The Quietus’ Petra Davis looks back across two decades at the liberating musical and political movement called Riot Grrrl and assesses what its legacy is today.
In the spring of 1993, 20 years ago, Huggy Bear and Bikini Kill toured the UK to promote the release of their split album Our Troubled Youth/ Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah (Kill Rock Stars/ Catcall Records 1993). Already heralded by a wave of pieces in the music and mainstream press, the riot grrrl movement had emerged into popular culture as a strident call to women and girls to break their silence on sexism and misogynist violence through zine writing, performance, consciousness-raising and political activism. A couple of weeks before the tour began, Huggy Bear had made an appearance on Channel 4’s infamous late-night show The Word, offering 3m 22s of situationist abandon in the form of third single ‘Her Jazz’ and later angrily detourning a show segment about pneumatic models Shane and Sia Barbi, better known as the Barbie Twins. When the moment of disruption ended with the band and friends being violently ejected from the studio and the carefully mediated pseudo-chaos of late-night programming resumed, my little group of friends, watching our tiny TV in the kitchen, found ourselves inexplicably on our feet.
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