WSTA01H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 32: Riot Grrrl, Punk Fashion, Slut

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Published on 20 Apr 2013
School
UTSC
Department
Women's and Gender Studies
Course
WSTA01H3
Chapter 32: You Can Run but You Can’t Hide: The Incorporation of Riot Grrrl into Mainstream Culture
Riot Grrrl: Revolution, Whose Style?
- generally speaking, riot grrrl (RG) emerged as an American-based movement comprised of young female punks who were fed up with the overwhelming
malesness of punk rock, as well as being feminists who were fed up with sexism in general
- media-savvy grrrls hooked up through self-published fanzines and word-of-mouth
- their lyrics and other writing centred on themes of sexual abuse, oppression, and body image
- they attended and organized conventions and fundraisers around feminist issues
- they took the original punk do-it yourself approach to music-making, encouraging female approach to music-making, encouraging female peers to pick up
instruments and form bands
- riot grrrls were certainly not the first women in punk, nor were they the first feminists to make political music
- but as a group, they were the first to deliberately and explicitly fuse the two realms with such an aggressive, in-your-face style
The Ideological Form (an Example)
the name 'Riot Grrrl' is a deliberate manipulation of signs: the word 'riot' implies protest and aggression; the world 'girl' describes female childhood and is
condescending when used to refer to a grown woman; the transformed word 'grrrl' literally includes a growl that turns the sugar-and-spice connotations of 'girl'
upside-down
for the mass media, an industry that thrives on sound bites and buzz words, 'grrrl' was a commercial dream come true
through decontextualized adoption of this word, the media effectively trivialized its origins and, in so doing, minimized the otherness of RG
after initial reports on RG itself, the popular press used 'grrrl' to refer to any independent, noisy (white) female rock musicians
then it was spread to other genres
The Commodity Forum (an Example)
music and fashion are hard to separate in any case; with RG, as with punk, hip hop, and grunge, the name refers equally to sound and style
many grrrls used their bodies to convey bold statements in two ways: first, through 'punk fashion irony' and the juxtaposition of gendered signs (e.g., '1950s
dresses with combat boots, shaved hair with lipstick, studded belts with platform heels'); and second, through writing politically loaded words such as rape,
'shame', 'prophet', and 'slut' on their arms and midriffs
T-shirts have long been popular public forums for political slogans and advertisements alike
indeed, 'girl power' (or 'girls rule', 'girls rock', and so on) is a message – a catchy slogan, to be exact: the nature of the medium – that girls should wear on their
sleeves, so to speak
Giese argues that the wearers of such T-shirts are political in that they 'are taking a risk by going public with their beliefs and are forcing everyone in sight to deal
with those views'
it is important to remember that RG was deliberately anti-consumer culture; writing on oneself with a marker is not only a political, feminist action (first, in choosing
to 'deface' the feminine body which is ideally a flawless object; second, in drawing attention to issues of women's oppression through the words), but displays the
classic do-it-yourself ethic of punk
Conclusion
comparisons with the more visible major-label 'angry women' may determine whether 'selling out' necessarily requires that women compromise a feminist stance
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