Yesterday I went to the independent bookstore Bluestockings for a reading of Lisa Darms' The Riot Grrrl Collection with Johanna Fateman, Ramdasha Bikceem and Molly Neuman.
While I was sitting in the audience I thought about my first encounter with the Riot Grrrl movement. I was thirteen years old when I first heard the song Rebel Girl by Bikini Kill. After hearing that song I knew I wanted more. It lead me to other bands like Bratmobile, Sleater-Kinney, The Gits, Heavens to Betsey, Le Tigre and Team Dresch. Soon after I got into the zines associated with the movement. The music and the literature provided me with a different way of thinking about beauty and sexuality. It taught me that I didn't need to assimilate to somebody else's standards and that the punk rock idea that "you could do anything" didn't just apply to the boys.
Bikini Kill in 1991 By jonathancharles via flickrA little background about the Riot Grrrl movement:
The emergence of the Riot Grrrl movement began in the early 1990s, when a group of women in Olympia, Washington, held a meeting to discuss how to address sexism in the punk scene. The women decided they wanted to start a “girl riot” against a society they felt offered no validation of women’s experiences. And thus the Riot Grrrl movement was born.
The Riot Grrrl movement believed in girls actively engaging in cultural production, creating their own music and fanzines rather than following existing materials. The bands associated with Riot Grrrl used their music to express feminist and anti-racist viewpoints. Bikini Kill, Bratmobile, and Heavens to Betsy created songs with extremely personal lyrics that dealt with topics such as rape, incest and eating disorders.
By the late '90s, "girl power," a slogan that began in the pages of Riot Grrrl zines, started being appropriated by pop sensations like the Spice Girls. Some claim this to be the end of the movement. Others contend that it never ended and that bands like Pussy Riot are still carrying the torch today.
In honor of the Riot Grrrl movement and the conversation that is starting again thanks to Lisa Darms' The Riot Grrrl Collection, I compiled a list of some books, films, CDs and articles from our collection that pertain to the movement. I hope you enjoy!
Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution by Sara Marcus
Personal Best - Team Dresch
You can access these articles and more through Academic Search Premier, available at all library locations or at home with your NYPL library card:
Grunge, Riot Grrrl and the Forgetting of Women in Popular Culture
Riot In The Stacks
Revolution Grrrl and Lady Style, Now!
“A Little Too Ironic”: The Appropriation and Packaging of Riot Grrrl Politics by Mainstream Female Musicians
Riot Grrrl: Revolutions From Within
See also: Jefferson Market's Marie C. Hansen interviews Stephanie Kuehnert in Twist n' Shhhout!: Highlighting Rock n' Roll at NYPL: Riot Grrrl.