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Riot Grrrl Respect: Creative Women Influenced by the Punk Movement of the 90s

Kathleen Hanna talked to MAKERS about being a punk frontwoman and feminist activist. It all started with one question, she says. “I had this really crazy epiphany in college, where I was standing at the bus stop and I just asked myself a question, What is the most important thing to you? The answer was, I want to end violence against women.”

Kathleen started volunteering at a rape relief and domestic violence shelter, where she saw the effects of abuse and the importance of feminism. “I had to tell other women that feminism still existed.” She started her bands Bikini Kill and Le Tigre to empower women and spread the feminist message to grow the community in the punk scene. “If [girls] couldn’t see how easy it was to play the bass, then how are they going to start their own bands?”

Kathleen wanted to create a bed of culture that could turn into political change. “Sixteen-year-old girls come up to me and have discovered Le Tigre or Bikini Kill, and they feel like it’s theirs," she told MAKERS. "They feel like it belongs to them. And that’s the great thing as an artist about using a medium like music, is that it kind of goes on forever.” More than two decades after Kathleen coined the term Riot Grrrl with other feminist punk women, musicians, actors, and countless Tumblrs are inspired by the movement. Meet a few of the artists influenced by this kind of girl power by clicking through the gallery above, and hear more of Kathleen’s story below: