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Hastings Women’s Law Journal

Authors

Kendra Doty

Abstract

The 1990s’ Riot Grrrl movement was powerful. Beginning with feminist punk rock bands in Olympia, Washington and spreading throughout the country, girls sparked a revolution. In song lyrics, at group meetings, and in zines, girls formed a community devoted to loudly challenging the constraints society places on women. Part of this project involved flashpoint acts of rebellion—sparks of anger’s flame shooting out as these girls confronted sexual violence and called out perpetrators by name.

Foreshadowing the cascading stories of sexual assault and harassment that erupted in 2017 with #MeToo, the Riot Grrrls warned one another about dangerous people and provided community and support to survivors. In the pre-digital era, there was little risk that these interpersonal conversations and niche songs would expose the accusers to liability. But with the creation of social media and the ease with which #MeToo stories are stitched together with a hashtag, the consequences of blowing the whistle on sexual assault and harassment has become very apparent.

This Article argues that these consequences do not spell the end of the #MeToo movement. Rather, the law of whistleblowing offers a way to conceptualize what #MeToo provides society, and what it risks. From there, this complex body of law provides a framework for resolving the unique challenges presented by #MeToo’s public expression of the anger, frustration, and demand for change that the Riot Grrrls talked, sang, and wrote about.

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