Sources and references

This essay is one of an ongoing series on youth subcultures. There are several cross-references here to earlier pieces, including essays on the ‘soul scenes’ of 1970’s Britain, on glam rock, on emo and on the hippy counter-culture. These can all be accessed via the ‘Growing Up Modern’ tab above.

I have drawn on a great many primary and secondary sources for this piece. For the former, I am particularly indebted to the staff at the New York University Fales library, for access to their riot grrrl archive. Some material from the archive (including extracts from several of the zines I discuss) can be found in the book The Riot Grrrl Collection (edited by Lisa Darms, and published by Feminist Press, 2013), and online.

Several publications on riot grrrl include elements of memoir and oral history. Sara Marcus’s book Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution (New York: Harper Collins, 2010) is the most comprehensive and astute history. Marisa Meltzer’s much briefer book Girl Power: The Nineties Revolution in Music (New York: Faber, 2010) has a broader focus. Other useful sources on the movement in general have included:

Cateforis, Theo and Humphreys, Elena (2016) ‘Constructing community and identity: Riot Grrrl New York City’, in Kip Lornell and Anne Rasmussen (eds.) The Music of Multicultural America (Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi)

Downes, Julia (2012) ‘The expansion of punk rock: riot grrrl challenges to gender power relations in British indie music subcultures’, Women’s Studies 41(2): 204-237

Jacques, Alison (2001) ‘You can run but you can’t hide: the incorporation of riot grrrl into mainstream culture’, Canadian Woman Studies 20/21(4/1): 46-50

Kearney, Mary Celeste (1997) ‘The missing links: riot grrrl – feminism – lesbian culture’, in Sheila Whiteley (ed.) Sexing the Groove: Popular Music and Gender (London: Routledge)

Kearney, Mary Celeste (2006) Girls Make Media (London: Routledge) – Chapter 2

Leonard, Marion (1997) ‘”Rebel girl, you are the queen of my world”: feminism, “subculture” and grrrl power’, in Sheila Whiteley (ed.) Sexing the Groove: Popular Music and Gender (London: Routledge)

Nguyen, Mimi Thi (2012) ‘Riot grrrl, race and revival’, Women and Performance 22(2-3): 173-196

Rosenberg, Jessica and Garafalo, Gitana (1998) ‘Riot grrrl: revolutions from within’, Signs 23(3): 809-81 (this contains some valuable interview material)

Schilt, Kristen (2003) ‘”A little too ironic”: the appropriation and packaging of riot grrrl politics by mainstream female musicians’, Popular Music and Society 26(1): 5-16

Strong, Catherine (2011) ‘Grunge, riot grrrl and the forgetting of women within popular culture’, Journal of Popular Culture 44(2): 398-416

Wald, Gayle and Gottlieb, Joanne (1993) ‘Smells like teen spirit: riot grrrls, revolution, and women in independent rock’, Critical Matrix 7(2): 11-28

Specifically on zines, Alison Piepmeier’s book Girl Zines: Making Media, Doing Feminism (New York: New York University Press, 2009) looks a little more broadly than just riot grrrl. Other sources on this include Mary Celeste Kearney’s Girls Make Media (above, Chapter 4), and:

Dunn, Kevin and Farnsworth, Summer May (2012) ‘”We ARE the revolution”: Riot Grrrl Press, girl empowerment, and DIY self-publishing’, Women’s Studies 41(2): 136-157


I’ve also cited:

Atton, Chris (2002) Alternative Media (London: Sage)

Faludi, Susan (1991) Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women (New York: Crown)

Hebdige, Dick (1979) Subculture: The Meaning of Style (London: Methuen)

McRobbie, Angela and Garber, Jenny (1975) ‘Girls and subcultures: an exploration’, in Stuart Hall and Tony Jefferson (eds.) Resistance Through Rituals: Youth Subcultures in Post-War Britain (London: Hutchinson)

McRobbie, Angela and Thornton, Sarah (1995) ‘Rethinking “moral panic” for multi-mediated social worlds’, British Journal of Sociology 46(4): 559-574

Zeisler, Andi (2016) We Were Feminists Once: From Riot Grrrl to Covergirl: The Buying and Selling of a Political Movement (New York: Public Affairs).



Mainstream press sources consulted include:

LA Weekly, ‘Revolution grrrl style now’, Emily White, 10-16 July 1992

Maximum Rock and Roll Reviews of Bikini Kill, February 1992

Melody Maker ‘There’s a riot going on’, Sally Margaret Joy, 1993: online at

Ms. ‘50 ways to be a feminist’, 5(1), July-August 1994

Newsweek ‘Revolution, girl style’, Farai Chideya and others, 22 Nov 1992: online at

New Yorker ‘Girl trouble’, Elizabeth Wurtzel, 29 June 1992, 63-70

Option ‘“Foxcore, my ass”: girls, guitars and the gender dialectic’, Lorraine Ali, May/June 1992: 40-46

Rolling Stone ‘Grrrls at war’, 8-22 July 1993

Sassy Review of Bikini Kill, July 1993

Village Voice ‘Bondage, up yours’, Deborah Frost, 2 March 1993



Several of the zines cited are reprinted in the Darms collection (above), including:

Bikini Kill nos. 1 and 2

Girl Germs no. 3

Gunk no. 4

My Life with Evan Dando, Pop Star

Riot Grrrl Huh?

The Riot Grrrl Press Catalog

Slant no. 5

Doris no. 6


Other zines consulted in the NYU archive include:

Bitch nos. 1 and 11

Leeds and Bradford Riot Grrrl

Riot Grrrl NYC nos. 1-6

Riot Grrrl Valley

What is Riot Grrrl Anyway?

You are Racist, Punk White Boy

On Bitch, see also:

Jervis, Lisa and Zeisler, Andi (eds.) (2006) BITCHfest: Ten Years of Cultural Criticism from the Pages of Bitch Magazine (New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux)



Don’t Need You: The Herstory of Riot Grrrl (dir. Kerri Koch, 2005)

Grrrl Love and Revolution: Riot Grrrl NYC (dir. Abby Moser, 2011)

The Punk Singer (dir. Sini Anderson, 2013) – documentary about Kathleen Hanna

Interview with Kathleen Hanna (dir. Lucy Thane, 1993) – unedited footage in NYU archive.


David Buckingham

May 2019