Author note: Sometimes I start a blog post and then forget about it for a while. That’s what has happened here. I actually read Girls to the Front a year ago, started the review, and forgot about it until I started looking through my “post ideas” folder on Google Drive! Oh, and while I have your attention, all Amazon links are affiliate links.
I was born too late, and too in the middle of flyover country, to truly be a part of the Riot Grrl revolution. But when I (completely legally) found this music a decade after it was written, it didn’t matter. It finally felt like someone understood what it was like to be an angry girl.
Reading Girls to the Front in my late 20s shed a light on this movement and music that as a 15 year old I couldn’t have comprehended. It described the punk scene of the early 90s, and how much it wasn’t friendly to women. And what the women of these bands stood for as they carved a place out that was just for them.
One thing that really bugged me about this book was how dismissive they were about pop acts that embraced “girl power” in the mid-90s. They call out the Spice Girls as being a watered-down, commercial version of what they did. And maybe that’s true. But they’re ignoring how important that was to us young girls at the time. In 1996 I was too young to even really know what punk music was (which I thought was Green Day). But I listened to Spice non-stop (when I wasn’t listening to Middle of Nowhere that is). And seeing these women in every teen magazine spreading the message of girl power and friendship? Invaluable as a ten year old girl.
Girls To The Front is a book for feminists and music fans. It’s also a great companion piece to the documentary about Kathleen Hanna, The Punk Singer (which is also on Netflix). It has a strong political slant, but it’s impossible to separate the politics from the music in this genre.That being said, I do wish there was more discussion on the music itself instead of just the movement.