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