I am yet another blogger to step up to my book reviewing soap-box to talk about "Girl Power: The Nineties Revolution in Music" by Marisa Meltzer. I have read alot of reviews of the book, and alot of bloggers have taken to writing about it. Well, you can add me to that list because I was so excited this past week when my copy arrived in the mail (I ordered it from Amazon.com).
I am a girl who grew up during the nineties, and when I saw grew up, I mean I was a child. So, I missed the movement the first time around. However, I did have my share of playground clapping games while singing Alanis Morissette in about, Kindergarten. I also was exposed to Nirvana at about 4 when I would steal my older brothers cassette tapes. (Thanks Larry, by the way, I still have your copy of Pearl Jam "Ten")
Anyway, I was really interested to read this book, and although there wasn't a whole lot of new information, I enjoyed reading something written from the perspective of someone that was there. Thanks Marisa for letting me live vicariously through you for a few hours.
The book examines riot grrrl and the effect on the music coming from mainstream women artists of the time. Riot Grrrl paved the way for a lot of people to be exposed to ideals that were not necessarily mainstream. You can argue about whether you like this or not, Marisa gives both views, but agrees that in some strange way it ended up positively. It shows how this revolutionary music spread to more mainstream women rockers (Hole, Liz Phair, Alanis Morissette) to the marketing of the Spice Girls, up to the age of teen pop-stars (Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Jessica Simpson). The book ties it all together for you, plus adds where we are now with Ladyfests, her trip to the Spice Girl reunion tour, and girl rock camps. I really wish the book was longer because it was easy, interesting, thought-provoking and enjoyable to read.
My personal opinion on this whole feminism/girl power going mainstream is that as a child who listened to the Spice Girls, I am so glad I had them to listen to when I was growing up. I understand why the women of the original movement were pissed that their ideals got so watered down, and became mainstream and marketing tools, but I don't know if I would have ever found my way to riot grrrl as a 13 year old girl if it wasn't for the Spice Girls. Even if corporations abused feminism into marketing to young girls, they did something else too, they made role models available to young girls of my generation that are stronger than the pop-stars around today. Mainstream took the message of feminism, and their marketing worked because they simplified it into something a 7 year old girl could understand, and gave me the interest to discover riot grrrl and explore feminism, and to write this damn thing right now. And like the majority of teen girls into punk, riot grrrl saved my life.