Girl Power

The phrase "Girl Power," as a term of empowerment, expressed a cultural phenomenon of the mid-late 1990s to the early 2000s and is also linked to third-wave feminism.


There is some question as to the origins and meaning of the phrase "Girl Power." The term was associated with the Plumstead pop-punk duo Shampoo. They released both an album and single titled Girl Power in early 1995 (despite the fact that they were quoted—tongue in cheek—as saying, "Girl Power is a load of rubbish, who the hell thought that one up anyway?"Shampoo - Interview by Free Williamsburg

However, it was Welsh indie band Helen Love who first recorded the words, on their debut single Formula One Racing Girls, released on the Damaged Goods label in 1993.Helen Love The song itself is a nod to Riot Grrrl and embraces the concept of Girl Power and female emancipation. Further research shows the word was first used in the single "Girl's Life" by the Australian girl group Girlfriend, which was released in 1992. The lyric goes: "Oooh What could be better than livng a girl's life/When you've got Girl Power/Keep on getting offers by the hour".


Oxford English Dictionary

In 2001, the Oxford English Dictionary added the term Girl Power!, defining this phrase as "a self-reliant attitude among girls and young women manifested in ambition, assertiveness and individualism."BBC News | UK | Girl power goes mainstream

The OED also gives an example of this term by quoting from "Angel Delight", an article in the March 24, 2001 issue of Dreamwatch about the television series Dark Angel:

After the Sarah Connors and Ellen Ripleys of the eighties, the nineties weren't so kind to the superwoman format-Xena Warrior Princess excepted. But it's a new millennium now, and while ''Charlie's Angels and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon'' are kicking up a storm on movie screens, it's been down to James Cameron to bring empowered female warriors back to television screens. And tellingly, Cameron has done it by mixing the sober feminism of his Terminator and Aliens characters with the sexed-up Girl Power of a Britney Spears concert. The result is Dark Angel.E y e s <-> <-> O n l y

Other contexts

Girl Power had different meanings according to context. The brand of Girl Power espoused by Shampoo involved "coming home drunk in the midnight hour" ("Girl Power"), whilst the official book for the Spice Girls quotes them as saying: "Feminism has become a dirty word. Girl Power is just a nineties way of saying it. We can give feminism a kick up the arse. Women can be so powerful when they show solidarity."

Girl power in popular culture

The phrase is most commonly associated with the mid-1990s British singing group the Spice Girls.BBC News | Girl power | You've come a long way babyGirl Power - trading cards The group used the phrase as a slogan in interviews and on merchandise. Geri Halliwell (also known as "Sexy Spice" or "Ginger Spice") helped spread the phrase through her music, writing, and acting. In her music video, "Bag It Up", the phrase "Girl Power" was transformed into "Girl Powder", a product that transforms any male into an obedient servant. The Cheetah Girls also sing a song of the same name in the first Disney Channel Original Musical The Cheetah Girls.BBC News | Girl power | You've come a long way babyGirl Power - trading cards

Some have suggested that the phrase "Girl Power!" mirrored the growing interest in popular culture in "The Girl" during the late 1990s. This interest was further reflected in the development of the academic discipline, Buffy studies. Professor Susan Hopkins, in her 2002 text, '', suggested a correlation between Girl Power, The Spice Girls, and female action heroes during the end of the 20th century. Hopkins explores the roles of Britney Spears; supermodels; Lara Croft; ; the Charlie's Angels of the 2000s; Sabrina, the Teenage Witch; Mulan; Charmed; The Powerpuff Girls; Sailor Moon; and Buffy in relation to the phrase, girl power.

A few scholars suggested a specific link with third-wave feminism. Media theorist Kathleen Rowe Karlyn echoes this sentiment in her article "Scream, Popular Culture, and Feminism's Third Wave: I'm Not My Mother" as does Irene Karras in "The Third Wave's Final girl: Buffy the Vampire Slayer".

See also


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