Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Just Jennifer

Girls to the Front: the True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution by Sara Marcus (Harper Perennial, October 2010)

In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, a group of girls, mostly based in Olympia, Washington (centered around Evergreen State College) and Washington, D.C. began looking for a safe place where they could talk about anything they wanted, including topics such as abuse, incest and rape. Many just wanted a place to validate their feelings that they were as good as boys and to express their frustration. Starting as a series of alternative girl bands, rising out of the punk movement, these girls, and young women, began to find each other, write zines, play music and shout out in an attempt to be heard. Sara Marcus, in high school at the time, was such a girl looking for a place to explore her feelings and get reassurance she wasn’t alone. Three major girl groups grew out of this movement, Bikini Kill, Bratmobile and Heavens to Betsy. Traveling the country, these groups gave girls an outlet to express themselves and gave a voice to the then called Riot Grrrl movement. By the mid-1990’s, the movement had mostly died out; it never caught on in most major cities including New York City and Chicago, and without the mass communication afforded by the internet, the girls had to rely on word of mouth and traditional means of communication to spread their message. The history of this movement is thoroughly documented with a large notes section and an appendix updating the status of the major players mentioned throughout. This is an interesting, little know, part of feminist history, and example of how a small group, girls and young women in this case, can spread their message and make themselves heard.

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