Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Riot Grrrl

I just finished reading "Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution" by Sara Marcus.  Riot Grrrl was a group I was part of during high school, and this book got me thinking about how important being part of all-female communities has been to me.

Back in high school, I didn't feel like I fit in.  I hid behind green hair and combat boots.  Then I found Riot Grrrl, an inspiring group of women who were courageous, proud, and defined for themselves what it means to be female in our culture.  It was a relief to find other people who valued creating one's own way in life, and being true to oneself rather than trying to fit in cookie-cutter molds of what society expects of young women.  I went to their to meetings, punk rock shows, and co-wrote a zine (a DIY, magazine that we xeroxed and stapled, and traded through the mail and at shows).  In our zine, I did artwork and wrote about being in high school, about activism and politics and social issues, and about struggling with my sexual orientation.  I knew I was part of something amazing when I got letters back from other girls across the country and world who'd read my zine and shared their own experiences with me.

The cover of the zine I wrote in high school.  Cover art by yours truly.
I guess it's no coincidence that now I am part of Trail Dames (and that I've started this blog).  Despite being totally different on the surface, I've noticed a few similarities in what I've found in these two groups-- the supportive environments in otherwise male-dominated spheres, the independent women, the acceptance of a diversity of people.  Funny how I never noticed this repeating pattern in my life of what I was doing in writing this blog and doing the zine until I read this book.  I guess writing about my experiences helps me to understand my life and connect with people who read it.

So even if you've never heard of Riot Grrrl, but are looking for a good, inspiring book about women seeking and creating community, check this out!  It was an engaging story, and seamlessly wove in details about the cultural and politics of the early 90's to provide the context for the movement.  (Though of course I am biased because Sara, the author, was a friend in high school and I did this zine with her.  Plus, Riot Grrrl changed my life!)


  1. The high school art work is really good Hemlock. Whether it's making creative dehydrated recipes, swinging on a trapeze, or drawing. You're such a creative spirit.