Riot Grrrls in the New World

This is Not a Test - Riot Grrls in the New World (4ZZZ, Brisbane)

CBAA Web Articles., 18th September 2014

By Tiarney Miekus

Riot Grrrl: loud, brash, ferocious.

Riot Grrrl is not simply a period of feminist punk in the early 90s, but is a movement whose ongoing thoughts, ideas and challenges have enriched human liberation. Riot Grrrl is a recurring motif for empowering females, placing Grrrls at the centre of music and for showing everyone the saviour of rock and roll: women.

I started ‘This is Not a Test’ with a thought: What did Riot Grrrl mean in the 90s and what could it possibly mean for women in Australia now? As a 22 year old who is still trying to figure out the ties between womanhood, feminism, music, culture and politics in Australia, one of the most telling narratives that has framed these elements has been Riot Grrrl.

‘This is Not a Test’ has since taken me from Riot Grrrl’s first days in Olympia, Washington, to its small manifestation in Brisbane in the 90s, to Pussy Riot in Russia and finally to the here-and-now: Brisbane 2014. If music tells the story of ourselves and our world – our oppressions, desires, anger and humanity – then this documentary uses Riot Grrrl and music as a lens for women in contemporary Australia.

‘This is Not a Test’ not only has a jolting all-woman soundtrack from Bikini Kill to Huggy Bear to Feathers, but a series of interviews that point to the complexities and contradictions of Riot Grrrl, feminism and society. This includes:

Christine Barrett: A former Riot Grrrl in Hussy and current youth culture lecturer at Griffith
Everett True: Music journalist and writer
Alex Gunk: Lead-woman of Gunk and creator of fem-zine Slubs
Bek Moore: Lead-woman of bands Scrabbled and Clag
Bianca Valentino: Renowned zine-maker and writer known for Conversations with Bianca. 

Like any liberating movement, Riot Grrrl is many things to many people and ultimately it enhanced a culture that still exists today - a culture that stares down gender imbalances in art and politics and liberates women from oppressive institutions.

Photo thanks to Gunk, Mino Peric, Riot Grrrl zine and Germs zine.


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