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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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When I started this project, I wasn’t sure of what I would find. As most scholars, I had an idea. I knew that zines are important. I also knew that how we document self and how we present and re-present history is constructed through various social, personal, and political constructs. Writing and representing zines can be difficult. There are so many variables. Trying to gather zines from 20 to 25 years ago is tricky. Zines are fleeting. Zine creators are sometimes difficult to find or identify. Names and addresses change. People stop writing zines and move on to write other things, get other jobs or vanish from the communities and scenes they were once so invested in. And, memory is tricky. The role of nostalgia and its place in memory can sometimes challenge the ways in which we think about our lives.

The zines I had access to came from three academic libraries or my personal collection. I tried to find writers and names and dates of zines. For some I was successful, for others I am still unsure of who wrote them or when they were published. There are accounts here that are incomplete, but in many ways, it is the very incompleteness that helps define the narratives and work of zines. Even if I know the last name of a zine creator, I used her first name to refer to her in order to keep how I referenced zine creators consistent. I have cobbled...

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