Reviews & suggestions for punk rock fans.

Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution – Book Recommendation

Let the Riot Grrrl Movement Inspire You To Take Action

As far as historic moments are concerned, the Riot Grrrl Revolution during the early 1990s might be one of the most significant for punk rock. Not often given the credit it deserves, the feminist movement was comprised of young women eager to show the flaws in our society. Their voices spread across the country through self-made Zines, conventions, and, naturally, forming bands to scream their anger from a stage. At the heart of this scene was a want to be heard and a deep desire for community, something every punk can understand. And there is no book that explains the history of the Riot Grrrl Revolution than Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution.

The book starts with an author note by Sara Marcus, her own self-reflection on discovering the Riot Grrl scene. Her in-depth and amazing writing is more than a person displaying facts or seeking truth, but rather a personal exploration of why the movement meant so much. She expresses her anger as a young woman growing up in a male-dominated culture, and shows
its the same anger shared in every Riot Grrrl. The anger the world chooses to ignore, amplified by the ignorance of those who feel young women shouldn’t have an opinion and suppresses individuality.

Once you understand the rage, you discover the journey of the Riot Grrrl Revolution. The book focuses on the years from 1989 to 1993, the beginning and when the movement started to collapse. To paint the picture, you read snippets from past Zines by Riot Grrrls, lyrics, stories on how friendships formed and fell apart, and raw moments from those who lived, breathed, and bled for the movement. At times it gave me chills to hear these women speak with such honesty and true emotion. To watch their growth and struggles. It made me pause and think back on my life to understand when I was a cog in the machine and how I hope to be a better person moving forward.

As you continue turning the pages, you begin to understand how much the Riot Grrrl Revolution truly embraced the complete ethos and epitome of everything we know punk rock to be – politics, anger, change, community, and making some good fucking music. Popular bands involved in the movement, like Bikini Kill, Bratmobile, Heavens to Betsy, and Sleater-Kinney (my personal favorite), are given an overview of their role and history in the book. But no matter if you were on the stage, writing the Zines, joining the meetings, or a mere spectator, each one of the Riot Grrls longed to be heard and seen. If society wasn’t going to open their ears, at least they had each other, a community of societal misfits eager for change aka punks.

The scary, or disheartening, part of the book is how relevant the political problems can be applied to today. No joke, Roe vs Wade (which has now been overturned), was one of the many issues the Riot Grrrls stood up for. You read about marches in the capital for women’s rights back then, the same spirit and anger seen in the protests carried out today. It’s a fucking travesty women are still sexually abused, and treated as second in this male-dominated bullshit hierarchal world. It only benefits the ones at the top, and I think it’s time we all see it and won’t stand for it anymore.

To further prove what the society can do to young women, I provide this quote:

I felt powerless not because I was weak but because I lived in a society that drained girls of power. Boys harassed not because I invited it but because they were taught it was acceptable I saw that no one intervened. These things weren’t my fault, and we could fight them all together.

For the first time in years, I knew I was going to be ok.

Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution

“… We could fight them all together.” Keyword – together. We sometimes wait for leaders, we wait for someone to say no more. And while we wait, we silence the common voice within all of us. What the Riot Grrrl Movement did well was empower those affected by the problems it was eager to change. It created a community built on anger, passion, and hope, and it started with a riot. It didn’t wait – it demanded. It’s time for that passion to resurface.

Please understand, that’s not an invitation to start an actual riot. Do better. Start a band, start a blog, join the fourth feminist movement, speak your truth, and the rest will follow. You are not alone.

And if you need inspiration, check out Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution by Sara Marcus.

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