Because I am not middle aged or a mother I often find myself glazing over a little when I listen, that’s when they get you; pow! ‘Today we’re talking female masturbation’ and (actually) today: kerblammo! ‘What has punk done for women?’
After Jane Garvey’s opening line of being far too young to have been a punk (it took a while, but Jane Garvey’s now one of my favourite Radio 4 presenters, I think she could handle the Today programme Ceri Thomas. Maybe I am middle aged?) she introduced Toyah Willcox, Gina Birch and Caroline Coon to discuss what punk had done for them.
Toyah claimed “I was born to be a punk” it gave her license to escape the fate of Brummie women before her. “I absolutely loathed…the gender I had to play the role of. Ok I was born a woman but I never felt like a woman”
Gina Birch of The Raincoats describes how she “fell into punk”. Birch is one of the few who can honestly say they were at the first Sex Pistols gig. Birch attended art school in the 70s, when being a punk seemed a requirement. She then moved into the same street as Richard "Snakehips" Dudanski who was married to The Slits drummer Palmolive’s sister.
An interesting point was made by photographer Caroline Coon, who managed The Clash, was how the previous counter culture, hippiedom, had not catered to women and equality. “I think that peace and love is a difficult way of confronting the establishment”. She was looking out for a more aggressive youth movement.
And she saw it in The Sex Pistols. The band who inspired all 3 women to eventually pursue punk or post punk dreams in art, The Raincoats and a band called Toyah which BEGS for an exclamation mark.
Whilst punk in the late 70s created an outlet for women to be aggressive and artistic in a manner they chose and 1981 saw a rise in women executives in the music industry, it was an odd choice for the discussion group to settle on at the end that Lana Del Ray and Lily Allen were running with the punk baton, as it were.
What, no mention of Corin Tucker, or Kathleen Hanna? No Tobi Vail or Kim Gordon? What about Beth Ditto if you want someone more current?
These three women were able to say what punk had done for them then, but what is it doing for women now? Is there room now for more than one creative woman on the scene, without accusations of plagiarism flying? There’s only one Lady Gaga and anybody else who wants in, oh MISS, she’s copying me.
Thanks for opening the discussion Women’s Hour, now if you aren’t going to pay your respects to Poly Styrene (3 July 1957 – 25 April 2011) beyond playing Oh Bondage! Up Yours! Or Ari Up (17 January 1962 – 20 October 2010) then let’s give some space to the women who are making punk work for them now.
Skinny Girl Diet I have got the same pyjamas as the drummer. When I told her, I’m pretty sure she was impressed.
The New Sound of Numbers DIY outfit, this band has a million former members.
Throwing up Pretty classic. If Hole was from the UK this might be what they came up with.