Grrrls to the Front — A Riot Grrrl Event

Inspired by the Riot Grrrl movement, UCSD Literature students organized a women-centered event at the Raza Resource Centro.

On May 24, the students of LTWR 113, an intercultural writing workshop taught by Professor Meliza Bañales, took it upon themselves to organize an event on campus inspired by the Riot Grrrl movement. The term “Riot Grrrl” refers to a feminist punk movement that began in the early 1990s. The various feminist punk bands involved in the movement would use their music to call attention to issues concerning women such as rape, racism, domestic abuse, and female sexuality. As explicitly stated in the Riot Grrrl Manifesto, the movement is inherently anti-patriarchy. The students in LTWR 113 wanted to create a space promoting female empowerment and survivorship.

The event itself was an open mic held at the Raza Resource Centro on campus. Several students gave performances in which they shared their original poems, songs, and speeches, exploring a range of topics from the solemn to the silly. In addition to the live student performances, there was also an arts and crafts center, a snack table, local artists selling their creations, and resource tables with free feminist buttons, condoms, and pens. However, what made this a particularly special occasion was not the free Sprinkles cupcakes or the outstanding student performances, but the welcoming atmosphere the students created for all who attended. The audience was actively engaging with the performers by cheering their peers on, snapping their fingers and clapping, as well as offering supportive comments. The room’s environment was conducive to creativity and authenticity. The students behind this event promote self-expression, respect, and support for not just women, but for all people. Though the event aims to center women by putting the spotlight on female-related issues, there were plenty of male-identifying students showing their support for their female-identifying peers.

Events of this particular nature are something that UC San Diego lacks, but they are vital for fostering and sustaining student culture on campus. UC San Diego is not a place that encourages its artistic students to pursue non-STEM related interests and, moreover, does not provide more than a handful of places where students can freely express themselves, and so it is ultimately up to the students themselves to take initiative and plan events like the LTWR 113 class did.

In accordance with Riot Grrrl culture, the arts and crafts area featured make-your-own declarations, materials for zine-making, colored paper, markers, and glitter glue galore. A defining part of Riot Grrrl culture is engaging in a do-it-yourself mentality which can take form in various ways from fashioning merchandise to spreading Riot Grrrl literature through zines, posters, songwriting, and any other possible way. The Riot Grrrl movement is all about centering women, and that is exactly what this event did. With the exception of a handful of supportive male-identifying individuals who were important in making the event happen, this event was almost completely organized and supported by female-identifying persons. A lot of effort went into making this event successful, and it is precisely student-run events like this that not only build community within the student body, but also raise awareness about real-world issues that this generation has the power to change. Professor Meliza Bañales and her LTWR 113 students planned the event with this in mind, knowing that raising awareness in any sense of the word, be it through open mics and craft-making or through more radical means of expression, is creating change and ultimately contributing to the making of a better world.

Date: May 24, 2018
Raza Resource Centro
Image courtesy of Facebook