KISMIF Conference

KEYLECTURE | ‘Fangrrrling Feminism: Letting go of some hang-ups’, by Lucy Robinson

Lucy Robinson_ edit


In 2013 The Fales Library in New York published a selection of its holdings from The Riot Grrrl collection.  The archive maps, and also reproduces, the shape and scope of the scene. The collection is catalogued according to the individual donors, who were also the  key players in the Riot Grrrl scene. But, the zines, notebooks, photographs, videos and ephemera donated trace the complex international, public and private networks of an explicitly political subculture.  There has been a recent growth in work on Riot Grrrl.  New zines, new bands and new academic research looks back to the Riot Grrrl feminism of the Nineties to make sense of the present and change the future.  As the collections’ Senior Archivist and founder, Lisa Darms explained, “The Riot Grrrl Collection is about the future”. I’m interested in where this interest comes from, and what work this subcultural past ‘does’ for us.  What are we expecting Riot Grrrl to do for us in the here and now?

Riot Grrrl famously ‘put girls to the front’ and challenged the idea that audiences were ‘the opposite of the band’.  It also raised significant questions about the possibilities of resisting dominant structures from a subcultural position; be they the patriarchal objectification of women, commercial incorporation by the mainstream, or the limits of sustaining grass roots activism on a day to day level.

In this paper I want to use my own engagement with Riot Grrrl and research in the Riot Grrrl archive to  learn some lessons, and on the way challenge some of the artificial divisions we make in subcultural work.  I want to pick up some of the lessons from fan-studies.  I want to see what happens when we take girls, and fan girls seriously.  If we recognise that fandom, like subcultural affiliation, is an active process of production and identify formation, maybe we can let go of some hang ups about production, about authenticity and about cool guitar boys.  After all fans and scenesters are excellent researchers.  And we as researchers often present our personal fandom as academic research.

Keywords: riot grrrl, feminism, fandom, methodology, girls.


Biographical note of Lucy Robinson >>>




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