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Riotgrrl, Revolutions From Within

Riotgrrl, Revolutions From Within

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Published by Riot Grrrl
Riotgrrrl: revolutions from within. J. Rosenberger & G. Garofano (1998)
Riotgrrrl: revolutions from within. J. Rosenberger & G. Garofano (1998)

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Published by: Riot Grrrl on Sep 02, 2010
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05/20/2013

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Riot Grrrl: Revolutions from withinAuthor(s): Jessica Rosenberg and Gitana GarofaloSource:
Signs,
Vol. 23, No. 3, Feminisms and Youth Cultures (Spring, 1998), pp. 809-841Published by: The University of Chicago PressStable URL:
Accessed: 02/03/2010 05:19
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JessicaRosenbergGitanaGarofaloRiotGrrrl:Revolutions fromWithin
Everybodyhasgirls, everycountryhasgirls,every groupinthe world hasgirlsasapartofit.-Lailah,age16,Brooklyn,New York
eryfewself-proclaimedRiotGrrrlslwould,ifasked,like toexplainex-actlywhatthe termmeans.Manycallitpunkrockfeminism,eventhoughRiotGrrrl hasmovedbeyond punkcircles. When agroupofgirlsinWashington,D.C.,startedRiotGrrrlinthesummer of1991,theirintentwas tomakegirlsandwomenmoreinvolved inD.C.spredomi-nantlywhite,malepunkscene,inwhichgirlsparticipatedmostlyasgirl-friendsoftheboys.2Inthe late1970s,punkinitiallyhad beenvery profem-inist(theideals offeminismfitinwithpunk'sdo-it-yourself[DIY]ethicofself-empowermentandindependencefromauthority),but asitbecamecommercializedaround1977,itsidealsbecameassimilated into themain-streampatriarchalbeliefsystems.ThenameRiotGrrrlwas chosentoreclaimthevitalityandpowerofyouthwith anaddedgrowltoreplacetheperceivedpassivityof"girl'.Itwasmostpopularinitiallyinthelively punkscenes ofD.C. andOlympia,Washington,whereRiotGrrrlhad oneofits firstdefiningmoments. Inthesummer of1991,KRecords ofOlympiaheldtheInternationalPopUndergroundFestival,and thefirstnightwasdesignatedGirls'Night.As
Inthespringof1997,PennsylvaniaRiotGrrrlJessicaRosenbergandSignsProgramAs-
sistantGitanaGarofaloonvened ourconferenceallswith tenRiotGrrrlsromaround he
UnitedStatestodiscussthemovement ingeneraland theirownexperiencesinparticular.Thesediscussions,inconjunctionwith anE-mailsurveyadministeredbyRosenberg,revealed
RiotGrrrls'esistanceohegemonicnterpretationsfthemselvesnd theRiotGrrrlmove-
ment(s).RosenbergandGarofaloselectedandeditedexcerptsfromtheconversationsandcorrespondence.Thefollowingforumrepresentsamultifaceted andopen-endedexplorationofRiotGrrrl.1AlsoknownasRiotGrrl(orGirl).Thename isafeministreclamation ofthewordgirlwith alesspoliteandmoreassertivepoliticalstance.RiotGrrrl/Grrlrefers toaverylooselyconnectedgroupofpunkfeministswhopublishzinesandplayinbands. Thecoinageofthetermgmrisfrequentlyattributed toKathleenHanna,amember oftheband BikiniKill.2Fora moredetailedhistoryofRiotGrrrl,seeKlein1997.[Signs:JournalfWomennCulturendSociety998,vol.23,no.3]?1998byTheUniversityfChicago.Allrightsreserved.097-9740/98/2303-0010$02.00
 
810 IRosenbergand Garofalo
thezineGirl Germsnoted,"Theideawas formulatedbyseveralOlympians,who saw anopportunitytodemarginalizethe role ofwomeninthe con-ventionand inpunkrock."Ledbybands such as BikiniKill, Bratmobile,and Heavens toBetsyand zines suchasGirl Germs,igsaw,andChainsaw,more bandsand more zines came intobeingand a network of RiotGrrrlswascreated,basedlargelyon those zines.Chapterswere started across thecountry.Girls held conventionswhere Riot Grrrls met andexchangedzines,bandsperformed,andworkshopswereheldontopicssuch as eat-ingdisorders,rape,abuse, self-mutilation,racism, self-defense,and zineproduction.WhenRiot GrrrlreceivedpresscoverageinmagazinesrangingfromSassytoNewsweek,he movementgreweven further fromitspunkrockbeginnings.Many girlsbecameacquaintedwith themovementthroughthe mainstreammedia ratherthan thepunkrockunderground.Somegirlshavefelt that thepresscoveragehas distortedthemessageof RiotGrrrl,whileothers havefelt it isjustanothertool to letpeopleknowabout themovement.Regardlessof howtheylearnedofit,for thegirlsinvolved,Riot Grrrlhaschangedtheway theythinkand act andhowtheysee them-selvesintheireverydaylives.Perhapsbecauseitwas basedon thepunkscene,Riot Grrrlis muchangrierthanwas thesecondwave offeminismof the 1970s.RiotGrrrlsareloudand,throughzines,music,andspokenword,expressthemselveshonestlyandstraightforwardly.Riot Grrrldoesnotshyawayfrom difficultissuesandoften addressespainfultopicssuchasrapeand abuse.Riot Grrrlis a calltoaction,to"RevolutionGirl-StyleNow."Ata timein theirliveswhengirlsaretaughttobesilent,RiotGrrrldemandsthattheyscream.To mostgirls,Riot Grrrlmeansacommunityandemotionalsupport.Madhu,ofMassachusetts,says,"ThroughRiotGrrrl,wecangetwithpeoplewithsimilarproblemsandinterests,andconstructively trytochangeourworld. It'sacommunity,afamily."3Whileother feministmove-mentshavebeengearedmore towardpoliticalaction,RiotGrrrl,althoughremainingstaunchly political,alsopaysattentiontothepersonalandtheeveryday.Itfocusesmoreon theindividualandthe emotionalthanonmarches,legislation,andpublicpolicy.Thiscreatesacommunityinwhichgirlsareabletospeakaboutwhatisbotheringthemor writeaboutwhathappenedthatday.Themostcommonmeansofcommunicationin the RiotGrrrlcommu-nityis thezine.Acrossthecountryandeveninternationally,girlsproduce
3
E-mailquestionnaireresponse,April26,1997.

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