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In the early nineties, riot grrrl exploded onto the underground music scene, inspiring girls to pick up an instrument, create fanzines, and become politically active. Rejecting both traditional gender roles and their parents' brand of feminism, riot grrrls celebrated and deconstructed femininity. The media went into a titillated frenzy covering followers who wrote "slut" o In the early nineties, riot grrrl exploded onto the underground music scene, inspiring girls to pick up an instrument, create fanzines, and become politically active. Rejecting both traditional gender roles and their parents' brand of feminism, riot grrrls celebrated and deconstructed femininity. The media went into a titillated frenzy covering followers who wrote "slut" on their bodies, wore frilly dresses with combat boots, and talked openly about sexual politics. The movement's message of "revolution girl-style now" soon filtered into the mainstream as "girl power," popularized by the Spice Girls and transformed into merchandising gold as shrunken T-shirts, lip glosses, and posable dolls. Though many criticized girl power as at best frivolous and at worst soulless and hypersexualized, Marisa Meltzer argues that it paved the way for today's generation of confident girls who are playing instruments and joining bands in record numbers. Girl Power examines the role of women in rock since the riot grrrl revolution, weaving Meltzer's personal anecdotes with interviews with key players such as Tobi Vail from Bikini Kill and Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls. Chronicling the legacy of artists such as Bratmobile, Sleater-Kinney, Alanis Morissette, Britney Spears, and, yes, the Spice Girls, Girl Power points the way for the future of women in rock.


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In the early nineties, riot grrrl exploded onto the underground music scene, inspiring girls to pick up an instrument, create fanzines, and become politically active. Rejecting both traditional gender roles and their parents' brand of feminism, riot grrrls celebrated and deconstructed femininity. The media went into a titillated frenzy covering followers who wrote "slut" o In the early nineties, riot grrrl exploded onto the underground music scene, inspiring girls to pick up an instrument, create fanzines, and become politically active. Rejecting both traditional gender roles and their parents' brand of feminism, riot grrrls celebrated and deconstructed femininity. The media went into a titillated frenzy covering followers who wrote "slut" on their bodies, wore frilly dresses with combat boots, and talked openly about sexual politics. The movement's message of "revolution girl-style now" soon filtered into the mainstream as "girl power," popularized by the Spice Girls and transformed into merchandising gold as shrunken T-shirts, lip glosses, and posable dolls. Though many criticized girl power as at best frivolous and at worst soulless and hypersexualized, Marisa Meltzer argues that it paved the way for today's generation of confident girls who are playing instruments and joining bands in record numbers. Girl Power examines the role of women in rock since the riot grrrl revolution, weaving Meltzer's personal anecdotes with interviews with key players such as Tobi Vail from Bikini Kill and Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls. Chronicling the legacy of artists such as Bratmobile, Sleater-Kinney, Alanis Morissette, Britney Spears, and, yes, the Spice Girls, Girl Power points the way for the future of women in rock.

30 review for Girl Power: The Nineties Revolution in Music

  1. 5 out of 5

    Caitlin Constantine

    I wanted to love this book so hard, you have no idea. I was a teenager in the 1990s, and there was so much in the book I could relate to - discussion about Lilith Fair (which I went to - twice), having the release of "You Oughta Know" coincide with my first heartbreak, openly hating (yet secretly loving) the Spice Girls, obsessing over Liz Phair and Ani DiFranco and Tori Amos, worshipping Kim Gordon - that I found myself all giddy and excited like I did while reading "Girl Zines." So when I say I wanted to love this book so hard, you have no idea. I was a teenager in the 1990s, and there was so much in the book I could relate to - discussion about Lilith Fair (which I went to - twice), having the release of "You Oughta Know" coincide with my first heartbreak, openly hating (yet secretly loving) the Spice Girls, obsessing over Liz Phair and Ani DiFranco and Tori Amos, worshipping Kim Gordon - that I found myself all giddy and excited like I did while reading "Girl Zines." So when I say I wanted to love this book, I mean it. I really did. But it was so short, less than 150 pages long! That is, in my view, hardly enough time to cover the music itself, let alone engage in a serious analysis of the music and its role in the wider contexts of feminism and society. There were a few places where Meltzer interrogated the lack of connection to a wider political community when it came to the "angry womyn" music and also criticized the way the idea of "girl power" evolved from riot grrrl to a completely depoliticized slogan on sparkly baby-doll t-shirts, but she didn't go much further than that. And truth be told, these are not new analyses. I know that not everyone who picks up this book will be aware of these criticisms, and so they should definitely be included in the book, but it would have been nice if Meltzer had brought something new to the table, something that would have given those of us who aren't still engaged in parsing Feminism 101 something to think about. And did I mention that the book was less than 150 pages long? Maybe it's just me, but if I had the opportunity to write a book about something that was one of the most transformative things in my entire life, I would like to think I could muster more than 150 pages about it. There were also things I really did like about the book, particularly when Meltzer talks about her own experiences and engagement in the music. I liked reading about her days stalking Kathleen Hanna at Evergreen. I liked reading about her visit to Michigan Women's Music Festival, and then her visit to Camp Trans. I liked that she was able to actually interview a lot of the women who were involved in the whole riot grrrl scene (although I, once again, came away with the sense that I would find Tobi Vail really annoying if I knew her in real life). What made these aspects of her book so enjoyable to me is the fact that I wouldn't have been able to read them anywhere else. It's definitely worth a read, but it is by no means the definitive book about women in rock in the 1990s. Hopefully the publishers of the world won't think this is a niche that has already been occupied by this book, and they will be willing to give a few more a chance.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

    I think that the Goodreads elementary-school-book-report-style prompt "What I learned from this book" is useful here, because truthfully, I didn't learn anything from this book. It's well written and zippy, but I found myself anticipating Meltzer's next steps: "And now she's going to talk about Liz Phair. Ah, yes, hello, Liz, there you are, nice to see you." Everything--from the chronological arrangement to the subjects (very briefly) addressed to the underlying assumptions and arguments--was pr I think that the Goodreads elementary-school-book-report-style prompt "What I learned from this book" is useful here, because truthfully, I didn't learn anything from this book. It's well written and zippy, but I found myself anticipating Meltzer's next steps: "And now she's going to talk about Liz Phair. Ah, yes, hello, Liz, there you are, nice to see you." Everything--from the chronological arrangement to the subjects (very briefly) addressed to the underlying assumptions and arguments--was predictable. To be fair, Meltzer lays out the scope of her concerns in the preface: it's "a discussion and analysis as viewed through the lens of personal experience." It would have been interesting if she had used the 151 pages of Girl Power as the core of a larger project--maybe with Girl Power as the introduction to an edited collection of personal essays about experiences and engagements with nineties girl/grrrl culture. (It could have been like a really big zine!) But never mind my wish list. The book would serve as a decent introduction for someone who's not familiar with that era, but for those who remember it--even those who were only on the margins of some of the scenes Meltzer writes about--there's little that's new or thought-provoking here.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Larry-bob Roberts

    A pretty quick read and a fairly basic intro. There were only a few factual flaws. On page viii there is a sentence beginning "Riot grrrls' rage begat the more media-friendly Hole and Babes in Toyland" which is inaccurate in that both these bands started in the late 1980s, pre-Riot Grrrl. On page 16, "Ladies First" (about a frilly girly-girl on a safari) would have been a better example from Free to Be You and Me than William's Doll, which advocates dolls for men, rather than deriding "frivolous A pretty quick read and a fairly basic intro. There were only a few factual flaws. On page viii there is a sentence beginning "Riot grrrls' rage begat the more media-friendly Hole and Babes in Toyland" which is inaccurate in that both these bands started in the late 1980s, pre-Riot Grrrl. On page 16, "Ladies First" (about a frilly girly-girl on a safari) would have been a better example from Free to Be You and Me than William's Doll, which advocates dolls for men, rather than deriding "frivolous aspects of girlhood." I think the section starting on page 106 about jealousy as a theme in music by mainstream female musicians could have used a correlation with the theme of jealousy as explored in Riot Grrrl zines ("Stop the J-Word Jealousy from Killing Girl Love." However, the most glaring omission is that although the book has chapters on Riot Grrrl, Foxcore, Lilith Fair, Spice Girls, and Britney Spears and her ilk, there is no section on queercore. Tribe 8 gets mentioned several times but generally gets lumped in with Foxcore and no mention is made of the queer focus of the band. And there is no mention of Team Dresch (although the "queer-feminist" record label Mr. Lady, co-founded by ex-Team Dresch member Kaia Wilson is mentioned.) In the list of labels Sleater-Kinney recorded for (p. 122), only KRS and Sub Pop are mentioned, omitting Donna Dresch's Chainsaw Records, which released their first two records. I can perhaps understand the omission of Fifth Column but these other bands played with the Riot Grrrl bands and were part Free to Fight, both of which are discussed. While the book is not entirely US-centric, Riot-Grrrl-contemporary mainstream UK performers Elastica, Echobelly and Lush are not mentioned. Hip-hop performers also could have rated a chapter of their own.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jayne Lamb

    I'd give this book six stars if I could - and I'm not ashamed to say I teared up with nostalgia in a couple of places! I've always felt the Spices were underrated in what they contributed to the pop culture perception of 'feminism' - watered down or not, anything that emphasizes girl/girl empowerment instead of girl/girl rivalry is what we, and our daughters, nieces etc need to hear. I would love to have seen some images in the book; I would love for it to have been longer! But otherwise this is I'd give this book six stars if I could - and I'm not ashamed to say I teared up with nostalgia in a couple of places! I've always felt the Spices were underrated in what they contributed to the pop culture perception of 'feminism' - watered down or not, anything that emphasizes girl/girl empowerment instead of girl/girl rivalry is what we, and our daughters, nieces etc need to hear. I would love to have seen some images in the book; I would love for it to have been longer! But otherwise this is being recommended to all my GF's, partly as a reminder of how things were, and partly to feel a little less despondent about where things are going. If you're a Gen X girl like me it's also worth reading Meltzer's other book: "How 'Sassy' Changed My Life'. Again be prepared for the nostalgia blitz..but it's worth it.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Zoé

    In short, this book makes me wish I was a couple years older so I could've been a teenager during the time of riot grrrl, a movement I knew nothing about until I picked up the book. The love the author has for the movement and the music that emerged from it is evident throughout the care that has gone into writing this book. At the same time, the author allows herself to be critical of the movement and takes the time to introduce other musical trends while mostly (but not completely) avoiding the In short, this book makes me wish I was a couple years older so I could've been a teenager during the time of riot grrrl, a movement I knew nothing about until I picked up the book. The love the author has for the movement and the music that emerged from it is evident throughout the care that has gone into writing this book. At the same time, the author allows herself to be critical of the movement and takes the time to introduce other musical trends while mostly (but not completely) avoiding the trap of lauding one trend over another "more superficial" one. I don't believe the book is meant to be completely objective however as the author often shares some personal anecdotes and some of her opinions bleed through the text. Still, the author does a good job at explaining how music, politics, and feminism intertwined and doing an overview of punk and pop music by female performers from the end of the 80s until the new millenium, including underground and mainstream influences. I now have a better understanding of what the riot grrrl movement stood for and its influence on music. My lack of knowledge about music from the nineties did impede my enjoyment of the book a bit as the author kept namedropping musicians and bands and it was difficult to keep track of it all. In many ways, I feel like this topic would have been better served as a podcast or documentary so I could hear the music being referenced. I would also have preferred she explored the topic more thematically instead of splitting chapters by trends or eras. I will now turn to YouTube to listen to the musicians the author mentioned and complete my crash course in nineties "angry girl music".

  6. 5 out of 5

    jess

    I read about this book because one of my favorite bloggers, Tavi, wrote about it.. And Tobi Vail blogged about it a few times. And then Carrie Brownstein blogged about Tavi blogging about the book, and then Kathleen Hanna blogged about Tavi, and how she is "a fucking artist and these fools just don’t fucking get it" and a "talented, highly intelligent kid is willing to share her inner light with the world," which I also agree with. So, basically, I am drawing the conclusion that this book result I read about this book because one of my favorite bloggers, Tavi, wrote about it.. And Tobi Vail blogged about it a few times. And then Carrie Brownstein blogged about Tavi blogging about the book, and then Kathleen Hanna blogged about Tavi, and how she is "a fucking artist and these fools just don’t fucking get it" and a "talented, highly intelligent kid is willing to share her inner light with the world," which I also agree with. So, basically, I am drawing the conclusion that this book resulted in an intense(ly amusing) clusterfuck of feminists blogging about feminists and a mutual admiration society between 40 year olds and 13 year olds. At the end of the day, there's nothing awful about all that. In case you ever forgot that I keep my book reviews with such detailed notes for my own bad-memory purposes, there's your reminder. I expected that this book would be awful, and I was pleasantly surprised to find it was not. It is closely related to that book about sassy I read, since they share an author. the writing/story telling styles are similar, the subject matter is not completely unrelated. It's enjoyable to read this book. Is it 100% totally factually accurate with the truest most informative everything you could expect from a book? Well, no. It's about riot grrrl in this "big picture" kind of way, and where that historic moment is situated in this larger movement of Women in Rock in the 1990s. From that perspective, this book is good enough. It's short, quick to read, and makes for good dinner table conversations comparing/contrasting the concept of courtney love. Also, it is really weird to read about Olympia in a book!!! Personal Note: it is weird to read about Camp Trans in Books From Actual Bookstores and Publishers. I spent five years camping at Camp Trans, and it is an issue I wish saw so much more light of day. At the same time it is super weird to read about it. While this version of Camp Trans is better than the picture Teresa Wiltz painted in the Washington Post in 2001, it still seemed unbalanced and off the mark. In no way did the beautiful wonder and amazement of Camp Trans make it onto these pages. I'm not sure that the struggle for trans inclusion in women's spaces was served well by this representation, but I guess it's better than ignoring it entirely? Or maybe Marissa is just name-dropping the issue? It was hard to tell. In the same way that the Sassy book mentions the shortcomings of the magazine without lambasting, the issue of including trans women in "women's music" scenes is glossed over. It looks neat, not messy, and the account is mostly about the author's personal anxieties about Camp Trans, not much of the division at hand. She missed a great opportunity, too, since she also interviewed Amy Ray for other parts of the book. Amy did a lot of footwork and personal interviews about the subject of trans inclusion at michfest, and she could have helped to flesh out the controversy and dialog of the community. It was a missed opportunity to make feminism look like a living, breathing reality instead of a series of events in a book. The thing that I want to carry with me, after I forget everything that Marissa wrote about the spice girls and fiona apple, is that this book isn't really for anyone who experienced riot grrrl or "women in rock" in the 1990s. this book belongs to ladies, women and girls who are underage right now, e.g. girls like Tavi. if they read this book, and something/anything happens, like they start a band over the summer or they start a feminist club at their school or whatever they come up with -- at that point, this book is awesome. Everyone sitting around going, "well, actually, riot grrrl was like THIS and I was there," or "Actually, Lilith Fair was like blah blah blah" (etc) that is just false pretense that totally misses the point. it happened, it was a revelatory moment that fizzled out, it was a good time, i hope. BUT - what can the new kids do with this information? For the same reason, i don't give a shit (for example) what any critics say about Lilith Fair coming back in 2010 or a riot grrrl nostalgia revival. I just want to see if girls show up, if they still need and want to hear women make music, and what they are going to do about it.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ciara

    honestly? i expected this to be a lot worse than it was, judging from some of the scathing & disappointed reviews my friends have written. people were going on & on about how shallow it was, how badly it misrepresented the riot grrrl movement, how historically inaccurate it was, how upset they were that a chunk of their personal histories that mattered to them so much was being mangled in such an amateur manner. i was prepared for the worst. & what i got was an admittedly imperfect but pleasantl honestly? i expected this to be a lot worse than it was, judging from some of the scathing & disappointed reviews my friends have written. people were going on & on about how shallow it was, how badly it misrepresented the riot grrrl movement, how historically inaccurate it was, how upset they were that a chunk of their personal histories that mattered to them so much was being mangled in such an amateur manner. i was prepared for the worst. & what i got was an admittedly imperfect but pleasantly enjoyable book about women in rock in the 1990s. to be clear, this is NOT a book about riot grrrl. although i think the chapter on riot grrrl summed up a lot of my own feelings about the disappointments & misrepresentations that happened, & although there was an effort in every subsequent chapter to compare various other eras/styles of lady music against riot grrrl, this is actually just a women in rock book, & as such, it's probably one of the better ones. as a women in rock book, i'd give it four stars. as a riot grrrl book, i'd give it two. i read one review that was angry that the book seemed to represent "foxcore" (ie, punk-inspired but mainstream lady rock bands like hole, L7, babes in toyland, etc) as a descendant of riot grrrl. so i was preparing myself for factual inaccuracies like that (many of those bands actually pre-dated riot grrrl & wanted absolutely nothing to do with the movement). but...the book is pretty clear about "foxcore" being something different, & addresses the way it was lumped in with riot grrrl by music journalists who couldn't wrap their heads around all the different roads women may take to playing music. i also read reviews that shrieked in despair over marisa metlzer's spice girls apologism. while i may not agree that having hordes of nine-year-olds buying spice girls pencils & furry notebooks that say "girl power" is compelling evidence of feminism, maltzer does make a compelling argument & i have to respect that. i think it's a bit unfortunate that meltzer's own personal history with/interest in riot grrrl music steals focus a little bit from what could have been one of the better books interrogating the intersections of pop music & feminism, but...it's still not a bad book. meltzer's descriptions of the MWMF controversy & her experience at camp trans are well worth the cost of admission, if only because this is a topic that has been pretty thoroughly annoyed by mainstream writers/publishers. it was nice to see topics that i am actually very personally invested in, that i have only seen addressed heretofore in zines or obscure blogs, in a book. i may be biased because i was able to buy this book with a store discount at my local indie bookshop (thanks to having spent over $100 there already), so i got to enjoy this book for about the same cost as a chocolate malt. could it have been better? more sophisticated, more scholarly, perhaps with a more specific focus of interrogation? definitely. but did it suck? i don't think so. read it & decide for yourself.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sean O'Hara

    A majorly disappointing book. Rather than attempting anything like an overview of the era, the author focuses on bands that she happens to like, with the result that she spends more time on The Spice Girls than PJ Harvey or Tori Amos. Worse still, when she does address parts of the wider picture that don't meet her taste -- mainly with groups too popular too ignore -- she lets her biases overwhelm her assessment. So, for instance, when talking about the mega-hit female acts of the mid-90s (Alani A majorly disappointing book. Rather than attempting anything like an overview of the era, the author focuses on bands that she happens to like, with the result that she spends more time on The Spice Girls than PJ Harvey or Tori Amos. Worse still, when she does address parts of the wider picture that don't meet her taste -- mainly with groups too popular too ignore -- she lets her biases overwhelm her assessment. So, for instance, when talking about the mega-hit female acts of the mid-90s (Alanis Morissette, Fiona Apple, Merideth Brooks), she puts them down for "lack[ing] a community of their own" and not having any "consciousness-raising sessions or zines to pass around," saying these things separated the "real feminism" of Bikini Kill and even Hole, from "feminist-flavored rock," as though this is a bad thing, and merely conveying a message to the listener isn't enough. The worst bit is when she criticizes Fiona Apple's song "Sullen Girl," a personal account of the suffering Apple went through after being raped as a teenager, for not "mak[ing] any larger societal connection" on the issue. A couple chapters later, while discussing the pop idols from the turn of the century, she turns her attention to Avril Lavigne, who receives the drubbing she so much deserves, and then Pink. Now you and I might think Pink is a strong example of feminist song writing, but Meltzer takes issue with the lyrics of one song, "Stupid Girls," for placing too much blame on the titular women and not celebrating sisterhood. She doesn't discuss any of Pink's other songs. No, she chooses that as emblematic of Pink's entire songbook and condemns Pink as the same sort of anti-feminist artist as Britney Spears and Jessica Simpson. To add to the hilarity, a couple pages later the author herself calls Jessica Simpson "annoying as ever" and "sanctimonious". I certainly have no problem with those assessments, but but it's galling to see someone do that right after chastising Pink for writing: Maybe if I act like that Flippin' my blond hair back (yeah) Push up my bra like that I don't wanna be a stupid girl How is it all right for Meltzer to belittle Simpson, but not for Pink to make fun of the exact same kind of woman? There's something distinctly classist about the attitude.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    Marisa Meltzer, I would love to grab coffee or a drink with you. The focus of this book is all too close to my heart as it's very similar to my masters thesis on the potential for feminist activism in indie rock subcultures. While I would have liked less analysis of Spice Girls (Meltzer does state at the beginning that she will focus primarily on pop and punk music) and more interviews with Ladyfest organizers, musicians, zine writers, I devoured this book. Given that the Lilith Fair is starting Marisa Meltzer, I would love to grab coffee or a drink with you. The focus of this book is all too close to my heart as it's very similar to my masters thesis on the potential for feminist activism in indie rock subcultures. While I would have liked less analysis of Spice Girls (Meltzer does state at the beginning that she will focus primarily on pop and punk music) and more interviews with Ladyfest organizers, musicians, zine writers, I devoured this book. Given that the Lilith Fair is starting up again this summer, it will be very interesting to contrast the two festivals, the politics and the organizing. While Ladyfests are no more and Sleater-Kinney is gone, what has remained are the rock camps for girls. . . And I think that's how it should be. I look forward to more riot grrrl and 90s nostalgia in the years to come as well as more cultural analysis from Meltzer.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Abilouise

    This book was an interesting exploration in the evolution and history of the 90s white-girl music that I love so much. I appreciate her insights about and appreciation for Spice Girls, as well as the way that she describes the limitations of their vision. There were some amazing insights in here but also some confusing moments, like when she kept mentioning the Breeders in lists but not saying anything about them, or when she was weirdly dismissive of womyn's music and didn't seem remotely excit This book was an interesting exploration in the evolution and history of the 90s white-girl music that I love so much. I appreciate her insights about and appreciation for Spice Girls, as well as the way that she describes the limitations of their vision. There were some amazing insights in here but also some confusing moments, like when she kept mentioning the Breeders in lists but not saying anything about them, or when she was weirdly dismissive of womyn's music and didn't seem remotely excited by that history, seemingly from mostly an eye-rolling hipster aesthetic angle. Mostly reading this book the same year I read Girls To The Front has convinced me that if you try to write anything about Riot Grrrl, or for that matter Fiona Apple, without trauma-literacy, you will be missing something important.

  11. 5 out of 5

    matt

    Terribly unfocused, "Girl Power" tells a lot of (familiar) stories without any serious analysis. This book should have been 300 pages longer to do justice to some of the major 90s female power players (her nod to Gwen Stefani was laughable) or just focused entirely on Riot Grrl. Even the anecdotal asides are too skimpy to ever identify with Meltzer's voice or opinion. With only a handful of exclusive interviews, this book ultimately feels like a VH1-type clip show retread on paper. Terribly unfocused, "Girl Power" tells a lot of (familiar) stories without any serious analysis. This book should have been 300 pages longer to do justice to some of the major 90s female power players (her nod to Gwen Stefani was laughable) or just focused entirely on Riot Grrl. Even the anecdotal asides are too skimpy to ever identify with Meltzer's voice or opinion. With only a handful of exclusive interviews, this book ultimately feels like a VH1-type clip show retread on paper.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Veronica

    I am totally unqualified to review this book as I totally missed the Riot Grrrl moment. On the other hand, I totally dove into the Lilith Fair moment, so I think that I could write the rebuttal or sequel to Girl Power: The Nineties Revolution in Music by Marisa Meltzer, as Meltzer says she never attended Lilith Fair. But I don't hold that against her. Girl Power is a quick read. In fact I dare say that it's a must have on your summer 2010 reading list. It's not fluffy, but at only 145 pages, it d I am totally unqualified to review this book as I totally missed the Riot Grrrl moment. On the other hand, I totally dove into the Lilith Fair moment, so I think that I could write the rebuttal or sequel to Girl Power: The Nineties Revolution in Music by Marisa Meltzer, as Meltzer says she never attended Lilith Fair. But I don't hold that against her. Girl Power is a quick read. In fact I dare say that it's a must have on your summer 2010 reading list. It's not fluffy, but at only 145 pages, it delves thru the 1990s women's music scene quickly and in fairly accessible language. In other words, Meltzer doesn't compare Avril to Courtney by using uber-academic jargon. Because of that, I'd also say that this would make an awesome book group selection. I can only imagine the music throw downs at the Women & Children First Feminist book group. As someone who missed the Riot Grrrl moment, I really appreciated reading about how it came about, got popular and then essentially killed itself thru a media boycott. Meltzer ponders if that would have been conceivable in today's media soaked culture. I concur. But what I found most intriguing about the book was how Meltzer outlines how a group of feminists grabbed guitars, drums and the mic and launched a very real music revolution and then how that revolution was so successful that it is quickly evolved into what we typically think of as "Girl Power" music. From Alanis to the Spice Girls, few pop "Girl Power" acts are left un-examined as to how well they stay true to feminism and the benchmark of Riot Grrrl. Meltzer also looks at how some Riot Grrrl acts moved into the mainstream and how that impacted their music. One could use this book to examine just about any grassroots, indie movement to see how it evolves into something vastly different in a short amount of time. I didn't agree with many of Meltzer's conclusions such as grouping P!nk with Avril as bullies. She points to "Stupid Girls" as being problematic by calling out specific "stupid girls" instead of calling out society. I think that's exactly what P!nk does by calling out "tiny dog" accessorizing celebs. Maybe I'm just still reeling from Meltzer making a great case as to why the Spice Girls were a good thing and not P!nk. And reeling in the sense that I think it's an excellent case and one we should all reexamine. Girl Power also made me stop and consider how do we want girls to discover feminism. Or more to the point, how do we think we can get them to discover feminism? My daughter has taken a liking to this book solely due to the title. The kid has asked me how I have liked the book, what it's about and tried to read over my shoulder. This is a book I do plan to leave on a shelf for her to have easy access to when she's around 10. Maybe a bit sooner, but 6 is still too soon for me to discuss rape with her. But the thing is that she knows "girl power" and what it means to her. I asked her and she said, "That girls can play soccer, girls can play chess and girls can play guitars!" Then she laughed and confessed that she cribbed that response from the cover of Girl Studies. I tell ya, she's a smart cookie. But if even 75% of girls her age know "girl power" as a slogan that translated into "Of course, I can do X!" then isn't that a good thing? I guess it can be a not-good thing if the girl in question doesn't have someone in her life to build upon that feeling and reinforce it. Hopefully you get that the bottom line of this review is that it was a good read, a fast read and one that did make me ponder if it's feminist to "go down in a movie theater" or not. Disclaimer: The only payment I received for this review was the copy of the book. I met Marisa years ago when she was with Bitch magazine, but I highly doubt that it is why when I asked for a review copy, her peeps sent one.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Genevieve

    I wanted to like this book more than I did. As a member of the generation that was too young for riot grrrl or other 90s 'angry women' musicians at the time, but who listens to and appreciates them now, I was hoping to find some insight into the cultural context of this music, and perhaps some feminist analysis of the relationships between different models of girl-oriented music. But while Girl Power pieces together a decently complete sketch of the period, its analysis is pretty shallow, and no I wanted to like this book more than I did. As a member of the generation that was too young for riot grrrl or other 90s 'angry women' musicians at the time, but who listens to and appreciates them now, I was hoping to find some insight into the cultural context of this music, and perhaps some feminist analysis of the relationships between different models of girl-oriented music. But while Girl Power pieces together a decently complete sketch of the period, its analysis is pretty shallow, and not infrequently seems to contradict itself. I didn't get a whole lot out of reading this that I hadn't already considered or figured out on my own. In Meltzer's defense, this is messy, shifting, baffling ground, hard to make coherent sense of. Ultimately her question seems to be, Did the riot grrrl movement succeed in pushing forward the space for women and feminism in rock/pop music, or is its legacy so diffuse, warped, or watered down that it makes no difference? Making a definitive argument for either option is difficult, both because it requires making a judgment about the current music scene and because the field of popular music is simply so much to process. Meltzer makes an effort to connect the issues and tactics of riot grrrl to other parts of pop music and culture, but when she steps outside of the part of the culture that she knows through having lived it, she seems to be replicating tired lists of talking points. Her description of the experience of riot grrrl itself is a lot more compelling than her rather thin exploration of wider cultural relationships, in which she name-checks a lot of major 90s female musicians without going in depth. When Meltzer ultimately comes down on the side of riot grrrl having had a pervasive, persistent influence despite, and in fact through, being co-opted for commercial purposes, I felt like she still hadn't really examined the linkages between pop and underground. Maybe it's just because I am still a naive angry young person right now, but I found the measured optimism of Meltzer's conclusion, in which she comes around to seeing 'girl power' as positive, kind of unsatisfying. Sure, the Spice Girls and their version of 'girl power' weren't 100% bad for the girls who listened to them (I should know, I was one); and today's music scene may offer more room for women to make music without being solely focused on gender through some trickle-down-feminism effect. But I for one feel a decided lack of anger and grit and politics and loudness in contemporary female-created music, and I'm not sure that "girl power has planted the philosophical seeds" for today's girls to create real power and change, as Meltzer concludes. I have no desire to get nostalgic about an era I never lived, but it can be frustrating to belong to a generation whose manifesto is to have no manifesto. This may be more about me than about the book, though.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Mandy Jo

    This week’s headline? Girls banding together Why this book? Nineties underground nostalgia Which book format? Nice and new Primary reading environment? Day of rest Any preconceived notions? Cooler than thou Identify most with? Still Courtney Love Three little words? "Elitist value judgments" Goes well with? Tamari, Tabasco, yeast I used to hate Britney Spears, mainly because we are the same age and she dated Justin Timberlake while I was still in love with him. In my first semester of college, I clipped This week’s headline? Girls banding together Why this book? Nineties underground nostalgia Which book format? Nice and new Primary reading environment? Day of rest Any preconceived notions? Cooler than thou Identify most with? Still Courtney Love Three little words? "Elitist value judgments" Goes well with? Tamari, Tabasco, yeast I used to hate Britney Spears, mainly because we are the same age and she dated Justin Timberlake while I was still in love with him. In my first semester of college, I clipped a Britney photo-and-quote from the newspaper: “Sundance is weird. The movies are weird. You actually have to think about them when you watch them.” I attached it to the wall above the microwave in my dorm by sticking a thumbtack through Britney’s face. My roommate said this made me psychotic. Fast forward to my last semester of college, and I’m living in a house with that roommate, our (hetero) guy friend, and a women's studies major. We’re very active in the campus production of the Vagina Monologues: original roommate is directing, hetero roommate is building the set, and feminist roommate and I are tag-teaming “The Vagina Workshop.” Britney had dropped the virginal act, gotten an annulment, and started letting her white trash roots grow out. Justin had released “Cry Me a River,” which should have called to me like a siren song, but for some reason, I was on Britney’s side. Roommates and I were on our way home from the bar when “Toxic” came on the radio. I had been rooting for Britney and it was her first decent single in a long time, so I gleefully cried “Yay, Britney!” If you’re a blonde former cheerleader with a rural values system who is already struggling to fit in on a liberal arts campus, this is the last thing you want to say in a car full of feminazis. Learned that the hard way. My roommates ended up hosting the fundraiser/cast party for the Vagina Monologues at our house as a way of building solidarity. I stayed until my boyfriend showed up, then bailed with him. Other cultural accompaniments: The Bobby Bones Show, Smoke Two Joints by Sublime, Leave Britney Alone! Grade: A I leave you with this: “I wonder if things would have turned out differently for her if, instead of being a vessel for the mainstream, she had learned how to rebel more constructively through music, like so many adolescents do....With no apparent friends or confidantes, Spears, like so many alienated girls, could have at least found some comfort in music.”

  15. 4 out of 5

    Erinn Maine

    This is one of the worst books I have read. You can tell from the first page that she was just dying to be the coolest riot grrrl who ever existed and even though she picked her college based on the local music scene, it just didn't happen. Meltzer would have been happy writing an entire book just about riot grrrl, but because of the genre's self-inflicted media blackout she couldn't score an interview. She's a huge Wannabe (pun-intended). She's not cool enough to be an actual riot grrrl herself This is one of the worst books I have read. You can tell from the first page that she was just dying to be the coolest riot grrrl who ever existed and even though she picked her college based on the local music scene, it just didn't happen. Meltzer would have been happy writing an entire book just about riot grrrl, but because of the genre's self-inflicted media blackout she couldn't score an interview. She's a huge Wannabe (pun-intended). She's not cool enough to be an actual riot grrrl herself, but she is quick to bash all other women in music. She tries to give a comprehensive history of women in music during the 90s, but can't help picking apart why Liz Phair isn't good enough or why Lilith Fair is terrible for women everywhere. As a "Wannabe" myself, I was hoping to gain some insight into a time in music which I wish I had been more a part of. I was young enough to listen to Spice Girls as a guilty pleasure, my first CD was Jagged Little Pill and I lived for Shirley Manson. I was too young to actually understand any of it, though. Meltzer's bias against anything that wasn't riot grrrl rang throughout. Had her writing been better, she may have made me feel ashamed of the music I loved. Furthermore, about two-thirds through the book she apparently ran out of things to talk about because she started writing about music in the early 2000s up to right before Miley went crazy. Perhaps she should have researched a little bit more, found something to say---maybe about the struggle of women in mainstream music like Shirley or Gwen instead of writing them off as a token female lead. Something! Or don't write the book! Its as if she agreed to write this book and then decided she didn't like the topic. I cannot believe a publisher or an editor would not stop to question this book. The lack of substance, the repetitive writing (the same phrases appear again and again) and the overwhelming negative attitude makes this book so hard to read. Do not read this book. You would honestly get more out of one of those celebrity biography picture books available through Scholastic book sales.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sheba

    I love Meltzer's enthusiasm in attacking this subject. Having said that, the writing--or perhaps the editing--of this book was so distracting that I could barely keep an interest in the subject. Some very noticeable issues: The book, particularly chapter 1, could use some breathing space with clear paragraphs--often it felt as though Meltzer was too quickly jumping to the next subject without any sense of a transition; there's a chronic misuse of the article "the" throughout; there are more quot I love Meltzer's enthusiasm in attacking this subject. Having said that, the writing--or perhaps the editing--of this book was so distracting that I could barely keep an interest in the subject. Some very noticeable issues: The book, particularly chapter 1, could use some breathing space with clear paragraphs--often it felt as though Meltzer was too quickly jumping to the next subject without any sense of a transition; there's a chronic misuse of the article "the" throughout; there are more quotes used by "friends in the biz" here than should be and most just didn't warrant inclusion; time sequences are muddled throughout (was the movement from "1997-1999" or longer, because there are certainly some issues with dates throughout?); and there's an authorial presence here that just doesn't work, particularly with the meandering sometimes snotty asides (to rehash: Courtney Love really is crazy, ya'll!). The book may be a good starting point for readers interested in getting a brief glimpse of some of the initial values of that time and those related movements. Meltzer does a great job of portraying the typical emotional makeup of young girls attracted to girl power movements and I applaud her for really going the extra mile to point out that riot grrl/girl power--while taking many of its ideas and "badges of authenticity" from working in communities of color--was for the most part about white, predominantly middle-class girls. But if readers are looking for in-depth analysis and a better sense of the timeline, they'll need other resources.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sandee

    I am definitely torn about this one and I think I am leaning more toward a 2.5 rating. As a huge fan of riot grrrl and of women in music in general, I was excited to hear opinions and insights from women I love. I was especially excited about how much Lois Maffeo showed up throughout the book (huge fan). And considering I just saw Sleater Kinney two days ago, the closing chapter about their influence was especially well timed. That being said, I didn't learn too much I haven't already heard. Also I am definitely torn about this one and I think I am leaning more toward a 2.5 rating. As a huge fan of riot grrrl and of women in music in general, I was excited to hear opinions and insights from women I love. I was especially excited about how much Lois Maffeo showed up throughout the book (huge fan). And considering I just saw Sleater Kinney two days ago, the closing chapter about their influence was especially well timed. That being said, I didn't learn too much I haven't already heard. Also I guess I was expecting a lot of empowerment so some of the criticisms bothered me, especially when there were moments that I perceived women being pitted against women. I get it, every one has a voice, but some parts felt unfair. it was a quick read and some aspects were interesting so I wouldn't dismiss it entirely. I just wanted more depth and range.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Eve

    Just was with the Sassy book I was disappointed but there was some good stuff-kind of reads like a pop version of a Bard Senior Project.

  19. 4 out of 5

    K.

    After reading this I have to make a list of alternate heroines so that I don't get even more depressed. After reading this I have to make a list of alternate heroines so that I don't get even more depressed.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Shant

    This book started out slow but thankfully picked up. At first, I thought the Angry Women chapter (non riot grrrl 90's alt rock) had too much emphasis on authenticity for people like Alanis Morissette and I thought she placed too much credit in the riot grrrl identity. When she mentioned Meredith Brooks and Tracy Bonham, I thought to myself 'Doesn't real equality mean that there can be random one hit wonders of differing quality, even if they dip into feminism sometimes?'. I guess it's an interes This book started out slow but thankfully picked up. At first, I thought the Angry Women chapter (non riot grrrl 90's alt rock) had too much emphasis on authenticity for people like Alanis Morissette and I thought she placed too much credit in the riot grrrl identity. When she mentioned Meredith Brooks and Tracy Bonham, I thought to myself 'Doesn't real equality mean that there can be random one hit wonders of differing quality, even if they dip into feminism sometimes?'. I guess it's an interesting debate, though, if it's not enough to be good if you're not encouraging political/grassroots efforts. I wish PJ Harvey and Tori Amos were covered more. And I wish Gwen Stefani/No Doubt was covered, period (Side note: That one Buzzfeed News piece on Gwen Stefani by Ann Helen Petersen covers the topic well) I wish the girl group part mentioned TLC, but the book was also short and she had to keep it moving, I guess. The teen pop chapter was interesting. This book came out in 2010, when I feel like people (Or at least pop culture critics) didn't realize yet that it wasn't cutting edge humor to be mean to Britney Spears, so I give her credit for being multidimensional. It was interesting to see songs like 'Stupid Girls' and 'Girlfriend' by Pink and Avril Lavigne called out (I wish the Can't Take Me Home era was discussed for Pink. If not the cultural appropriation, at least the slightly less tomboy aesthetic. But yeah, deep cut). I feel like the book ended well for pointing to the future.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    I liked this a lot! Marisa Meltzer's book is a fairly light history of girls/young women in music and pop culture from the early 1990s to the present. It doesn't focus on any single group or musical movement, but instead discusses a variety (ranging from riot grrrl to Alanis Morissette to Britney Spears to Taylor Swift), tracing common themes through the years. She also does a nice job of relating her own personal experiences without overwhelming the overall narrative. David Lee Roth said in a m I liked this a lot! Marisa Meltzer's book is a fairly light history of girls/young women in music and pop culture from the early 1990s to the present. It doesn't focus on any single group or musical movement, but instead discusses a variety (ranging from riot grrrl to Alanis Morissette to Britney Spears to Taylor Swift), tracing common themes through the years. She also does a nice job of relating her own personal experiences without overwhelming the overall narrative. David Lee Roth said in a mid-80s interview, "What if a little girl picked up a guitar and said 'I want to be a rock star'? Nine times out of ten her parents would never allow her to do it. We don't have so many lead guitar women, not because women don't have the ability to play the instrument, but because they're locked up, taught to be something else." This book is an attempt to address how girls, in the past twenty-five years, have in fact picked up those guitars (or at least microphones). Lest you fear that Meltzer's view is overly cheerful, she does include some sharp criticisms about the commercialization and over-sexualization of very young girls that seems to have accompanied the "girl power" movement. Yet overall, she is at least cautiously optimistic: "Girl power's 'do-it-yourself' message of 'you can do anything' is a powerful entree to feminism, especially because its simplicity brings in the very young." The greatest strength of this book is its fairly broad scope, bolstered by good research that synthesizes dozens of personal and print interviews; a quote from Courtney Love might appear on a page beside a conversation the author had with a budding eight-year-old rocker, for example. At the same time, this breadth also creates what could be perceived as a weakness in the book, which is that it seems to lack depth, and certainly doesn't make any particularly radical statements about feminism. It's a very comfortable third-wave feminist read that I enjoyed a lot, however. As a girl of the 1990s I was pretty familiar with most of her subjects and liked learning how they all fit together in a meta-arc of women in music. I would definitely recommend this book to any woman around my age (27), or anyone who's curious about popular culture's more political layers. EDITED: So I read some of the other reviews and wow, people have a lot of feelings! Fair points: This is a book with limited perspective, namely that of a white middle-class cisgender college-educated woman. (I should probably concede that I fit that description exactly.) She does address this fact by writing about a transgender-inclusive festival, and briefly points out the homogeneity of most of the riot grrrl movement, but otherwise stays within her own milieu. Also fair but perhaps beside the point: The book oversimplifies a lot. It's short and addresses too many different things to get into great depth. So if you have really strong personal feelings about any particular artist or movement, maybe be prepared to feel misunderstood? At any rate, I didn't.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Elevate Difference

    Having been born in the late '80s, I always felt I missed out on everything cool in music. I wasn’t there to see the birth of punk. I wasn’t there for New Wave. I was too young for grunge, and I was too far away from Olympia, WA for riot grrrl. In the 1990s, I bought Sublime’s self -titled album along with Alice Cooper’s School's Out, and that was the extent of my musical awareness. So I always enjoyed reading about riot grrrl, putting on my Heavens to Betsy CD, and pretending I was more involve Having been born in the late '80s, I always felt I missed out on everything cool in music. I wasn’t there to see the birth of punk. I wasn’t there for New Wave. I was too young for grunge, and I was too far away from Olympia, WA for riot grrrl. In the 1990s, I bought Sublime’s self -titled album along with Alice Cooper’s School's Out, and that was the extent of my musical awareness. So I always enjoyed reading about riot grrrl, putting on my Heavens to Betsy CD, and pretending I was more involved in it than I actually was. Yes, I remember 1991. Sure, I was only five years old, but still, I was there. I expected Marisa Meltzer’s Girl Power: The Nineties Revolution in Music to help me keep up my own personal time capsule, going on the title alone. While the first few chapters do go into depth about riot grrrl’s evolution, the rest of the book moves forward in time from where riot grrrl left off, and this is where Meltzer hypothesizes leaves off as well. Post-riot grrrl, Meltzer traces the evolution of a few obvious late-90s "angry" female artists, such as Alanis Morissette, Fiona Apple, Tori Amos, and Paula Cole, along with all the women from Lilith Fair, but then veers into a weird direction with The Spice Girls. A lot of this book, in fact, goes into detail about The Spice Girls, and Meltzer keeps attempting to drive home her point that this girl group was actually pretty feminist. Now, this is something I actually was there for (although I try not to think about those dark times). Being a young girl coming of age when The Spice Girls were popular, I never got the impression that they were feminists. Maybe I’m just biased here, but the constant mention of this group kind of rubbed me the wrong way. That being said, Meltzer has some interesting points about them. (The Spice Girls, in effect, got the term girl power out there, and started some little girls thinking about their potential, but calling them feminist still seems like a stretch to me. It was a good, long, head-beating attempt by Meltzer, but by the end of this book, I was not convinced.) Meltzer also touches upon a few modern day female pop stars, like the young women from High School Musical and Taylor Swift, as she attempts to draw a line from riot grrrl to girl power. This book may be aimed at younger girls in the hopes that it will get them thinking about their own generation of musical trends, and inspire them to look more critically at the media. Girl Power shows a lot of promise for spurring conversations between feminists of different generations, but for anyone born past 1990, Meltzer could leave you feeling bitter and jaded. Then again, maybe it’s just me. Review by Jen Klee

  23. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    I struggled between giving this book 3 and 4 stars. It was a fast, almost couldn't-put-it-down read; Meltzer is a very good writer; the book was thoughtful and raises a handful of thought provoking points; and I liked her cautiously optimistic approach to feminism. In some ways, the books strengths also prompted its weaknesses. The book was a fast read because it was 150 pages, but 150 pages was nowhere near enough to cover the breadth of material she does. Meltzer examines the emergence of the c I struggled between giving this book 3 and 4 stars. It was a fast, almost couldn't-put-it-down read; Meltzer is a very good writer; the book was thoughtful and raises a handful of thought provoking points; and I liked her cautiously optimistic approach to feminism. In some ways, the books strengths also prompted its weaknesses. The book was a fast read because it was 150 pages, but 150 pages was nowhere near enough to cover the breadth of material she does. Meltzer examines the emergence of the concept of "girl power" from its rawest and most political origins - the nascent riot grrl scene in early 1990s Olympia and D.C. - to its most commercialized moments - the Spice Girls and, dare I say it, Miley Cyrus. Meltzer, unfortunately, did not give enough time or analysis to anyone along the way. As a feminist, I was bummed to see how bare-bones and watered-down her riot grrl chapter was - despite the fact that Meltzer herself was an ardent riot grrl participant. She captured none of the passion, the exciting and raw-to-the-point-of-uncomfortable beauty of riot grrl that is so clearly visible if you just look up "kathleen hanna" on youtube. Her read on the more commercialized, apolitical aspects of "girl power" - the Spice Girls, etc. - was actually quite generous considering any feminist would be quick to vilify these acts. But ultimately in her attempt to see the good in their existence, she avoided analyzing the perniciousness of their prepackaged, commercial, musically bland catalogs. Maybe I'm an old lady, but most of the present day girl-power music - from Pink to the Pussycat Dolls - seems to be about bashing women or competing with other women - for men. It's enough to make this feminist cry - these songs, these singers, and their messages cannot exist without the presumed Male Gaze. Not only that, but the beauty of early riot grrl was its "DIY" attitude - when it came to making zines, and when it came to making music. Today's "girl power band" requires millions of dollars of auto tune equipment and the highest paid (MALE) managers and songwriters. I don't think that the Spice Girls and Britney are watered down versions of girl power - honestly, I think they are anathema. The best thing about this book is that it made me want to go and read more about riot grrl and reconnect with Third Wave Feminism - a flawed, and probably past-its-prime, but nonetheless passionate and exciting movement.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Florinda

    By the time I heard about the riot-grrrl movement of the early 1990’s, I'’d missed it. However, as a relatively short-lived and deliberately noncommercial development in music, its influence on what followed it outstripped its immediate impact, and I suspect a lot of women who were past high-school and college age (I was in my late 20’s, already married and a mother) missed it at the time. In this exploration of women in music during the last couple of decades, Marisa Meltzer looks at the music’ By the time I heard about the riot-grrrl movement of the early 1990’s, I'’d missed it. However, as a relatively short-lived and deliberately noncommercial development in music, its influence on what followed it outstripped its immediate impact, and I suspect a lot of women who were past high-school and college age (I was in my late 20’s, already married and a mother) missed it at the time. In this exploration of women in music during the last couple of decades, Marisa Meltzer looks at the music’'s “anyone-can-do-it” roots in punk, its filtering into mainstream consciousness, and its sometimes-shaky connections to modern feminism. Meltzer argues that the original riot grrrls viewed their independent music-making, writing and publishing activities as feminist, political acts, but their determination not to be exploited diluted their potential impact on the direction of third-wave feminism. However, the 1990’s were notable for the assimilation of “alternative” culture into the mainstream, and stylistic elements of riot grrrl - assertiveness, embracing and expression of “negative” emotions, an upfront expression of sexuality, and reclaiming “"girl"” as a positive term rather than a demeaning one - became part of a pop-culture-based “empowerment’ that may have helped produce more confident girls, but affected very little genuine social change. The sense of community, sisterhood and “women for women” that spurred the feminist movement through the 1960s and into the early 1980s was present in riot grrrl, but it too became diluted and the focus shifted to the individual. Meltzer suggests that without a revived sense of community, genuine progress for feminist values may be limited - and I think she’'s right. Girl Power is a fast read that touches on a lot of material, but doesn'’t explore much of it in great detail, and I admit I was somewhat disappointed by that - I’'d have liked more, not just about the politics but about the music; too many of the early-’90s artists Meltzer references were unfamiliar to me. The book'’s appendices include a bibliography and filmography; I’'d have liked a discography as well, but I’'m not sure that some of the music discussed is even available (several playlists linked in the book’s website may help with that). It’'s not enough to satisfy your 1990s nostalgia, but it may pique your appetite for more. Hopefully, it will also get you thinking about further exploration of the feminist questions it raises.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    I have always been outspoken and unashamed about being a feminist, and though I sometimes gravitate toward the harder stuff, I've always appreciated that Lilith Fair, Ladyfest, and other events can co-exist. They offer millions of people a kinship they might not get in other scenes, and they also offer an artist's living for the makers. I appreciate her assertion that Riot Grrrl committed a sad suicide when it could have taken over the world instead (it was certainly poised to have real power of I have always been outspoken and unashamed about being a feminist, and though I sometimes gravitate toward the harder stuff, I've always appreciated that Lilith Fair, Ladyfest, and other events can co-exist. They offer millions of people a kinship they might not get in other scenes, and they also offer an artist's living for the makers. I appreciate her assertion that Riot Grrrl committed a sad suicide when it could have taken over the world instead (it was certainly poised to have real power of its own for a long, healthy time) and I enjoyed the lead-in to a discussion of so-called "Foxcore" and pop bands that took over in the vacuum that Riot Grrrl left. She hits the nail on the head in many cases, though she misses the point of why events such as Lilith Fair and Michigan are still necessary (especially in today's political climate), and why we need them as women, especially in the mainstream. My main disappointment (which is also a praise as well, as I appreciate the author's honesty with her own shortcomings) comes from reading Meltzer's opinions of the scenes she encountered. When I read about her changing her looks so she'd fit in with her local Riot Grrrl scene, I cringed, as that's not what it's about at all. If she would have stood up for herself, I think she would have had a better time in general there, but instead, she was still very much in high-school mode at the time. I never encountered fashion police in any scene whose music I enjoyed, nor anyone who gave me the stink-eye for not looking like them. Kids can seem guarded when new people enter a scene (and sometimes with good reason) but it's often b/c you haven't gotten to know one another, not because you have the wrong haircut.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Though some reviews seem to indicate this is primarily a book about the riot grrrl movement, it's really not. (If you're interested in reading about that, check out Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution) Rather, it deals with women in music in the 90s, spanning a few different genres. The book starts with riot grrls and winds its way through the decade, discussing Lilith Fair, the Spice Girls, and Britney Spears on its way. At the same time, the author interjects some of Though some reviews seem to indicate this is primarily a book about the riot grrrl movement, it's really not. (If you're interested in reading about that, check out Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution) Rather, it deals with women in music in the 90s, spanning a few different genres. The book starts with riot grrls and winds its way through the decade, discussing Lilith Fair, the Spice Girls, and Britney Spears on its way. At the same time, the author interjects some of her own experiences with this music. While I'm normally a fan of combining personal experience & history (like in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks), I thought this book did a poor job of it. I would be reading a non-fiction text, then all of a sudden, the author was telling me about a time she went to see Sleater-Kinney's final show. These anecdotes should have attended some personality to the text, but their placement was too awkward and abrupt for that purpose. Overall - it's a quick, easy read, and the author gives you something to think about regarding women and music. However, the awkward combination of expository and narrative text, as well the shallowness of the thinking regarding women in music, made it into a book I wouldn't really recommend.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Leigh Anne

    A micro-history of women who put the "girl" back in power. Mostly the "grrl," but other topics tackled include the ladies of Lilith Fair, the Michigan Women's Music festival (appropriately called out for being transphobic, and with alternatives mentioned), Girls Rock camp, and foxcore, the worst name I've ever heard for a group of people that includes Alanis Morissette, Meredith Brooks, and Fiona Apple (Damnit, Thurston, why you gotta do a thing?). Ahem. This would be a perfectly acceptable microh A micro-history of women who put the "girl" back in power. Mostly the "grrl," but other topics tackled include the ladies of Lilith Fair, the Michigan Women's Music festival (appropriately called out for being transphobic, and with alternatives mentioned), Girls Rock camp, and foxcore, the worst name I've ever heard for a group of people that includes Alanis Morissette, Meredith Brooks, and Fiona Apple (Damnit, Thurston, why you gotta do a thing?). Ahem. This would be a perfectly acceptable microhistory for teens, but it gets dinged a star because it doesn't cover the women of 90s rap, or women of color in general, AT ALL, except in passing. What makes this super annoying is because Meltzer takes great pains, early on in the narrative, to talk about how the Riot Grrl movement was, in many ways, racist and classist. However, there is no subsequent exploration of what the POC on the scene WERE doing. Not devoting a chapter to Queen Latifah, Monie Love, MC Lyte, Yo-Yo, Da Brat, etc. is, IMHO, kind of unforgivable. Especially when you go on to give tons of real estate to Brittany, Christina, and the Spice Girls. If you've got other books to supplement this glaring omission, this is a decent pick for your teen section. However, you'd be better off with Girls to the Front to cover the Riot Grrl movement and make sure you have a decent set of books about hip hop handy (if anybody can find a good book that covers the women of hip hop, please tell me). Worth a quick flip-through and some TBR adds from the bibliography, but won't please anyone who knows better.

  28. 5 out of 5

    alana

    I enjoyed reading this book because I like the topic and could remember much of what the author discussed. She makes some interesting observations on the evolution of women’s participation in the American music scene in the 1990s. She also, in passing, highlights how the role of the internet in today’s music scene could radically affect feminism as expressed through music. Unfortunately, this is not a fabulous read. The information is scattered and patchy. Quotations are overused and cut and pas I enjoyed reading this book because I like the topic and could remember much of what the author discussed. She makes some interesting observations on the evolution of women’s participation in the American music scene in the 1990s. She also, in passing, highlights how the role of the internet in today’s music scene could radically affect feminism as expressed through music. Unfortunately, this is not a fabulous read. The information is scattered and patchy. Quotations are overused and cut and pasted in a way that fails to address who actually said the quote and in what context. I often felt the author thought, “Hey! I wish I’d said that!” and just threw in the quote to complete her point. I think with a heftier dose of editing the arguments could have been tighter and more academic. The musicians sited were clearly influential women in the 90s, but many women rockers (“Angry Womyn” in the book?) were left out which gave the book the quality of a memoir that could be re-titled My Favorite Chicks: 90s Musician Edition. I would still recommend the book to girlfriends who grew up in the 1990s and would appreciate the nostalgia with an added dose of more behind-the-scene issues we might have been unaware of at the time. I wish, though, that I could recommend it as a university text in classes discussing pop culture through a feminist lens. Alas, the lack of editing!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Laura Stone

    Sweet mother of everything I really tried to like this book. I picked it up from the library on a whim because I'm interested in feminism and music and playing guitar. But seriously? This book had so many weak points I don't even know where to begin. I'll try to say the nice things first: the author really tried to find the positive in all aspects of music culture. She also included a section on Camp Trans when talking about the Michigan Womyn's Festival, which is great because it calls attention Sweet mother of everything I really tried to like this book. I picked it up from the library on a whim because I'm interested in feminism and music and playing guitar. But seriously? This book had so many weak points I don't even know where to begin. I'll try to say the nice things first: the author really tried to find the positive in all aspects of music culture. She also included a section on Camp Trans when talking about the Michigan Womyn's Festival, which is great because it calls attention to the ways in which the Womyn's festival is problematic. There were several sections (especially when she was analyzing modern pop sensations such as Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera) where I really enjoyed her limited analysis. That said, this book did not resonate with me at all. Her critiques, while occasionally acknowledging gay/queer/trans/of color points of view, was written from the perspective of a gender conforming straight upper-middle class white person. There were so many opportunities she missed to talk about how the spaces in music being created by women either were or were not inclusive of queer women or trans people. Everything she wrote about what "young girls" could relate to was predicated upon the idea that girls wanted to be gender conforming and wanted to grow up into women. This just isn't the case. And for that reason, I just couldn't get into this book, I made my way through it by force of will alone.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    Well, I liked it. Sometimes I liked it less than other times, but it was a pretty solid read. Readers expecting a definitive history of Riot Grrrl will be disappointed, as this is (mostly) Meltzer's personal, conflicted and affectionate history with the lady-made music of the 90s and beyond. But reading this book often felt like talking to my best girlfriend about the music and activism of our wilder years. But WTF with Ani DiFranco only getting half a page? Ahem. So anyway. The book starts with Well, I liked it. Sometimes I liked it less than other times, but it was a pretty solid read. Readers expecting a definitive history of Riot Grrrl will be disappointed, as this is (mostly) Meltzer's personal, conflicted and affectionate history with the lady-made music of the 90s and beyond. But reading this book often felt like talking to my best girlfriend about the music and activism of our wilder years. But WTF with Ani DiFranco only getting half a page? Ahem. So anyway. The book starts with the Pacific Northwest and DC twin-sproutings of the movement of punk and politics that eventually became Riot Grrrl. But Meltzer seems unsure about the trajectory that movement took. Was it appropriated into a radio-friendlier format that got further and further removed from activism (the Hole -> Alanis -> Spice Girls -> Britney -> Pussycat Dolls route)? Or did it lead through Bikini Kill to Sleater-Kinney, Ladyfest, Rock & Roll Camp for Girls, and the punk reclaiming of DIY craft? Or both? Meltzer doesn't really have the answer (and leaves out the craft angle entirely, but I believe it's all related to reclaiming the skills and experiences of girlhood as a political/anti-corporate act). She might if she were less personally invested in the music, but that probably would have made for a much less interesting read.

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