Thursday, May 21, 2009

Me And Riot Grrrl

This article was taken from: Grrrl Love Is Good Love, an old riot grrrl website that was made by Jeannie Gynarchy and the article was last updated on January 5, 1998.

Me And Riot Grrrl

i wrote all of this at one point or another. some of it is from my zine, some is from an essay i wrote about riot grrrl. the first part is kinda choppy because i was writing off the top of my head.

i think that riot grrrl and feminism are similar in the way that a square and a rectangle are related. riot grrrl is feminism like a square is a rectangle, but feminism is not only riot grrrl, just like a rectangle is not only a square. riot grrrl is a type of feminism like a square is a tape of rectangle. that may seem like a silly comparision but that's the best way for me to describe it. i think that riot grrrl is to be taken as it was created, a punk feminist movement. riot grrrl can only exist in the punk scene. once you move it out it becomes invalid to the real world. that's not to say that punk is not part of the real world, it's just a small part of the world. riot grrrl could not have existed at any other time in history except maybe in the 1970's during the first punk revolution. and i think that riot grrrl will die when the punk scene dies. so it's up to us to make sure that never cease to exist. riot grrrl incorporates feminist ideals and uses them to de-gender the punk scene. punk rock is not just for boys anymore. feminism and riot grrrl can become sexist of course... saying man = evil, man = rape etc. the true meaning of riot grrrl is equality. no man is better than a woman and vice versa. riot grrrls may lose sight of that sometimes. another problem i see with riot grrrl is becoming homosexualist for lack of a better word. there is nothing wrong with being straight. there is nothing wrong with being gay. there is nothing wrong with being bisexual. on several occasions i have felt guilty for being bisexual and having a boyfriend. riot grrrl preaches choice and i choose to have a boyfriend and that should be respected, not condemned. along the same lines i feel guilty sometimes for having a child. that i am a breeder. that the revolution has no place for me when i have to take my son along with me. riot grrrl should embrace everyone, not just single, white young girls. too often riot grrrl becomes a single sexed, single raced group.

i think that feminism today speaks more to women in the workforce and not to girls in school or around that age. women who don't work. in that respect i see that riot grrrl is a good way to teach young girls that they aren't dumb, they don't have to be quiet, they don't have to smile and look pretty, that they are important and demand respect. high school and college-aged women have a better chance of reaching younger girls in elementary school and even younger. younger girls need a strong female role model to look up to and i think that women my age make great role models. elementary school girls can relate better to college/high school age women better because there isn't the age gap there is with women past the college years. i think we as a gender and a society can benefit a whole lot by women in their 30s and 40s and beyond but we can also benefit equally from women still in high school and college. each have experiences that can be shared and learned from.

i definitely think that riot grrrl makes feminism much more attractive to younger women. when a girl reads about feminists of the seventies and the radical actions taken, she may be thrown off because there is no way to compete with such direct action. although i believe strongly for direct action, i don't necessarily feel that it's the way to get things done. you have to infiltrate the system from the inside, you aren't going to change much by spraypainting, flyering, etc. riot grrrl definitely opens the door for girls who don't want to risk jail and working in the middle of the nite undercover. zines are an incredible tool for feminists/riot grrrls, if they are distributed properly. you can't change much if you are preaching to the already converted. zines need to get out to people who don't know what's going on in the world. it's very difficult to accomplish that task though. the same goes for music. it's too bad radio stations don't play grrrl rock. that would be a huge way of getting out to people who don't know.

i don't really think there is a difference between feminist and femuhnist. to me femuhnist just seems to have more force behind it, like when you say it out loud. you are taking the feminine out of feminist and putting in power and strength. that's the only reason why i use the word femuhnist instead of feminist.

the lack of any sort of riot grrrl organization or even contacts where i live presents a problem for me, that i can only do so much. i write a girl punk zine, i am in various women's groups, i have webpages on riot grrrl, i am starting a distro for other riot grrrl/feminist zines, etc. but i am still lacking the organization that i want. somehow i want to incorporate all of my projects into one, perhaps in a riot grrrl chapter of my own. i am not sure what other riot grrrrl chapters do at their meetings, but i want to do something that not only benefits myself but also benefits the community. perhaps working at a shelter or a soup kitchen, holding a convention for everyone, not just riot grrrls. i see a lot of problems with conventions these days... why convert the already converted? i want to bring more people into the revolution. i think that is the only way to make a difference.

i consider myself a riot grrrl because riot grrrl was something that spoke to me, it gave me that voice that i spent so many years looking for. i heard a bikini kill record when i was 16 and i said, this is what i have been wanting to say forever, i want to learn more. so i went out and found all i could about riot grrrl (at that time there was very little) and read everything i could by kathleen hanna, bought all the records i could, and learned about as much as my head could manage. riot grrrl just fit perfectly with my already formed ideals, beliefs and morals.

i can relate to getting pissed off at the world, at the patriarchy, at shit that happens to my friends because of their boyfriends. not only the bad things, but the idea of sisterhood, as long as we don't forget that we are all different and we can't overlook our differences. i like the idea of girl love and the system of support i have found within the riot grrrl community as a whole.

i have problems identifying with riot grrl because i think it's more of a young girl's movement, like around 15 or 16, and i still haven't grown out of it since i was that age. i don't like the fashion dilemma of denying femininity and redefining it for ourselves, but still wearing baby doll dresses and acting like little girls. no one is going to treat us seriously if we don't look and act like it. i guess i never really got into the clothing bit, just because i was a punk first and i will always put punk above riot grrrl. i also don't like that motherhood is completely forgotten in the whole revolution bit. it's such a beautiful thing although i wouldn't recommend it to someone as young as most riot grrrls, but i think a lot of grrls can learn a lot from those who have children and have been around for a while. that didn't come out the way i wanted it to, i would just like to see motherhood addressed more often in the riot grrrl community. now that i think about it, i also don't like the idea that every riot grrrl knows all there is to know about the revolution and the meaning of riot grrrl. i never go for defining riot grrrl anyways because to me it's always changing because i am always learning more and more about riot grrl and if i make a definition of riot grrrl, i would automatically exclude a grrl that didn't fit in.

you know what's funny? i was reading my women's studies homework and it was talking about how barbie is bad and i started thinking about how riot grrrls are supposed to be feminists and all but we all idolize girlie icons like barbie and rainbow brite and punky brewster. i thought it was sort of hypocritical. mike reminded me last nite that it was about being a strong female and although riot grrrls wear baby doll dresses and carry strawberry shortcake lunchboxes, we are still strong women. i guess that's what riot grrrl is all about.

someone, whose name shall not be mentioned, asked me how i can bee a riot grrrl and like bands such as rancid, 311, bad religion, green day (yah, i dig old skool green day) etc. i love riot grrrl bands, too. bikini kill, the frumpies, bratmobile, sleater ~ kinney, slant 6, h2b, etc. riot grrrl does not encompass my entire being. riot grrrl is a PART of me. part of the whole. in my mind, i have my grrrl values and beliefs, but there is sooooo much more to me than just a grrrl. and according to some people i'm not even a grrrl because i wear make~up and i prefer skate clothes to anything else. yes, i am a riot grrrl, but i am also a skater, a punk, a nerd, a mother, a snowboarder. each of these things contribute to my beliefs. riot grrrl is a support network for me. i can tell my grrrrlsanything and they will listen, respond, react. i have no fear of being criticized, cut down, patronized, etc. i find more love from my grrrrls than i do in my family and from my other friends. and it is unfortunate that they all live so far away. but i have been sent more hugs, kisses, wipings of tears, over this toy of mine called a computer than i have gotten in an enitre year from anyone else. these grrrrls listen to others problems and then offer their support and understanding.

O+ womyn are a silent majority. over half of the world's population is made up of womyn. white, black, hispanic, poor, wealthy, disabled, straight, gay, bisexual... we are all womyn. embrace womyn and sisterhood and the common bonds between us womyn but do not forget the differences that make each one of us a separate and individual womyn. stand up and fight. riot. riot loudly. riot quietly. just riot. take the tape from your mouth that society put there and fucking riot. don't lie down and let this patriarchal system use you for a doormat. +O

I tried very hard not to sound stuck-up, self-righteous or elitist in this article but I’m afraid it comes across that way... I apologize. I was called a riot grrrl even before I knew what it was. Then one day I found some stuff written by riot grrrls and I was hooked. At the time I bought into the whole riot grrrl image, writing “slut” on my stomach, wearing cute little barrettes and short baby doll dresses and screaming “suck my left one” to every guy that I made contact with. I was everything that I hate in riot grrrl now. I was a man-hater, not a womyn-lover. I was the stereotypical riot grrrl. But then over time my attitudes changed and I changed my hair and my clothes and started spending my time actually reading about riot grrrls. What I learned changed my outlook on many things, life, love, hate, sexuality, almost everything. I no longer looked at riot grrrl as a fashion statement or shock culture. I saw it for what it was meant to be, a punk-feminist movement, pushing for equality for both men and womyn. The term riot grrrl has come to mean something negative, and although many riot grrrls bitch about why everyone hates them, it didn’t come out of nowhere. There are still the “grrrls” that call themselves riot grrrls because they saw it in Sassy magazine or MTV did a special on it. The same goes for the term “straight edge”, but I’ll save my comments on that for a future issue. But a true riot grrrl understands the politics behind the lunchbox and pigtails. There are many bands that are riot grrrl bands, such as Bikini Kill, Bratmobile, Cold Cold Hearts, the Frumpies, and the list goes on. But not every females band is a riot grrrl band. Not every punk womyn is a riot grrrl. Just because a womyn listens to Bikini Kill does not mean she is a riot grrrl, and you do not have to be a riot grrrl to listen to Bikini Kill. I absolutely hate when people call my best friend a riot grrrl. Although she and I are alike in many ways, she feels that the term “riot grrrl” is offensive and does not want to be called a riot grrrl. I, on the other hand, am proud to be a riot grrrl and don’t mind being called one. Riot grrrl is not a club. You do not have to send $20 to the riot grrrl headquarters to get your membership card and free T-shirt. You don’t have to wear your hair in barrettes and have on a cute little frilly dress. You don’t have to know all there is to know about Kathleen Hanna. Riot grrrl is not something that is right for everyone. But it’s right for me and that’s all that matters. Next issue I am going to try and do the history of riot grrrl and provide info. about grrrls.

that's all i have for now. when i write more or i find more of my stuff i will post it. thanks for listening to me.