Article from #1 “What does Riot Grrrl mean to me?”

Posted: March 25, 2009 in Past issues

This piece was originally in the 1st Wolverette print issue.

What does Riot Grrrl mean to me

So what on Earth does Riot Grrl really mean to me?

I mean, really.

Right now I should be writing a play. A real play that I’m gonna get paid for and everything, it’s a fantastic opportunity for me, but as you can tell, I’m just not writing it.

It’s a fictionalised retelling of the life and death of Kirsten Pfaff. The people who have asked me to create it want it to be more “issue” based around the drug use and abuse of Pfaff in her last days with Hole. Ophelia and The Little Mermaid make an appearance, and then that changes the entire story into something more arty and pretentious, but I have to earn a living.

As you can see, Riot Grrl and the early grunge movement have shaped and influenced my career somewhat. I’m a twenty-something playwright living in the middle of the UK and I’m writing about Riot Grrl, Grunge, Heroin and a city I’ve never been to. Riot Grrl has possibly influenced every waking part of my life in some way, shape or form. It’s influenced the way I look, the modules I chose to take at university, my relationships, the things I read and what I think, and all because some women decided to claim the art of music and make it their own.

Well, the biggest criticism I have from people when I say I’m into Riot Grrl is that it’s ignoring the true equality of feminism. It advocates women emulating the behaviour of men and changes them into second rate men rather than first rate women.

I don’t agree with this at all. It takes some parts of masculinity and some parts of feminity (perhaps not always the best parts but at least its representative) and creates a new gender. Anyone can be a Riot Grrl, Male, female, transsexual, heterosexual, homosexual… anyone can embrace its ethics.

Another criticism that I get is that it’s overrepresented by young, middle class, white females. True. But everything is over represented in some way, shape or form. Firstly, to identify myself as a Riot Grrl simply shifts the balance. I’m not white, I’m not middle class, I’m not too young anymore, but yes, I am female and that’s something I was born with.

I got called in to work on a Ladyfest. Some of the men I know are really put out by this, so much so that they’ve been dubbing it Sexistfest. All the women I know think it’s a good idea. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions on that one.

Anyway, as I was saying, Riot Grrl has influenced me in many ways. The way I dress and the boys I date are possibly the deepest manifestations that outwardly reflect my personality. I’m not a small lady; I’m five foot seven and weigh about twelve stone. I’m half Chinese with dreadlocks down to my waist. Instead of trying to blend into the western concept of beauty and becoming generic, passive and monotonous, I’m more of a…”interesting” dresser! I tend to wear vintage dresses, hippy beads, safety pins, Victorian lace, army boots, stripped tights, fishnets, second hand jewellery, bright green eyeshadow, black nail varnish and plastic flowers. And onto the second point, if I wasn’t influenced by Riot Grrl and feminism I would possibly waver with the guy I’m dating at the moment, and purely because we don’t look like any type of conventional couple! He’s happy to be the “girl” in our relationship. He’s about five foot five, seven stone and has hair like David Hasselhoff, so it puts things into perspective!

Ok, well David Hasselhoff aside, Riot Grrl influences the way I think. It does so via the books I read, the films I watch and the music I listen to and being a “creative” person its part of my job to keep my finger on the pulse regarding what’s going on with the world of art. Therefore Riot Grrl influences the way I think, obviously as far as my profession is concerned. It influences the way I think as far as my personal life goes as well. If it wasn’t for the rise and fall and subsequent rise of such a subculture, I would feel much disassociated with my society and find it difficult to relate my individuality to the rest of the world. It helps me by regularly introducing me to like minded individuals and other forms of expression.

So that’s what Riot Grrl means to me.

I should really get on with my play now!
Written by Sabrina


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