By Sara Marcus
Place: Publisher & Year: New York: Harper Perennial, 2010
Genres: Non-fiction, social sciences, feminism, women’s studies, popular culture
Intended audience: Adults
Number of pages: 367
Setting: Mainly set in Olympia, WA & Washington DC (but also includes other locations in the US and Europe)
Time period: 1989-1994
Description: Punk rock + young woman + DIY + feminism = riot grrrl. “In the beginning, someone told a girl to start a band” (p. 31). The book describes how the bands Bikini Kill, Bratmobile, and Heavens to Betsy came into existence and how these bands and associated zines sparked a riot grrrl movement across the county and world with girls creating bands and publishing their own zines. The movement started in Olympia, WA but soon spread to Washington, DC and other areas around the US. Once mainstream media became aware of riot grrrls, however, everything changed. The book includes an extensive bibliography, notes, and index.
Illustrations: There are a few reproduced pages from zines as well as a few black & white photos of various events and people.
Pacing: Brisk pace – some parts move very quickly.
Characterization: Many women’s stories are told in this book and there are a variety of characters. Some appear only once, while others appear throughout the book.
Frame: The author’s note at the beginning of the book sets the frame – Marcus reflects on her first learning of riot grrrls and the impact this had on her life at the time. This bit of personal history is the first of many personal histories shared in this book.
Story line: An intense examination of a movement compiled from a variety of sources, including interviews with former riot grrrls. It is a story of angry young women who wanted to change the world; it is still completely relevant today.
Feminism — United States — History — 20th century.
Riot grrrl movement — United States — History.
Riot Grrrl: Revolution Girl Style Now! by Nadine Monem
Girl Power: The Nineties Revolution in Music by Marisa Meltzer
Cinderella’s Big Score: Women of the Punk and Indie Underground by Maria Raha
Pretty in Punk: Girls’ Resistance in a Boys’ Subculture by Lauraine Leblanc
Girl Zines: Making Media, Doing Feminism by Alison Piepmeir
Personal notes: This was an amazing book. I appreciate the author’s hard work in assembling this story; I also appreciate her humble attitude. The book contains a mass of stories which include many characters, which I sometimes got confused in the various threads of the larger story (but usually not for long). I enjoyed reading the origin for Nirvana’s song title “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. Reading this book made me miss living in Olympia a little bit – especially the Capitol Theater.
Other: Diversity – young women, punks, bisexuals, lesbians