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Writing a Riot

Riot Grrrl Zines and Feminist Rhetorics


Rebekah J. Buchanan

Riot grrrls, punk feminists best known for their girl power activism and message, used punk ideologies and the literacy practice of zine-ing to create radical feminist sites of resistance. In what ways did zines document feminism and activism of the 1990s? How did riot grrrls use punk ideologies to participate in DIY sites?

In Writing a Riot: Riot Grrl Zines and Feminist Rhetorics, Buchanan argues that zines are a form of literacy participation used to document personal, social, and political values within punk. She examines zine studies as an academic field, how riot grrrls used zines to promote punk feminism, and the ways riot grrrl zines dealt with social justice issues of rape and race. Writing a Riot is the first full-length book that examines riot grrrl zines and their role in documenting feminist history.

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Conclusion. Who Cares? Or, Why Does Riot Grrrl Really Matter


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Riot grrrl zines present ways narratives are re-created and scenes are re-imagined as sites of possibility. They are literacy events that allow participants to challenge and complicate the world around them. The United States continues to make laws which decide what is best for women and girls, making women’s bodies a political battleground. Women continue to be undervalued in professional spaces, being paid less than men for the same work and historically doing the work of caregivers and domestic labor. Riot grrrl zines show what young women were saying, and have been saying, for a very long time. Zines make visible the arguments for equal rights, safety, freedom and the right to exist in spaces and not worry about rape culture. The concerns of today are similar to those of the 1990s. Grrrls don’t feel comfortable calling themselves feminists. They don’t feel safe walking down the street. Grrrls hope for something new, something different, and something that will create change. These fears are part of the everyday for young women and are often not heard by those in positions of power. The fears, hopes, and frustrations are real and the history is reflected in the narratives of generations before them. Riot grrrl zines present a way that narratives express these experiences and are how young women create feminist arguments that contribute to the continuum. ← 167 | 168 →

What Zine-ing Literacies Teach Us

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