The Climate of the Times

Image1998 cover of Time

Phyllis Chesler’s response to article

“Except for Joan of Arc and Anne Frank, the thoughts of teenage girls have rarely been taken seriously.” –Ann Magnuson. 

When Not Sisters came out, young feminists/queers outside the academy were told by the culture and the media that there was nothing left to fight for; that their “complaints” were ridiculous, indulgent, and to be dealt with privately. Coming of age as a college graduate and a new struggling poet on the scene in 1990s NYC, Maggie Nelson proudly incorporated the diaristic and confessional aspects of that era’s feminism into her work.

The Relevance of Riot Grrrl and Queercore Scenes

Riot grrrl culture is often associated with third wave feminism, which also grew rapidly during the same early nineties timeframe in DC and Olympia and Portland before spreading to other chapters. The riot grrrl movement allowed women their own space to create music and make political statements about the issues they were facing in the punk rock community as well as in society. They used their music and publications to express their views on issues such as matriarchy, double standards, rape, domestic abuse, sexuality and female empowerment.

Like other third wave feminists, riot grrls attempted to foster an acceptance of the diversity of feminist expression. Riot grrrl arose after the queercore movement, although the distinction between the two movements is at times blurred, given bands such as Team Dresch and Fifth Column who embraced both genres. A large part of this third wave feminism can be seen through the use of lyrics, zines and publications, and taking back the meaning of derogatory terms. Many of the women involved with queercore were also interested in riot grrrl and zines such as Chainsaw, Sister Nobody, I (heart) Amy Carter embody both movements.

Riot grrrl’s momentum was hugely supported by an explosion of creativity in defiantly homemade cut-and-paste, handmade, collagey zines that covered a variety of feminist topics. The literary scene was such a key element of the movement that it even dictated what girls wore, dressing as 1960s librarians and sage grandmothers in protest of the male gaze one moment, and creating disruption/confusion by dressing like schoolgirls to reclaim their childhood the next.


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 TRUEPUNKROCKSOULCRUSADERS THAT WE KNOW we really are.

BECAUSE we know that life is much more than physical survival and are patiently 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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