Saturday, March 5, 2011

Girls to the Front (Book Review)

Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution

The mid to late 90's found me wearing the obligatory pair of Docs, the obligatory flannel shirt, the obligatory weird dyed hair. For us, at that time, it was about a certain fashion sense, and "alternative" music, which had by then become pretty mainstream.

Several years earlier, and many miles away from the Texas suburb I grew up in, several social movements were born, initially out of the Punk movement. (A superficial, watered down version of those movements  would eventually filter down to kids like me.) One of those movements was the Riot Grrrls.

Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrl Revolution, by Sara Marcus, chronicles that movement, from it's hopeful beginning to it's eventual disillusioned end.

I thought the book was fascinating.

The movement started out as a way to make feminism culturally relevant for a new generation. Young women set out to empower themselves, in relationships, in the arts, in society at large. It was a big undertaking for the young, sometimes conflicted, always human activists.

The book is really about many stories, the stories of the individual girls, their bands, their events, and their conflicts, under the larger umbrella of a social and political movement. The book takes a pretty even handed approach, noting both the strengths and weaknesses of the characters. To me, it didn't really read as a book about feminism as an ideology, per se, but more like a biography of the activists in the movement. (Totally a side note,but I  recognized several of the characters from other books I'd read about the music scene at that time, which was interesting.)

I really enjoyed the book, and I think anyone who is or was a fan of punk or alternative music in the 90's would as well.

(It goes without saying that this book includes potentially objectionable language and situations. Don't say I didn't warn you.)

Disclosure: I was provided with a review copy of the book by the good folks at Harper Perennial. No other compensation was provided. All opinions are my own.

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