Marisa Meltzer: Girl Power: The Nineties Revolution in Music

Books Reviews Marisa Meltzer
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Marisa Meltzer: <em>Girl Power: The Nineties Revolution in Music</em>

Revolution girl style, then and now

“Am I crazy, or did I make this happen?”

Riot grrrl pioneer Tobi Vail poses this question in Marissa Meltzer’s new book, wondering if she and her punk-inspired sistren—who shocked and awed with their declarations of “revolution girl style now” in the early 1990s—should be held responsible for the lip-glossed “girl power” craze led by the Spice Girls a few years later.

That question is the thrust of this book, and though Meltzer fails to establish a solid causal link between the two, she does a nice job of tracing the reception and representation of mainstream female musicians (and their sexuality and de facto woman-ness) throughout the ’90s.

Still, by the end of the fourth chapter, you get the feeling that even the author is tired of caring about Britney Spears’ sexual and professional agency. The real jewels here are the final two sections, in which Meltzer rescues the idea of “girl power” from the feminist-lite ghetto of the late ’90s and suggests its power to become something vital and meaningful—more like what the original riot grrrls once envisioned.