Punky feminism

A lot of what I wrote in the 1970s and 1980s – including reviews, interviews and articles – was about women musicians and the position of women in the popular music industry, including the blatantly sexist, often violent, images of women used to sell albums.

I derided mainstream musicians (women or men) who perpetuated submissive or patronising images of women (such as Sheena Easton “Nine to five”, The Three Degrees “A woman in love” or Billy Joel/ Barry White “Just the way you are”).

Advert for Blondie single 'Rip her to shreds'

Patti Smith album cover

And I celebrated musicians who looked, sounded, spoke and sang of a different way to be a woman. Too many to mention, but here’s a few: Patti Smith, Poly Styrene of X-Ray Spex, Vi Subversa of Poison Girls, the Slits, the Bodysnatchers, the Raincoats, the Au Pairs…

Cazz Blase interviewed me for the f-word in 2011, to find out about my history as a punk feminist. 

Many examples of my writing on women and music can be found in the Spare Rib archive, which was digitised by the British Library in 2015, so that it is all available online.

Ari Up from The Slits. Page from Spare Rib 107

Rhoda Dakar from the Bodysnatchers

I recently discovered that when the Spare Rib digital project was launched, the Guardian chose one of my articles – an interview with the Bodysnatchers, dating from 1980 – as one of their Top Ten reads from the collection.

More about women’s bands from this period can be found on the Women’s Liberation Music Archive.

So far, no one has attempted a history of Rock Against Sexism, but maybe one day …

Cover of Drastic Measures 4

Page from Drastic Measures 4

In 2008, I was invited to take part in an event where women who had been active in the women’s liberation movement of the 1970s reflected on how things had changed over the years. A transcript of my contribution appears on the Red Pepper website.

More recently, I responded to an article in the Guardian which I felt had misrepresented feminists of my generation – how we organised and what we achieved. I was pleased that the Guardian published my letter, which can be found here, along with a link to the original article.

Vi Subversa from Poison Girls in 1985. A page from Sanity (magazine of CND)