5 December 2012
Word count: 1,017
Gender, Sexuality, and Femininity in Punk Rock
“I think I'm going to have trouble because people tend to put the sexuality first. I hope they don't. That's what I am trying to fight. I want to be recognized as an artist.” – Kate Bush, March 25th, 1978
Punk rock is a unique and changing musical genre that was born in both England and the United States in the late 1970s. A largely underground music scene with a reliance on a rejection of societies norms, dismissal of capitalism and consumption, heavy reliance on community, and a strong attitude of do-it-yourself and self-empowerment, punk continues to have a large influence on the contemporary music scene. Punk rock, however, has faced issues when dealing with concepts of sex and gender. Bands within the scene are usually composed of males, women are objectified in song lyrics, and masculine values like aggressiveness and violence are often glamorized, especially in sub-genres of punk such as hardcore punk. But women have managed, especially through the Riot Grrrl movement, to stake out their own patch of punk rock territory. They have used punk rock to redefine concepts of gender and sexuality in such a way that empowers them and gives them choices in life, rather than having values being forced upon them. To situate concepts of gender in punk rock, a brief look must be given at the history and foundations of the punk genre. In the late 1970s, this new phenomenon began to emerge in Great Britain. Prior to this new era, women were almost exclusively vocalists in rock bands. As the genre flourished and swept the nation and eventually the rest of world, women began popping up more and more frequently as members of punk bands. Women also began to stray from their traditional roles of vocalists, and many female drummers, bassists, guitarists, and keyboardists started to play in bands and emerge into the punk scene. The enabling...