As always, there’s a story behind why I chose this book for this month. March, as many of you know, is International Women’s Month and I wanted my selection(s) to reflect that.
That being said, I was initially afraid to review a book that had the word “feminist” in the title. One reason for that is because I was worried that some people would be turned off by it and not bother to read the book or my review. The other reason is that statements and comments starting with “I don’t consider myself a feminist” make me want to set myself on fire. So, for the sake of self-preservation, I shied away from the so-called “f-word.”
I was discussing this with Lydia one day and she suggested Sara Marcus’s Girls to the Front: the True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution. Goodreads tells me that it was on my to-read list since September 2012, so I figured, Okay! If “riot grrrl” is in the title, I want to read it at some point. Why not now?
There’s a lot of good stuff in the book, considering that the Riot Grrrl movement is often overlooked in the annals of feminist history, or at best, treated like a fad during which young women across the United States lost their minds and made a lot of music. In many ways, history has looked on Riot Grrrl as “angry girl bands of the indie rock persuasion” (to quote 10 Things I Hate About You). Marcus claims that people don’t know how to look at Riot Grrrl and have downplayed the movement’s politics because “I suspect, that people didn’t know how to treat the lives of teenage girls as if they mattered” (9).
It also discusses why Riot Grrrl failed. It explains factions amongst the movement’s members and its marginalization of women of color (which is also one of the reasons why the Second Wave in the 70s failed). There is mention of the media’s role in Riot Grrrl dying out but also mention of what elements of the movement have lingered.
I found myself fascinated by the book, because while it’s not the first feminist work I’ve read that has looked on Riot Grrrl positively and politically, it’s the first one I’ve read that has looked at it exclusively. When I read, I also thought about feminism now and the media’s role in how it is looked at by consumers. I was encouraged to think about the intersections of race and socioeconomic status with sex and gender. It gives me hope for the future and makes me wary all at once.
If you are looking for something to think about or just want to know more about the evolution of feminist movements through time, I absolutely think this book is one for your reading list.
Warning: There are lots of swear words in this book. And a lot of black-and-white images that could be considered relics of the grassroots girl-power movement, many of them featuring nudity. If you are comfortable with neither, this may not be the book for you.