Annie Lennox is Back And She Has Put a Spell On Me!

I can’t even get over this performance by Hozier and Annie Lennox at the Grammy’s. (A little late I know.) However, this is by far one of my favourite Nina Simone songs, and I think Annie nails it out of the park!!! (I know not Riot Grrrl themed, however Annie was a powerhouse of a woman vocalist in her day)

Hozier & Annie Lennox – Take Me to Church / I Put a Spell on You (Medley) (Live GRAMMYs 2015)

Her part starts at 2:48.

Check it out and see what you think! I’m addicted! Annie is back and she sounds amazing! I hope she starts releasing new music again because there is something about the rawness in her voice that gets my heart going. Enjoy!

-Grrrl2

From Zines to Tweets, Feminism is Alive and Inspiring a New Wave

In its early days, the Riot Grrrl genre found empowerment through female punk music, art, written word and political activism with the rise of the third wave of feminism in the 80s and 90s. At the time, it addressed mostly youth and the issues of sexuality, gender oppression, and the like. As we have mentioned in our previous posts, much of Riot Grrrl culture came out of zines, overt self expression through tattoos, writing the word “slut” or “bitch” on ones stomach like Kathleen Hanna and creating zines to address the issues these women and Riot Grrrls faced. Now the internet has become a place where social activism online on social media platforms like blogging, and facebook groups is inspiring a new wave of Riot Grrrls to act!

With self-published zines, body art, tattoos and piercings, do-it-yourself punk styled clothing became markers of 1990s Riot Grrrl era. Zines became the common means in which Riot Grrrls could communicate. This art form and expression became a necessary part of keeping the community and culture together in collective activism. It was not so much the music that was shared (however, the music was important) but in fact, it was the political activism from artists and fans alike that Riot Grrrl culture emerged.

As the internet developed in the early 2000s, Feminist online culture became a new form of collectivity and textual practice through websites and blogs. Blogs were created and bloggers began to write about the issues that concerned themselves and others creating a supportive place for readers to join in the collectivity to give themselves and others agency.

With the recent resurgence of new modern zines, groups on Facebook and Twitter, as well as blogs like Tumblr have catered to communication among women and marginalized groups to create a place of resistance and construct a collective voice. In Michelle Comstocks article “Girl Zine Networks: Recomposing Spaces of Authority, Gender and Culture,” although written in 2001, does bring up an interesting idea of the new creation of culture online. She states,

“Internet authorship, more than mainstream print authorship, seems amenable to the DIY ethic of the print zine movement…this kind of writing can constitute a significant form of cultural production and resistance in a moment when social and economic power is inextricably related to the knowledge and use of communication technologies” (Comstock, 402).

Feminist online culture has made its mark among online users well versed in the technology and with Sleater Kinney’s return to the music scene, Riot Grrrl like activism is not dead yet. One word Feminism.

Search “Riot Grrrl” on Tumblr and you will get a variety of blogs and posts specifically about feminism. Girls are creating a place where they can be creative as well as “talk back” to their pain or oppression online. In a recent article from The Salon called From Riot Grrrls to “Girls”: Tina Fey, Kathleen Hanna, Lena Dunham and the Birth of an Inspiring New Feminism, they state, “This new technology allowed for previously unimagined speed and reach in disseminating feminist ideas. The emergence of a vibrant feminist online culture — including widely read feminist blogs…enabled feminists around the globe to respond immediately to each other’s ideas and to create virtual communities that provided friendship and political allies.”

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Screen Shot by Grrrl2

The internet has allowed for the connectivity at a greater scale than before. Famous musicians have joined the collective through their own performances to create a place in which marginalized groups can talk online. Social media has become a soundboard for issues among women and marginalized groups; for example, a group of women from Alberta University has come together to combat harassment on apps like Tinder. The dreaded Tinder.

 Although these girls are not overly “Riot Grrrl” in appearance, they are still coming together collectively the way in which the previous zines and Riot Grrrls have done before them. This inter-connectivity has helped girls from all around the country talk about their problems of harassment on sites and apps like Tinder. (The comment at the end of the article made me laugh and snort, I was not surprised with the response.)

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Screen Shot by Grrrl2

As we can see, there is still a presence of Riot Grrrl attitude and culture in the form of online feminism through blogging, YouTube and social media groups. By creating a collective voice online, users online are utilizing the medium by posting new content like zines, blog posts, or YouTube videos about things they are passionate about as authors of their own movement. Although the Riot Grrrl genre has unfortunately dissipated and the media landscape format has changed, feminism and Riot Grrrl activism is still pervasive online on blogs, social media platforms like Facebook and YouTube videos. “New age” Riot Grrrls (I’m dubbing us that) have reclaimed themselves and their voice on a new platform, which has given them more agency and a place to escape from the rigidity and confines of gender by empowering themselves in their own online social media platforms. Riot Grrrl has a new face, and a new set of tools but the principle is the same! Go out there, step on some online toes, and meet some new friends online!

-Grrrl2

Works Cited

Cobble, Dorothy Sue. “From Riot Grrrls to “Girls”: Tina Fey, Kathleen Hanna, Lena Dunham and the Birth of an Inspiring New Feminism.” Salon.com RSS. 31 Aug. 2014. Web. 05 Apr. 2015.

Comstock, Michelle. “Grrrl Zine Networks: Re-Composing Spaces of Authority, Gender, and Culture.” JSTOR. Spring 2001. Web. 04 Apr. 2015.

Sarkonak, Jamie. “Tindergrrrls Takes a Swipe at Online Harassment – The Gateway.” The Gateway. N.p., 24 Mar. 2015. Web. 06 Apr. 2015. <http://thegatewayonline.ca/2015/03/tindergrrrls-takes-a-swipe-at-online-harassment/&gt;.

Unknown. “Latinas Are Leading The Riot Grrrl Revival.” Vocativ. Web. 06 Apr. 2015. <http://www.vocativ.com/culture/society/riot-grrrl-facebook/&gt;

Follow Me Down…The Female Voices of Empowerment

I was listening to 102.1 The Edge in the car and this song came on, and I was floored! At first, I thought the singer was male with just a higher voice but as I listened further it was Taylor Momsen and the band The Pretty Reckless.

WHAT?! RIGHT?! Hearing a powerful female belt out some great lyrics with a savoury guitar lick behind her voice, can I get an amen? I love the blues guitar palm muted chords at the chorus, double kick and the gritty guitar introduction, with dissonant vocals. All a good rock mix. (I know not Riot Grrrl genre, but powerful women can’t be denied.)

Follow Me Down- The Pretty Reckless

After I listened to that song, I thought about another female singer with power, Bif Naked. Sound familiar? Totally, late 90s early 2000s I grew up with this song as one of my female anthems in high school. And it is still just as powerful as it first was.

“I Love Myself Today”-Bif Naked

Boy, do I miss her! I love her punk rock tattoos, Riot Grrrl attitude, and screechy vocals in the chorus. SO good! This brought back so many memories. But you can see that females are all over every kind of genre influencing each other and to top it all off BIF IS CANADIAN! And everybody said AMEN! Both these women can rock out, and I’m happy to see front women Taylor Momsen sing powerfully in this day in age especially in the rock genre.

-Grrrl2
Over and out.

Wanna Do More Reading? Here’s Some Powerful Women for Ya!

I’ve been doing some research and have found some interesting articles and blogs to read. So, if you’re interested in doing more research on the Riot Grrrl genre and strong women performers, here are some links to guide you:

Kate Nash’s Girl Gang: the online community for today’s riot grrrls
This article written by Kate Nash, talks about how Tumblr and the internet have become “the teenage girls bedroom wall,” a place to express yourself. I think it’s interesting to see the impact of the internet and how it has become a new soundboard facilitating a more pro feminist scene.

She states, “We’ve realised the power of the internet, and the strength in working together.”

Latinas Are Leading The Riot Grrrl Revival
This article talks about how the Riot Grrrl movement and how Latina women have embraced and utilized the Internets connection through their use of Facebook groups to create a new Riot Grrrl revival and as a place to create a collective community. Pretty cool!!!

Why Alanis still matters
I’m a huge fan of Alanis, and seeing her inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame was a proud moment. This article talks about how Alanis’ music has truly stood the test of time. The article states, “The reason it’s important to recognize Morissette in 2015 is that, 20 years on, we can fully appreciate Jagged Little Pill’s legacy. Its wildly successful blend of Riot Grrrl feminism and pop hooks announced to the music industry—in that distinctive husky screech—that there was a mass market for female singer-songwriters.Jagged Little Pill, is one of my favourite albums so finally seeing her inducted was an important moment for the rest of those she influenced and continues to influence. “Morissette is widely credited for helping to open the floodgates, ushering in a generation of mainstream female artists who sang about love very differently from Mariah Carey and Céline Dion. She paved the way for Fiona Apple, Nelly Furtado, Avril Lavigne and Pink, many of whom cite her as a direct influence.” Amen to that. Check it out.

And if you’re not familiar with her, you should definitely check out her recent performance at the Hamilton Junos.

Alanis Morissette “Uninvited”, “You Oughta Know” & “Thank You” – Live at The 2015 JUNO Awards

ENJOY!!!!

-Grrrl2

Print Wars: Riot Grrrl vs. The World

A puzzling dichotomy exists between the reception and treatment of Riot Grrrl subculture during the early 90’s and its representation in present day texts (both mass mediated and academic). While Riot Grrrl was never able to make its mark on the charts, mainstream radio or television, its short history was in no way void of media attention. In Riot Grrrl’s early life, the highly oppositional nature of the genre catalyzed numerous clashes with the media, namely with print journalists. Riot Grrrl’s heyday was riddled with media-induced moral panic; within the context of Western music scenes, this concept calls for increased regulation of the perceived ‘threat’ to society (Shuker, 203). As a consequence, grrrls turned to DIY media creation of their own in the form of zines and self-produced music in order to counter the negative publicity. In fact, the large majority of grrrls avoided media relations altogether – which unfortunately led to an even larger number of misinformed and offensive stories being published (Schilt, 9). Even contemporary academics had very little insight into Riot Grrrl ontology, making it a highly inaccessible subculture. Knowing they were considered cultural curiosities, Riot Grrrls made considerable efforts to control the interests of the media and academics (Marrion, 252). This, coupled with their far Left, radical feminist political agenda made Riot Grrrl the perfect target for demonization by the media – and perhaps was part of what led to the recession and political dilution of the genre.

 “They do things like scrawl SLUT and RAPE across their torsos before gigs, produce fanzines with names like Girl Germs and hate the media’s guts. They’re called Riot Grrrls, and they’ve come for your daughters” – Kim France (Excerpt from an article in Schilt, 8)

The Popular Music Press vs. Zines

As the above quote indicates, Riot Grrrl’s presence in the mainstream media was predominately unfavorable. Those who offered critiques of the genre made very little effort to delve into why Riot Grrrls employed certain tactics and how these tactics complemented their political/social goals such as community building (and in the case of the above quote, addressing taboo issues such as sexual abuse and incest) (Schilt, 8-9). In another case, a story was run about Bikini Kill that included a picture of frontwoman Kathleen Hanna on the beach in a bikini. Articles such as this played a large part in discrediting and infantilizing Riot Grrrl’s feminism – how can she claim to be a feminist in a band called Bikini Kill when she wears bikinis? The act of trivializing a threatening cultural ‘Other’ is not a new concept; the media – seeking a more genial and non-threatening message in pop culture – attempted to devalue the work of Riot Grrrls in numerous ways, from their clothes to framing their young age as a built-in political disadvantage (Marrion, 242-243). Prolific music publication NME even went as far as to insist that, “the only thing people involved in the movement were ‘rioting’ against was boredom” (Davies, 310). Conversely, male musicians with strong political agendas are praised by the same media that treat these women’s issues as petty.

Though women in rock music have always been treated as anomalies, Riot Grrrl had its fair share of misunderstandings within the academic feminist community as well. Sara Manning wrote in MM:

The best thing that any Riot Grrrl could do is to go away and do some reading, and I don’t mean a grubby little fanzine. When the topic of French feminist theory was raised in one of the discussions, there were blank looks and hostile reactions. Read Kristeva, Cixous, Irigaray. Read Freud’s essays on sexuality and then come back with a reasoned understanding of who the enemy may or may not be . . . For now you can be a Riot Grrrl or you can be a feminist; you can’t be both. (MM, 29 January 1994) (In Davies, 310).

The feminism of these critics (and the media) was a concept defined based on particular socioeconomic circumstances and was constantly at war with the politics and behaviours of female youth and their new “Third Wave” ideals. The perceived extremity and naivette of Riot Grrrl politics presented a threat to social order and thus was smothered.

Besides forming a tight-knit community, Riot Grrrl countered this antagonism in numerous ways, particularly by refusing to place any labels on themselves, their feminism, or their music. Marrion describes it as a “romance with contradiction” (251) – because each woman’s experience is different, each offers a contradictory narrative that rejects the notion of a perfectly structured ideology.

We are not in anyway “leaders of” or authorities on the “Riot Girl” movement. In fact, as individuals we have each had different experiences with, feelings on, opinions of and varying degrees of involvement with “Riot Girl” and tho we totally respect those who still feel that label is important and meaningful to them, we have never used that term to describe ourselves AS A BAND. As, [sic] individuals we respect and utilize and subscribe to a variety of different aesthetics, strategies and beliefs, both political and punk-wise, some of which are probably considered “riot girl.”

– Tobi Vail on Bikini Kill’s authority to define and represent all Riot Grrrls (Garrison, 154)

By engaging in cheeky rejections of a culture that thrives on labels and binaries, Riot Grrrls were able (to an extent) to resist mass commodification and carve out a particular niche for themselves within their prevailing social circumstances. Even Kathleen Hanna has admitted to subversive media manipulation techniques: in Riot Grrrl’s early years, she told a journalist from L.A. Weekly that Riot Grrrl chapters existed throughout the country (plot twist: they didn’t). However, this lie aided in the quick uptake of the movement throughout the USA (Garrison, 155). Though the relationship between these women and the media was rocky at best, there is no doubt that the print media did play a small part in exposing/spreading the movement – though this was almost exclusively an attempt to commoditize and sell a particular image of the ‘Riot Grrrl’ (Garrison, 153).

The impossibility of successful communication with and through the media resulted in the aforementioned Riot Grrrl media blackout, but more importantly, grrrls turned to grassroots media production techniques in order to spread their messages and maintain dialogue within the community. Oppositional technologies in the fields of music and print gave grrrls the opportunity to weave political resistance into creative practices. Zine production was the backbone of Riot Grrrl culture and was massively popular among participants. In fact, when teen magazine Sassy published the addresses of multiple Riot Grrrl zines in one of their issues, the zine producers were forced to halt production in the face of the tidal wave of mail they received (Schilt, 7). Not only did zines validate young female’s experiences, they were vehicles for sharing personal narratives and establishing ties within a community that was not bound geographically.

 “Riot Grrrl is about not being the girlfriend of the band and not being the daughter of the feminist. We’re tired of being written out of history, out of the ‘scene,’ out of our bodies…. For this reason we have created our zine and scene” (Comstock, 385)

Outside the bureaucratic, male dominated spheres of the media and academia, grrrls claimed the title of ‘author’, freeing themselves from the hierarchical structures of the everyday. Zines were utilized as a medium of expression for marginalized individuals even before Riot Grrrl’s emergence, however no movement has been so heavily influenced by their use; Riot Grrrl music is even framed in terms of zinemaking, or as one grrrl explained, “a band is a musical zine” (Rosenberg & Garofalo, 823). This highlights importance of self-expression, personal narratives and authorship within the genre.

The intersection between Riot Grrrl’s musical and written expression demonstrates the extent to which intertextuality defines Riot Grrrl as a genre. In fact, one of the primary difficulties we have encountered has been establishing the relationship between the musical aspects of the genre and those related to activism, art, and literature. As we soon discovered, none of these could exist on their own within the context of Riot Grrrl as both a genre and movement. The politics cannot be separated from the music, the zinemaking was a necessary part of binding the community together, the art was an integral part of the activism, and so on. Consequently, when approaching the effects/interactions of this genre with various media, one may assert that their relationship is highly convoluted. This is true, however the highly incendiary, counter-cultural nature of Riot Grrrl makes it necessarily so. Their message was not tame and elegant and neither were their methods.

Romanticism in the Digital Age

Today, Riot Grrrl’s public reception is quite different; this blog is testament to that fact. I would go as far as to say it has reached a point of idealization; documentaries such as ‘don’t need you’ and ‘The Punk Singer’ have been made to commemorate these female rockstars and their political efforts, their styles have been appropriated by modern women (see our earlier post about fashion and social media), and the genre has been dissected and extolled in academia countless times for its ideological potency and political messages. Even the popular music press who so adamantly opposed the movement have changed their tune and have begun to approach Riot Grrrl (albeit 21st Century Riot Grrrl) with newfound enthusiasm:

http://www.nme.com/blogs/nme-blogs/kate-nash-why-pop-and-riot-grrrl-should-be-allowed-to-mix

But what has so drastically changed Riot Grrrl’s presentation in the mainstream media?

Arguably the romanticism we see today stems from early appropriations of Riot Grrrl in the 90’s. More genteel figures such as Alanis Morissette and Gwen Stefani championed the ‘girl power’ movement, however their feminism is watered down and highly depoliticized, making their existence much more ‘media friendly’.

Stefani’s ‘Just A Girl’, a 90’s girl-power anthem

Girl power, outside the context of Riot Grrrl’s angry, in-your-face feminism, is quite popular with the media: it can be presented as both progressive and non-threatening to the status quo. Groups such as Sleater-Kinney and Le Tigre – remnants of early 90s Riot Grrrl groups – are far more demure and tame in their actions and dress, and thus also maintain a respected status in media publications. However, Riot Grrrl has still not made its mark on the radio or Top 40 charts. Even today, a more heteronormative feminism prevails in the popular music industry (e.g. Beyonce, Taylor Swift).

Though they never broke into the mainstream, topped the charts or lavished in extensive radio airtime, by no means did Riot Grrrls fail to make their mark. In sticking to technologies that best suited their countercultural purposes (zines, DIY music production, etc) grrrls developed and maintained an aesthetic and philosophy that still remains practical today. Perhaps this is why in the absence of its initial moral panic, it still resounds so powerfully with young feminists and academics alike.

Works Cited

Comstock, Michelle. “Grrrl Zine Networks: Re-Composing Spaces of Authority, Gender, and Culture”. JAC 21.2 (2001): 383-409. Web. 20 March. 2015.

Davies, Helen. “All Rock and Roll Is Homosocial: The Representation of Women in the British Rock Music Press”. Popular Music 20.1 (2001): 301-319. Web. 20 March. 2015.

Garrison, Ednie Kaeh. “U.S. Feminism-Grrrl Style! Youth (Sub)Cultures and the Technologics of the Third Wave”. Feminist Studies. 26.1 (2000): 141-170. Web. 20 March. 2015.

Marrion, Leonard. “Rebel Girl, You Are the Queen of My World: Feminism, ‘subculture’ and grrrl power.” Sexing the Groove: Popular Music and Gender. Ed. Sheila Whiteley. London: Routledge, 1997. 230-256. Print.

Rosenberg, J. & Garofalo, G. “Riot Grrrl: Revolutions From Within.” Signs 23.3 (1998): 809-841. Web. 28 Jan. 2015.

Schilt, Kirsten. ““A Little Too Ironic”: The Appropriation and Packaging of Riot Grrrl Politics by Mainstream Female Musicians”. Popular Music and Society. 26.1 (2003): 5-16. Web. 20 March. 2015.

Shuker, Roy. Understanding popular music culture. 4th ed. New York: Routledge, 2013. Print.

Depoliticized Punk

A few days ago, the punk3jj3 blog addressed the issue of the genre’s ‘death’ at the Junos, approaching the issue with a refreshingly novel tone. Instead of mourning the genre’s new hybridity and dilution, the blog looked at how other genre’s have adopted parts of punk DIY culture in their aesthetic expression, paying tribute to the longevity of the genre’s influence. While this does not necessarily indicate the revival of “authentic” punk culture, it provides insight into the ongoing evolutionary process being undergone in the music industry.

03-lightsJuno nominee Lights, though punk3jj3 notes that her makeup, hair and tattoos harken back to a punk-esque aesthetic, plays music and maintains a media image that is non-threatening and highly attractive to common viewers. I would opine that the traditionally countercultural aspects of punk (and Riot Grrrl) – tattoos, grungey clothing, jagged, unkempt hair – are no longer subversive and thus cannot be associated with the genre except in retrospect.

Riot Grrrl’s lasting influence on female fashion and music is evident within the present day music industry; from haircuts to attitudes to outfits, the ‘angry women in rock’ aesthetic is prevalent. Though these attributes cannot solely be traced back to Riot Grrrl roots, it is fascinating to observe how female punk subculture is appropriated and toned-down for mainstream audiences. These characteristics exist almost entirely apart from the political agendas that were so central to Riot Grrrl culture. Authentic ‘angry women in rock’ culture cannot exist apart from its ideological functions and social circumstances, however once musicians adopt subversive political messages, their entire existence becomes problematic and they risk their media popularity. The result, of course, is what we’ve seen at the Junos; rockstars appropriate countercultural symbols to suit a specific image whilst avoiding the political connotations that were originally attached to these symbols.

A New Wave, Bob’s Burgers, and Carrie B in Cartoon

Sleater-Kinney – A New Wave [OFFICIAL VIDEO]

I’m over the moon to see Sleater Kinney back on the music scene. This music video is great on so many levels. While I’ve been pulling out my hair over finishing this semester’s final assignments, this whole album “No Cities to Love” has been on repeat on my iTunes. Let my inner riotgrrrl feminist flag fly. The song is catchy, fun, and full of so much energy. I love the grit in Carrie’s voice, it is refreshing to hear new Sleater Kinney on my iPod.

Also, I don’t mind seeing Carrie Brownstein turned into a Bob’s Burgers cartoon as Tina and her siblings jump and dance to the beat. Yep, yep. I approve.

-grrrl2