February 3, 2010

Girl Power

me, with hair that is in between bleach and blue, brushing up on my knowledge of the 90's and feminism and cool people.

Girl Power is a book by Marisa Meltzer, co-author of How Sassy Changed My Life, that traces how bands like Bikini Kill led to female artists from Miley Cyrus to the Spice Girls to Avril Lavigne to Alanis Morisette (who Courtney Love is not so hot on, or was not so hot on as of nineteen-ninety-five:)
Despite the somewhat cheesy title -- which Marisa addresses, and after reading the foreward, you kind of realize it is the only phrase that works -- it's definitely not a sugar-coated version of the (r)evolution. It's a quick read, about 150 pages, but chock full of information as well as insight, divided up by the phases of (chapter names) Riot Grrrl, Angry Womyn, Girl Groups, Pop Tarts, Ladies First, and Girl Power. Doesn't it make sense when put in that order? It contains years of extremely well-organized and informative research -- do you know what the David and Goliath discount code they offered women to compensate for a sexist t-shirt slogan happened to be? Well let me tell you: GIRL POWER! How that came from Bikini Kill is explained in the book. And amongst all this wonderful information are wonderful stories of Marisa's own experiences with the Riot Grrrl movement, like living upstairs from Kathleen Hanna and frequently asking her if she had any sugar to lend. Despite her obvious love and sentiment towards the movement, she covers the downsides to it as well as the good and offers different opinions from different people (Marisa: I AM SO JEALOUS YOU INTERVIEWED AMY RAY.)

For me, personally? The book was seriously eye-opening. Despite my having not listened to a vast majority of the music mentioned in the book, I was frowny-sad-face upon reading about how Riot Grrrl faded and maybe shed a tear at the part where Sleater-Kinney broke up (during home ec. class, nonetheless.) I HAD NEVER EVEN LISTENED TO SLEATER-KINNEY.

Never before had I felt that feminism was something I could be so much a part of. It sounds like I'm talking about being part of the Riot Grrrl movement itself, but really, just the history of it, and the fact that it even existed, makes me very excited, and proud, to be a girl, and to be who I am.

Reading about how differently women in rock were treated in the early 90's was actually shocking to me, and I guess that speaks for how far it's come since. At the same time, reading about Liz Phair's lyrics and behavior also surprised me, as the songs I hear now that are so blatantly and graphicly about sex are sung by men, and women have to keep quiet (similar to the Edward Cullen underpants conundrum! Look at that! However, we were just talking about a very good book, and now we are talking about Twilight, so I must get back on topic.)

And perhaps you are saying, "But Tavi! You didn't know about this stuff, and I do! I know about all of these people! I was even there! I made zines and wrote on my belly and everything! In fact, I am actually Kathleen Hanna! I've already donated anecdotes from this time to museums! So this is old news for me, and I already know all of it!" I still recommend it because it links it all together, which was the writer's goal. And if you ARE Kathleen Hanna, I also recommend that you call me and be my best friend.

I'm not saying this because Marisa and I are currently in the midst of emailing about going shopping for clogs and having tea and her letting me borrow her baby barrettes the next time I visit New York, but because I really do think it's something everyone -- whether or not you were there, whether or not you identify yourself as a feminist, whether you're a boy or girl -- should read. It's something I'll remember maybe the way Marisa remembers her first issue of Sassy. The day after I finished, I proposed the idea of a feminists' club to our grade principal, and after writing up a formal proposal I hope it gets going.

ETA: This review on Bookslut pretty much sums up my feelings, only it sounds smartyer than me and all that.