"We're the girls with the bad reputations" : the rhetoric of Riot Grrrl

WCU Author/Contributor (non-WCU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Brittany Tyson Garrett (Creator)
Western Carolina University (WCU )
Web Site: http://library.wcu.edu/
Beth Huber

Abstract: Throughout the 1980s, President Reagan’s administration waged an undeclared war on feminism by defeating the Equal Rights Amendment and employing both the Department of Education and U.S. Supreme Court as weapons against working and single mothers. Despite the right wing’s successes, feminism survived through radical artists such as Karen Finley and Barbara Kruger. The 1980s were also a decade plagued by youth alienation as MTV entered cultural consciousness and materialistic adolescents immersed in popular culture were distanced from their former hippie parents. On the other end of the spectrum, adolescents that self-identified as outcasts moved further into alternative scenes and raged against oppressive Reagan politics with “hardcore” punk. A scene that has historically championed the underdog and resisted sexism grew aggressive and unwelcoming to many women, inspiring them to create their own safe spaces. Riot Grrrl is an influential and radical feminist movement that began circa 1991 in response to women’s oppression by Reagan politics and absence in the masculine punk scene. Riot Grrrl-associated bands, including Bikini Kill and Bratmobile, and prominent grrrls such as Kathleen Hanna appealed to their young female audience’s needs and emotions with the purpose of persuading them to create their own texts (namely music and zines). Throughout the early 1990s, the mainstream media misrepresented and condescended Riot Grrrl as it saw the young feminist movement as both a threat and potential source of economic gain. Despite the negative portrayals, riot grrrls sought the creation of a positive feminist mythology. Grrrls urged each other to define Riot Grrrl for themselves, to “write the body” in the words of Hélène Cixous. Riot Grrrl adopted punk’s “Do It Yourself” ethos to utilize the theories of Mikhail Bakhtin and Jacques Derrida and become an empowering and heteroglossic movement with the goal of deconstructing patriarchal society.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2011
Bikini Kill, Feminist, Kathleen Hanna, Punk, Radical, Riot Grrrl
Riot grrrl movement

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