From Publishers Weekly
A Brooklyn-based journalist gives a brash, gutsy chronicle of the empowering music and feminist movement of the early 1990s led by young women rock groups like Bikini Kill and Bratmobile. Politicized by such national events as the backlash against feminism in the press, the first Iraq War, and the Supreme Court's gearing up to review Roe v. Wade, young women were incensed. Kathleen Hanna, a college student from Olympia, Wash., was spurred to action after interviewing writer Kathy Acker and working for a domestic violence shelter, and she decided to start a band. Hanna, along with Tobi Vail, a fanzine writer (Jigsaw) and former punk rocker who was dating Nirvana's Kurt Cobain, were on a mission to spread female rebellion via their band, Bikini Kill. Meanwhile, Allison Wolfe and Molly Neuman, who had met at the University of Oregon, were in Washington, D.C., cobbling together their own band, Bratmobile. Thus, writes Marcus in this compelling account, the Grrrl Revolution was sparked. Marcus enthusiastically tracks the "scattered cartographies of rebellion" and captures the combustible excitement of this significant if short-lived moment.
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*Starred Review* Marcus’ compelling history covers a specific time period, 1989–1994, and a particular type of music that turned into a larger social movement. The riot grrrl movement was a potent form of female empowerment as well as a postfeminist reaction to sexism and the rising number of sexual assaults against women when expectations for equality were high. A writer and musician, Marcus describes some of the major players on the scene, including individuals (Kathleen Hanna, Tobi Vail) and bands (Bikini Kill, Heavens to Betsy)—all set against the backdrop of the so-called postfeminist period. She tells colorful anecdotes (such as the origin of the title of Nirvana’s breakthrough single “Smells like Teen Spirit”). She describes the music scene in such important riot grrrl locations as the Pacific Northwest and Washington, D.C., and chronicles the rise of riot grrrl zines and riot grrrl conventions. In all, Marcus has done a commendable job of telling the little-known history of an important social and cultural movement. --June Sawyers