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  • Kelsea Jones

Riot Grrrls!

Updated: Mar 19, 2020

This post originally appeared as a Sway presentation on Library Sustenance on 07 March 2018.

What the BLEEP is Riot Grrrl?

noun riot grrrl

\ -ˈgərl, -ˈgər‧əl, -ˈgə̄l \

plural riot grrrls

Definition of riot grrrl : a girl or woman who participates in a feminist punk subculture


Riot grrrl isn't code for "angry woman." It's the name of a movement, and the musicians and activists within the movement. Riot grrrl as a music genre is characterized by an aggressive punk sound, and riot grrrl bands are always female led, if not entirely female backed. Riot grrrl emerged as a response to the almost exclusively male punk movement: grrrls were done being back-up singers. They were going to be the stars (Schilt).


But the revolution was bigger than a place in a band.

"Because I believe with my whole heart mind body that girls constitute a revolutionary soul force that can, and will, change the world for real
-Riot Grrrl Manifesto

Riot grrrls were reclaiming what it meant to be a girl. If society "offered no validation of women’s experiences," then they would create a culture that would (Feliciano). That culture rejected the traditional beauty standards and etiquette taught by popular girls' magazines like Seventeen and created a new openness around previously taboo subjects like rape and incest in a bevy of zines (Schilt). Riot grrrls took aim at misogyny, sexism, double- standards, and racism (Feliciano). It was a movement of girls using their power to change their world.

Riot Gear

Listen to essential tracks from Bikini Kill, Sleater Kinney, and Bratmobile.




Works Cited

Feliciano, Stevie. "The Riot Grrrl Movement." New York Public Library, 19 June 2013, https://www.nypl.org/ blog/2013/06/19/riot-grrrl- movement.

Schilt, Kristen. "The History of Riot Grrls." The Feminist eZine, http:// www.feministezine.com/ feminist/music/The-History-of- Riot-Grrls-in-Music.html.

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