the Riot Grrrl Manifesto: An Update for The Digital Age
One part of the Riot Grrrl Movement occurring in the early 1990s was led by Washington State-based band Bikini Kill. Lead singer Kathleen Hanna published The Riot Grrrl Manifesto in 1991 in the BIKINI KILL ZINE 2.
This update centers Riot Grrrl as an inclusive and intersectional movement prepared to endure through the digital age. It is published by Dr. Cyn Corrigible, lead singer for Nashville-based band Graduates Rise. Items from the original manifesto are cited accordingly. Minor edits to these items are presented in [brackets].
RIOT GRRRL MANIFESTO – AN UPDATE FOR THE DIGITAL AGE
BECAUSE Riot Grrrl has been, is now, and will always be an intersectional movement that respects all human beings, we update our manifesto to make this clear and to ensure its relevancy for Grrrls in today’s world. It does not matter if you are a girl or not. That is what GRRRL is all about. It is NOT about what your genitals look like or how others perceive your gender. You are a Riot Grrrl if you identify as such and if you acknowledge patriarchal oppression, recognize how it is hurting everyone, and you are ready for it to stop.
BECAUSE Riot Grrrls listen to our black, brown, indigenous, queer, disabled, and male friends that have felt excluded by Riot Grrrl and other scenes, Grrrls hear this feedback and own their part in it. We love our trans sisters, our trans brothers, and our Grrrls of all genders and colors. We love our bisexual Grrrls, our pansexual Grrrls, our asexual Grrrls, and our heterosexual Grrrls! Riot Grrrl is a fiercely protected space for Grrrls supporting Grrrls and we will not allow them to separate us. Solidarity is essential if we are to move forward.
BECAUSE Riot Grrrls embrace intersectionality, we recognize how various complex cultural and political domains cut through all of our lives and how their influence can stack up to create privilege, or how they can feel like a thousand cuts. Grrrls are committed to owning ALL our various privileges: white privilege, class privilege, able-bodied privilege, thin privilege, light skin privilege, heterosexual privilege, cis gender privilege, educational privilege, city privilege, wealth privilege, land-owner privilege, and so on. We strive to include voices that have been marginalized. We agree to honor painful feedback as necessary for our growth as individuals to help us all move beyond the separations of colonialism and towards a realization of equity and human rights for all.
BECAUSE The Paradox of Tolerance is REAL Riot Grrrl is NOT a safe space for bigots, slave owners, rapists, racists, anti-immigrant xenophobes, pension stealers, hate-mongers, or joy-grabbers. You will be held accountable in our spaces and you will not dominate our world. Our diversity is our beauty, our solidarity is our strength.
BECAUSE us [Grrrls] crave records and books and fanzines [and digital media] that speak to US that WE feel included in and can understand in our own ways (Hanna, 1991).
BECAUSE we wanna make it easier for [Grrrls] to see/hear each other's work so that we can share strategies and criticize-applaud each other (Hanna, 1991).
BECAUSE we must take over the means of production in order to create our own moanings (Hanna, 1991).
BECAUSE in an idea-based digital economy, the means of production are inside our own hearts and minds. No one can take them from us. Data rights are human rights. Grrrls respect the free flow of information but constantly question who is in control of our data, how it is being used, and how the power of data can be returned to the people it represents. Grrrls are masters of language, art, math, science, and spirit. We will use the accumulated knowledge of the human race and the tools of the digital age to communicate freely and find these solutions.
BECAUSE viewing our work as being connected to our [Grrrl]friends-politics-real lives is essential if we are gonna figure out how what we are doing impacts, reflects, perpetuates, or DISRUPTS the status quo (Hanna, 1991).
BECAUSE we recognize fantasies of Instant Macho Gun Revolution as impractical lies meant to keep us simply dreaming instead of becoming our dreams AND THUS seek to create revolution in our own lives every single day by envisioning and creating alternatives to the bullshit [bigoted] capitalist way of doing things (Hanna, 1991).
BECAUSE we want and need to encourage and be encouraged in the face of all our own insecurities, in the face of beergutboyrock that tells us we can't play our instruments, in the face of "authorities" who say our bands/zines/etc are the worst in the US (Hanna, 1991).
BECAUSE we don't wanna assimilate to someone else's ([oligarchs’]) standards of what is or isn't (Hanna, 1991).
BECAUSE we won’t be told what to eat, what to wear, how to cut our hair, or who to love. We won’t be told when to smile. We won’t be told when to go to work, when to go to school, when to have a baby, or when to marry. We will change our names to whatever we want whenever we want. While Riot Grrrls reject croney-capitalism, we will use this system until things change. We will sell our art and services. We will enter into partnerships and agreements with whomever we want, whenever we want, and for whatever purpose we want. We will own land. We will own businesses. You will not cut us off from trade. You will not cut us off from the economy. We will have power.
BECAUSE a Grrrl’s got to eat - We recognize Grrrls are living all over the globe under different political and economic regimes and they must operate in the systems that surround them to survive. We will work from inside and outside these systems to progress until the dignity and worth of every human being on the planet is recognized, valued, and preserved. Riot Grrrls want everyone to have confidence in their access to basic needs including food, water, fire/electricity, shelter, security, communication, education, health, commerce, mobility, and creative expression. Everyone should have power over the value of their labor.
BECAUSE sex work is work, we value the dignity and worth of those in this profession. Riot Grrrls see a clear difference between consensual body work and someone who has been trafficked or manipulated into engaging in sex acts against their will. Riot Grrrls strongly reject child molestation, trafficking, sexual assault, rape, and sex slavery. We reject rape culture, but we also reserve the right to CHOOSE when to enjoy sex and how we enjoy it.
BECAUSE you can be both PRO-CHOICE and PRO-CHILD and in today’s world being BOTH is PRO-HUMAN. We will CHOOSE when to have children. We will CHOOSE where and when and how to nurse them. We will protect our children and raise them to create and maintain a world where human rights are the norm.
BECAUSE we are unwilling to falter under claims that we are reactionary "reverse sexists" AND NOT THE TRUEPUNKROCKSOULCRUSADERS THAT WE KNOW we really are (Hanna, 1991).
BECAUSE we know that life is much more than physical survival and are patently aware that the punk rock "you can do anything" idea is crucial to the [enduring] angry Grrrl rock revolution which seeks to save the psychic and cultural lives of [Grrrls] everywhere, according to their own [cultural] terms, not [the dominant values of the oligarchy] (Hanna, 1991).
BECAUSE we are interested in creating non-hierarchical ways of being AND making music, friends, and scenes based on communication + understanding, instead of competition + good/bad categorizations (Hanna, 1991).
BECAUSE we want to live in harmony with nature, Riot Grrrls respect and protect the environment. We will not settle for the same old energy solutions driven by cannibal capitalists that raid indigenous territory and destroy the land, water, and air we all rely on for life. We will not be pacified by recycling programs. We will protect our earth.
BECAUSE the universe is just as important as we are, we will strive to better understand it and our place in it.
BECAUSE doing/reading/seeing/hearing cool things that validate and challenge us can help us gain the strength and sense of community that we need in order to figure out how bullshit like racism, able-bodieism, ageism, speciesism, classism, thinism, sexism, anti-semitism and heterosexism figures in our own lives (Hanna, 1991).
BECAUSE we see fostering and supporting [Grrrl] scenes and [Grrrl] artists of all kinds as integral to this process (Hanna, 1991).
BECAUSE we hate [croney] capitalism in all its forms and see our main goal as sharing information and staying alive, instead of making profits or being cool according to traditional standards (Hanna, 1991).
BECAUSE we are angry at a society that tells us Girl = Dumb, Girl = Bad, Girl = Weak, [GIRL = PROPERTY] (Hanna, 1991).
BECAUSE we are unwilling to let our real and valid anger be diffused and/or turned against us via the internalization of sexism as witnessed in girl/girl jealousism and self defeating [“so-called”] girltype behaviors. [Riot Grrrls resist in-group fighting across all the –isms and seek to understand and uplift each other so we are strong and united within and across groups.] (Hanna, 1991).
BECAUSE it is NOT about DISCRIMINATION and OPPRESSION based on personal or group differences so that those in power can manipulate and control others - Instead, it IS about DIFFRENTIATION of relevant characteristics so that the UNIQUE NEEDS of each person and community can be met with dignity.
BECAUSE every human is both energy and flesh, Riot Grrrls fight for the mind, body, and spirit of every human to be free from self-hatred, abuse, shaming, starvation, rape, enslavement, imprisonment, homicide, and suicide.
BECAUSE wealth disparity is real yall! And wealth disparity leads to life disparity!! Riot Grrrls send a clear message to the oligarchs - you already have 90% of the money, you will not control our amygdalas!! Trauma is real and has lasting effects on our minds and bodies. We will tolerate no gaslighting. We will focus energy on our own self-healing and the healing of our Grrrls. We will not allow traumas like having been raped to become classified as a “pre-existing condition” to justify charging us more for health care. Riot Grrrls recognize how too much of the knowledge informing our current health care system was created from the exploitation of the bodies of black, brown, poor, and disabled people. Health care belongs to us and we demand holistic health care as a human right.
BECAUSE the oligarchs are people too, Riot Grrrls choose not to come for you with our pitchforks. We will however come for you with our words, with our art, and with our activism. We will shout you down. We will protest your events. We will put hexes and curses on you. We will stop buying your rotten products. We will demand you provide reparations to those you have damaged. We will use the public policy process. We will vote you and your cronies out of office. We will run you out of power. We will pray for your very soul.
BECAUSE [we] believe with [our] wholeheartmindbody that [Grrrls] constitute a revolutionary soul force that can, and will change the world for real (Hanna, 1991).