the underground a few years ago. Across the Xeroxed pages of fanzines, were the screams from the Punk stages through the mouths of Babes in Toyland, Brat mobile, and L7. Just take a look at the names: Bikini Kill, 7 Year Bitch, Hole-all fierce rockers who took the language used against women and co-opted it to work in their favor, twisting insults into strengths. These musicians put this anger into their music and drew hordes of young women to bathe in the shower of their wrath. These women told girls that anger is all right, that screaming for attention is a good thing that girls don not had to sacrifice to get what they want, because Revolution Girl-Style Now was in effect.
As the Riot Grrrl music scene took off, girls found their voices once again in fanzines raving about the bands and what they had to say. It was a liberation one girl says, the first time she saw Babes in Toyland screaming their guts out on stage. Most Riot Grrrl bands like Babes in Toyland or L7-unlike major label bands-stick to independent record labels, especially Olympia's K and has maintained a commitment to cheap all-age shows. One cannot define Riot Grrrl because it has meant many things to many people. The girl revolutionary was conceived during the Punk era where being a rebel was expressed in your attitude, appearance, style and music. Conventions, fanzines and all-girl bands, ways they have expressed themselves, gave these angry young women a voice they yearned for. Going beyond the fanzines and music, there is a style that goes with Riot Grrrl as well. The most inaccurate image of a Riot Grrrl was that of a lesbian, man hating, ignorant, violent, bitter, bitch, an image that has followed feminism even before it was feminism. Lying somewhere between the media creation and a genuine post-feminist movement, comes a commitment to change. Riot Grrrls have come together in a common cause: Revolution Girl-Style Now!
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