Katherine Yeske Taylor will discuss new book about women in rock, in Hoboken and Princeton

Katherine Yeske Taylor

The cover of Katherine Yeske Taylor's book, “She’s a Badass: Women in Rock Shaping Feminism.”

Veteran music journalist Katherine Yeske Taylor will read from and discuss her new book, “She’s a Badass: Women in Rock Shaping Feminism” (Backbeat Books, 280 pp., $34.95), March 5 at 6 p.m. at Labyrinth Books in Princeton and March 9 at 8 p.m. at Little City Books in Hoboken. For the book, she interviewed 20 compelling female musicians — including Ann Wilson of Heart, Gina Schock of The Go-Go’s, Suzi Quatro, Suzanne Vega, Amy Ray of Indigo Girls, Cherie Currie of The Runaways, Joan Osborne, Donita Sparks of L7, and Amanda Palmer — about their successful journeys, and the obstacles they have faced in a male-dominated industry.

Music journalist and producer Tom Beaujour will moderate the discussion in Princeton, while musician and Guitar Bar owner James Mastro will do so in Hoboken. In Hoboken, Tammy Faye Starlite, Karyn Kuhl, Diane Gentile and Megan Reilly will also perform songs by some of the musicians interviewed in the book.

“Katherine interviewed such inspiring and influential women for this book,” said Kate Jacobs, co-owner of Little City Books, adding that “it’s when you look back that you see how far they moved the needle for women in music.”

Do the musicians Taylor spoke with see progress in the music industry, enabling women to have greater control over their image, message and music?

“Many of the women suggested that the best way to continue moving forward is simply refusing to allow sexist behavior to stop them from pursuing their careers, even as they recognized that these obstacles mean that overall progress is often slow,” Taylor said. “Some of the women, such as Gina Schock, Joan Osborne and Donita Sparks, implore younger women to engage in overt activism as a means of furthering progress, while others — Suzi Quatro, Sade Sanchez of L.A. Witch — maintain that simply showing up onstage and ignoring gender as much as possible is their way of effecting change.”



Does the industry support a wider range of female or gender-fluid artists?

“I do believe that the music business is far more equitable now than it was in the 1970s, when Suzi Quatro and Ann Wilson started their careers,” Taylor said, “and even since I began my own career in the early 1990s, because women seem to feel far more empowered to speak up and have their concerns be taken seriously. This was not always the case — as (Throwing Muses/Belly singer-guitarist) Tanya Donelly and Donita Sparks point out. Even if women fought back as recently as the 1990s, they were often told that nothing could be done because this was just the way things were — and this was true even when they talked to their own managers and record companies.

“Because of this shift towards respecting women more, this improves the experience of all women in the business now — as well as artists across the gender spectrum. Amy Ray and Bonnie Bloomgarden (of Death Valley Girls) both spoke meaningfully in this book about the difficulties of having society regard gender as a strict male/female construct and the challenges that presented for them as they tried to reconcile their own masculine-leaning identities, so it’s good that society is starting to address this issue overall. We have a long ways to go on that — and on gender equality, overall — but it seems we are incrementally moving in the right direction.”

I wondered if Taylor noticed any common threads in her interviews and if some of the artists had a more difficult time than others.

“All of the women profiled in this book have had to develop extraordinarily thick skin in order to persevere through the various obstacles they’ve encountered,” she said. “Every one of them has experienced some form of discrimination, though to widely varying degrees: Some had merely sexist comments or other annoying behavior aimed their way, while others dealt with actual violence, including assault. Of all the women in the book, it seemed like Lydia Lunch and Cherie Currie coped with particularly difficult times, as they were the victims of sexual abuse. Tobi Vail (of Bikini Kill) also had traumatizing violent encounters. Others, such as Suzanne Vega and Gina Schock, had it comparatively easy, yet they still described instances when their gender apparently led certain men to deal with them in patronizing ways.

“I believe that all of these women represent the spectrum of experiences that females in American society are also facing. Some will always have it easier or harder than others, but it’s important that we recognize the struggles that each one has encountered and overcome.”

For more information on the signings, visit labyrinthbooks.com or littlecitybooks.com.

For more on Taylor, visit linktr.ee/Taylorkatnyc.

We need your help!


Since launching in September 2014, NJArts.net, a 501(c)(3) organization, has become one of the most important media outlets for the Garden State arts scene. And it has always offered its content without a subscription fee, or a paywall. Its continued existence depends on support from members of that scene, and the state’s arts lovers. Please consider making a contribution of any amount to NJArts.net via PayPal, or by sending a check made out to NJArts.net to 11 Skytop Terrace, Montclair, NJ 07043.


Custom Amount

Personal Info

Donation Total: $20.00

Leave a Comment

Sign up for our Newsletter