Hit Girls: Women of Punk in the USA | 1975-1983 By Jen B. Larson, 306 pgs.

Jul 21, 2023

An alternate title to Hit Girls: Women of Punk in the USA, 1975-1983 could be Female Punk Bands That Time Forgot. Nearly all the bands in Jen B. Larson’s book are pretty obscure, and actually, not all of them are all-female outfits. Some are solo artists, like Kate Fagan, hailing from Chicago, Ill. Many others are just one or two women in otherwise all-male bands, like Patty Donahue and Tracy Wormsworth of The Waitresses, from Kent, Ohio. Practically none of them have gotten their due. That’s where Larson’s book comes in. In her intro to the book, she says: “We must exalt our punk mothers. We must tell their stories, make documentaries, spread the word of their deeds in podcasts, share playlists, and showcase our record collections…. We must keep their energy alive.”

In the pages of Hit Girls, the stories of these women who fearlessly took the stage in the early years of punk do come alive, in thoughtfully written profiles and through intimate and insightful interviews with the musicians themselves, including Alice Bag, Nikki Corvette, Penelope Houston, and Jane Weems. Larson herself is a musician—from about 2011 to 2016, she was in the popular, all-female Chicago punk band Swimsuit Addition—and it’s clear from Hit Girls she’s also a genuine fan of other women of punk, especially the “punk mothers” featured in her book. In addition to the aforementioned Alice Bag and The Waitresses, I was already familiar with Jayne County, Teenage Jesus & The Jerks, ESG, the Plasmatics, Bush Tetras, the Pandoras, and Bam Bam before picking up Hit Girls. But it was really cool learning more about each of them and being introduced to several more female punk pathbreakers I probably wouldn’t have heard of anyplace else. That’s what makes Hit Girls the shit: a close-to-comprehensive history of women in the early years of punk, all in one book. Bonus content includes a foreword by Ann Magnuson and essays by Alice Bag and Suzi Creamcheese. –Gina Murrell (Feral House, 1240 W. Sims Way #124, Port Townsend, WA 98368, feralhouse.com)