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A Feminist History of Punk



In The Nation, David Hajdu and Karen Oberlin review a new history of punk told through a feminist lense: Revenge of the She-Punks: A Feminist Music History from Poly Styrene to Pussy Riot by Vivien Goldman. As Hajdu and Oberlin point out, the music of feminist punks not only decried things like consumer capitalism and nuclear armageddon, similar to the punk music of their male counterparts. It also confronted issues like mysogyny and sexism within the punk scene itself. In this sense, the feminist musicians profiled by Goldman were the punkest of the punks. Check out an excerpt from the review below.

Like nearly all other subcultures in the arts, the punk and post-post scenes have been always inclined to provincialism and aesthetic narrow-mindedness. Punks, on the whole, have tended to reject ideas that aren’t in sync with their treasured principles of nihilism, anarchy, rage, crudity, rudeness, and brutality. That most of these values were historically associated with masculinity served to shut out women in the early punk era and made female punks, by the sheer fact of their participation in the music, more radical than any of the men. For female punks to venture further and entertain aesthetic values beyond those sanctioned as acceptably “punk,” as some woman dared to do, made them suspect to punk fundamentalists but all the more daring.

Image of Poly Styrene via NPR.