The girl in grrrl

Posted: August 22, 2008 in Past issues

Since the 1st issue is sold out anyway, i decided to publish some of its content eventually here on the blog.

Soooo… here we go:

The „Girl“ in Grrrl

When the Riot Grrrl movement started to develop they had to face a music scene that was sweating fake testosterone. A kind of masculinity that mirrored a stereotype for males that worked (and still works) in a patriarchal society as an equivalent to „strength“, „autonomy“ and „power“. A masculinity that didn’t offer any space for anything that differed from that very core, especially not anything female, as the construct „male-female“ is the ultimate machinery that keeps patriarchy running in every corner of life, even if it’s an alternative scene like punk.
And if you wanna break up a tight knit construct of that sort, it suggests itself that you beat them with their own weapons.
So what is there to do if you wanna stir up a macho scene based on ridiculously old clichés of masculinity? Yeah right, confront them with the very counterpart of that: females. And on top of that, use their own construct of femininity and make them fear it and therefore drive it to be a paradoxon.
Just like a nazi would be forced to question his idiotic little world of fascism if they woke up with dark coloured skin one morning, a patriarchal punkrocker will have to switch on his brain, even if it’s just for wondering, when being confronted with an amount of girlishness in a world or scene that he always experienced as exclusively male.
But of course, the whole thing wasn’t as centered towards males, machism and masculinity as the above lines may seemingly suggest. The grrrls back then fought on two front lines.
On the one side, they started to be themselves. They bravely fought in their inner self in order to get that crucial role system out of their heads that degraded them to „the drummer’s girlfriend“ and the likes. They gathered, discussed, built a new and better self-image, created themselves a new environment, helped each other to learn instruments, encouraged each other, grrrls made the zines for grrrls that were lacking before and had a hell of a lot of fun. They worked on themselves, they did positive things, for themselves.
The other front would’ve been the established beerrockgutscene that had to be invaded in order not to limit themselves to the space they created on their own.
All the limitation they had experienced, combined with the hopeful atmosphere of departure into a grrrl revolution that had been formed in their hearts created a high explosive.
So they threw a – quite female – handgrenade in the middle of a scene that was used to excluding women, gays, transgenders and others that didn’t fit in the established system.
And the handgrenade was provocatively pink.
All the traditional norms and stereotypes for females, like being cute, dollish and vain were thrown back at those who expected women to be that way, just in a very ironic and twisted way so that those who had never questioned the expected behaviour might realize the perverted core of that stereotypical role system.
Someone is frightened cause the grrrl invasion won’t work with his world view? Throw more GIRL at them! Show them pink glittery dresses at a place where  only „male“ black leather is expected. Confront them with girls on stage instead of the infamous girlfriend corner. Let them know you take action when you are expected to play a passive, cute role. Confront and surprise them with their bias by writing „bitch“ on your belly. Use the passive-girlish features they chose for someting that it was not originally meant for: creating something loud, honest and revolutionary. Macho culture thought they had created women in some way and the grrrls were adapting the frankenstein scenario with a winking eye.
The creature WAS alive, but it had always been, not man-made but being a very own person, now fooling around with the imaginary  silly blueprint of the „creator“ in order to show him how ridiculous it is.
So the „girl“ in riot grrrl is way more than just a term for a person that can be considered biologically female. If we bought in to that definition, we’d just be bringing back the old fucking role system which we are planning to break down with Riot Grrrl.
So what does it mean then? It means everyone who is a provocation to the machorockscene just by being who they are: females, crossdressers, homosexuals, intersexuals,… you know, all the „weirdos“ that disturb the idyll of patriarchal punkrock paradise by being there, by not accepting their intended role, by living what and who they are – within the scene, refusing to be marginalized. They are all the girls meant in „Riot Grrrl“, ’cause ain’t those also the ones who are all to often called „girl“ in an intentionally intimidating way by all the idiots?
And the strategy worked well so far. There are so many people being empowered by Riot Grrrl and ist „tactic“. By confronting the scene with all the „girlyness“, they caused quite an uproar.
But are we gonna stop there? Hell no!
Jumping from behind the bush and screaming booh did make a difference but why let the sexists have a pause from this necessary shock?
Throw more „girl“ in their face, go on confronting them with everything they want to exclude, show them that we are still here and that we don’t plan to leave again, that we insist on the silly rules being changed in order to create a truly rocking environment for everyone, not just the few ones that happen to fall in the „right“ category of the supermale punk rawker with all its stereotypical features that come along with it.
By showing presence in an active way we remind them of the above mentioned again and again so that they can’t just ignore it, so that they have to think about this, wether it pleases them or not.
We are all too often still treated like we only „play“ the part of the rockstar/music lover like it was a princess dress up game – but Riot Grrrl was way more than that. It was not just a „phase in the nineties“ when women thought it’s a nice distraction to follow a trend that said „you can be cool, too and scream for a while“. That’s the way it is mostly portrayed, leaving out the fact that the core of Riot Grrrl movement is fighting a deep rooted injustice that still goes on today. So let’s prove the big boys wrong and show them we’re still here and we’re still serious about our goals, not just playing along.
„You play the guitar like a girl“, „you dance like a girl“, „you sing like a girl“, „your music taste is pretty girly“ are still common „insults“ so why not taking the wind out of their sails, calls ourselves girl/grrrl and confront them with real rioting grrrl-behaviour and insisting on how THIS is what it means to be a „girl“ and therefore banning their stupid patriarchally defined idea of what a girl or girlyness is like in the trashcan?
The words „girl“/“girly“ still have a negative connotation in punkrock, it’s still the most powerful provocation and shock effect to machismo in the scene, so let’s continue using it. And it doesn’t matter wether you are a grrrl that isn’t a „biological girl“ or wether you wear pink dresses (or even like them). Because that’s exactly what the term „Riot Grrrl“ is for: including YOU, whatever your personal conflicts with the traditionally use term „girl“ are. So the girl in Riot Grrrl is quite the opposite of the „girl“ definition used by a patriarchal scene of stuck up machorockers since their definition is degrading, excluding and constricting.
If we destroy their idea of „girl“ and replace it with ours, we’ll have gained a lot.
So let’s start that. Let’s begin in our own heads, in our own actions. And then spread it to the world. Cause obviously they need us.

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