Girl Power: The Nineties Revolution in Music by Marisa Meltzer

By Aimee Williams, Edmond Santa Fe High School Modified: May 3, 2010 at 12:39 pm •  Published: May 1, 2010
The 145-page Girl Power is a quick read, but the book covers an important movement in the history of music: the synthesis of active feminism and music during the ’90s.

Author Marisa Meltzer eloquently outlines the beginnings of women’s revolution in music to the eventual breakdown of the ideology by the mainstream.

Meltzer places an emphasis on the Riot Grrrl scene of the early ’90s. She writes that women of the movement were “reacting to issues within the relatively insular punk community, but also tapping into a larger cultural moment. The late ’80s had been a particularly dark moment for feminism, and the decade became a kind of grab bag for feminist gains and losses.”

Meltzer also explains the link between these underground feminist bands to mainstream, all-girl pop groups like the Spice Girls of the late ’90s. In fact, Meltzer adds that the title Girl Power was coined from the Spice Girls’ own catchphrase, which became synonymous with teen and tween girls. This marks the end of the Riot Grrrl movement and the beginning of a more kitschy female music scene.

While the Riot Grrrl movement progressed towards equality for women in rock music, the “pop princesses” of the late ’90s moved women backwards. The Pop Tarts chapter of the book notes the uprisings of pop stars like Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera — young girls whose performances were imposingly sexual with lyrics centered on love, boys and fun.

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