Topic: Women’s Role in Punk Culture Women’s Role in Punk Culture The Punk culture movement transcended the stereotypical image that the media portrayed of a certain type of person that dressed a certain type of way. Not only that, but the media associated the punk movement with what was known as “punk rock”, which is accurate, but it was only a miniscule part of the culture that was shown to people worldwide.
Music was a way to express, in a sense, an ideology; and it was a way to spread the word that anarchism would be preferred over the worldwide governmental systems, specifically citing actions such as the exploitation ND oppression of peoples (O’Hara 72). When it comes to genders, females have been exploited and oppressed by society in different ways. Specifically, I want to examine the role women played in punk culture, by exploring how they were looked upon in the punk movement and the effect the female gender had on the development of the ideology of punks.
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To add to that, examining how women acted in comparison with women that were following the rest of society. Society embodied with the media has portrayed women in negative ways, and the punk culture grasped the way women ere treated and led to more equality among the genders within the culture. Stereotypes have long been a barrier that every race, color, religion and specifically gender has encountered. Sexism has been looked down upon by the majority of punks, leading to the increased involvement of women in the music scene of the punk movement.
Beginning in 1977, at least one female band member was essentially required which led to the deep involvement of females within the culture (O’Hara 104). Women in society were often constrained on their abilities to be involved and there was almost no discussion of women needing more rights, being emitted by the masculinity factor of the man being the protector and the leader of the household. In the normative culture of the world, women would often be assigned a specific role within a society.
Specifically, the stereotype of women in the United States, which meant a female, would have to stay at home and take care of the kids, while cleaning the house too; while the male of the house would go out and work and raise the family. The punk culture included deep involvement of women in early punk rock bands, which aimed to drive away female roles in society and adopt the motto of DID, or do-it-yourself attitude (O’Hara 153).
Within the punk movement, there were numerous amounts of males that actually grasped the idea of feminism and helped women of the movement to abolishing sexism in the culture of the majority (O’ Hard 104). The ideology of punks consisted of having an epiphany of how it was crucial for cooperation between both genders and ignore all the stereotypes and roles that are correlated with genders, and come together to form a new ideology for society as a whole (O’Hara 105). Overall, patriarchy has dominated the way the majority of people vive, with females Just adapting to what is coming their way.
The roles in the normative culture has shown strong leadership from men for centuries, but punks ideology don’t necessarily strive for women in roles of authority or high positions in gender is looked down upon because of physical or emotional traits that are associated with them (O’Hara 105). A point to examine regarding how women almost deplete themselves of their dignity, is by examining cases such as women during high school basically acting stupid around males, and not letting men know their true intellectual ability (O’Hara 106).
This is even common today on the WAS campus among women, thus demonstrating that this type of attitude continues today. An ideal example of females striving towards the encouragement of breaking the norms of society and the roles associated with being a female was the movement called riot girl. They propagated ideas of movements of women from the past, ideas for change and basic issues associated with women (O’Hara 106). One of riot girl’s main goals was to encourage a movement that would empower women and stand up for what they believe in.
This progressive way of thinking deeply involved women in the vehement of the punk culture, showing that through music there was a way in which there would be a free flow of expression and the eventual ultimate goal of reaching equality. Over time, the development of increased roles in a punk society led to the increase of the self-worth of women. An essay that was wrote by a male writer stated the following, ” Feminists, regardless of gender, frequently bemoan that men seem to unwilling or unable to change their traditional behavior patterns on their own… (O’Hara 107). This Just shows that women in the normative society were Just aiding for a change of heart by the male counterparts, whereas punk women didn’t wait for that type of change because they knew that something like that would be very unlikely to happen. This is true because men have always been in a comfortable position in which they are at the top of this gender-based hierarchy. In turn, punk women didn’t complain of what normal feminists thought, instead they took action. I want to point out the word, action.
This is a major part of punk culture in which being proactive seemed to be a trait that was linked with the movement because people in the movement always had an opinion. They expressed themselves through the way they dressed or through the music they would listen to and play. So, punk women noted that there wouldn’t be change unless they provoked thoughts that would lead to changes of equality among the genders. Punk women had the idea that men should not get what they want, which led to the women changing themselves.
Proactive women in the culture changed the way they would act, breaking away from societies norms and essentially freeing themselves from the imaginary shells that the normal culture put upon females. Punk women primarily mint out that both sides of the oppression should be looked at because women essentially let themselves be oppressed and be brought down, thinking that they are less than their male counterparts. Not only was this a movement within the culture of the punk movement, but it also grasped the minds of women that were looking in from the outside and changed the world at large in a beneficial way.
This motivated females to break away and express what they felt, in order to make the world better. Punk women often did not want to be viewed as a person that is not worth as much as a male, wanting to abolish the idea of patriarchy. In society, women did not seem to have the right to make decisions regarding the conception of a child, whereas in the punk movement, many believed that women should have the right to make their wanted to do with it (O’Hara 111).
This led to the increased role of women within a small culture, but it was a start of a movement that increased as the years went on and essentially leads to the present day because pro-choice movements are a common occurrence in our American culture. The punk ideology took the word change to a new level, which is associated with their beliefs because as stated earlier, hey take action in what they believe in and the punk females play a major role in the development of a feminist that is very progressive in a way that they were striving for goals of gender equality.
Punks have realized that there is an obvious connection between the male tendencies and the domination of females and as much as punk women attempt for change for the elimination of a male-dominated world, they know that there has to be cooperation between the two genders because with cooperation, the differences could be figured out. In the documentary, Punk Attitude, multiple nun rock artists bring up the idea of women’s involvement in the punk rock scene.
Pat Smear of The Germs stated, ” They weren’t treated like rock and roll sexist objects on any level,” speaking about females in punk bands (Punk Attitude). Whereas you can compare the idea of making a woman very socialized in mainstream society, punk was striving for a change to break the norms of the inequality among genders, particularly females. Poly Styrene, lead singer of the band X-Ray Esp.., had the attitude where she wanted to do something her own way and said, “At the time it was retry much unheard of for a girl to not Just be a groupie for a band” (Punk Attitude).
Thus reinforcing the role that the culture was depicting women as having a minimal role in every aspect of life. Christie Hymned of The Pretenders echoed the ideology of punks in which she states, ” If there was one word, well this is two words but, Non- discrimination to describe punk”(Punk attitude). One woman that had a major role in the punk movement was Sioux Sioux of Sioux and the Banshees brought forth the idea that punk rock essentially helped females develop an attitude that would empower women and not feel unequal (Punk Attitude).
The ideology of punks brought forth what was thought to be impossible to be possible, especially because it taught both genders to go against the system and create their own identity, which dramatically helped women; being something they needed in order to get rid of the patriarchy that was imposed by mainstream society (Punk Attitude). Kim Fowled, creator and manager of the band The Runaways said, “It’s a man’s world, says James Brown, and he’s right. When you get women doing traditional male things, you’re goanna have combustion and controversy.
The Runaways was my idea, and I went to find people to be in the group, and found five girls” (Spits Mullen 45). Fowled recognized and almost surrendered to the ideas and thoughts of mainstream society, but with the creation The Runaways, he completely contradicted what mainstream was about. The guitarist Joan Jet, stated that she was tired of having to be a follower of rock stars, and that she wanted to become a rock star herself (Spits Mullen 48). This attitude mirrors what punks were all about; the DID or do-it-yourself concept was being fulfilled.
This is another great example in which the role of women in a small art of culture at least was empowering women to do what they felt like doing, and not wait around on men to accept the movement towards gender equality. Kim Fowled is an ideal example that projects the ideas and thoughts of punks because creation of the band it creates turmoil, but in the end it motivates women everywhere. It is obvious that punk brought a renewed awareness of image, especially feminists in punk culture (Steward 33).
Normally, women would wear things that are associated with being feminine such as dresses, heels, long hair and make-up. But punk feminist within the punk movement wanted to break the norm ND create something that had more of an individual style, essentially a self- expression in a way that had never been done. Many female punks would dress in what was known as the “pretty-boy’ style in which they would have spiky hair, worn clothing and bright colors.
This sort of awareness of image deeply reflected the attitude women began to develop which were that of iconoclasm, optimism and the determination of what need to change in the battle of the genders. Iconoclasm was a major idea why the punk movement started because they had always wanted to go against the established values and ideas of the governmental and religious institutions. This establishment of the idea of change has had its effect on females of the present-day because there is a notion of independence that most women feel today.
But, women today seemed to have forgotten what the idea of being independent really means, seeming to be skewing from what the original punks thought. In Signed, sealed, and delivered: true life stories of women in pop, the author states, “Now, the label ‘independent woman’ encompasses everything from the Cosmos-superior’s overriding ambition for financial and career independence from men, to autonomous separatists who eschew any relationships with men whatsoever.
But on all points of the spectrum, women are at least aware of, and mostly affected by, the ideas of feminism” (Steward 158). Riot girl was a particular underground punk rock feminist movement that had its origins in Washington D. C. , and was major responder in the normalization of women politically. They addressed issues that were often forgotten which consisted of rape, patriarchy, domestic abuse and patriarchy (Downed 161). Through their music, they produced a specific type of sound in which they would question the gender power relations in mainstream society.
They urged young women to disrupt the obvious gender power relations and increase the amount of involvement politically in order to strive for change (Downed 159). There is no doubt that riot girl created a punk-feminist populace that encouraged women to go against the norm of patriarchy that was put upon them. A particular band from the riot girl movement that had a very interesting song in which they state that they have no need for men, that they can basically fend for themselves and be able to develop a healthy life without a man in their life.
The and is called Bikini Kill, and there song is called “Don’t need you”. A specific verse that encourages individuality is the following, ” We don’t need you, we don’t need you us girls, we don’t need you don’t need you to tell us we’re good don’t need you to say we suck don’t need your protection don’t need your dick to buck we don’t need you, we don’t need you us girls, we don’t need you” (“Don’t need you”). With relation of this riot girl movement song, it showed that women were having a role in a subculture where they felt like they were more important.
With this it, in a sense, “gave women remission to explore gender boundaries, to investigate their own power, anger, aggression-even nastiness” (Downed 206). The song by Bikini Girl, Don’t need you”, is a expressing what they feel through wordplay. The punk movement led to the creation of an increased role of women, but one scholar, Lebanon, stated the point that punk women created their identities through discourses of the punk masculinity and femininity (Downed 208).
So, by this there is apparent evidence that women in punk culture drew their identity through a mixture of what they already knew and with what they were introduced to in the punk culture. As there was an increased influence in punk with the riot girl movement, it was a stimulant for a subculture that was Just beginning, and it led to the creation of many punk-feminist events that included concerts, music and events all over the United States and Europe. Many punk females were able to develop power within the culture through the essential rejection of mainstream women and the adoption of a contrasting female style (Downed 214).
Because of the rejection of what a mainstream woman embodies, that in a sense empowered them because they were different, and the whole punk ideology stated that being apart from the system was a basic idea of what they believed. Not only that, but once again what could be brought up is the do-it yourself concept. As unique as this movement was, it had a definite influence on women in the future. Most women now are more aware of what they stand for and believe in, and the punk females from the early sass’s had a major influence on society as a whole.
The riot girl movement was seen as positive among most punks, but there are undoubtedly many people that were looking in from the outside that had different views. One can look at how they had major event, but some of these events ere even gender specific, so essentially wouldn’t this make the punk females hypocritical? There were obviously events where men and women did go, but there were some events where women would only go. This is only a minor point of what the punk-feminists did, but there seems to be more positives from the riot girl movement according to the scholarly texts.
The culmination of the general punk- movement towards equality, self-expression, rights and do-it-yourself attitude was a creator of the riot girl movement in which women began to express what they felt through music and self-expression. Punk females ideas transcended time. It has influenced young women today because they are aware of what they do and how they act. Specifically, at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn, young women went on to appreciate the punk movement.
One particular woman stated, “This revolution allowed women to be sexually free and simultaneously open about harassment and sexual assault, that encouraged them in pursuits traditionally thought of as a male.. “(Risk 2). Women today recognize that it was a major influence on them, if they are educated on this particular subject, but today there is a renewed interest in this movement. The voices of female musicians are heard even more because of the movement towards gender equality, and female musicians recognize that they owe the past female singers for what they did (Risk 2).
There is no doubt that women were pivotal in the punk movement, almost having more influence than the men in punk. The role of women in punk, led to a culmination of more involved and influential women in society at large. Today, you see more women in positions of power and doing what were labeled as traditional male Jobs. The feminist movement within the subculture of punk, not only affected punk, but it was a contributor to what today, but what about the women that work the same Job as a man, and end up getting paid less for the same type of work?
Has society reached the pinnacle it needs to reach? Where are the young women from the sass’s? There are many questions to be asked, but the overall role of women in punk society was pivotal. The punk- feminists ideology will go beyond Just words and will forever change women now, and women in the future. Bibliography Downed, Julia. The Expansion of Punk Rock: Riot Girl Challenges to Gender Power Relations in British Indies Music Subcultures. Journal. O’Hara, Craig. The Philosophy of Punk: More than Noise!!