Riot Grrrls and Trigger Warnings

My novel Grrrls on the Side, (Duet, June 8, 2017), takes place during the Riot Grrrl movement of the early to mid-’90s. The young women who considered themselves Riot Grrrls were feminists, activists and artists. They participated in the punk scene, created zines, marched on Washington, spoke out about rape culture, and demanded to be heard. But like many young women and teens, they were often derided for their choices and for daring to speak out.

It was an imperfect movement that was often criticized for its lack of intersectionality and ultimately fizzled out due to a lack of organization. But it was still important. Many young women found themselves through the friendships and values they formed as Riot Grrrls. Myself included. My feminism definitely has its roots in Riot Grrrl.

Because Riot Grrrl was (and still is) important to so many women, I knew I had to depict the experience with honesty and respect. That meant being realistic about what these “grrrls” talked about during their meetings. Unfortunately, for one in six American women, that probably meant talking about sexual assault. So it would be impossible to talk about feminism and Riot Grrrl without addressing that very real and important issue. But that doesn’t mean I should exploit the situation. Real people who have been sexually assaulted may read my book (I know of a couple who already have), and I owe it to them to treat their experiences with care because rape and other forms of sexual assault cause very real, lasting trauma. Just because it happens in real life and I wanted to reflect that in a novel, doesn’t mean that victims who might be harmed by reading about something so traumatic should have to read it. So I chose to include a trigger warning in the author’s note at the beginning of the book. Continue reading “Riot Grrrls and Trigger Warnings”