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WATCH: Riot Grrrl Retrospectives - "Riot Grrrl is...?"
Leaders of the '90s Riot Grrrl movement, including Allison Wolfe, Molly Neuman, Wendy Yao, Nomy Lamm, Sue P. Fox, Erin Smith, and Tobi Vail discuss what 'Riot Grrrl is...?' during a series of 1999 oral history interviews with the Museum of Pop Culture.
"Riot Grrrl is...?"
Wendy Yao: America! Riot grrrl is, well, I don't know, it's kind of those things that it's like, nobody likes to answer. It's really hard to define because it's just like this weird thing that seems to just happen and I don't even know if anyone was in control.
Allison Wolfe: In a lot of ways, it just felt like kind of group feeling, like this whole kind of community was emerging talking about sexism, mostly, and just being creative artistically as women.
Molly Neumon: Those were the crux points. It was like, 'Let's reach out, let's encourage, let's share information with girls,' and even though it wasn't like we all sat down, like 15 girls, and said, 'this is the manifesto.' I mean I think different people had different manifestos. That was kind of the beauty of it too, is it was really kind of easy to change your mind about it and to not feel like you were 'a' riot grrrl or 'in' riot grrrl.
Nomy Lamm: I think I maybe acted a little more angry than I really felt because I knew that we were supposed to be really angry about it and that was a part of being a riot girl was always being really, really angry.
Sue P. Fox: What I realize now is it was all about me figuring out about who I was and also that I think I had to come to a lot of peace about my past to live in my present, which I would not have worked out if riot girl hadn't happened and pushed those boundaries.
Nomy Lamm: I think I just have a better understanding of how the world works in general. So now I realize that things are fucked up, but I don't really expect them not to be.
Allison Wolfe: I think sometimes it's hard to look back at this and qualify in any certain way or to say, 'Oh, riot grrrl was this or that,' or 'it was started exactly by this girl at this time and this place.'
Erin Smith: It was something special about having a pen pal and then kind of calling on the phone and hearing about this other person and then reading their fanzine and then mailing your 'zine out to people and just hoping somebody is going to understand it. There's something special and it's really sweet about that whole, the whole way it's, it started up.
Tobi Vail: I know what we wanted to start and I know we started something, but I don't really know what happened and I don't think anyone can really tell you. You can study it for years, you know?
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