The world around us seems to be falling apart. We’re in the middle of a global pandemic, people are marching in the streets, global warming is only getting worse, and the youth has had enough. A revolution is starting and it’s backed by Gen Z. They’re looking back to those powerful voices of generations past to find inspiration, and many have found the 1990’s Riot Grrrl scene.
Empowered women, smashing the patriarchy with their aggressive music. As teenagers find hope in the message of their music, they also find comfort in their style, clothing, and makeup choices. The freedom to express, to create, go hand in hand with the core values of being a Riot Grrrl. With the recent resurgence of this subculture, understanding Riot Grrl’s past can help those looking to join in the fun, because trust me, it’s amazing.
Riot Grrrls came to be as a middle finger to the male dominated punk and grunge scene of the 1990s. Women were tired of being pushed aside in the rock world. While amazing women in rock did exist, like Joan Jett and Annie Lennox, young women wanted something angrier. Something to fuel the rage they felt, the anger they felt towards the world. And Riot Grrrls were ready to fill that hole.
One of the most well-known Riot Grrrl bands is Bikini Kill. Fronted by singer/songwriter Kathleen Hanna, Bikini Kill is often credited with starting the Riot Grrrl Movement. From Olympia, Washington, the band used their music to share their hardcore feminist beliefs. In their early days of playing together, Hanna would dive into the crowd to kick rude men out of their shows. One early supporter of Bikini Kill and the Riot Grrrl movement as a whole was Kurt Cobain, frontman of iconic grunge band Nirvana. With the support of one the biggest men in rock, Bikini Kill took over the world. After releasing 2 studio albums, the band broke up and Kathleen Hanna would go on to form another iconic Riot Grrrl band, Le Tigre.
Riot Grrrls like to play with the aspects of gender, mixing feminine and masculine to create beauty. This duality can be represented through their clothing, often mixing traditionally feminine fashion with male clothing and styles. It’s this freedom that draws people into the Riot Grrrl movement. There are no rules to be a Riot Grrrl, just a core message of female empowerment and using that to create something beautiful. Conformity shouldn’t be what we strive for; Riot Grrrls say to focus on your individuality and use that to change the world.
It makes sense that there is a revival of Riot Grrrl culture. As the world continues to fight the same fights from years ago, it only seems right that teenagers are looking to the past to see who came before. Classic bands like Bikini Kill, Le Tigre, and X-Ray Spex are influencing new girl fronted rock groups. Some great current Riot Grrrl bands to check out are Deap Vally, Bratmobile, and The Oozes. These new bands show that Riot Grrrls are back, and they aren’t going to be quiet about it. The Riot Grrrls are coming back to express themselves, and they aren’t going away anytime soon.