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"I feel as if I have to give validation that I’m really a feminist. For me, feminism is just about believing in ourselves and being able to do what we want.”

Flecknell agrees. “I think for some people it can be quite intimidating getting involved with feminism. I still feel like I don’t know enough facts or enough feminist history. I think finding other ways of getting women involved in feminism, like through arts events, shows we can all explore feminism in our own way.”

But between the lack of tough political stance and the high proportion of hipness in the scene, isn’t there something a bit suspiciously trendy about this seeming
return to Riot Grrrl? 

“I recently moved the Girls Get Busy events from Alibi to the Shacklewell Arms in Dalston, because I was worried people were just coming along to be seen,” Siveyer agrees.  “We even got some gross, lecherous men turning up.”

Over the last year, there has been a resurgence of Nineties music and fashion but, perhaps this trend goes deeper than the DMs and dip-dyed hair. 

"I think the whole DIY attitude to arts and activism has made a real comeback, buoyed by the internet improving the way we all share and communicate,” Flecknell says. “People are turning away from capitalist, consumer culture and are looking into their backyard to feel a sense of belonging.”

In Dalston’s Shacklewell Arms, at the recent benefit in aid of Pussy Riot, organised jointly by Not So Popular, Girls Get Busy and Storm In A Teacup, the audience is mixed. There’s a core of trendy 20-something girls in grungy jumpers, but there are also lots of guys and a contingent of less hip, older-generation feminists. 

The bill includes speakers from the East London Fawcett Group, which traces its roots back to suffragette Millicent Fawcett in 1866, and a performance from Viv Albertine of The Slits. The return of Riot Grrrl-style feminism has not created a closed community. Bryony Beynon, 26, from Brixton, is web editor for Hollaback! (, the campaign to end the street harassment of women. She also plays the guitar in female punk band, Good Throb. An outspoken feminist, contributing to songs such as Shit Wife Day, Beynon is wary about Good Throb being labelled latter-day Riot Grrrls.

“The DIY idea that influenced the Riot Grrrl is a thread for many girl bands that continues today, but the movement was short-lived and the thousands of feminist punk bands active today take inspiration from a much wider pool,” she says.

“That is one thing that I think a lot of feminist punk musicians have learnt from the days of Riot Grrrl, which fell apart due to media distortions. People are a lot less naive now. The aesthetic might be popular, but those who actually take action to change things and create their own culture know that this isn’t important.”

So London’s zine-making, band-forming feminists have moved on from Riot Grrrl. The world in 2012 is not the same place it was in 1993. What the new scene has borrowed from its older Nineties sister is hipness and an ethos of Do It Yourself and, if that makes feminism more, well, cool, then that can’t be a bad thing, can it.

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The rebirth of the riot - feminist zines and bands are making a comeback
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