Feminist revolution is coming

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Photo by Lindsey LaMont on Unsplash

That girl thinks she’s the queen of the neighborhood

She’s got the hottest trike in town

That girl, she holds her head up so high

I think I wanna be her best friend, yeah

–Bikini Kill “Rebel Girl”

Feminism is defined as equality for the sexes politically, economically, personally, and socially. In feminism there were three waves.

The third, some will argue, is still continuing today. Others believe a fourth wave is just beginning. The first wave was all about women’s suffrage, the right to vote, which lead to the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920.

The second wave was for women’s legal and social rights in the 1960’s and 70’s. Here there was a split in the feminist community, equal-rights feminists and radical feminists. The equal-rights feminists wanted equality at work and home while the radical feminists wanted a major change in the patriarchy.

The second wave feminists did succeed in gaining more rights for women, however, as Victoria Sherber said in Ms. Magazine, the “daughters of second-wavers realized that this ‘women’s rights movement’ did not acknowledge non-white, lower class women”. They wanted a movement which brought equality to all women regardless of race, class, religion, or ethnicity.

Third wave feminism started in the early 1990s and was determined to bring equality to different types of women.

Riot grrrl was born.

In the 90s, punk rock was primarily a male genre. There weren’t many female musicians or fans at all. The few women who were fans wanted a place where they could be accepted as women in the punk community. These women rightfully believed society didn’t value women’s experiences, and they wanted a “girl riot”.

They formed a community which started off just as fan zines for popular punk bands. Eventually, some brave women formed their own punk bands. The women who formed these bands, and the genre of these bands, were given the title of “Riot Grrrl”. In Washington, D.C. and Washington state, women started to become a bigger part of the punk world.

The songs they created were controversal and spoke of rape, eating disorders, sexuality, racism, the patriarchy, and double standards against women. Men didn’t like women becoming an active part in the punk community because these women advocated a feminist revolution.

Women on stage were pushed around and had things thrown at them. After every hardship these female musicians faced for being women, they became more determined. So, their commitment to feminism became stronger.

In “Dead Men Don’t Rape,” the artist Selene Vigil states, “Don’t go out alone you might get raped, but not by a dead man ‘cuz dead men don’t rape”.

In this song, the band 7 Year Bitch speaks up about rape and provides a powerful interpretation of society’s beliefs. They convey a message to the audience about one of the ways women are mistreated. The use of strong language and Selene’s tone of voice condemns sexual assault.

7 Year Bitch uses strong language like ain’t, gun, death and rape to convey her powerful anger. The song “Dead Men Don’t Rape” has a rebellious and powerful tone like most riot grrrl songs and achieves this by using strong language and loud instruments.

The loudness and anger in the artist’s voice and instruments sets it apart from other riot grrrl songs because it’s distinctly punk rock.

Another classic riot grrrl song, L7’s “Pretend We’re Dead” has the same powerful message of feminism but is conveyed in a different way. The song may sound like a bunch of random lyrics about power but there’s a deeper meaning to them.

For example, “What’s up with what’s going down in every city, in every town” and “They can’t hear a word we’ve said,” refers to people, women specifically, not being heard.

“Turn the tables with our unity” is about the revolution and feminism. While the song doesn’t have a specific message about feminism like 7 Year Bitch’s “Dead Men Don’t Rape”, “Pretend We’re Dead” is about women not being heard and not being able to properly express themselves.

“When she talks, I hear the revolution”

“Rebel Girl” by Bikini Kill uses strong language and a rebellious tone to convey a powerful message about feminism. “Rebel girl you are the queen of my world.”

Words like hottest, revolution, queen, and rebel create a rebellious tone and a powerful image of this rebel girl that the speaker admires.

Riot grrrl songs are loud and powerful just like the message of feminism. “Riot Grrrl is a network of women and men who want to change society through active & creative means – writing zines, being in bands, creating websites, making art.

The law grudgingly gives women equality, but people’s attitudes towards us are still disrespectful, oppressive and belittling.” (Riot Grrrl London Zine) The universal theme and message of the riot grrrl movement is that the revolution is coming.

Riot grrrl is still alive today in the forms of what it started, a new wave of feminism. The fourth wave.