Posted by: *carrie* | October 28, 2010

Getting Girls Back to the Front

It seems Riot Grrrl is experiencing not exactly a revival, but quite a bit of renewed interest recently. At least my personal tumblr feed is filled with homages to Riot Grrrl, photos, songs, videos, and even books about the movement/genre daily.


Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution


I was just young enough, and not quite exposed to underground music enough, that I mostly missed Riot Grrrl. I listened to ‘alternative’ rock and grunge and some more accessible punk. But I was just one kid in the country without so much as a local record store. Also I was a band geek and spent a good deal of time listening to classical and jazz music.

It was really only in the past few years that I even knowingly heard any Riot Grrrl bands like Bikini Kill or Bratmobile (I’d heard Sleater-Kinney, but didn’t associate them with Riot Grrrl). I loved the music instantly. I was oblivious to things like chapters or actual activism taking place in the early-mid 90s in the name of Riot Grrrl.

Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution isn’t the first book I’ve read about women and music in the 90s. There was also Girl Power: The Nineties Revolution in Music and Riot Grrrl: Revolution Girl Style Now! (which I’m still reading).

Despite never actually identifying as a Riot Grrrl, there are some things that sound familiar – stories of the political landscape at the time, my beloved Doc Martens (I still wear docs and love them), baby barrettes – that make me a bit nostalgic anyways.

There is a sadness in reading about Riot Grrrl fading away. As with anything by and for youth – the founders get older and have to and want to do other things. As with anything so idealistic, reality can never fully match up with it. Reading about Riot Grrrl makes it sound like there was a window of time, 3 or 4 years open at best, where there was nothing better than being a girl in a band with a zine.

It’s not just nostalgia I’m waxing. I long to see young women regain some of this fire and power. Not just the handful of radical people I know, but a wide swath of people across the country who stand up and give the finger to anything oppressive.

I’m sure some of the 90s nostalgia is just Gen Xers growing up. I also think the specific nostalgia for Riot Grrrl, by actual Riot Grrrls of the 90s and teenagers today, is fed by some of the same politic. The same feeling that suddenly society is trying to control everything about you as a girl and woman, and these same girls and women wanting to give the finger to their oppressors.

Riot Grrrl: Revolution Girl Style Now!

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