Sara Marcus's Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution (Harper Collins) is to date the most ambitious history of the riot grrrl, the influential feminist movement/scene hatched in the early '90s by mainly collegiate and teenage activists, musicians, and self-publishers. In prose that sometimes evokes the unpretentious passion of riot-grrrl zines, Marcus tells the story of key indie-punk bands such as Bikini Kill, Bratmobile, and Heavens to Betsy, but seeks to put riot grrrl in a broader context, as a radical, third-wave response to sexism and, in particular, sexual violence. The movement's loud and fast music, gestures, and rhetoric (here chatty, there theory-soaked) galvanized often isolated girls and women in ways more staid feminist expressions couldn't. Marcus also covers (perhaps in too much detail for some readers) the expected internal disputes and grievances, and the largely dispiriting effects of the period ('92-'93) when riot grrrl was an obligatory media story, the coverage frequently trivializing or condescending. There are also, provincials take note, a good many pages about the Twin Cities. (Photo by Jesse Jiryu Davis)
Fri., Oct. 15, 7:30 p.m., 2010
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