Last Sunday, the 60th annual Grammy Awards faced serious backlash when just one woman was given an award throughout the entire show. In response, the Recording Academy president Neil Portnow told reporters that women need to “step up” if they want to rise in the music industry.Perhaps it never occurred to Portnow that women in music have stepped up for generations.
There were even women who created entire genres of music and established movements through songs that coincide with those of today, like #MeToo and #TimesUp. Who are these women, you ask?
Riot Grrrl was an underground feminist punk movement that sprang from the 1990s that continued into the early 2000s. It began as a way to combat the existing misogyny in the male-dominated punk culture. Their weekly publication, the Riot Grrrl zine, was used as a call attention to themes of rape, sexuality, racism, patriarchy, and intersectionality.
Bands like Bikini Kill, Bratmobile, Sleater-Kinney, Babes in Toyland, and 7 Year Bitch led the movement. Riot Grrrls encouraged female expression in their music, and created environments that celebrated female artistry and collaboration.
While Riot Grrrl lost its momentum a few years after the turn of the century, its influence still remains today. The Riot Grrrl ideologies became the foundation of Third Wave Feminism. The underground movement completely reinvented punk music and what it means to be a woman in the music industry.
So, women need to “step up”? I would think again.