Can We Bring the Riot Grrrl Movement into 2019?

In celebration of International Women's Day, writers at HC Manchester are sharing the stories of the incredible women that inspire them.

Riot Grrrl was a manifesto, a set of ideas from the 1990s from women who wanted to be part of the Punk movement. They wanted to be seen, heard and be equal. And, while we may have diversified away from punk, the messages against sexism, homophobia and racism still hold strong. Riot Grrrl was about more than punk. It was, and still can be, about finding community with other artists – people.

The manifesto created a conversation about standing up for what you believe in and fighting to be whoever and whatever you want to be. While news of Riot Grrrl has been hidden in media, echoes of it can still be heard, such as in women’s marches like Reclaim the Night and other women led acts of activism. The chants of "Women unite. Reclaim the night!" and "Women. United. Will never be defeated" show the power, aggression and necessity of movements like these.

Pioneer of Riot Grrrl, Kathleen Hanna, still promotes the ideals of punk feminism through her music. She is the lead singer-songwriter of Bikini Kill, who are touring this year, has a multimedia company called Le Tigre and performs with the band The Julie Run.

Source: Johnathan Charles

The Riot Grrrl Manifesto was published in Bikini Kill’s 1991 Zine 2. The manifesto shouts about women in art, music and how we fight for equality in life. This manifesto is especially powerful as it is unapologetic. Riot Grrrl gives women the opportunity to be angry without it mattering if it’s considered ugly or unacceptable.

"BECAUSE I believe with my wholeheartmindbody that girls constitute a revolutionary soul force that can, and will change the world for real."

Womxn, girls and everybody who identifies as such have the power to change the world. Even in academia, women are known to have ‘weaker’ language. They use the word ‘like’ more because they are unsure of their own confidence and unsure if their words are allowed. Riot Grrrl allows you to go beyond this. It teaches womxn to be themselves, to trust in their voice and to trust the power that their voice has.

"BECAUSE we are angry at a society that tells us Girl = Dumb, Girl = Bad, Girl = Weak."

Society rules through patriarchy. Womxn are told we’re less than men. In shops, we are princesses whereas boys are superheroes. In reality, we are the same. Girls are strong, boys are strong. This movement fights for equality. It fights for womxn to be treated equally in society.

"BECAUSE we don’t wanna assimilate to someone else’s (boy) standards of what is or isn’t."

Bikini Kill zine where the Riot Grrrl Manifesto was orignally printed. Source: Tigersnaps

Womxn are so much more than society lets us be. Womxn want to live in a world where their own ideals of how to be are accepted and respected. Womxn want to live life without expectations and standards about their bodies, their career choices and however they choose to live their lives. Because, it really is nobody’s business except their own.

Riot Grrrl creates the idea of a community that raises its voice and shouts. A community that creates and nurtures change. To be able to do this, to reach our full potential as people, womxn need equality. While the music of punk and alternative may only be played in the back bedrooms of student houses or bars tucked away in the corners of cities, the Riot Grrrl Manifesto is still as relevant now as it was in 1991.

Read the full Riot Grrrl Manifesto here.