Riot grrrl began as a DIY, feminist punk movement in the early 1990s in the Pacific Northwest. Riot grrrl encouraged young women to express themselves in non-hierarchical ways: to accept themselves and each other regardless of difference, to form their own bands, to self-publish their stories and strategies in zines, and to create safe spaces for this expression in the face of misogyny. The movement saw girls as a "revolutionary soul force" with the power to disrupt the status quo—rejecting social constructs of how women were supposed to look and behave and zeroing in on personal and political discussions of sexism, sexuality, sexual violence, female empowerment, racism, ageism, homophobia, fat shaming, and able-ableism. Women of color approached riot grrrl at the intersection of race and gender, and the racism and sexism faced by women of color in the scene was made more dangerous by systemic and structural oppression and violence. White supremacist groups threatened to take over the punk scenes in the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere. Male audience members would yell death threats at riot grrrl bands while they performed. Mia Zapata, lead singer of Mexican American riot grrrl band the Gits, was brutally raped and murdered while walking home from a Seattle bar. Asian American women-fronted bands like Emily's Sassy Lime stood up to sexualized stereotypes and racist representations of Asian women; while hardcore musician Tamar-kali Brown felt that the riot grrrl scene was not representative of Black women and founded alternative movement Sista Grrrl Riot for and by Black women who fronted bands or rocked solo. Despite its blind spots, the Riot Grrrl Movement has become a worldwide vehicle of expression for challenging gender norms and an influence on fourth-wave feminists.
Babes in Toyland Collection, undated
Print of the album art for Fontanelle and lyrics to "Middle Man."
Gayle Wald Riot Grrrl Collection, 1991-1994
Correspondence, flyers, radio show playlists, stickers, zines, and other miscellaneous materials related to the Riot Grrrl Movement in New York City, Chicago, and D.C., specifically the bands Fifth Column and the Lucy Stoners, the WPRB radio show at Princeton "Ladies First," and record label Hide Records and Tapes.
Kill Rock Stars Collection, 1991-2010
Although the label's music has never reflected just a single genre or underground music movement, it is most notable for releasing the work of various riot grrrl bands during the mid-1990s, including Bikini Kill, Sleater-Kinney, Bratmobile, Huggy Bear, Heavens to Betsy, and Excuse 17. Contains press releases, clippings, photographs, tour dates, radio reports, biographical information, artist proofs, and poster art.
Additional Rock Hall materials on Riot Grrrl can be found by searching the catalog for individual artist and band names.
The Fales Library & Special Collection at NYU has the Riot Grrrl Collection, which documents the evolution of the Riot Grrrl Movement through the creation of early riot grrrl zines, music, and activism, particularly in the years between 1989 and 1996.
(from Bikini Kill Zine, No.2, 1991)
BECAUSE us girls crave records and books and fanzines that speak to US that WE feel included in and can understand in our own ways.
BECAUSE we wanna make it easier for girls to see/hear each other's work so that we can share strategies and criticize-applaud each other.
BECAUSE we must take over the means of production in order to create our own meanings.
BECAUSE viewing our work as being connected to our girlfriends-politics-real lives is essential if we are gonna figure out how we are doing impacts, reflects, perpetuates, or DISRUPTS the status quo.
BECAUSE we recognize fantasies of Instant Macho Gun Revolution as impractical lies meant to keep us simply dreaming instead of becoming our dreams AND THUS seek to create revolution in our own lives every single day by envisioning and creating alternatives to the bullshit christian capitalist way of doing things.
BECAUSE we want and need to encourage and be encouraged in the face of all our own insecurities, in the face of beergutboyrock that tells us we can't play our instruments, in the face of "authorities" who say our bands/zines/etc are the worst in the US and
BECAUSE we don't wanna assimilate to someone else's (boy) standards of what is or isn't.
BECAUSE we are unwilling to falter under claims that we are reactionary "reverse sexists" AND NOT THE TRUEPUNKROCKSOUL-CRUSADERS THAT WE KNOW we really are.
BECAUSE we know that life is much more than physical survival and are patently aware that the punk rock "you can do anything" idea is crucial to the coming angry grrrl rock revolution which seeks to save the psychic and cultural lives of girls and women everywhere, according to their own terms, not ours.
BECAUSE we are interested in creating non-heirarchical ways of being AND making music, friends, and scenes based on communication + understanding, instead of competition + good/bad categorizations.
BECAUSE doing/reading/seeing/hearing cool things that validate and challenge us can help us gain the strength and sense of community that we need in order to figure out how bullshit like racism, able-bodieism, ageism, speciesism, classism, thinism, sexism, anti-semitism and heterosexism figures in our own lives.
BECAUSE we see fostering and supporting girl scenes and girl artists of all kinds as integral to this process.
BECAUSE we hate capitalism in all its forms and see our main goal as sharing information and staying alive, instead of making profits of being cool according to traditional standards.
BECAUSE we are angry at a society that tells us Girl = Dumb, Girl = Bad, Girl = Weak.
BECAUSE we are unwilling to let our real and valid anger be diffused and/or turned against us via the internalization of sexism as witnessed in girl/girl jealousism and self defeating girltype behaviors.
BECAUSE I believe with my wholeheartmindbody that girls constitute a revolutionary soul force that can, and will change the world for real.
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