girls to the front: the true story of the riot grrrl revolution

Ian MacKay had introduced [Joan] Jett to Bikini Kill, and she was instantly impressed by both the music and the ‘zines. She was particularly heartened that a rock ‘n’ roll feminism was catching on; she could have used that in the late ’70s when she was a teenage guitarist playing in the Runaways.

“The Runaways had nobody,” she said. “I felt like a feminist, but I felt completely dissed by other feminists, ‘cause they were like, ‘Well you can’t dress sexy.’ Number one, I’m not dressing sexy—even though I did have my pants open from time to time. But what do you mean? You’re saying women can’t have sex? You don’t tell me that girls don’t get horny and don’t wanna fuck! You know why girls ‘can’t play guitar’ and ‘can’t play rock ‘n’ roll’? Because rock ‘n’ roll is sex. That’s what I grew up with, and that’s what I wanted to make. So meeting people like Kathleen and Allison and all those girls, it was really incredible, because I felt like maybe people were starting to get it.”

Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution by Sara Marcus

[Talking about a fan interrupting Bratmobile’s set to find a man who harassed her]

Joan Jett was at the show, and now she got up onstage. What are you doing? she asked Allison, exasperated. Tell this girl to get off the stage so you can play your set, for chrissakes.

Allison looked from Joan Jett to her pissed-off bandmates to the girls who would never be satisfied no matter what she did. The audience was howling. The girls were scowling. Her bandmates were waiting. Allison started to cry. Molly, at the end of her last nerve, threw down her drumsticks and stood up. “That’s it!” she shouted. “I quit!” She shouldered he way out of the room and stomped down to the street. Erin got on the mic and said to Allison, “I’m not gonna play with you any more.”

Someone went outside and convinced Molly to come back. Jett stayed onstage, encouraging everybody to go on playing. She rubbed Erin’s shoulders, saying, “Keep going, Erin!” You can do it!” Bratmobile stumbled through the remainder of the show, with Allison in tears the whole time. But the band was over.

“I remember we packed up and went our separate ways,” Erin said. “We weren’t even staying at the same place. It was very sad. But who gets to go out like that, with Joan Jett giving them a backrub onstage?”


-Sara Marcus, Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution

But for whatever reason, most adults find it tremendously difficult to take teenage girls’ lives seriously. Even when girls’ lives and bodies constitute a major political battleground. Even when girls are speaking truth to power in clarion, prophetic voices. Even when girls are right.
—  Sara Marcus, Girls To the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution