At the beginning of the 1990s, the Senate didn’t believe Anita Hill, Rush Limbaugh compared feminists to Nazis, and a study found that girls tended to start hating themselves during adolescence. It was a hard time to be a young woman, to be growing up on promises of equal rights that didn’t square with reality. Sexual assault rates reached record highs; harassment was rife in the schools; and, boys still would be boys, and girls still had to watch what they wore and where they walked. It was enough to make a girl want to scream. Riot Grrrl roared into the spotlight in 1991: an uncompromising movement of pissed-off girls who had no patience for sexism, no stomach for double standards, and no intention of keeping quiet. Incendiary punk bands – like Bratmobile, Heavens to Betsy, and above all Bikini Kill, fronted by the magnetic, prophetic Kathleen Hanna – spread the word. Thousands of riot grrrls published handmade magazines, founded local groups, and organised conventions. The movement spread from its birthplaces of Washington, D.C. and Olympia, Washington, to the Midwest, Canada, Europe, and beyond. Girls to the Front, the first-ever history of Riot Grrrl, is a gripping narrative with a sound track: a lyrical, punk-infused chronicle of a group of extraordinary young women coming of age angrily, collectively, and publicly. It’s the story of a time when America thought feminism was dead, and feminism seemed to buy into the slacker myths of Generation X, but a generation of noisy girls rose up to prove everybody wrong. Above all, it’s a story about looking for your place in the world – and finally creating it yourself.
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