Sur le rapport entre genres & classes. Revue de presse & textes inédits
Feminist Punk Songs
Categories: Général

Madame Yevonde 1893-1975 (5)The Story of Feminist Punk in 33 Songs

From Patti Smith to Bikini Kill, the songs that have crushed stereotypes and steered progress

“Feminism,” “punk,” and “feminist punk” can have many definitions, culturally and personally. In attempting to capture the spirit and story of this lineage, we had to narrow down these enormous fields. We looked for songs that make their feminist messages clear—not just songs by punks who are feminists, and not songs that were “punk” or “feminist” in spirit alone. In this context, we defined punk as some kind of raw expression, not only an attitude. We looked for rallying cries that have questioned, explored, and destroyed stereotypes, in which the form of the music has mirrored the message. We believe they are classics that cross canons, set precedents, and uphold virtues for the idea of feminism in punk, and the artists who wrote them have moved punk forward.

We’ll let a true punk vanguard take it from here….


By Vivien Goldman

It’s punk, not spunk. So loaded towards males is the English language, though, that we may have to reinvent our whole vocabulary. Because some of the best words to describe our female punks are phallocentric: “spunky,” “ballsy.”  Start calling us “cunts” or “pussies,” though, and it won’t go down so well. Why is a comparison to our vaginas not considered a compliment? Dunno, but try asking some dickhead who won’t book your female band on his festival bill because “we’ve already got our girls.”

Punk is now acknowledged as the global music of rebellion, alongside hip-hop and reggae. But punk wins because it is the simplest to master… uh-oh, there goes that loaded English language again! So if we still have to armbend English to express ourselves freely (hello, Midwest Wimmin’s Festival!), how much more did first generation punkettes, my generation in fact, have to (wo)manipulate our society to get heard at all? Resistance to our existence was an acknowledged fact of life. Punk was born in violent times, though less violent than now. And it took a volcanic social eruption to propel women into their own bands. They could be mixed—like the Slits with their boy drummer, Bruce Smith—but the crucial difference was that females were doing the hiring.

When I started writing in the rock press in the mid-1970s, girl musicians were so rare that, in what may have been the first Women in Rock article, I described a long-haired female guitarist as if she were a unicorn. Prior to punk, with its passport to a new normal for guys who wore kilts and girls who didn’t look like Stevie Nicks or Karen Carpenter, we could only look to Heart and Suzi Quatro. They were good rockers but, musically, they styled themselves after the very lads who were trying to block us.

Punk’s open door finally let in self-directed girl artists; in reality, many punkettes first learned to play on their boyfriends’ instruments. Some of us lot were curious to see if we could make a very new sound, being women and all. There arose a very British arrhythmia, often molded more by dub and free jazz than punk itself: hence the Slits, the Raincoats, the Delta 5, the Mo-Dettes etc. And myself. Though I was raised singing in harmony with my two big sisters at home—my father started out as a violinist—I might have stuck with writing and never made music. But I slid into it so naturally by singing with my girlfriends from those bands. LA SUITE ICI.


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