Thursday, October 28, 2010
Girl Power by Marisa Metzler
I expected this book to have more of a focus on just punk but it was much more an overview of women in nineties music in general. It was also a slightly bizarre read because not only is this ladies name marissa too (though spelled differently) she grew up in the Bay Area and then attended Evergreen, which eerily sounds a lot like my life story. The book kind of chronicles the rise of riot grrrl and the subsequent mainstream appropriation of it covering everything from Bikini Kill to Taylor Swift. It was interesting, but at the same time it kind of felt like review to me, like the book is more for casual music listeners than for feminist punks. She also included a lot about her own feelings toward all these things, which tended to be feelings I didn't relate to. I liked how she showed the connections between the watered down corporate versions of underground things, like Alanis Morisette to riot grrl and Lilith Fair to Michigan Womyns Fest. She fucking GUSHES over the Spice Girls like crazy, basically saying that the conversion of girl power from an idea to a brand actually did empower young girls, her attempts at showing that their message of girl power translated to actual girls as the importance of friendship and being yourself above all things rather than buying stuff to show your girl power seemed kind of whatever and anecdotal. Not gonna lie, in between reading my moms old copies of MS. magazine and playing bass along to Helium records I totally did stay up all night with my friends choreographing dance moves to the first Spice Girls album, but really - reading MS. led to me going to the library to find books on feminist theory, grrl punk music led to me playing music, and the Spice Girls led me to buying lollipops emblazoned with their image at the 7-eleven. I realize that's my own anecdotal evidence. Also, her talk of Taylor Swift being a positive female role model in music made me balk. I mean, really? She puts Miley Cyrus and Taylor into the same basket- while I find Miley annoying for the most part she is accessible to tweens and spends her time with that crowd singing songs about becoming president and what we see of her "personal" life tends to consist of her goofing off with her friends, which overall is pretty cool - but Taylor Swift? All we hear about her is how innocent she is and who broke her heart this week and songs about falling in love with prince charming. And fuck that. Overall it was an ok book, but I really hate playing the "watered down feminism is better than nothing, right?" game.