RIOT GRRRL REVOLUTION: HISTORY OF WOMEN IN PUNK (part one)
Welcome back to the Riot GRRRL Revolution!
Punk is generally classified by its anti-status quo disposition, do-it-yourself (DIY) ethos, and desire for desalination. Regardless of this rebellious attitude the punk scene supposedly embodies, their actions towards women in the scene did not reflect their values and thus a culture of sexism was born in Punk.
In the punk scene, women and non-men alike were repeatedly excluded, abused, and manipulated to the point of no return. This bias against women in the punk scenes was so extreme that women in crowds would be assaulted physically, sexually and verbally. As musicians, this bias was present through their lack of being taken seriously regardless of musical talent, their not being allowed to perform, their lack of equal opportunity, and women’s music being ripped off by male counterparts. In rebellion against this treatment, there was a female punk revolution.
We see the emergence of rock bands with what would develop to be the punk sound. Chronologically, The Kinks (1960), The Who (1964), The Velvet Underground (1965) and The Squires (1966) emerge and develop a sound that would be the jumping-off point for punk music as a whole. This male-dominated original sound sets up for a male-dominated scene, in which history informs the general pipeline from such an environment to a toxic, abusive environment for women. Early punk bands such as The Ramones, The Stooges, DEVO, and electric eels continue this male-dominated legacy– however, there were female punk bands emerging alongside that were separated from the movement and instead labeled as Pop.
Blondie’s 1977 performance at CBGB gave the female punk rockers a taste of their male counterparts’ opportunity. To be seen and heard in a male-dominated scene was monumental.
Through the public consumption of the music industry being touted as macho or male without an investigation as to why this might be the case, there is systematic oppression and bias against females and gender-nonconforming artists. Thus, Riot GRRRL is born, an uprising against this oppression, a revolution of musical equity.
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