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Girls Need To Play Loud: The Legacy Of The Riot Grrrl Movement

This article is more than 10 years old.
One of the legacies of the Riot Grrrl revolution—the 1990s feminist punk rock and zine movement sparked by bands like Bikini Kill, Sleater-Kinney and Bratmobile—is Girls Rock, the annual summer rock and roll camps for girls.

“There’s still not a whole lot of role models for young women wanting to play loud, amplified instruments,” says Sara Marcus, author of the 2010 book “Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution,” who is scheduled to speak at 4 p.m. Friday, Nov. 23. at Lorem Ipsum Books, 1299 Cambridge St., Cambridge, to benefit the Girls Rock Camp Alliance. (Suggested donation $12.)

Girls Rock camps began about a decade ago in Portland, Oregon, and have since spread across the country, and around the world. To counteract the boy-centricness of much rock, they offer girls between the ages of 8 and 17, or so, music instruction, adult role models and a chance to meet like-minded peers—and maybe form their own bands. The aim, as Girls Rock Campaign Boston’s slogan proclaims, is “Ending Rocklessness in Boston’s Girls Forever!”

Sara Marcus (Photo by Alice Attie)
Sara Marcus (Photo by Alice Attie)

“Why is it so important that a girl play an electric guitar, play a drum?” asks Marcus, who’s taught at Girls Rock camps in Portland and New York, and now splits her time between New York and Princeton, New Jersey. “A lot of that has to do with the power of being amplified and making a stupendous amount of noise. A lot of it is about taking up space and not trying to downplay the force of what you have to say, not trying to make yourself small so as to avoid threatening or putting out people around you. Which I think is still unfortunately part of the conditioning and the training that girls receive in our society about how to act.”

“A lot of the story of Riot Grrrl is about that,” Marcus says, “of girls supporting one another, deciding that they’re just going to go out there, maybe they’ve only been playing their instruments for a few months, maybe they’ve only written the four songs that they have time to play on the stage and just doing that, and realizing that doing that can help coalesce a community, can help inspire other people to make work too.”

This program aired on November 22, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.

Greg Cook Arts Reporter
Greg Cook was an arts reporter and critic for WBUR's The ARTery.



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