Riot-Grrrl, Interrupted

By the

August 30, 2001

Riot-grrrl is back. This underground youth feminist movement, which initially responded to the male dominated punk scene, consisted of consciousness- raising meetings where girls joined together in a safe space because they were, as Bikini Kill No. 2, an early riot-grrrl zine states “We are angry at a society that tells us Girl=Dumb, Girl=Bad, Girl=Weak.” The first-ever riot-grrrl meeting took place in D.C. just under a decade ago and after many reincarnations, riot-grrrl D.C. is back in full force with something new. The group is now “boy inclusive.”

At first grrrls in the movement didn’t feel like there was enough support within the movement for grrrls so they started groups and zines and bands and started to get together to have a voice in a space where they were all to often voiceless. It was and should be a safe-space?a supportive, inclusive environment for sharing stories, pooling resources and acknowledges the multiplicity of experiences that shape grrrls lives.

There is still a need for a feminist consciousness within the punk scene. As recent as last year, a punk boy committed a series of sexual assaults against girls in the scene. An even larger problem is that males typically dominant most aspects of society in general. This reinforces the idea that girls need their own artificial “girl only” spaces that serve as valuable areas where young women can be and work outside of a typically male-dominated society. While it is unfortunate to exclude anyone, there really is, at least at first within a feminist movement, no other way to create these spaces that avoid patriarchy.

Feminists should completely appreciate contributions, support and collaboration from men, but a group with the name riot-grrrl must remain a grrrl-only group because grrrl-only safe space is necessary for total creative and expressive freedom. Don’t make the mistake that this grrrl love is in fact man hate. Riot-grrrls love pro-feminist men who understand the need for women-only power space.

Riot-grrrl meetings have always posed a threat to more “traditional” girls organizations such as Girl Scouts and Future Homemakers of America. Feminists need to preserve this practice in order to empower themselves enough to revolutionize and radicalize their place in communities.

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