Book Review: Rebel Girl by Kathleen Hanna

Kathleen Hanna’s “Rebel Girl” is the riot grrrl memoir we need right now. A poignant reminder of the struggle of women in music (and society) in the 1990s and, specifically, in the punk rock scene. Hanna lays bare her trauma to show us exactly why we have always, and still do, need a feminist movement. Other retrospectives of the Riot Grrrl movement don’t come close to the detail that “Rebel Girl” gives us. This is a deep and lasting portrait of a specific moment in time that Hanna skillfully brings the reader into, whether you lived through that time or not.

This book transported me back to my experience in the 1990s, attending shows and rallies while in college. The push to make change in small ways through music and zines while navigating the world of dudes ever-present in the scene. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to get a clear picture of the 1990s punk scene, from the perspective of the founder of the riot grrrl movement.

The short chapters offer small vignettes, which made me want to keep reading longer than I have for other memoirs. Hanna is a skillful artist and author who also does great activism work, with her tees4togo campaigns. She is currently on tour for this book, but will likely be out on the road again with either Bikini Kill or Le Tigre soon, so catch her if you can!

Bonus: if you are a follower of Kathleen on Instagram, she has shared a spotify playlist of all the songs she mentions in the book. Great for listening to while reading the book – if you are into that kind of thing.

Click here and scroll down to find the spotify link:

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