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Rebel Girl: My Life as a Feminist Punk (Hardcover)

Rebel Girl: My Life as a Feminist Punk By Kathleen Hanna Cover Image
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An electric, searing memoir by the original rebel girl and legendary front woman 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 band Bikini Kill embodied the punk scene of the 90s, and today her personal yet feminist lyrics on 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 to her formative college years and her first shows. As Hanna makes clear, being in a punk “girl band” in those years was not a simple or safe prospect. Male violence and antagonism threatened at every turn, and surviving as a singer who was a lightning 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, JD Samson, and Johanna Fateman. And her friendships with musicians like Kurt Cobain, Ian MacKaye, Kim Gordon, and Joan Jett reminded her that, despite the odds, the punk world could still nurture and care 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 musical growth in her bands Le Tigre and The Julie Ruin. She also writes candidly about the Riot Grrrl movement, documenting with love its grassroots origins but critiquing its exclusivity.

In an uncut voice all her own, Hanna reveals the hardest times along with the most joyful—and how they continue to fuel her revolutionary art and music.

About the Author

Kathleen Hanna is a punk singer, writer, artist, and the front-woman of the influential bands Bikini Kill and Le Tigre. Her memoir, Rebel Girl, published by Ecco/HarperCollins, was an instant New York Times bestseller. Hanna is a staple in feminist publications, from college curriculums to bestselling books, and a leading voice in the punk feminist movement. She has been named one of the best live performers of our time, earning acclaim from Rolling Stone, The New York Times, NPR, Interview Magazine, V Magazine, Vogue, Entertainment Weekly, BUST Magazine, NYLON and Los Angeles Times, to name a few.

Praise For…

“Hanna’s book is raw, honest, poetic, insightful, and often funny. Her political evolution is particularly gratifying…An impressively perspicacious memoir from one of feminism’s most influential artists.” — Kirkus Reviews

“A fantastic journey into an unconventional life, pulsing with raw energy and vulnerability that I witnessed firsthand. It’s honest, funny, witty, and smart. And most of all, it's important to the herstory of Kathleen’s place in blazing new trails.” — Joan Jett 

“Until I started reading this book, the idea of Kathleen Hanna seemed more real to me than the person. But with every word, Kathleen exposes the fleshy humanness of being a cult icon on a mission. While Rebel Girl is as defiant as the song that inspired its title, there’s a counterweight of humility and openness that adds new perspective to the songs and stories of Kathleen’s life. This book is something special.” — Hayley Williams

“A no-holds-barred account…Hanna’s visceral prose captivates, and she’s refreshingly candid about the riot grrrl movement’s failures…It’s a raw and revealing portrait of a vital figure in the feminist punk scene.” — Publishers Weekly

“Hanna holds nothing back in a debut that traces her chaotic childhood through to founding the riot grrrl punk feminist movement and her time in such bands as Viva Knievel and Le Tigre. Visceral prose is undergirded by clear-eyed insight into the flaws of early punk feminist activism—including its overwhelming whiteness—making this a memoir with depth and edge to spare.” — One of Publishers Weekly’s Top 15 Summer Reads

“Hanna delivers a searing memoir in which the pioneering punk icon recalls her journey through music and activism…She makes the case for hope and resilience in the face of hardship—illustrated by…the lasting positive impact of her work.” — W Magazine, “The Best, Most Talked-About Books of 2024 (So Far)”

“A timely refresher on resilience, the power of protest art and the tender humanity that we must not lose. . . Like a comic book hero, Hanna has seemed to gather superhuman strength with every blow she receives. . . all while churning out ever more powerful and furious music. Rebel Girl unapologetically reveals the vul­nerability behind that image. . . [Hanna] reflects on her own failures and culpability, acknowledging them in a way that is refresh­ing and constructive. . . . Hanna intentionally busts open her feminist idol identity, liberating her­self from our perceptions and serving some hard-won wisdom.” — BookPage (starred review)

“Gripping.” — NYLON, selected for “The It Girl’s Summer Reading List”

“A raucous, rousing tale about the power of music and activism…Hanna’s story is a full-bodied portrait of a fighter and activist who has used music as a way to tackle adversity…A vivid, funny, and powerful memoir.” — Library Journal (starred review)

“Hanna offers short vignettes [that]...capture the life of a young woman trying to navigate a sexist culture while simultaneously finding her creative voice. There is an equal sense that Rebel Girl was written as a sort of road map for a new generation to pick up their own instruments and rock the world.” — Vogue, “The Best Books of 2024 So Far”

“Hanna’s memoir takes readers back to a ‘90s punk revolution that feels just as urgent today...Rebel Girl is Hanna in full: politically radical, funny, and fearless. Just as Hanna has never held back as a performer, she writes unflinchingly.” — Vanity Fair

“Searing...Rebel Girl is a startlingly generous account of a life spent surviving worlds of male violence both personal and professional in order to build a better world for herself and the people she loves. It’s a riot.” — Surface

“[Hanna’s] views have changed, but her honest, funny and raw voice has not.” — Los Angeles Times, “10 Books to Add to Your Reading List in May”

“It’s hard to convey just how influential Kathleen Hanna has been to the world of music. Her time in Bikini Kill helped reshape punk, and her work in Le Tigre and The Julie Ruin also abounds with bracing musical and lyrical moments. With this memoir, she chronicles her life on and off stage — and offers a firsthand perspective on an evolving art form.” — InsideHook, “The 10 Books You Should Be Reading This May”

“With this book, [Hanna] creates space for her own story as well as the larger context of her time and the need for art as a creative agent of empathy and change. Hanna is a troubadour unafraid to speak out...Exuberant... With its episodic style of vivid, swift chapters and Hanna’s kinetic voice, Rebel Girl is a bold portrait. For the sake of late 20th century history alone, it’s a crucial book about feminist politics and art. But it’s also a tender examination of a woman who survived abuse and sexual assault.” — Los Angeles Times

“In her fascinating book, Hanna shares her own story and details how she found her way into a music scene that would not only define its era, but also make a lasting influence on pop culture. Her sharp wit, honesty, and humor are as apparent here as they are in her lyrics, and the opportunity to hear first hand about her life and work is something fans—long time or brand new—shouldn't miss.” — Town & Country (Best Books to Read this May)

“In Rebel Girl, the punk frontwoman reveals the story of her life — the men who tried to stop her, the women who kept her going and the boy who made her a mother...Hanna is super funny...Rebel Girl documents Hanna’s long career as an underground artist and musician, and its striking intersections with the mainstream...Her tale does have an epic quality... In Rebel Girl, Hanna amasses an impressive arsenal. Every time another man diminishes her and her work, she sharpens a sword, carves out another space for herself and her friends and starts filling it with interesting material.” — New York Times

“Kathleen Hanna is a living legend: the frontwoman of beloved bands Bikini Kill and Le Tigre, and an indefatigable feminist activist...Rebel Girl offers deeper insights and more candid reflections, particularly about the shortcomings of the movement she helped launch.” — Bustle

“Hanna’s new memoir...applies [her] caustic, introspective, politically astute, and often mischievously playful voice to the ups and downs of her own life story...The final product...contains moving yet incisive, generously frank passages about the sexual assaults she survived as a teen and young adult... Candid and reflective, Rebel Girl tells the stories behind her best-known songs...and reframes her most mythologized brushes with the mainstream.” — Time

“Fans of Bikini Kill are just the first people who will be drawn to Kathleen Hanna’s memoir about being a riot grrrl, fighting to make it in the sexist music industry and the joys of being a feminist punk.” — Parade, “The 13 Best New Book Releases of May 2024”

“[Hanna] chronicles her life story in Rebel Girl with a visceral voice.” — Seattle Times

Rebel Girl is an unblinking, purple bruise of a memoir...It’s stoic and empathetic in equal measure...The best parts of Rebel Girl detail Hanna’s difficulties navigating a world she and her peers had to make for themselves.” — Washington Post

“Packed with harrowing stories and illuminating revelations, Rebel Girl finds Hanna rejecting the victory lap premise of most music memoirs to instead interrogate and, by extension, make peace with past regrets. It’s a radical act of self-reflection and one that Hanna incisively pairs with cunning critiques of the historically patriarchal music industry as she takes readers through the select highs and copious lows of life on the road in a feminist punk band. Utilizing a voice that’s often bitingly funny but never insincere, Hanna proves a captivating narrator...Presented in short, compulsively readable chapters...Hanna’s words resonate with clarity and conviction.” — San Francisco Chronicle

"Intimate...Kathleen Hanna’s ability to flip—and flip off—expectations has made her one of the most riveting frontpeople in recent musical history...Rebel Girl unfolds in raw, ragged segments...[Hanna’s] generous in her praise, etching lovely and loving miniature portraits...[She showcases] her continued ability to speak brat to power...From the 1993 single ‘Rebel Girl’ to this book of the same name, women’s sovereignty over their bodies has been Kathleen Hanna’s North Star and cri de coeur. Given recent court decisions sending America back to the Dark Ages, her story...couldn’t feel more necessary.” — New York Times Book Review

“[Hanna] has always been brutally honest. But in her new memoir, Rebel Girl...[she] gets even grittier, deeper, and more heartbreaking...There’s stunning new wisdom to be gleaned from the memoir...Reading it, one gets the sense she’s grappling with each memory as it comes to her, working through why she made the decisions she did, the ways she could have reacted differently, while accepting and owning up to the choices she made.” — Rolling Stone

“A potent, revelatory, often bloody and heartbreaking but all in all triumphant rock-and-roll memoir.” — Interview 

In her memoir, Rebel Girl, Hanna shares her journey from a challenging childhood through college and her first shows to love, Lyme disease and Le Tigre. Intimate and candid, Hanna graciously explores it all, including the duplicity of the punk scene with its caring collectivity and underlying exclusivity, racism and misogyny.” — Ms.

“[Rebel Girl] is at times hilarious and other times incredibly dark. [Hanna] is unflinching in her descriptions of the staggering amount of male violence women endured in the 80s and 90s. (And sadly, too often still.). . . A well-realized document of the youth of the often-overlooked Generation X.” — Salon 

[Hanna] tells her story. . . with brutal honesty. . . . [P]oignant and heartbreaking.” — Spin 

“In Rebel Girl, Hanna . . . accesses new levels of candor. . . . Across the memoir, [she] writes with the same spirit of her bands. . . . [A] riveting inside look at an artist who, for many music fans, is viewed at a super-heroic distance...Hanna moves effortlessly from wicked humor to disturbing truth-telling.” — Associated Press

“Rebel Girl makes it clear that Hanna has always cared about what women and gender-nonconforming people have to say...The Hanna of Rebel Girl is fully awake and in control of her own story, as committed as ever to making art for all the people who were ever told they were too crazy, too loud, too slutty, too something to be seen as the reliable narrators of their own lives.” — Vogue 

“Kathleen Hanna is the queen of her own world now.” — USA Today

“The Bikini Kill rocker’s searing new memoir, Rebel Girl, tells intimate stories of trauma, sexism, fame, and everything in between.” — Daily Beast

“[Hanna’s] disarming memoir encompass­es far more than her time fronting the formative indie bands Bikini Kill and Le Tigre. Tales of an upbringing and young adulthood marked by rampant emotional and sexual abuse are leavened here by a ferocious wit and undimmable creative spirit.” — New York Times Book Review (Editors’ Choice)

Rebel Girl is the kind of book that leaves readers, like concertgoers after watching their favorite band play its last song, wishing it wasn't over.” — Shelf Awareness (starred review)

“An intimate look at how she became one of the most unwavering political voices in music. . . . To read her life story now, Rebel Girl is a reminder that Riot Grrrl will always have a place for anyone who is down with the cause.”

Product Details
ISBN: 9780062825230
ISBN-10: 0062825232
Publisher: Ecco
Publication Date: May 14th, 2024
Pages: 336
Language: English