Back to table of Contents

The riot grrrl revolution grew out of a loose network of female rock musicians based in Olympia, Washington and Washington, D.C. Washington, D.C. was established as a leftist punk rock stronghold, while Olympia was the home of Evergreen College (long known for its strong women’s studies programs) and K records, sponsor of the 1991 International Pop Underground convention, referred to as "Ground Zero for Revolution Girl Style." Devoid of any guiding dogma, the movement served a wide range of needs: (1) a conduit for finding sister musicians, (2) a safe space for processing experiences such as rape and abuse, and (3) a forum for responding to society’s conservative backlash through guerrilla art and film projects and shared resources (e.g., community meetings and fanzines like Bikini Kill, Fantastic Magazine, Girl Germs, Jigsaw, and Riot Grrrl).

The underground buzz gradually spread to the mass media; although publications (e.g., Newsweek, USA Today) misinterpreted the its revolutionary leanings, the movement was nurtured by the support of mainstream artists such as Joan Jett and Sonic Youth. By the early 1990s, riot grrrl chapters had sprung up across the U.S. and abroad. Although many members have moved on to other political and social consciousness movements, the core of the movement remains the raw, punk-oriented sound of bands comprised largely of female members, including Bikini Kill, Babes in Toyland, Fifth Column, Huggy Bear, Lunachicks, Sister George, Slant 6, Sleater-Kinney, and Tribe 8. [O’Dair. 1997]