FEMINIST PUNK ANTHEMS
Updated: May 10
When talking about Punk songs, we are not necessarily talking about music only. Instead, we are talking about a philosophy, a message that wants to be heard defending the virtues of an ideology. In today's article, we will listen to music and introduce you to music, as well as review some of the great feminist classics in the history of punk. Get ready for some songs that defended the idea of feminism within the scene, making them not only tracks within an album but also an empowering message that set precedents.
In our minds, there has always been the concept that punk is closely linked to an attitude, and that the music can never be truly separated from a certain state of mind. It is something that is real, but nevertheless, I maintain that this attitude is directly connected to the need to convey a message through a raw expression of reality, an angry message, which was often criticized for its level of incomprehension by a society that thought it was perfect.
In the United States, this movement first began in a bar, the CBGB, a space of rebellion through art, a space that functioned as the explosion of the rock counterculture. It was a space where many artists gathered to celebrate their art, dismissing all musical genres that existed at the time. To play music there, two rules applied: the first one requiring artists to play original songs, and the second asking artists to carry and provide for their own equipment. At the end of the day, only a few artists stuck around, ready to win the world. Among them were the legendary Patti Smith and Debbie Harry, two artists who fought for equality in the scene from the beginning on, and who unknowingly would become an inspiration for all the music that would follow.
“Punk freed female musicians”.
In countless cases, punk was considered a war cry, a social manifesto against many injustices, a way to break with all kinds of stereotypes where the message as the main focus was manifested through music. In today's article, we will review some songs that sent - and still today convey - a fiercely feminist message. They are songs that expressed nonconformity against patriarchal society, and stereotypes of the dominant society.
"LAND" - PATTI SMITH (1975)
The album HORSES made Patti Smith the first Punk artist to sign with a record label in 1975, and thanks to the album, the history of this genre were about to change forever. In it, a story of almost 10 minutes, transformed into a tour of 3 singles from the album, would become a prediction of female power within the industry. The inspiration that Patti Smith would become thanks to the power of this single - and especially what she accomplished with HORSES - made the scene without her in it unimaginable. What she did and who she was was unheard of, her androgynous look, her masculine haircut, her attitude on stage demonstrating that no social mandate could overpower her - those were just some of the many things that made her not only a peerless performer among her peers but also a source of empowerment that transcended through the decades, making a mark to this day. HORSES infiltrated English punk before the Sex Pistols existed, being recognized by many historians as the first punk record in history.
"OH, BONDAGE! UPS YOURS!" - X-RAY SPEX (1977)
"Some people think that little girls should be seen and not heard", so begins this empowering track by the English band X-Ray Spex, one of the most important female punk bands in the scene in general. Their singer, Poly Styrene became a punk icon in the 1970s, an irreverent artist a thousand steps ahead of her time. "Oh, Bondage! Up Yours!" has become a feminist punk anthem, an unusual song for the context, a song that speaks of women's liberation, but with high caliber metaphors.
REBEL GIRL - BIKINI KILL (1993)
And finally, yes, I guess that for many people, talking about punk and feminism brings us directly to this work of art created by the American trio Bikini Kill. Produced by another empowered music figure such as Joan Jett, REBEL GIRL never aspired to become a hit, far from being intended as the leitmotiv of the new female revolution that Bikini Kill wanted to lead in music, although the main importance of transmitting this message was the attitude. The song ended up becoming a feminist musical anthem that never went out of fashion, one that is never timeless, that always remains high in any cry of female power especially for its activist reference.
This song universally represents one of the most empowering episodes of nineties music, not only in punk but in the context of music in general.
We could go on for a long time talking about songs that besides demonstrating the true essence of the genre, represent an empowering message through their lyrics, messages that defend equality, female power, and human rights, but better, we leave them in our Spotify playlist for you to enjoy them at full volume. Pump up the volume on these punk feminist bangers today, and all throughout the month of PUNK at music is her passion!