RIOT GRRRL: Feminism to the Masses

When women finally got their voting rights, feminism had just barely scratched the surface. With intersectional feminism rooted among most young women today, this is seemingly the direct result of the Riot Grrrl movement.

Riot Grrrl was a feminist movement that started in the 1990's, first emerging when a group of women in Olympia held a meeting to address sexism in the punk scene. The movement found itself reaching the underground of Washington state, and then spreading across the Pacific Northwest. The movement was brought to life in the wake of “third-wave feminism” - when the definition of feminism was being questioned, boundaries were pushed. Feminists found themselves wondering what they were fighting for, and who they were fighting for. It wasn’t just the single woman herself; I
t was all women. Though Riot Grrrl was and still is often regarded as a movement solely dedicated to white women, mostly in the middle to upper classes, other women of color regard it as the first step towards intersectional feminism.

Riot Grrrl pushed girls to make products themselves: zines, art, music, and more. It pushed girls and women to look towards each other for support, pushing racial, economic, social, and other boundaries aside in order to form a collective voice. Groups like Bikini Kill, Heavens to Betsy, and Bratmobile released raw and untouched music on the subjects of rape, incest, abuse, and eating disorders. These personal lyrics resonated heavily among girls in masses, even though some of the situations depicted were oddly specific - bringing to light the horrifying reality of sexism that still remained present in the 90's. Anti-racist. Anti-sexist. Pro-feminist. “Girl power” was hot and fresh on the market - and the controversy was drawing eyes.

As the movement began to reach the masses, it began to be exploited and appropriated by popular and mainstream powers. In the late 20th century, the Spice Girls took the “girl power” slogan and it spread like wildfire. While some believe this to be the end of Riot Grrrl, others are still looking to groups like Pussy Riot, who still seem to be carrying the torch.

It doesn’t matter if Riot Grrrl died with the appropriation of the movement’s slogans or its ideals. Girls are still angry. Girls are looking to each other for support, pushing each other forward, speaking against a system that continues to violate the rights of women. Riot Grrrl, whether dead or alive, has given a voice to all women, and the torch must either be lit once more, or carried on.

Girls Do It Better Playlist
Keep On Rockin in the Free World - Riot Grrrl
Rebel Girl - Bikini Kill
Doll Parts - Hole
Teenage Girl - Cherry Glazerr
Cherry Bomb - The Runaways
Paper Planes - M.I.A.
Stripper - Sohodolls
(One of Those) Crazy Girls - Paramore
Crazy Beautiful Life - Kesha
Ready or Not (Ft. Esthero) - Mischa “Book” Chillak
Flood on the Floor - Purity Ring
Castle - Halsey
Cracks ft. Belle Humble - Freestylers
Straight Outta Vagina - Pussy Riot
I Eat Boys Like You For Breakfast - Ida Maria
Becky - be your own PET

By Cath Lei


  1. all of this is so dope. i love all of the components: the writing, the graphics, the playlist. so creative and obviously well crafted. in love with this!!!!!!!


  3. RAD. almost like a masterpost of sorts.