Looking Back at the 90s Movement of Riot Grrrl

This past weekend I went ahead and watched Netflix’s new film Moxie, which displayed a modernised version of feminist culture in the 90s scene of riot grrrl. The film revived the riot grrrl movement by depicting it in the modern day and had a killer soundtrack of some of the most significant songs from the scene. After watching, I wanted to dive deeper into the movement and re-listen to some of the tracks that I had already known and loved. 

The Riot Grrrl scene was an underground feminist music movement that began in the early 90s in Olympia, Washington. The movie depicted the use of magazines or “zines,” which was a significant part of the riot grrrl scene where people were able to form connections with others by expressing their activism into these DIY culture pieces. Because punk had been a male-dominated and sexist music scene, this new subculture of punk allowed women to unite and create their own movement with their unique style that went against the traditional punk scene. They would gather together by organizing meetings in which they would talk about issues and create these zines. Looking back at this movement, I would have loved to have been a part of this scene and join in on this empowering and badass community. 

woman holding black framed mirror Photo by Kelly Sikkema from Unsplash One of the most popular and widely known riot grrrl bands that began in the early 90s is Bikini Kill, who was led by frontwoman Kathleen Hanna. Bikini Kill adapted their name after Hanna created a zine that expressed her voice and opinion on the punk scene. After this, the band established their name and they created their most notable song today, “Rebel Girl,” which has powerful lyrics such as “When she talks, I hear the revolution.”

Bands like Bikini Kill, Bratmobile and many others addressed topics such as women empowerment, rape culture, sexuality, and the patriarchy all within their lyrics. Their concerts and gigs would serve as a safe space for women that allowed them to feel validated and heard. 

I found that this informational video did a great job at explaining how riot grrrl came to be and how transformative it was: 

I was able to come across an amazing playlist on Spotify that included a lot of the riot grrrl bands that I listen to myself, as well as bands that I had not heard of before. With this playlist, you’ll be able to hear the original, essential sounds of the riot grrrl scene of the 90s and additionally newer bands that are reviving the scene today. Check it out here