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this ad lays out exactly what typical tampon ads do--the cheesy slo-mo, the girls dancing, running, doing anything they want EVEN when they have their periods. it even talks about why they chose which girls they chose and what their market research shows about those girls' marketability due to their racial ambiguity.


here it is:

From Riot Grrrl to Girl Power: Feminism Loses It's Bite

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In the article Riot Girl: The Legacy and Contemporary Landscape of DIY Feminist Cultural Activism, Sharon Cheslow, a DC punk photographer and member of Chalk Circle, insists that riot grrrl developed because she and other women began to see "all the different ways that the punk scene was paralleling mainstream society." To address that issue, she believes that the community must organize, make the political personal, and voice your concerns. In other words, she wants a community of concerned do-it-yourself-ers.
The author of this article, Julie Downes, notes the origins of DIY as ethics put into practice beginning in the late 1950s with the Situationist International (SI). According to Downes, SI "opened up a space in which the viewer could resist dominant cultural representations and gain access to a consciousness critical of the mainstream."
Downes highlights the various spaces in which women (or womyn [I like that spelling]) can critically challenged mainstream media. The riot grrrl punk scene inspired many fanzines for people to dialogue and raise awareness, and what I think is more important, to let others know that there are like-minded people out there with similar concerns. Obviously, the music scene was just as strong of a venue to channel and express these ideas and concerns.
Transitioning from the riot grrrl scene to the media-saturated "girl power" hype of the 1990s, the most obvious contrast seems to be in the locations of cultural production, and consequently the message that is attached to these products. First, as noted before, riot grrrls work within their own community as a form of support, information, and cultural critique. They do it all themselves. Conversely, "girl power" only seems to manifest itself from the top tiers of cultural production, that is, mass media. The Spice Girls, the Plastics of Mean Girls, Britney Spears (also a former Mouseketeer, lest we forget), the list goes on. They all seem to espouse an extreme expression of female attitude (although Mean Girls tries to moralize this), but you never find Scary or Sporty Spice name dropping bell hooks or Susan B. Anthony. Not that every member of the so-called "girl power" movement need an extensive history lesson, but where's the legitimacy without any backbone to support it? So instead, girl power practically erases the "grr" from riot grrrl, and returns the letter "i", if only grammatically. Girl power seems to blind fold those who could have found the metaphorical "i" in their inner grrrl. Instead, their identities are erased by mass-produced and distilled iconography of false female empowerment that does little to justify its own motives.

Riot grrrl's demise and commercialization into "girl power" were the unfortunate and inevitable result of mainstream media's unregulated reporting on the movement. For clarity, when I say that the media were unregulated, I mean that most of those involved in riot grrrl did not talk to mainstream media outlets. This allowed those same outlets, which are historically panicky in the presense of any women's movements, to make far more of the movement than was ever really meant, leading to its unraveling. Additionally, as there was little outside Olympia, WA to counter a watering-down, other areas were able to distort the core of the message into the 'feminism-lite' version that was later packaged and sold back to girls, rendering what riot grrrl had hoped to accomplish defeated.

Riot grrrl was never meant to be a movement which addressed the lives of all women or on all issues. It mostly had its roots in a handful of women who were fed-up with the lack of recognition and respect within the punk rock world with some concern certainly given to general issues and dualisms facing that handful. Wanting to empower themselves and others in the scene, they began the riot grrrl movement with a strong DIY attitude to ensure that they were not dependant on, or exploited by, anyone else in their endevours. So when the splintering criticisms that this was just for white women, ect. came, they were ultimately missing the point. It was not about a leader or two saying what was best for the group. It was about women doing things for themselves and laying the infrastructure for others to do the same for themselves, and if personal taste excluded some groups from punk rock, the idea of self-empowerment certainly could have been carried to any other person in any other situation. However, because there was no voice who spoke for all of riot grrrl, and if there was, they weren't talking to the mainstream anyway, this message was never articulated. Instead, commercial outlets picked up on the what was happening and packaged it as "girl power". However, instead of girls/women/whatever looking to themselves for this empowerment, the idea was to pay someone else to be sold something which didn't really have any intrinsic power, and if anything, lessened power by making those who bought in too deeply less wealthy and dependant on those who produced those items for their power.

riot grrrrrlllllllzzzz

I read Julia Downes' "Riot Grrrl: The Legacy and Contemporary Landscape of DIY Feminist Cultural Activism," and focused mainly on the quotes from various riot grrrls about their experiences, feminism, and the mission of the group. Most of the thoughts about the movement express excitement, engagement and hope; scribbled musings describing the possibilities that lingered in each riot grrrl's mind. What was interesting to me about their comments is how passionate each one is. These women felt they were on the cusp of a real cultural movement; a movement that would change their position in society and give them empowerment in a way they had never seen before. They felt worthy components of society's mess of images and statements, and capable of turning heads. And they did-- but their message somehow was bogged down and simplified into an image of a baby chicken on a light-blue belly shirt that reads "chicks rock." Their passion and vocabulary for discussing the feminist ideas they promoted was muddled into a candy-coated trend; British pop stars clung to the statement "girl power" and shot peace signs at preen-tween girls who then mimicked it mindlessly. Being proud to be female replaced the need to assert the female position in society and fight against injustices that precipitate. The riot grrrl discussion gave a voice to feminism in a way that was radical, aggressive, and angry. The "girl power" image was a cutesy t-shirt or a bumper sticker whose very existence simplified the mission of riot grrrl to the extent of ripping away its language. It tore the words right from our mouths and left us without a language to discuss feminist issues that still exist in society today.

Riot Grrrls

1) What feminist vision(s) do these readings suggest that riot grrrls espoused?

I think the feminist vision riot grrrls most clearly represent is the idea of accessibility. That is to say, they really seemed like a movement that was for the people, by the people. Everything about them was grassroots and DIY and because of that they not only reached people on a personal level but also had a lasting affect on everyone they touched.

2) What seems to separate this social project of riot grrrl from the watered down "girl power" renditions it became?

I think the article put it best when it said (referring to the Spice Girls), "This form of girl power, however, rewarded young girls for providing financial support that ensured the Spice Girls success. Instead of directly encouraging girls to create their own art, music, and culture, the Spice Girls rhetoric ensured that Spice-mania would be the focus of their adoration." In a nut shell, the main difference between riot grrrls "punk rock" feminism and mainstream "girl power" is that the latter has been turned into something that can be bought and sold.

3) What are some of the strengths/weaknesses of this form of cultural activism that the readings suggest, and how does it resonate with other forms of resistant pop culture we have been discussing?

It seems that what makes riot grrrl so awesome happens to be its weakness as well. The fact that it's grassroots and DIY means that there isn't a lot of global connectedness if any at all. The readings talked about how when they got negative press they didn't have the "power in numbers" element as a means to counter those negative media messages and I think they were misunderstood as a result. This seems to be a common denominator when it comes to a lot of resistant pop culture movements. I guess that's why they're in the "resistant" category rather than the popular category.

the princess and the prankster

I really enjoyed this article, and the fact that it followed two very personal, individual subversive activist actions. It felt like a combo of the anonymity of the Golce & Gabbana postering tactic article we read and the Guerrilla Girls tactics/documentary. Like both of these projects, 'The Princess and the Prankster' took aspects of what they wished to subvert by twisting them. Unlike the posterers, though, both Wong and Hirano's projects are characterized as "in your face," or "bait and switch." The message they send are a little sharper, sting a little bit more because they make their audience think a little bit harder about what they're really feeling when they view their projects.

I really connected to Hirano's project and point of view, especially her question, "What culture do I belong to, really, and which is fictitious?" And her answer, "They're all fictitious." She asserts that both culture and sexuality are constructed. I loved that she shared so many aspects to her personal struggle with her Asian-American female identity. I think that even though her activist project is about putting on characters and putting on a show, her discussion of it is very stripped down, very frank.

I also think that by making her audience question how they feel in the moment of experiencing the project (really digging at that discomfort that the author mentions toward the end of the piece) is really where the activism begins. Her performance is essential to this consciousness-raising conversation, but without the conversation/engagement the project isn't fully realized. But because I was really hooked by her staging and her ideas, I was also really hooked into exploring further what her performance raised for the people mentioned in the article and what it raised for me. Eng calls this a 'bait and switch' tactic, which I think is really accurate and also pretty effective. Whereas the posters and the Guerrilla Girls ultimately rely on an overarching sense of a higher consciousness, or a higher something that is holding people accountable, Hirano and Wong both have interactions (in person and on the internet) with people. Their projects do have reciprocity, and even if the engagement is negative--racist rantings, etc.--there is still an equally visible response.

Riot Grrrls and Punk H[er]story

I'd like to discuss/analyze Julia Downes' Riot Grrrl: The Legacy and Contemporary Landscape of DIY Feminist Cultural Activism, because it took me the longest to digest. I was all about riot grrrl in high school, Bikini Kill, Beat Happening, in particular Babes in Toyland (which Downes blows off as if they did not contribute to the riot grrrl mentality). I felt that Downes article, while it explores a very set version of how this movement was produced, as well as it's downfall, trivialized not only the music, the culture, and the mentality of the riot grrrls, but the progress that they were able to make as well.

Firstly, Downes does not discuss provide a history of punk music. I felt this was very necessary if she is pointing to it as the main influence behind riot grrrl music. She mentions Siouxsie performing in an all male area, but let us not forget who founded K records, Calvin Johnson. He was a primary strategist, or at least influence in the introduction of riot grrrl mentality. Readers who do not understand the women's roles in the history of punk will completely miss these parallels. Downes discusses how "one key element of Johnson's aesthetic was the return to youth, childhood and adolescence and accompanied celebrations of the pastimes of a bygone era." Could we not compare this to wanting to live by the rules of the good ol' 50s that never existed? When did this perfect era exist? Downes neglected to fully expand on the DC punk movement and how it influenced the early riot grrrls. The Dead Kennedys, Bad Brains, et al. were living in this straight-edge "all-male" world, it only seems reasonable that women needed a safe haven for their creative ideas as well. Women were not necessarily on the outskirts of the moshes, take for instance Tobi Vail (Kurt Cobain's pre-Courtney girlfriend). While she may have felt isolated by this obvious male-dominance in rock music, she fueled the riot grrrl press and helped establish a very successful band (Helped found Bikini kill, and later influence Hanna in Le Tigre). Downes is painting a nice overall picture, but readers need more context.

On the other hand, I quite enjoyed how Downes used zine clippings throughout her article. It seems that (based on page 373) the angry grrrl zine constitution and activity book are quite reminiscent of how the guerrilla girls presented themselves. It would have been interesting for Downes to have made a larger connection between the two.


I was particularly moved by the BF reading on Wong and Hirano's not so typical approach of "political art" as a leverage to promote a less sensationalized stereotypical view of the Asian American culture. I personally have respect for both artists work; although completely separate approaches, they both shared a common goal and that allowed people to view their work and think about the underlying meaning behind it all. I feel that their work was extremely effective and can most definitely relate to Wong's approach due to her use of humor to identify these stereotypical views of ethnicity and the sexuality it surrounds. Hirano's point of her as a younger women defining what is "white" or "asian" caught my attention due to the fact that as especially as a child, I too felt a similar disturbance towards white people who "dressed or acted black". At that time, I couldn't understand how white people hated and still hate the black man as a whole and yet some of these individuals sort refuge in such a representation. Fortunately, this point of view has changed with time as I am aware that the color of my skin IS black but it doesn't have ONE definition of identity as it takes a the works of many to complete the whole and this my friends is the most important thing. Blacks doesn't equal, WEAVE, CHILD SUPPORT, REBELLIOUS, CRIMINAL, EDUCATED, SUCCESSFUL, OR THE COLOR BLACK; Black equals all these things and more which can be identified with in ALL cultures.

riot grrrl

"Girl Love"
I love this statement and the idea behind it. "Girl Love" "Don't let the J word Jealousy kill Girl Love" means it's totally not cool for females to compete for men or other things. This definitely applies to the kind of Love I'm looking for. I hate going out to the public only to get checked out by a female knowing that she's measuring herself up against me. It's almost the only reason why I'm so into fashion and make-up, because I can't bare knowing that if another girl dares to measure herself against me, I won't measure up. It's really mind boggling.

"Don't compare yourself to others" a common phrase often thrown around. I feel that it gets harder to not compare yourself with all the media out there pushing your every move to look like the magazine cover shot or the celebrity that has gone through plastic surgery and even had her photo-photo shopped. I feel that "Girl Love" is a very powerful statement and should be used more often to remind women and girls out there that there's more to looks and beauty than the girl you're standing next to.

There is a downfall in this statement. It uses "girl" instead of "women" or "female." In the earlier reviews they spoke heavily against the term "girl" and not "women" as in females will never grow up and will always be a "girl" carrying negative connotations with it. I'm not sure why they didn't use "women" instead of "girl" but I think it has a lot to do with the way it sounds. Definitely, who would say, "women love", it just doesn't have a good enough ring to it the way "girl love" sounds. Anyway, I feel that by using "girl" instead of "women" they are only back tracking themselves. With all the hard work they do to promote the term "women" for respect and strength in women-hood, they still fail to incorporate it into one of the biggest aspect of women-hood; facing capitalism especially advertisements.

These slogans were made to combat capitalism, which brought about the idea of being independent and having alternative routes. This lead to cultural production. The production of female thoughts through the press and music. The cultural production of these ideals are so different from today's "girl power" views. It holds a sense of belonging with the female that is standing next to you. now a day, "girl power" seems to carry a negative connotation. Even when it's mass produce as prints on little girl pajamas. (maybe mass production of it is the problem) I've seen little girls blush at the statement, "girl power." "Girl power" just doesn't have the oomph! that riot grrrl had. It now seems to be used very lightly and jokingly.

Riot Grrrl

Learning about the early beginnings of riot grrrl is quite an eye opener for me. I never really thought that behind the "Girl Power" movement there was a deeper fundamental meaning behind it that was lost. From a Punk Rock rebellion compared to commercialized "Girl Power" there is a huge difference. Not conforming to the mainstream and just being who you want to be, this idea of "Do it yourself" contrasting to that of buying this idea of girl empowerment. "You are strong girl, you are bad and beautiful, you can do anything you want to do." I really like this quote because it enforces the idea of equality between females and males. Women can strong, bad, and do anything they want without any limitations based on their gender. Riot Grrrl does not create a one size fits all message but rather encourages women to explore and find out what their passion in life is. To discover and pursue goals no matter how far fetched they are. Movements like Riot Grrrl can be made to look like they are not real and only focus on hating men. Yet people who say this are just not comfortable with the idea that women are just as capable to accomplish as much or more than a man. Negative media attention to this movement does not help but to minimize actual ideas behind the movement. Yet this does not mean that the meanings created by riot grrrl or any other source of resistance should be ignored. Every type of resistance even when not perfect it still has a purpose and it can lead to bigger breakthroughs. Every feminist movement even if small can lead the way to a bigger, better, and more positive movement.

"As long as sexism exists so must feminism"



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