Saturday, May 23, 2009

What Is A Riot Grrrl? And Why Is A Male Writing About It?

This article was taken from here.

What Is a Riot Grrrl? And Why is a Male Writing about it?
Written by: Ronnie Hogart (of Lucid Nation)

To understand what a riot grrrl is, you should know that May 21, 1997 CBS News reported that rape occurs every sixty seconds in the United States. Every sixty seconds a female's life is shattered, along with the lives of her loved ones. Usually when such statistics are mentioned, chauvinistic males claim they are grossly exaggerated. Well, the FBI compiled 16,000 reports by law enforcement agencies and the number of reported and confirmed cases has risen 128% since 1972; they arrived at one rape every five minutes. The National Crime Victimization Survey conducted by the U.S. Bureau of the Census reported one rape every three and a half minutes. When the Crime Victim Research and Treatment Center conducted their National Women's Study they found that only one out of six rapes is ever reported. Whatever the statistics, I suggest you conduct a survey of your female friends so you can be shocked by how many have been victims of this crime. To understand what a riot grrrl is, you should know that in our allegedly free capitalist economy, women are paid seventeen cents an hour less on average for the same work, and of course that's educated white women (unless they work in the arts where they are even more underpaid). The average african american or other ethnic minority woman makes thirty cents or less to the dollar. Outside our borders women work for pennies an hour or day, consistently underpaid. Growing up in a world where all media shows an extremely narrow band of stereotypes they must fit or be ridiculed, 150,000 American women starve themselves to death yearly, so hypnotized are they by a stereotype they feel they can almost achieve. On the CD player Snoop calls them "bitches" and in every high school they are treated as such. Meanwhile, Midol is confiscated as a drug. What a bleak life most young women have to look forward to. Love and children are offered as the saving creed, but domestic abuse is one of the most under-reported and frequent crimes. Riot Grrrl happened in Olympia, Washington as the eighties turned into the nineties. Some students at Evergreen College, all female, mostly white, began applying feminism to the arts. Bands were formed like Bikini Kill, Bratmobile, and Excuse 17. A zine revolution was born as scissors, a glue stick, a typewriter, and a friend at a copy shop or in an office with a xerox machine, were utilized to create mini magazines circulated at first by friends and then all over the world. Poster artists, poets, and every other kind of artist joined together to talk about the truth of their lives in an oppressive and dangerous society. Supposedly, the term Riot Grrrl was born when a young woman pointed out that if any other group of human beings were so viciously treated, and suffered as much violence, and across the board discrimination, there would be riots in the streets. Thus: Riot Grrrl, a girl who lives her life knowing she's in a war, instead of waking up to a day when tragic horror shatters denial. Riot Grrrl became so popular in the next couple years, the media began to report on it as a hot new trend. The leading figures of Riot Grrrl, or at least the most popular, were so completely misquoted, misrepresented, and merchandised that they called for a media black out. The entire movement disappeared. Predictably the media announced that it was a fad that died. But in fact with great discipline it retained its independence. In the summer of 1996 there were nine Riot Grrrl conventions in the U.S., gatherings of hundreds of mostly high school and college girls to hear their bands, to learn self defense in two hour workshops, to share secrets and resources and the inspiration of discovering so many allies. There are Riot Grrrls in Spain now, in Guam, Argentina, and Taiwan. Some places like Washington D.C. have highly active and organized chapters which keep archives. L.A. has a loose confederation of Riot Grrrl sympathizers who meet at certain band's shows, trade e mail from across the country, and white girls are the minority. RG music has evolved in new ways, with Olympia favoring primitive punk or lilting harmonies, often with an ironic midwestern style, while L.A. prefers a more punk/metal flavor. This is, of course, an oversimplification. Riot Grrrl has been marginalized as fashion, it has been dismissed as a dyke dating pool, and ridiculed as the whining of unpopular girls who didn'tget enough attention when they were children, but Riot Grrrl really is the beginning of an evolution, as for the first time in history a great nation's women are beginning to stir and communicate and realize that they have the right and the power to demand and achieve a society of greater equality, with sensitivity to ecology, and respect for individuality.


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