I found riot grrrl the summer after a shitty freshman year at high school. I was really smart but none of my teachers took me seriously. All my friends were stoner dropouts on the corner and because they were my friends, and i was out as bisexual, and looked like a punk, i was treated like a waste of desk space in every class except drama, which was taught by a feminist hippie with purple hair.
Near the end of the year I was molested and had my music collection robbed by my step brother who was visiting during spring break. It broke me to the core, and I kept it a secret. I had to break up with my boyfriend Robbie, because I really wasn’t doing well after that event.
I told every friend a different story about why we broke up. I didn’t even tell my best friends Lori and Moe the truth, that I had been molested by a family member and that i was broken, though in hindsight I was almost certain they would have understood. I think I didn’t understand what had happened myself. I was ashamed and fearful of the truth. I lost all of my friends because I couldn’t keep my lies straight. My world crumbled.
On the last day of school, all my old friends wrote hate mail notes, folded them up in our usual way, and dumped them over my head as I left campus. That summer my family also moved away, though I had already always lived with and remained with my dad, a single parent and a feminist Wiccan.
Loosing my music collection had a dramatic effect on me, one of course that’s not to be compared with sexual assault, but as someone who has always been completely connected to music, it was one more loss that resulted in a severe disconnect from the world. I was unconnected to everything.
That summer, I was alone in summer school, alone in my neighborhood, alone in my world. The only place that didn’t know my recent drama was the queer youth group, so I spent most of my time there. There was this girl in my summer school who would drive me to the community center after class. She had zines and mix tapes and fishnets and tube tops for skirts and she looked just like me. I don’t remember her name and I didn’t know her long, but she gave me my first Bratmobile tape. Cool Schmool. that song was so important for me, as someone who had just lost every ounce of my coolness.
So those are my roots. I got expelled from my fancy high school half way through tenth grade for distributing my zine Krave Me – the zine had fake Teen Magazine quizzes like “Are You a Slut” that were sex-positive parodies and anti slut-shaming. I got over the loss of my childhood friends and focused on making friends at all-ages shows, queer youth group, and my unitarian universalist youth camp parties. I spent my weekends in Olympia going to Need, Sleater Kinney, and Bratmobile shows. It was at these shows that I met my lifelong BFF Jenna Riot and started taking photos of people like Kaia Wilson and Wynne Greenwood. I enrolled in a program that allowed me to get my high school diploma and my associaties degree at the same time, and I centered all my education on journalism, photography, music, and women’s studies.
When I turned 18 I moved to Olympia and started Fat Girl Break Down, a riot grrrl fat positivity zine and web community. My first feature was an interview with Nomy Lamm, who took me on tour with her and Sini Anderson, right when I was starting my first porn site, NoFauxxx.Com.
Porn is where my riot grrrl has come to a point of action. I’ve been in bands (mostly with a friend I made in Olympia, Nadia Buyse of DUBAI) and staged protests (remember Bands Against Bush?) and organized festivals (Homo A GoGo!) and written countless zines (including one I wrote and never published while recovering from self-harm), but making porn has been my only fulfilling outlet for riot grrrl activism for the past 11 years. I’ve kept it alive and I’ve also added to it I think by promoting intersectionality, making sure that the voices of trans women and fat people and trans men and queer male riot grrrls and riot grrrls of color get heard alongside those of the more traditional stereotype of the riot grrrl as a straight white cis girl.
I myself am genderqueer, so my feminism is adjacent but not entirely adhered to women’s voices. Because I look like a woman, a queer fat one at that, I still am effected by misogyny, particularly in the adult industry, and I think that’s why I am still so attached to the idea of riot grrrl not only as a tool of resistance but also as a form of support and a self-esteem builder.
Porn is a perfect artistic and political tool of resistance for us grown up (18+ at least!) riot grrrls – creating space for me and my sisters is a form of active resistance that is creating change and upping the awareness of feminism on many levels. I have to stand and be strong and lock arms with those near me in order to not be trampled. We are still living it.
I’m thankful for the current movement to re-ignite riot grrrl as some one who has been keeping it alive in my heart since that fateful day I was molested. As violence against girls is really our number one enemy, being a riot grrrl is inherently attached to being a survivor, and it’s given me the best survival tools in the box. I am thankful to Nomy Lamm and Alison Wolfe and Beth Ditto and Sini Anderson and Jenna Riot and Nadia Buyse and Homo A GoGo and my drama teacher and that girl with the fishnets, for giving me these tools.
This year I made a film called Trans Grrrls: Revolution Porn Style Now that borrows the language of early riot grrrl to set up the stage for a film that brings trans women to the forefront of feminist pornography.