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The spirit of '77: punk and the girl revolution.

In 1976 the Slits, the first all-female punk band, performed their version of the 1960s classic "Heard It through the Grapevine."--To the uninitiated, their guitar fumblings, unpolished vocal style, and uneven percussion labeled the Slits as an object of musical ridicule and an example of the chaotic mess the punk subculture calls music, in glaring opposition to the highly structured products of the popular music industry. The remake of the widely recognizable song acknowledged the musical tradition of those who had played the song before and at the same time negated the dominance of that tradition. By altering the lyric, singing "I heard it through the bass line," the Slits self-consciously reversed the position of women in popular music by questioning women's absence in the ranks of rock musicians. Girls were not supposed to be hearing anything through the bass line!

Historically, both black and white women in popular music have occupied the position of the singer. The connection of the voice to the body falls in line with women's "biologically determined" social roles and the pressure for these singers to conform to white standards of beauty and sexual attractiveness. Because of the connection of singing with the body, vocalists were not seen as skilled musicians. Mavis Bayton notes that "even [jazz singer] Billie Holiday's singing was discussed in terms of an emotional response to her life history of personal suffering, rather than in terms of learnt craft." (1) Vocalists in the big band era were paid less than instrumentalists, often used only to give the "real musicians" a rest or as sequin-clad eye candy for audiences.

This image of the woman in music carried through to the birth of rock `n' roll. A few female figures, such as the influential country guitarist Maybelle Carter and the racially integrated all-girl big band International Sweethearts of Rhythm, were able to make significant instrumental contributions to popular music; however, these women, with the exception of the celebrity singers, have been all but written out of the history of popular music.

Rock `n' roll, which emerged in the mid-1950s, exacerbated this restricted role for women. Although there were very important women in popular music at the time; for example, rhythm and blues (r&b) singer Ruth Brown's popularity single-handedly carried the Atlantic label in the early 1950s. Until the early 1960s there were few female voices in rock. In the late 1940s, as many as one-third of top-selling pop singles were by female vocalists; in 1957, only two of the top twenty-five were by women. Neither of these were rock `n' roll musicians.

A new phenomenon, the "girl group," became important in the early 1960s. In December 1960 the Shirelles' "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" became the number one hit on the pop charts. This was the first time a girl group, notably one composed of four black teenagers, had hit number one. From 1960 to 1966 many of these girl groups charted dozens of hits. Their music, characterized by thick vocal harmonies and orchestration, focused on girl talk--boyfriends, friendships, and teen angst. Despite and perhaps because of the popularity of the girl-oriented messages in the girl groups' music, they have also been dismissed from the canon as cookie-cutter groups created by genius male producers. At the time, the focus was on the producers' talent and the girls' bodies. In 1968 a Roiling Stone article described the Ronettes as
   tough whorish females of the lower class, female Hell's Angels who had
   about them the aura of brazen sex. The Ronettes were Negro Puerto Rican
   hooker types with long black hair and skin tight dresses revealing their
   well shaped but not quite Tina Turner behinds.... Ronettes records should
   have been sold under the counter along with girly magazines and condoms.
   (2)


As the girl groups died out in the mid-1960s, attitudes like these about women were coming into rock music itself.

The rise of the rock supergroups, such as the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, refocused attention on male musicians and instrumental virtuosity in popular music. Girls' place was in the audience, chasing and dreaming of male performers. In 1963, at the height of the girl groups' popularity, female artists recorded 32 percent of the records on the year-end singles chart. By 1969 only 6 percent of the year-end singles were by groups with female vocalists. Despite the moderate success of women in folk and the strong pro-woman statements of some female soul artists (such as Aretha Franklin's "R-E-S-P-E-C-T"), the mainstream of rock was often extremely offensive toward women. Songs like the Rolling Stones' "Stupid Girl" and "Under My Thumb" created a culture of hypermasculinity as the standard in rock. As a result, the few women who, like Janis Joplin and Grace Slick, were able to break into this boys' club necessarily developed wild, masculine personae, conforming to the norm for men in rock. As in the pre-rock period, there were female artists, such as Goldie and the Gingerbreads and Fanny, two of the first all-girl rock bands, but the existence of these musicians has not been institutionalized in the rock canon or in the history of popular music.

The fragmentation of popular music in the 1970s into many genres and subgenres, which were divided along more than just racial lines, created more opportunities for women in music. Folk and soft rock had many female voices, and out of the folk movement, a specifically feminist genre, womyn's music, developed. Folk musicians such as Cris Williamson and Holly Near recorded feminist albums on woman-oriented independent record labels. Even though these musicians were still most associated with the role of singer, womyn's music successfully created new oppurtunities and a new market for women's music while the sexist music industry presented few female role models. However, the niche market nature of the separatist womyn's music scene focused on women already involved in the feminist movement--mostly middle-aged, educated, and white. Young women were still the focus of such mainstream bubblegum groups as the Osmonds and the Partridge Family. A change in girls' roles in popular music would come from neither the mainstream, which limited girls to the feminine roles of singer, sex object, and fan, nor the feminist womyn's music movement, which paid little attention to young women and concentrated on a folk style that lacked mass appeal.

Opening new spaces for women in popular music required a critical voice from female musicians who were traditionally limited to "appropriately feminine" roles in music making. The deconstructionist project of claiming a place for women in punk rock engendered a riot against the recording industry and against musical tradition. The rock epiphany of punk ethics and aesthetics opened the door for women to trade in their eyeliners and hairspray for electric guitars and the authorial pen.

"Punk" describes the subculture of youth that created and consumed the music that resonated from American avant-garde and British subcultural roots in the late 1970s. The term also describes a genre of music--punk rock--and a style of dress associated with this subculture. The shifting ground of meaning in punk is almost impossible to universalize because of the contradictions that create this community. It is precisely these contradictions, however, that ascribe meaning to the seeming semiotic chaos of punk. Punk ideals questioned prejudice, social injustice, and vicious circles of inequality. The tactics of punk attacked the assumed naturalness of the structures in the popular music industry and in society at large that perpetuate voicelessness, oppression, and a sense of futility that punks characterized as "no future." To both the audience and the performers, the politics and musical and sartorial aesthetics are inseparable for this reason. As Penelope Houston of the Avengers explained, "The original concept of the band was the musical concept. The music is still important, but it's like the music is a Tool. Rock & roll is easy to play. Anybody can learn to play, so you have to take it farther." (3) Greil Marcus followed up, "What remains irreducible about this music is its desire to change the world." (4)

The punk ethics system was aligned in opposition to the politics perceived in adult culture by the mostly white, working-class teenagers involved in punk. Because of prominent debates on racism and sexism, the idea that punk was open to everyone was central to the rhetoric of punk rock, politics, and identity. An ostensibly unprejudiced attitude was central to the creation of the community of punk.

Fighting against the politics of boredom was the goal of punk music, fashion, and behavior. The normal and everyday were unchallenged. Punks theorized that this boredom was a form of social control that prevented massive uprisings by creating a consensus around the mundane and expected. For punks, rebellion against boredom, "no future," and unquestioned assumptions was essential to reinvigorate the ailing British state and the pathetic U.S. culture. The Dils said in a 1977 group interview,
   Thomas Jefferson said there should be a revolution every 50 years. Of
   course, they've rationalized that he meant an intellectual revolution or a
   revolution in spirit, but that's a bunch of shit because he didn't mean
   that.... All great revolutionaries, and whether we like it or not Jefferson
   was one, are conscious of the fact that the revolution never ends. (5)


To further their plan for punk cultural revolution, punk youths turned every aspect of their lives--their music, their appearance, and their behavior--into political fighting words. By questioning the mundanity of the most basic "facts of life," punks used guitars, safety pins, and garbage bags as weapons in the struggle.

To deconstruct the politics of boredom with the resources available to them, punks used negation as a key tactic. Dick Hebdige, in his 1979 study Subculture: The Meaning of Style, explains that negation makes "the rupture between `natural' and constructed context ... clearly visible." (6) To achieve this goal, punks rejected fashion and constructed in its place a manner of dress in which "the most unremarkable and inappropriate items--a pin, a plastic clothes peg, a television component, a razor blade, a tampon--could be brought within the province of punk (un)fashion." (7) For example, a punk might wear a safety pin through her lip or ear. By doing this, she condemned the assumed, appropriate meaning of the object and reinscribed a new meaning, a meaning not sanctioned by society. Punk (un)fashion was important because it entailed a symbolic and immediately observable statement of punk's ethics: a rejection of the expected.

More than writing a 'zine or piercing the body, playing punk music was the supreme act of rebellion for punks. The means to this end was D.I.Y., do-it-yourself, which is how punks approached a theory of musical production. Flying in the face of the rock culture that required virtuosic talent, punk youth denied that highly skilled technical ability on guitar or drums was necessary to make good rock music. The D.I.Y. ethic encouraged punks with no musical experience to start their own bands. Most importantly, punk rock became a space where anyone could begin to play guitar and perform in public. While high-profile bands such as the Sex Pistols, Dead Boys, X-Ray Spex, and Germs are most often tapped as the "important" punk bands, their celebrity was significant because of the thousands of kids who were empowered to do it themselves by these bands' shows and recordings. Success stories like that of the Slits were common in 'zines: they played their first public performance after only one practice session--the performance was not just the second time they had played together, but the second time they had played their instruments ever. These stories sent a powerful message to the punks who read them. Jello Biafra, of the Dead Kennedys, explained his own experience: "The feeling was: if you couldn't play as good as Jimi Hendrix, you might as well not try at all." Will Shatter of Grand Mal told him "`Hey, do it anyway, man--I've been playing bass for 3 days and I'm in a band!' That was the original punk attitude in a nutshell." (8) Like never before in popular music, learning as you go along and musical incompetence were aesthetically and politically valuable.

So, where do the girls fit into all of it? This becomes especially important when you consider the history that girls have in popular music. Coming into the late 1970s, women in music were still the chanteuse: the body, the voice. Because of the tolerant ideal and the D.I.Y. attitude important to the punk culture, however, women became an early and important part of the punk scene. Female artists like the Slits, Debbie Harry, and Patti Smith were recognized as leading figures. Because these early female punk pioneers were visible and respected and because the politics of punk effectively addressed the problems of women in popular music, many girls were hailed by punk's ethics and aesthetics. Girls used punk precisely to interrogate gender and to rewrite the restrictive scripts that limit women's lives.

For girls, the most important point of entry into punk was the D.I.Y. ethic, which made punk rock available to them as a medium of expression. Because of D.I.Y., punk was the first time that many women were able to become rock instrumentalists. With punks' tolerant ethics, women were able to do it themselves. Because the channels of mainstream music were so restricted for women, the politics and tolerance in punk addressed these young women's needs in a way that mainstream popular music had failed.

Girls inspired by punk were able to pick up their own instruments for the first time, write their own songs, and start their own bands. One woman explained in an interview with Mavis Bayton, "[Girls have not had] a whole history of having played guitar in garages and things. What girls have been confronted with ... is being a girl-band in a male orientated world.... We were all in the same boat together. None of us could play any better than anyone else." (9) Young women getting involved in punk were able to learn to play instruments as they went along. Girls were also able to form a band, a hopelessly unfeminine act before punk. Of starting her band X-Ray Spex, Poly Styrene said, "I don't know how--I just did! ... It was just a time when anybody could form a band." (10) Punk was the first time in the history of popular music that a girl could start a band with a system to support her endeavor.

Punk gave women the chance to do something new--form a band and play an instrument. Because of the historical importance of women starting bands and playing instruments, the weight of punk was very different for women and men. Men were using punk to protest the politics of boredom and the unappealing popular music in the mainstream. Girls, on the other hand, were making new forays into music and politics--the ethics of punk reordered spaces that were previously unavailable to women. Dave Laing argues that "in complete contrast [to male punk musicians], most of the best known female punk musicians set themselves up to undo the conventional performing roles provided as models by mainstream music." (11) Women were able to .form all-girl bands, without being considered "unfeminine" by their peers. While girls in 1960s bands like the Svelts and Goldie and the Gingerbreads fought to be able to perform publicly, Vi Subversa of Poison Girls explained that "punk was very important, because until then I felt alienated from music ... the ethos of punk was that anybody can get on stage and do it. And if punk had not happened I don't think we would have been allowed on stage." (12)

These bands were able to use their collective voice to negate the historical absence of strong female voices in music. Greil Marcus explains that "this was a music that refused its own name, which meant it also refused its history--from this moment, no one knew what rock `n' roll was, and so almost anything became possible, or impossible, as rock `n' roll: random noise was rock `n' roll, and the Beatles were not." (13) A Rolling Stone reporter commented on a Slits performance,
   The Slits make their stage debut, opening for the Clash at the Roxy in
   London.... [They] will have to bear the double curse of their sex and their
   style which takes the concept of enlightened amateurism to an extreme....
   The Slits will respond to charges of incompetence by inviting members of
   the audience on stage to play while the four women take to the floor to
   dance. (14)


This episode also dramatized the D.I.Y. ideal--the audience members are invited to do it themselves. These bands were able to take the stage as a group of women and empower those in the audience by physically crossing the line between spectator and performer in the space of the show.

Many women also distinguished themselves as punk vocalists, redefining the role of the singer. The girl punk singers structured their performance styles to undo the expected continuity between their gender, behavior, and voice. Jennifer Miro, of the L.A. group the Nuns, cultivated a glamorous onstage persona but sang songs like "Child Molester" and "I Wanna Be Your Dog." The contradiction between her glamour and breathy voice, on the one hand, and the tough appearance of her band and the seedy, sarcastic lyrics of the Nuns' songs, on the other, broke down the connection between her hyperfeminine persona and its passive, polite connotations. Miro also confused her cool, sophisticated image by reporting that "actually, I lead the most non-life. I go home, don't see anybody, never leave the house for weeks, then I go on stage and I'm JENNIFER MIRO! At home you wouldn't recognize me: without my makeup, in tennis shoes, I look about 13." (15) Miro's denial of glamour and hipness as inherent qualities reinforces the D.I.Y. ethos that allowed women access to the punk stage--Miro reveals that any girl could take that stage and assume a persona that was not part of her daily life.

Some women, like Poly Styrene, of X-Ray Spex, coded rebellion not only into their lyrics and persona but also into their voices. Styrene explained, "When I listen to my old vocal style it personally grates a little, but then I wanted to be like that, I was rebelling. Although I could actually sing, I didn't want to sing--I wanted to be an anti-singer." (16) She used her voice to create strong aural signs of contradiction, juxtaposing sweetness with harshness and anger. With an often garish, shouting vocal style she presented her political songs about identity, consumerism, and sexism with clear but shocking diction that communicated anger and could not be ignored. (17) Punk girls experimented with voice as a potential location of contradiction in order to negate women's history in pop music.

The most visible struggle for punk girls, once they had used punk to write themselves a place in popular music, was against traditional gender roles. While most punk girls did not claim a connection to feminism (which was hopelessly associated with uncool, middle-aged, middle-class white women), they used the ideals of punk to construct feminist interventions in culture. Using fashion, behavior, and music, these girls reinvented appropriate feminine conduct.

Stylistically, women used clothing to critique oppressive ideals of beauty, to undermine the definition of women as sex objects, and to mark the body as a site of resistance. By using punk's politicized version of style, "in a symbolic sense, women were cutting and destroying the established image of femininity, aggressively tearing it down." (18) Wearing cut-up clothing and revealing skirts, and creating constructed ugliness as beauty with intentionally uneven haircuts, garish makeup, and "sensible" shoes, punk girls criticized conventional ideas about "natural" beauty. Refusing to hide bodies that didn't conform to these ideals was another mode of empowerment; according to Linder, the lead singer of the band Ludus,
   There were lots of ... women like Jordan, over Size 12, daring to wear
   fantastic clothes ... A lot of the women weren't "ideal" prizes, but they
   had small skirts on if they wanted. Punk was about being looked at,
   creating a temporary celebrity. There was something glorious about all
   those shapes and sizes of bodies on show. (19)


The acceptance of all types of bodies was central to criticizing media images that left women without ideal body shapes out of the loop of style. For these girls, opposing beauty was also necessary to legitimate the political statements they were making. Poly Styrene indicated that "I felt that if I made myself pretty people would treat me like a blow-up doll without a brain. I wouldn't have been so effective." (20) Punk girls' new attitude toward body image, fashion, and attractiveness privileged intelligence over conventional beauty.

Women in punk also used fashion to critique images of women's bodies as objects of sexual fetishization. Punk girls like Siouxsie Sioux and Jordan wore bondage gear and underwear as outer wear. By appropriating the garments of pornography, these women demystified the female body and gave a voice to the image of the passive female sex object. These punk women performed how their bodies were "studded, buckled, strapped, chained, and zippered" by male control and the strict policing of women's sexuality.

Punk girls also used the power of shocking behavior to critique femininity. When asked "What can women do for New Wave?" Vermilion from the Mary Monday band said, "We barf on old models of female behavior and interaction. We're women with some fucking guts, not fashion magazine poseurs." (21) Punk women enacted Vermilion's attitude in unexpected ways, performing rebellion against femininity. At one show, the all-girl band Ludus "`decorated' the club, tying tampons to the balconies and handing out to the crowd giblets wrapped in pornography.... Ludus played the gig, with Linder up front, covered in meat. At the crucial moment ... she pulled off her skirt to reveal [a] shiny black dildo." (22) Ludus depicted the realities of femininity--the male gaze, the female sex object, and male ownership of women's bodies, in a threatening way, a way that did not allow them to be considered weak, passive, and polite. Ludus also implicated the audience in this system. By revealing a penis, by shockingly impersonating a man, Linder embodied the accusatory thoughts of the crowd--she was acting a male role. These girls destabilized the expected behavior of women and created new options for female conduct.

Among these new options was the open expression of lesbian sexuality. Lesbian artists were welcomed into the punk community. Laura Kennedy, bassist of the Bush Tetras, said that "our being gay wasn't an issue ... there was a queer presence all over the place." In fact, Kennedy found punk clubs more accepting than lesbian clubs at the time: "We got kicked out of women's bars.... There didn't seem to be room for weirdos, which we were. The punk world was my world, the gay world definitely was not." (23) In the L.A. punk bands Nervous Gender and Catholic Discipline, Phranc was out about her sexuality, finding a space of acceptance in the punk community and an identity with the ethics: "Punk rock saved my life.... It had this absolute identification of politics and anger and music. We all fit in, all the misfits and the outcasts. Everybody was just themselves." (24) The open atmosphere helped Liz Naylor of the 'zine City Fun to accept her own sexuality and meet other lesbian girls; "One night she saw a local band, the Distractions, mostly forgotten today but remembered by Naylor for their bassist--the first lesbian she ever met. After the show, Naylor experienced another first: she slept with a girl." Eventually Naylor formed her own punk band, the Gay Animals, with her girlfriend. (25) The ethics and tolerance of the punk community allowed girls to express their frustrations and find acceptance and support for lesbianism and sexual questioning.

In their music, female-driven bands engaged in open discussions of womanhood. Bayton explains that "a wide range of new topics entered the musical discourse, ones which spoke of aspects of women's experience, previously considered inappropriately unsexy or taboo: housework, motherhood, menstruation, contraception, rape, anorexia, female masturbation, cunnilingus, and faking orgasm." (26) Women who were creating songs like Penetration's "She is the Slave" and the Slits' "Typical Girls" had the same effect as Siouxsie in rubberwear on the street--attacking sexism while at the same time inventing their own spectacular normality.

On the other hand, the punk community was no land of milk and honey for girls. While many women were able to become punk rockers, the ethics of punk did not always translate into practice. Girls were still in the minority: punk was 60-70 percent male at this time. (27) The boys' club of rock was still present in the punk culture, a relic of the history punks fought to negate. O'Brien asserted that "while there were men wrestling with questions of masculinity and feminism, there were just as many content to leave it unreconstructed. `A lot of the punk boys were just regular knobheads who happened to have spikey hair.'" (28) In reality, many male punks' utmost concern was making shocking statements without considering the political implications. Punk "doesn't care if it offends" or who it offends. (29)

Many punk boys' favorite insult was "cunt," and some bands wrote songs that were extremely negative toward women. (30) Many of these songs were intended to be funny and sarcastic, but songs like the Crime's "Baby You're So Repulsive" and the Eaters' "Get Raped" are far from comical. No doubt, the climate of the punk community was often unwelcoming for women. Vermilion criticized Johnny Moped for writing "slimy songs about killing women." (31) Siouxsie Sioux attested, "everything felt so abrasive.... You needed a protest voice to survive within that." (32)

Girls were also a threat to the masculine solidarity of boy bands. Many male bands prevented women from attending their practices or touring with them. In punk mythology, girls were portrayed as a hazard to the integrity of the all-male band. The punk Yoko Ono, Nancy Spungeon, girlfriend of Sid Vicious, received full credit for the demise of the Sex Pistols. Leee Childers, manager of the Heartbreakers, explained that Sid was not
   shooting up until Nancy showed up.... That was the power of love.... She
   was a total junkie prostitute.... Almost immediately I heard that she had
   found Sid and hooked up with him. A cold chill ran down my spine when I
   heard, and from that day on, Sid was no longer the person that I knew. (33)


Spungeon embodied the fears of male punks--it was a female wedge that broke apart the "quintessential" male punk rock band.

While many punk boys were clearly no more progressive than the mainstream, hostility toward women in punk existed as a foil to the punk ethics that benefited girls. In 1977 the 'zine Sniffin' Glue asserted, "Punks are not girls, if it comes to the crunch we will have no options but to fight back." (34) This declaration of misogyny was aimed at punk girls, not at the politics of boredom. Attacking the legitimacy of girls as punks revealed a side of punk that was not only in need of a consciousness raising session but was also blatantly antagonistic toward girls.

Punk men reinforced mainstream sexist ideas about women. Tina Weymouth, of Talking Heads, said, "Women musicians tend to be treated like women drivers ... if they aren't much good, well what can you expect? And if they're hot stuff, it is despite the fact that they are women." (35) Girls were plagued by undervaluation in the community. Mark P., of Alternative TV, said, "I don't like women singers.... Girls don't seem to be strong enough to fight being held down.... They love to be treated that way; when they do sound off it's silly. It's too bad blokes don't make the girls realize what a joke it is." (36) Although punk's ethics allowed women to become punk rockers, this devaluation shows that in practice, conventional sexist attitudes remained.

Punk girls faced sexual harassment and violence: Viv Albertine, of the Slits, recalled that "we got picked on in the street, our lead singer Ari was stabbed." Lucy O'Brien of the Catholic Girls remembers a show when "a crowd of around 20 of [the audience members] followed us outside and attacked us.... During gigs there were regular cries of: `fuckin' cows, who do you think you are?" (37) Many of these attacks seem to have been incited by men's anger at the woman-oriented political stances of these performers. Punk magazine's October 1976 issue featured a comic-style detective story: "The Legend of Nick Detroit," starring Richard Hell (of Television) as Detroit. The heroic Detroit battles an evil band of "Nazi Dykes," played in photographs by punk women like Debbie Harry, clad in arm bands with a swastika-filled woman symbol, with "plans of world domination--plans that begin with the extermination of Nick--a threat to the feminists as he is the living symbol of masculinity." (38) This male-authored text thematized, ridiculed, and attacked the feminist political stances of female punks. It also revealed a latent hostility and fear not only of openly feminist women but also of lesbian sexuality, with the use of lesbian baiting to mark the "Nazi Dykes" as evil and dangerous. These types of male antagonism undermined the tolerant, welcoming effects of punk's ethics and aesthetics.

Violence began to take over the punk subculture by 1979 and increased through the early 1980s. Women were excluded from these violent spaces, and woman-driven bands became disillusioned with the punk scene. Jennifer Miro explains:
   Later, it became this macho hardcore, thrasher, punk scene and that was not
   what it was about at first. There were a lot of women in the beginning. It
   was women doing things. Then it became this whole macho anti-women thing.
   Then women didn't go to see Punk bands anymore because they were afraid of
   getting killed. I didn't even go because it was so violent and so macho
   that it was repulsive. Women just got squeezed out. (39)


By the early 1980s, some of these women signed with major labels and became some of the most popular performers in the Top Forty.

Their motivation may seem unclear. Major labels were attracted to the spunky sex appeal of groups like the Go-Go's, Bananarama, and the Bangles. And the girls themselves? Money and fame, which male punks were consciously rebelling against, were an entirely new prospect for women. Being a professional musician was appealing for women who had been empowered to become musicians by punk. For girls, being a rock star hadn't previously been an option.

The freedom women claimed in punk opened a space for the female instrumentalists, feminist performances, and girl-positive fan communities that have occupied popular music since. The ethics of punk were the catalyst for the creation of a new generation of female musicians in which women's voices can be heard loud and clear. Through the work of the women of 1970s punk, the 1980s female pop sensations who learned their tactics in punk, and the explicitly feminist riot grrrl movement in the 1990s who grew up with the Go-Go's and were inspired by X-Ray Spex, punk girls have self-consciously rebelled against the historical position of women in music, making way for female musicians with sophisticated political messages, large audiences, and a canon of female rock role models. In 1999 eight of the top ten year-end pop singles were by female artists. In the words of the Spice Girls, "the future is female." (40)

(1) Mavis Bayton, Frock Rock: Women Performing Popular Music (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), 13.

(2.) Reebee Garofalo, Rockin' Out: Popular Music in the USA (Needham Heights MA: Allyn & Bacon, 1997), 190.

(3.) Quoted in V. Vale, Search and Destroy #1-6: The Complete Reprint (San Francisco CA: V/SEARCH, 1996), 40.

(4.) Greil Marcus, Lipstick Traces: The Secret History of the Twentieth Century (Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 1989), 5.

(5.) Quoted in Vale, Search and Destroy #1-6, 29.

(6.) Dick Hebdige, Subculture: The Meaning of Style (New York: Routledge, 1979), 107.

(7.) Ibid.

(8.) Quoted in Vale, Search and Destroy #1-6, iii.

(9.) Bayton, Frock Rock, 84-85. Although the gender demographics of garage bands were nowhere near even, there were female garage bands in the 1960s. The women who were playing guitars in garages have been invisible in music history.

(10.) Quoted in Gillian Gaar, She's a Rebel: The History of Women in Rock and Roll (Seattle: Seal Press, 1992), 242.

(11.) Dave Laing, One Chord Wonders: Power and Meaning in Punk Rock (Philadephia PA: Open University Press, 1985), 98.

(12.) Quoted in Bayton, Frock Rock, 64.

(13.) Marcus, Lipstick Traces, 39.

(14.) Ibid., 38.

(15.) Quoted in Vale, Search and Destroy #1-6, 7.

(16.) Quoted in Lucy O'Brien, She Bop: The Definitive History of Women in Rock, Pop, and Soul (New York: Penguin, 1996), 133.

(17.) X-Ray Spex, Germfree Adolescents, Caroline Records, CAROL 1813-2.

(18.) Lucy O'Brien, "The Woman Punk Made Me," in Punk Rock: So What? The Cultural Legacy of Punk, ed. Roger Sabin (New York: Routledge, 1999), 193.

(19.) Quoted in ibid., 191.

(20.) Quoted in O'Brien, She Bop, 133.

(21.) Quoted in Vale, Search and Destroy #1-6, 6.

(22.) O'Brien, "The Woman Punk Made Me," 197.

(23.) Evelyn McDonnell, "Girls + Guitars," in Out, April 2000, 87.

(24.) Quoted in ibid., 139.

(25.) Ibid., 83.

(26.) Bayton, Frock Rock, 66.

(27.) Lauraine Leblanc, Pretty in Punk: Girls' Gender Resistance in a Boys' Subculture (New Brunswick NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1999), 105-6.

(28.) O'Brien, "The Woman Punk Made Me," 194.

(29.) Stuart Home, Cranked Up Really High: Genre Theory and Punk Rock (Norwich: CodeX, 1996), 73.

(30.) For evidence of this, see documents such as the Clash's movie, Rude Boy, and songs like "Pretty Vacant" (which is pronounced va-CUNT) by the Sex Pistols.

(31.) Quoted in Vale, Search and Destroy #1-6, 34.

(32.) Quoted in O'Brien, "The Woman Punk Made Me," 195.

(33.) Quoted in Jon Savage, England's Dreaming: Anarchy, Sex Pistols, Punk Rock, and Beyond (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1992), 310.

(34.) Quoted in Simon Reynolds and Joy Press, The Sex Revolts: Gender, Rebellion, and Rock `n' Roll (Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 1995), 323.

(35.) Quoted in Gaar, She's a Rebel, 256.

(36.) Quoted in Vale, Search and Destroy #1-6, 44.

(37.) O'Brien, "The Woman Punk Made Me," 193.

(38.) John Holmstrom, Punk: The Original (New York: Trans-high, 1996), 54.

(39.) Quoted in James Stark, Punk '77: An Inside Look at the San Francisco Rock `n' Roll Scene, 1977 (San Francisco: RESEARCH, 1999), 93.

(40.) Spice Girls, Spice, Virgin Records, 7243 8 42174 2 6; see liner notes.

Rebecca Daugherty is a sixth-grade language arts teacher at Sylvan Hills Middle School, in inner-city Atlanta, with the Teach for America program. She also coaches the girls' soccer team and sponsors the National Junior Beta Club. She is the author of "Punk Rock" in Girlhood in America: An Encyclopedia (Santa Barbara CA: ABC-Clio, 2001). Her thesis "Sisters Are Doin' It for Themselves: Punk, Pop, and Girl Power" won the Richard Heath Dabney Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Research at the University of Virginia in 2000.
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Author:Daugherty, Rebecca
Publication:Women & Music
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2002
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