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.
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.
After we hear about female artists at last night's Grammy Awards, we dive into the history of women in music. In the 1990s, rock gave rise to two brands of feminism: the underground riot grrrl scene and the glitzy "girl power" of the Spice Girls. Marisa Meltzer, author of Girl Power: The Nineties Revolution in Music, tells us about the relationship between the two - and how they influence today's female stars in rock and pop.
Tell us: What did you think of riot grrrl and girl power in t
The New York indie rockers Vampire Weekend are topping the Billboard 200 chart by selling more than a 120,000 copies of their second set "Contra." While fans praise their unusual, global sound, critics call them Ivy-league elitists ripping off third world music. Joining us for a Soundcheck Smackdown: Chicago Sun-Times pop music critic Jim DeRogatis and New York-based pop culture writer Marisa Meltzer, author of the new book Girl Power: The Nineties Revolution in Music.
At the home of author Marisa Meltzer, who showed us some of her music and zines.