Girl Power The Nineties Revolution in Music

Marisa Meltzer

Faber & Faber



Trade Paperback

176 Pages


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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” 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, even the Spice Girls, Girl Power points the way for the future of women in rock.


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RIOT GRRRLS The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, is the kind of university that offers neither grades nor majors. Its central quad is called Red Square; its concrete-block, riot-proof buildings are nestled among acres of forested land; and the chili in the main café is always vegan. As can be expected from its left -of-center reputation, the school has attracted a mix of outcast students since its inception in 1967: hippies, slackers, and punks. It’s also my alma mater. And I count myself as one of them. Olympia is the capital of Washington State. It’s
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  • 92Y Show & Tell: Marisa Meltzer

    At the home of author Marisa Meltzer, who showed us some of her music and zines.

  • Cooking the Books - Marisa Meltzer

    Cooking the Books is an internet cooking show hosted by Emily Gould in which she invites famous authors into her kitchen to make food inspired by their books. In this episode Emily talks with Marisa Meltzer, author of Girl Power: The Nineties Revolution in Music, while making Alicia Silverstone's recipe for vegan cupcakes.



  • Marisa Meltzer

  • Marisa Meltzer is the coauthor of How Sassy Changed My Life (Faber, 2007). Her work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Slate, Elle, and Teen Vogue. She attended Evergreen State College and currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.

  • Marisa Meltzer © Shayla Hason
    Marisa Meltzer