Rebel Girl

Kathleen Hanna

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HarperCollins Publishers
14 May 2024
ISBN: 9780008365349
Hardback
304 pages

From the publisher

An electric, searing memoir by the original riot grrrl and legendary frontwoman of Bikini Kill and Le Tigre

Hey girlfriend I got a proposition, goes something like this: Dare ya to do what you want.

Kathleen Hanna’s rallying cry to feminists echoed far and wide through the punk scene of the 1980s, ’90s, and beyond. Her band, Bikini Kill, embodies this iconic time, and today their gutsy, radical lyrics of anthems like ‘Rebel Girl’ and ‘Double Dare Ya’ are more powerful than ever. But where did this transformative voice come from?

In Rebel Girl, Hanna’s raw and insightful new memoir, she takes us from her tumultuous childhood home, to her formative college years in Olympia, Washington, and on to her first years on tour, fighting hard for gigs and for her band. As Hanna makes blindingly clear, being in a ‘girl band’, especially a punk girl band, in those years was not a simple or a safe prospect. Male violence and antagonism threatened at every turn, and surviving as a singer who was a lightening rod for controversy took limitless amounts of determination.

But the relationships she developed during those years buoyed her – including with her bandmates Tobi Vail, Kathi Wilcox, and Billy Karren; her friendship with Kurt Cobain; and her introduction to Joan Jett – and they were a testament to how the true punk world nurtured and cared for its own.

Hanna opens up about falling in love with Ad-Rock of the Beastie Boys and her debilitating battle with Lyme disease, and she brings us behind the scenes of her later bands, Le Tigre and The Julie Ruin. She also writes candidly about the Riot Grrrl movement and its decline, documenting with love its grassroots origins but critiquing its later exclusivity.

In an uncut voice all her own, Hanna reveals the darkest, hardest times along with the most joyful – and how it all fuelled her revolutionary art, from the 1980s to today.