Rock against men is music to the Riot Grrrls' ears: A new movement of radical young feminists draws its inspiration from man-hating, all-women bands, reports Hester Matthewman

'ARE ALL men arseholes? I don't know, I haven't met them all yet,' snorts Kathleen of the band Bikini Kill. Riot Grrrls are here. And they're angrrry. Described by the rock-music press as girl- punk revolutionaries, these radical young feminists are not keen on men. ('Man-hating is simply the attitude that most men suck, and they do,' according to Jo of the band Huggy Bear).

Riot Grrrl bands have been grabbing media attention recently - Huggy Bear attacked Terry Christian, presenter of Channel 4's The Word, on the air, and fans had to be ejected from the studio.

But the movement is about much more than music, according to an east London Riot Grrrl, Suzie. 'The music is just part of it,' she explains. 'Sexism, racism, homophobia, everyday bullshit that you put up with - these are Riot Grrrl issues. We're all doing our own thing and giving each other support, talking, going to gigs together and just, you know, communicating.'

The movement has its roots in the United States. British Riot Grrrls are surprisingly elusive and try to keep their activities underground. The two main groups centre on London and Leeds. 'We're all pretty close, we meet regularly and we're always on the 'phone to each other,' says Suzie, 23, smiling and friendly in a

T-shirt showing a skull and a heap of bones. She has the words 'Do it]' - a key Riot Grrrl slogan - taped to her 'phone.

'Numbers change from week to week, some girls miss a meeting, others bring friends. We just talk about things, things we've done, things we want to do. We don't get together and say 'Oh, tonight we're going to talk about sexism' or anything like that. We don't have leaders - I'm not speaking for Riot Grrrls. If any of us speak, we speak for ourselves.'

Riot Grrrls communicate by fanzines - 'zines' for short - ranging from professionally produced glossy magazines to smudgily photocopied handwritten or typed pamphlets. Zines are full of passionate polemic, feminist manifestos, poetry, cartoon strips, contact lists. Suzie produces her own, Stinkbomb: 'It's my own personal thing, some people like it, some people don't. I tend to write things on the spur of the moment, sometimes I'm really angry, sometimes I'm bored, sometimes I'm really happy, or I'll be really sarcastic. I don't see the point of going back and rewriting things so I just leave them as they are. Anyone with a brain will just take it as they read it.'

But music is important: assertive girl bands 'destroy the myths that support boyrock - like that you have to spend your developing years alone in your bedroom playing along with your heroes', explains the Leeds manifesto, Bullet-teen. Energy is preferred to polish: the latest Stinkbomb exhorts: 'Any girls reading this who are thinking 'Oh, I'd quite like to be in a band but I can't play. . . .' STOP RIGHT NOW] Who cares about technical ability] Get together with a few like-minded girlfriends and get going]'

The New Musical Express published these guidelines on 'How to Play Any Instrument in 30 Seconds': '1. Plug it in. 2. Hit it.'

Going to gigs is essential. 'The girls all used to be at the back,' Suzie says. 'But a lot decided that if some guy was going to push them they were going to push back. If you want to go to the front you're not going to let the guys intimidate you any more.'

Theoretically you could be a Riot Grrrl in Laura Ashley florals. However, it seems unlikely, judging from the audience at last week's gig by Seven Year Bitch in Camden Town, north London. Black and denim were de rigueur. The audience was sparse but enthusiastic.

'I love the in-your-face sound,' panted Helen, breathless from dancing. 'It's so cool, these girls are beautiful. The Riot Grrrls thing is essential. Women are just thought of as the sexy backing singers, it's time girlrock was promoted in its own right. Rock is really sexist. Riot Grrrls bands say something. You can read them after and think 'Yeah, I'm into that'.'

Others, however, thought Riot Grrrl music was little more than a product of media hype. At the bar, Fay said: 'I hate it when men give me hassle but music's not the answer. I consider myself a feminist but I wouldn't buy a record to prove it.'

GRRRLS TALK

How to spot a Riot Grrrl:

They are angry (but unobtrusively). They drop their surnames - or change them to something more radical (Karren Ablaze], Fanny Lionheart).

Riot Grrrls say: 'Do it] Do it] Do it] Now]'

Riot Grrrls don't say: 'Excuse me.' 'Turn the music down a bit.'

Likely haunts: Elbowing males out of the way at the front of a gig in a sweaty club; at a photocopy shop, xeroxing 'zines.

Unlikely haunts: The front row of a Cliff Richard concert; Laura Ashley.

Essential reading: Angry Women, interviews with role models such as 'post- porn modernist' Annie Sprinkle; Stinkbomb, rants and ways to annoy your ex-boyfriend; Girlfrenzy, latest issue carries articles on Valerie Solanas of the Society for Cutting Up Men (SCUM), and the Ideal Snog Machine. Bert Weedon's Play in a Day Guitar Course.

Essential Listening: Huggy Bear ('Kid punk rockers give off organised and tactical aura known as Lad Repellent'). Shonen Knife (Japanese girl group; 'Do we have boyfriends? We are interested in delicious food and sweets. And animals like the cat.')

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
Living for the moment: Julianne Moore playing Alzheimer’s sufferer Alice
health
News
Jay Z
businessJay-Z's bid for Spotify rival could be blocked
News
The spider makes its break for freedom
VIDEO
Voices
A propaganda video shows Isis forces near Tikrit
voicesAdam Walker: The Koran has violent passages, but it also has others that explicitly tells us how to interpret them
Sport
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle v United player ratings
Arts and Entertainment
books
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: 1st Line Customer Support Technician

£15000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Waterlooville based softwa...

Ashdown Group: C# Developer - (C#, VB.Net, SQL, Git, TDD)

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Developer (C#, VB & ASP.Net, SQL Server, TSQL) - Pe...

Recruitment Genius: Associate Sales Consultant

£16000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Associate Sales Consultant i...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Well established and expanding ...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot