If you’re longing for an inspirational, patriarchy-smashing film about a coming-of-age revolution, look no further than Moxie, coming to Netflix on March 3, 2021.
Directed by Amy Poehler and produced by her company, Paper Kite, Moxie is based on the best-selling young adult novel by Jennifer Mathieu. Set in a small Texas town where football is religion, a shy 16-year-old, Vivian (Hadley Robinson), discovers her mother’s rebellious past in the early 1990s as a riot grrrl and is inspired to anonymously publish an underground zine to expose the sexism and toxic status quo. Much to the dismay of the powers that be at the school, Vivian — along with new friends and allies — spark a movement.
In addition to directing and producing, Poehler also stars in the film as Vivian’s riot grrrl mom, Lisa.
With a new generation of riot grrrls at the ready, it’s the perfect time to talk with a real-life mom like the fictional Lisa about the lessons she has passed on to her kid, and how her riot grrrl past shaped her parenting style.
But first, let’s revisit the riot grrrl movement so we can better understand why it’s still relevant today and continues to be a powerful force for change.
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What is riot grrrl?
Riot grrrl is an underground feminist movement born in the early 1990s when womxn’s voices were underrepresented in the punk music scene. They were being objectified by men, and their thoughts and opinions were not taken seriously. This intersection of feminism, punk, music, and politics started in the US Pacific Northwest and Washington, DC, led by Kathleen Hanna and her band, Bikini Kill. They encouraged womxn to create DIY fanzines, known as zines, and speak out against issues like sexism, racism, and classism. Through touring, Bikini Kill and other riot grrrl bands created a network between female musicians, concert bookers, and zine publishers, bringing the movement to more than 26 countries worldwide.
They encouraged womxn to create DIY fanzines, known as zines, and speak out against issues like sexism, racism, and classism.
A major moment in third-wave feminism, the larger riot grrrl movement started to dissolve in the mid-90s as bands split up and the “girl power” message was co-opted by pop groups like the Spice Girls, but it wasn’t the end. The riot grrrl spirit lives on through global moments like the Women’s March, which had Bikini Kill’s anthem, “Rebel Girl,” as one of its rallying cries (also prominently featured in the trailer for Moxie). In fact, riot grrrl has never felt more relevant than it does in an age where the bodily autonomy of womxn, trans people, and non-binary people is being threatened. Then, there are the children of the original riot grrrls, like Vivian in Moxie, who are continuing in their mothers’ footsteps.
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Parenting, riot grrrl style
Speaking of riot grrrl moms, Slice chatted with Victoria Partridge — a Director of Communications in Emporia, Kansas and mom to a 14-year-old son — about her start in the movement and how it has informed her parenting style.
“For me, it started in high school,” said Victoria of her riot grrl beginnings. “I was an outcast and didn’t really fit in with anybody, but at the same time, I was able to make friends with everybody. I realized that there were things that I did not like being forced to conform to while my parents wanted me to conform. They wouldn’t even let me wear red nail polish. Once I got into college and had my freedom, I was able to do a lot more. My early 20s were a lot of fun, taking part in the concert movement, exploring, and pushing my personal boundaries to see where I fit in.”
Motherhood only reinforced Victoria’s riot grrrl ways. “I became more of a riot grrrl as a parent. I’m raising my kid in a very open, atheist, vegan, gay household,” she shared. “Our household is somewhat non-traditional, but it’s normal for us. “The biggest thing is being able to have real conversations with your kid. We openly talk about feminism, sexuality and equal rights.”
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Self-expression and being true to who you are
Victoria has always encouraged her child to be expressive and creative. “ My son has been dyeing his hair since he was three. He is also trans, and when he was still presenting as a girl, he shaved his head twice after seeing Stranger Things and being inspired by the strength of the character, Eleven.”
While challenging the status quo is a big part of the riot grrrl ethos, Victoria is already preparing her son, currently in his first year of high school, for life after graduation. “I’ve been very open with him that he may have to do some things to conform to what society expects in order to get a job. But that doesn’t mean that he has to conform in who he is and what he believes in. In my job, I’m not allowed to have unnaturally colored hair, but I can have tattoos and piercings to a point, like my little septum ring. I can still go to protests, speak up, and advocate for others and what I feel is important in life to bring equality.”
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Channeling emotion into action
Victoria touched on how the 14-year-olds that she knows are angry, anxious, and depressed. They’re frustrated because they don’t feel like they can make a significant change to the status quo because they can’t recall seeing any real change in their lifetimes. “Based on my experiences, I’ve told my son to put that energy into action, because that’s how you can make a change. He can protest, write letters and stand up for what he believes in.” She added, “We volunteer and help out in the community. He and I have been to many protests together, like Black Lives Matter protests and the March on the Capitol here in Kansas.”
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Carrying on the DIY spirit
One of the most prominent aspects of the riot grrrl movement was the do it yourself attitude when it came to creating projects that elevated and supported underrepresented voices. This DIY spirit and determination is something that Victoria has passed down to her son. “I’m a solo parent and have been the entire time, so one of the things I’ve been really proud to show my kid is the cool things you can do on your own. I got my graduate degree, founded a nonprofit program to help street cats, and started a roller derby league. I’ve shown him that whatever he wants to do, he can accomplish it.”
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