Constructions Of Femininity Within The Punk Subculture

1598 words - 6 pages

The punk movement is a boys' movement. The culture is made by boys and for boys. However, that hasn't stopped girls from trying to eke out a place for themselves. While boys make up the majority of the subculture and the majority of the rules about the subculture, girls still have a visible presence with in it. However, as Leblanc states, "[Punk is] a subculture that portrays itself as being egalitarian, and even feminist, but is actually far from being either." (Pretty in Punk, 3) To be a female in this culture is to walk a tightrope between the norms of femininity and the masculinity of punk. It is possible however and there are two main ways it can be done. The first is by sublimating all signs of femininity and the second is by subverting the masculine punk rules to fit into femininity. The second often involves creating a paradox of masculinity and femininity or creating a parody of society's views on femininity.Why do girls ever join the punk subculture when it is so blatantly favored toward men? The main reason is a simple rejection of society's expectations and a refusal to be pigeonholed into the typically feminine box. In a society where women are generally lesser beings and expected to fit a very rigid and demeaning mold, many girls find themselves searching for a way to escape that future. For many of them, punk is the answer. Leblanc reports several punk girls stating this very thing. As Denise, a young punk girls said, " . . . I got to ninth grade and I was just like, 'I'm not going to play anymore. I don't care . . .This is not me, this is not what I want to do, [these are] not the people I like, this isn't the music I like . . . this is boring as hell'" (79) Denise expressed her frustration with trying to fit herself into a role that she didn't feel fit her personality so she chose to quit trying to fit in and to instead, find a new role that fit already. One thing that the punk culture offered these girls was an ability to resist gender norms without having to destroy their sense of self. For another young girl, Sue, the punk culture offered a more specific feature. " . . . I consider myself intelligent and in a way that's kind of why I went and went wild with my hair. It's because when I was a little pixie model, people didn't look at me, they were staring at my ass. And now when I wear giant clothes and a belt made of bullets, they're going to listen to me because they're scared out of their fucking skulls." (72) At 15, Sue was already painfully aware that women, especially attractive women, were expected to be little more than ornaments and sex objects. When she wanted to be acknowledged for what she had to say rather than what she looked like, punk culture offered her the ability to reject the trappings of femininity so that people would focus on her words and not her ass. "For punk girls, entry into the punk subculture is a way to circumvent the process of internalizing and enacting femininity." (102) But once the girls find...

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