History of “GRRRL”

The term “GRRRL” originated in the early 1990s in The Riot Grrrl Movement originating in Washington State. When we were visioning for a name for our program in 2004, we kept coming back to the concepts so well articulated in the Riot GRRRL Manifesto: finding our voice through writing, creating our own scripts from the content of our lives rather than relying on the voices of others, seeing all of us grrrls as interconnected collaborators not competition, destroying the myth of the limitations associated with being a “g-i-r-l.”

And so, we adopted the “extra Rs” to tip our hat in gratitude to the Riot Grrrl Movement and to signify that we were not going to be acting like g-i-r-l-s. The term “grrrl” allows each individual participant to determine what she wants it to mean in her life at this moment. All those definitions end up being about empowered, wholehearted living.

Here’s more background on the Riot Grrrl Movement:

“The emergence of the Riot Grrrl movement began in the early 1990s, when a group of women in Olympia, Washington, held a meeting to discuss how to address sexism in the punk scene. The women decided they wanted to start a “girl riot” against a society they felt offered no validation of women’s experiences. And thus the Riot Grrrl movement was born. The Riot Grrrl movement believed in girls actively engaging in cultural production, creating their own music and fanzines rather than following existing materials. The bands associated with Riot Grrrl used their music to express feminist and anti-racist viewpoints. Bikini Kill, Bratmobile, and Heavens to Betsy created songs with extremely personal lyrics that dealt with topics such as rape, incest and eating disorders.”

— Stevie Feliciano in  http://www.nypl.org/blog/2013/06/19/riot-grrrl-movement

“Broadly speaking Riot Grrrl was about the female voice. It was about music – being in bands, not watching them or being groupies – but it was also about finding a voice through writing, via fanzines; and it was about a political voice: anger about society’s treatment of women, with domestic abuse, rape, sexuality, the need for safer streets, abortion rights and equal pay among the issues.”

— Laura Barton in http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2009/mar/04/grrrl-power-music


Below is the Riot Grrrl Manifesto as it was originally published 1991 in the BIKINI KILL ZINE 2. (head’s up: strong language)

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 moanings.


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 TRUEPUNKROCKSOULCRUSADERS 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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