Riot Grrrl Essentials

Riot Grrrl Essentials

Riot grrrl is best summarized by Bikini Kill’s immortal four words: “Girls to the front!” A strident reaction to Reagan-era conservatism and the male-dominated underground punk scene, the genre, which was as much a social movement as a musical one, put women’s voices and bodily autonomy at its center. Both onstage and off, musicians made the personal political, tackling issues such as abortion rights, sexual assault, and toxic social hierarchies with no-holds-barred clarity. Appropriately, riot grrrl’s early-’90s ambassadors also went for confrontational sonics. Bratmobile favored needling punk with nimble post-punk rhythms; L7 skewed toward bruising hard rock; and Emily’s Sassy Lime reveled in experimental noise rock. While the style evolved musically in the decades that followed, its feminist tenets remained the driving force. Heavens to Betsy rabble-rouser Corin Tucker found greater success co-fronting the slashing punk trio Sleater-Kinney, while Kathleen Hanna moved from Bikini Kill’s whiplash hardcore to Le Tigre’s inflammatory electro-punk dance jams.

Select a country or region

Africa, Middle East, and India

Asia Pacific


Latin America and the Caribbean

The United States and Canada