Gender and the Australian Experience of Alternative Rock and Riot Grrrl in the 1990s


  • Catherine Strong RMIT University
  • Ian Rogers RMIT University



Feminism, gender, Riot Grrrl, grunge, Australian music, popular music



This article uses analysis of media articles and archival materials to pursue two aims. First, we investigate the effect of Riot Grrrl and grunge's gender equality impetus in the Australian context. In pursuing this, we discuss the rise of female musicians in Australia around the time of grunge and into the late 1990s, particularly in women-only or mostly-women bands, and bands for whom gender was a key defining factor. Second, in keeping with the goals of feminist historians (although this is not a historical paper, as such) we aim to document the activities of some of the female musicians who were active in Australia during the 1990s. Given that this area has been otherwise neglected in academic accounts of Australian popular music and of Riot Grrrl/grunge, it will provide an important starting point for further studies to expand upon. We demonstrate here that the Australian intersections between feminism and rock music are unique, as are the dialogues, debates and solutions proffered, as they combined immediate, local grassroots activity with support from international acts who themselves, while notable in their celebrity, had similar ties to the type of direct action cultural communities exemplified by the Rock'n'Roll High School concept.

Author Biographies

Catherine Strong, RMIT University

Catherine Strong is a lecturer in the Music Industry programme at RMIT in Melbourne, Australia. Among her publications are Grunge: Popular Music and Memory (Ashgate, 2011) and Death and the Rock Star (edited with Barbara Lebrun, Ashgate, 2015). Her research deals with various aspects of memory, nostalgia and gender in rock music, popular culture and the media. She is currently Chair of IASPM-ANZ and reviews editor for Perfect Beat.

Ian Rogers, RMIT University

Ian Rogers obtained his PhD from the University of Queensland in 2012. Supervised by Graeme Turner, his thesis was entitled "Musicians and Aspiration: Exploring the Rock Dream in Independent Music". Rogers is currently a lecturer in the Music Industry programme at RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia. He is the author of numerous articles on musician ideologies, music policy and local music history, and his latest publication appears in Sounds and the City: Popular Music, Place and Globalization (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016).


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How to Cite

Strong, C., & Rogers, I. (2016). She-Riffs: Gender and the Australian Experience of Alternative Rock and Riot Grrrl in the 1990s. Journal of World Popular Music, 3(1), 38–53.



Gender, Popular Music and Australian Identity