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Red Chidgey London South Bank University, UK

Happening Here & Now: Activating DIY Citizenship through Cultural Memory

Riot Grrrl started in Washington, DC in the early 1990s as a reaction to misogyny within punk subcultures, the lack of respect young women felt in their everyday lives, and the mediagenerated myth that feminism was dead. Young women decided to selforganise, change their scenes, and address feminist concerns in their lives. The figure of the girl was made central, but resignified as grrrl to make a new statement of a girl/young woman full of creative anger. "For girls to pick up guitars and scream their heads off in a totally oppressive, fucked up, male dominated culture is to seize power. We recognize this as a political act."---Tobi Vail, drummer of Bikini Kill

RG encompassed collective organising, skill shares, speaking out, selfpublishing, and cultural production as a form of political mobilisation. (Alongside conventional grassroots actions such as abortion clinic defence). RG took old-fashioned images of girls and appropriated them with a sense of irony and pleasure. The emphasis was on active not passive girlhood.

Riot Grrrl Manifesto (excerpts) by Kathleen Hanna of Bikini Kill


BECAUSE us girls crave records and books and fanzines that speak to US that WE feel included in and can understand in our own ways. BECAUSE we must take over the means of production in order to create our own meanings. BECAUSE viewing our work as being connected to our girlfriends-politics-real lives is essential if we are gonna figure out how we are doing impacts, reflects, perpetuates, or DISRUPTS the status quo. BECAUSE doing/reading/seeing/hearing cool things that validate and challenge us can help us gain the strength and sense of community that we need in order to figure out how bullshit like racism, able-bodieism, ageism, speciesism, classism, thinism, sexism, anti-semitism and heterosexism figures in our own lives. BECAUSE we are angry at a society that tells us Girl = Dumb, Girl = Bad, Girl = Weak.

Riot grrrl was taken up in the mainstream press, both sympathetically and with hostility. Though often trivialising or exploitative, press coverage helped the network grow internationally and to reach young women outside of major cities.

Scrapbook by Nicole Emmenegger

Riot grrrl was critiqued within the zines of women of colour and working class women for its unrecognised class and race privileges. (e.g. the universalising tendencies behind the slogan: Every girl is a riot grrrl).

Left: A Renegade's Handbook zine (Ciara Xyerra) Above: flyer for Race Riot zine (Mimi Nguyen)

Nina Nijsten, We Are Connected by Words and Wires animation film

Nina Nijsten, We Are Connected by Words and Wires animation film