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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 5. Yes, We Use the Word Rape


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“This one night at a riot grrrl meeting some girls started talking about all these rapes that started happening at the college here. We got so mad at the total way the school and the media ignore sexual abuse and harassment. And how shitty it is to live in fear. So we made up a secret plan and carried it out that night. We laughed and held hands and ran around in the dark and we were the ones you should be looking out for. In a girl gang I am the night and I feel I can’t be raped and I feel so fuckin’ free.”

—No name in Riot Grrrl Olympia’s What Is Riot Grrrl Anyway?

Sexual violence is a systematic social problem.1 Rape culture, the ways in which we normalize rape and sexual violence, exists in very real ways throughout the world. The systematic and problematic ways we address rape and sexual violence, including justifying, normalizing, and minimizing experiences of victims/survivors,2 continue to perpetuate a culture where we accept rape myths and stigmatize individuals who are victims/survivors of sexual violence. According to the National Violence Resource Center, one in five women will be raped at some point in their lives and one in four girls sexually abused before the age of 18.3 Statistics such as these are not new. Yet, rape myths—cultural beliefs that shift blame from...

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