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Most of this blog is related in some way to the music, books and films produced by Gonzo Multimedia, but the editor has a grasshopper mind and so also writes about all sorts of cultural issues which interest him, and which he hopes will interest you as well.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

HELEN McCOOKERYBOOK: Writes about the Limerick Riot Grrrl conference, and other stuff

The plane bumped and lurched into Shannon Airport on Monday narrowly missing the tornado that had been forecast (it didn't arrive, thankfully); I was rustling with papers ready for the Riot Grrrl Symposium at the University of Limerick.


Tuesday broke with glorious sunshine, and the room filled with a very interesting-looking bunch of people. The first speaker was Claire Sedgwick, and she talked about the importance of Zines to feminist discourse from a historical perspective; Tiffany Naiman presented a paper on Courtney Love'sSomebody Kill Me and its ethical repercussions; and Gretchen Larsen presented a paper on groupies (one of the most under-researched subjects in the universe of academia: it will be interesting to see what she has concluded when her research is finished). My paper was on the influence of reggae on the sounds of female punk bands, and the Julia Downes presented research into 'all-girl' radicalism.

After the papers had been presented I was struck by just how different things had been for girls and women in punk bands. Riot Grrrl was bristling with manifestoes and a network of communication through letters, zines and music, all centred on how young women felt about themselves in relation to family, society, the media and politics.

Our experience was infinitely more raw and clumsy; I simply can't imagine how it must have felt to be part of something that women did internationally rather than to reside in a corner of punk. There were women's music groups all over the UK (and Europe, and the USA) back in the 1970s but I was put off by the cliqueyness, which simply doesn't raise it's head in the rosy histories of the moment. I recall a deeply upset older woman musician being told at a Women's Meeting that one of the group was physically repulsed by her because of her age. Some support network that was!

I'm sure it wasn't the same everywhere, and the women's bands in Brighton played alongside everyone else. But there seemed to be an awful lot of rules and that was what I thought I was escaping from by playing music in the first place.

So this was all very interesting.

Read on...

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