"I'm not a normal girl. I'm an angry, sweaty girl. So bite me." --Maggie Estep, poet, NYC
Before RIOT GRRRL! could fulfill its initial promise as a vital new politico-social current within American youth/rock & roll/counter-culture/feminist scenes (and ultimately within the "larger society") many Grrrls were already disavowing it, declaring the media had distorted the movement's original impetus. Articles like the one which ran in NEWSWEEK a few months back (lamely captioned "Meet the Riot Grrrls -a sassy new breed of feminists for the MTV age"---ughh! retch!) could make even the stoutest-hearted R.G. activist claim her distance. Yet Riot Grrrls! promise of jump-starting American feminism (rescuing it from the elite, eastern liberati and returning it to the grass-roots) remains too great to forsake this budding movement just because of glib distortions by a few out-of-it media hacks...Who cares about corporate pigswill rags like NEWSWEEK anyway?
Historically, Riot Grrrls!' political lineage goes back to the days of anarchist-feminists (and Free Love advocates) like Emma Goldman and Victoria Woodhill and the Suffragette movement of the early 1900's up to the rebirth of feminism in the late 60's with its "wild women" assembledges like Redstockings and Womens International Terrorist Conspiracy from Hell (WITCH) and even the early upstart N.O.W. Interestingly, in terms of "co-opting" the media to forge a powerful new political mythology around which to rally, some elements of Riot Grrrl! recalls YIPPIE! (Youth International Party, founded by Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin and others to fuse the 60's anti-war and student movements with the then-burgeoning "hippie" counter-culture, bring youth into the streets of America en masse to oppose U.S. involvement in Viet Nam, resist racism and sexism, "create the New Society within the shell of the old," etc.) Like Yippie!, Riot Grrrl! is as much a SPIRIT and BATTLE CRY as a grass-roots, populist MOVEMENT.
There's no membership cards for Riot Grrrl! anymore than there was for Yippie! or today for Rock Out Censorship! People join R.O.C. by way of their ACTIVISM: organizing against their own local censorship attempts, organizing local R.O.C. chapters, doing benefits, writing for/selling THE ROC, etc.
Ditto our beautiful, righteous Riot Grrrl! sisters who promote local grrrl gigs, play in bands, do fanzines, support domestic violence shelters, do art shows, organize security squads for women when fascist bully-boys like Operation Rescue come to their towns, do community birth control/sex/AIDS/political education (what sisters called "consciousness-raising" back in the 70's), etc.
In other words: RIOT GRRRL! is as RIOT GRRRLS DO!
In fact, since its founding in 1990, the predominant current in actual R.O.C organizing (local chapters, etc.) has come by way of a young (late teens/early 20's) cadre of women whose "take no crap from paternalistic, would-be censors" stance and Do-It-Yourself attitude can only be described as RIOT GRRRL!, from Elayn Morison who organized the first ROC benefit-ever in Cleveland in 1990 to Angie Beardslee who organized to face-down brown-shirt censors and cops in the streets of Michigan (see ROC #8) to Jane Cain of Texas who interviews 7 Year Bitch in the current ROC. Jane will be talking to the Lunachicks and Texas performance artist Rachel Martin-Hinshaw (who performed with Annie Sprinkle in her recent Texas presentation of her "Post Post Porn Modernist" sow) for ROC #15. The 19-year old Ms. Cain tells us that the notion that Riot Grrrl! is separatist or "anti-male" is a "bad rap" and that a few out-of-context quotes and miscalls (Bratmobile forbidding males at their gigs) shouldn't obscure the movement's exciting promise.
We hope Rock Out Censorship can help fulfill that promise in the months ahead. Stay tuned.