In the Independent Lens documentary Ovarian Psycos (premiering Monday, March 27 at 10; check local listings), we’re introduced to The Ovas — a chicanx (xicanx) feminist group who bike through the streets of East L.A. in honor of sisterhood. While bike riding in solidarity is definitely an underground movement, womxn coming together to uplift and empower one another has been a huge part of recent history and even pop culture.
In 2011, Beyoncé asked the world a very pressing question, “Who run the world?” The answer was so simple and literally to the beat: Girls.
First-Wave feminism had The Suffragettes, Third-Wave feminism has Beyoncé. Chants and picket signs on women’s rights turned into pop songs about and magazine covers embodying “Girl Power.” I wasn’t the most popular kid in elementary school, but who needed friends when you had The Spice Girls, TLC, Destiny’s Child (who had Beyoncé), and The Powerpuff Girls. Memorizing the ingredients Professor Utonium used to create “the perfect little girl” along with the lyrics to “No Scrubs” was pretty much my Feminism 101 when I just barely learned how to spell the number seventy-eight.
While there are definitely ~78+ groups consisting of amazing SHEroes, here’s a brief timeline of Third-Wave feminism’s influence on pop culture girl groups and vice versa, because #KnowYourRoots:
Riot grrrls: 1990s
In 1991, a group of womxn in Washington just wanted to rock n’ roll. To stand up against the sexist, misogynistic views of the punk scene, they literally, “started a riot,” and thus dubbed themselves Riot grrrls. The Riot grrrl family included bands such as Bikini Kill, Bratmobile, Sleater-Kinney, Le Tigre, Pussy Riot, as well as queercore groups like Team Dresch and The Third Sex.
Mike Lerner and Maxim Pozdorovkin’s 2013 film Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer delivers an 88-minute snippet on one of the most prominent and present bands in the Riot grrrls movement, Russia’s feminist collective (and censored and jailed by the Putin regime), Pussy Riot.
Spice Girls: 1996
If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends. If you wanna be a feminist, you have to know the Spice Girls aka the founders of Girl Power and the reason why I to this day still pose with the peace sign. Leave it to Sporty, Baby, Posh, Scary, and Ginger Spice to let you know that nothing lasts forever and friendship never ends.
Zigga zig ah!
The Powerpuff Girls: 1998
You had tomboy Buttercup, cute and sweet Bubbles, and the beautifully brilliant Blossom — all three totally different but equally rad girls kicking some major butt and schooling the haters on equal rights. There is an entire episode literally titled, “Equal Rights,” and this episode taught lil’ me who Susan B. Anthony was.
The band was birthed in 1991 but it was their 1999 album FanMail that made 7-year-old me realize I’m a strong, independent woman who don’t need no man. “No Scrubs” is the no-brainer hit single from that album but the lyrics of “Unpretty” really opened my eyes to the cruel standards and expectations of American beauty and that looking good isn’t nearly as great as feeling good. Just listening to T-Boz, Chilli, and Left-Eye (#RIP) harmonize makes me want to hug every womxn who passes by me and tell them they’re beautiful.
Never insecure until I met you
Now I’m bein’ stupid
I used to be so cute to me
Just a little bit skinny
Why do I look to all these things
To keep you happy
Maybe get rid of you
And then I’ll get back to me
Destiny’s Child: 2001-Beyoncé-infinity
The Survivor album made me feel invincible and had 9-year-old me almost pretty excited to have my heart broken before I even knew what dating was, just so I could sing “Survivor,” “Independent Women I,” and “Independent Women II.” Yea, “Independent Women I” was so liberating that Destiny’s Child knew they had to make a second version. I’d also say Beyoncé took a bold move making a third version, by making her own entire album. In 2014, the iconic image of her ascending onto the stage with a backdrop saying “FEMINIST” (yes in all caps) at the VMAs became almost everyone’s Facebook cover photo, Twitter header, and phone backdrop. (I say “everyone” so I don’t feel so alone).
Remember, you are all “Flawless.” And if you don’t believe me or Beyonce, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is featured in the track giving some real truth on society and womxn.
Mean Girls: 2004
Learning all the rules of “Girl World” just to finally realize that it’s a bunch of high school mumbo jumbo that definitely will not matter when you’re sitting at your day job writing an article about feminism… So fetch.
Four for you Cady Heron (Lindsey Lohan) for literally taking off the Homecoming crown to share it.