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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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Chapter 4. Riot Grrrl Zines as Social Circulation


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“A feminist is anyone who believes that women deserve equal rights to men, are not inferior, do not deserve to be stereotyped any more than men do and deserve respect. If I ever use this word broadly, this is what I mean. It doesn’t matter WHO you are, if you agree with these sentiments you are a feminist.”

—Colette Ryder-Hall, Looks Yellow, Tastes Red 7

Riot grrrl zines exist within social spaces. Although zines are made for public consumption, zine creators interact with each other on a social level. They participate socially, using the rhetorical methodology of social circulation, “the social networks in which women connect and interact with others and use language with intention.”1 Through social networks, riot grrrls form relationships with each other using zines to talk with one another and report on experiences they believe are of mutual interest. They use them as a way to interact with previous generations of feminists. They use zines to engage with feminism, reinventing it for their purposes and as Royster and Kirsch argue, “help us see how ideas resonate, divide, and are expressed via new generations and new media.”2

In this chapter I examine the ways in which riot grrrl zines use social circulation to share punk feminist ideologies. In particular, I am interested in how riot grrrl zines enact feminism and are used to create community....

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