Blaq/k Punk ChixRiot Grrl, Afro Punk, and Feminisms of Color
Background• 3rd wave Feminism - anita hill, right to life, fmla• Politi-punk of the 80’s • Poly-Styrene & X-ray Spex http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qqrwYHlQePM&feature=related • Black Flag - White Minority http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wLZFnotlTmc&feature=related • “As Minor Threat’s “Guilty of Being White,” Black Flag’s “White Minority,” the Avenger’s “White Nigger,” or even Heavens to Betsy’s “White Girl,” aptly demonstrate, not all states of alienation are alike or “equal.” That is, mine does not match up neatly with yours.” - Thread and Circuits, Ref: Punk Planet Nov/Dec 1998
Riot Grrls and Race;afterthought, additive, interruption, or reaction? IPU show... http://www.empsfm.org/exhibitions/index.asp?articleID=668#1 Riot Girl Retrospective http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1ieiTaJrN4 http://www.empsfm.org/exhibitions/index.asp?articleID=668#1• Director, Afro-Punk http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AfQJNYLJISA&feature=related• Afro Punk Documentary http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C1NCS95bJ9Q&feature=related• Afro-Punk website http://www.afropunk.com/
• Literature Review• It’s Not a White World: Looking for Race in Punk (Nov/Dec 1998) http://threadandcircuits.wordpress.com/2010/03/14/its-not-a-white-world-looking-for-race-in-punk-1998/• “here it is: ‘whitestraightboy’ hegemony organizes punk. And I’m not just talking about its dominant demographic. ... Race, in punk, is like outer space: this distant constellation of “issues” clustered way, way out there. This isn’t to say, for instance, that punks haven’t produced some shrewd analyses of US foreign policy (a perennial punk favorite), effectively organized huge protests against apartheid or the Persian Gulf War. In fact, punks seem to be pretty good with political economy... what happens “out there” is rarely reﬂected “in here.” So when Kathleen Hanna screamed, “SUCK MY LEFT ONE!” and nailed the Punk Rock to the wall, and when the core soon after went queer, I jumped for joy because it was about time. But still I’m waiting for my race riot.”• Punk doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Even on the most superﬁcial level, recruitment, while fun, isn’t a solution. Diversiﬁcation of our membership rolls is way different than effecting critical transformations at the analytic level –and in any case hardly addresses the people of color who are in or around punk now. (And yes, we’re here, thanks. Banging our heads against the wall, maybe, but we’re here.) What needs to happen –on a punk-scale and a large-scale sort of way– is a revolution in the ways in which we frame ourselves within social, psychic and political relations. If you can read Noam Chomsky, you can also read Chandra Mohanty, Andrew Ross, or Lauren Berlant. If you don’t know who they are, ﬁnd out. ...What all this doesn’t mean is, “I can’t talk about anything because I’m a white, straight male.” That’s too easy — too often an excuse not to do your homework.”• “You (and I mean everybody now) can be accountable to your social location. Interrogate and historicize your place in society, punk, whatever, and be aware of how you talk about race, gender, sexuality – it’s political. Examine all the categories you’re using at least twice for hidden assumptions, exclusions, erasures. Recognize power in all its forms, how it operates. Engage it, even use it strategically. And work with me, not for me. Actively creating a public culture of dissent -punk or not- will have to involve some self-reﬂexive unpacking of privileges/poverties and their historical and political contexts.”
Sex Revolts• Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon• “...she delivers rap payback, trivializing black male rage as Public Enemy by treating them as sexual objects... mid-song, she goes head to had with Chuck D asking him where girls ﬁt in to their revolutionary campaign against white, corporate America, and parodies Public Enemy’s Fear of Black Planet as a ‘fear of a female planet;...”• in “Swimsuit Issue” (rls. 1992) she voices support for Anita Hill while tackling the media’s portrayal of women as objects for consumption. (247)
• “Post punk demystiﬁcation is one of the great phases of ‘women in rock’: there had never been such concerted involvement of women in bands, as players, and ideologues.” p.313• “Riot Grrl radicalized the teenage pen-pal and fanzine network in which girls had used teenybop idols as a pretext to write about their own desires and fantasies... Riot Grrls discuss their feelings of alienation from a boy-dominated hardcore punk scene in which they’re marginalized; they decry the media’s promotion of unattainable ideals of perfect femeninity; they write moving confessional accounts of their experiences of harassment and sexual abuse”p.323
Girls Rock• “ ... women in rock have been forbidden to sidestep daily decisions and rationalizations about how they construct themselves as racial and sexual beings, and how they negotiate and understand the peculiar intersections and interactions of race, gender, and sexuality.”• “... a lot of assumptions are made about what a black woman should be doing in music. I know that a couple people at record labels have felt that they can’t market a black rock n’ roll woman because ‘it doesn’t ﬁt one of their boxes’”• “ I am a real person who is a minority in this country who has assimilated to American culture, who is redeﬁning her own identity by writing deeply personal and universal original songs. While pop artists do this all the time in America, it’s no small feat for an Asian.”
Sexing the Groove• “By providing girls with a collective conﬁdence, riot grrl’s revolutionary counter-culture and radical political activism empower female youth to liberate themselves from the rampant comercialism, misogyny, ageism, racism, and homophobia they experience in their everyday lives.”• “...this community is a signiﬁcant progression not only in the politics of youth, but in the politics of feminism as well.”
• Methods• Written Interviews• Do you feel that your art is in any way an expression of feminism? “I think it is as I write with my beliefs about feminism in mind. I write as an equal with the expectation to be received as an equal. I dont try to push the feminine factor nor try to be extra masculine to ﬁt in with the boys.”• How do you see yourself as an artist? “I see my self as an evolving artist. A chameleon of sorts with an nostalgic appeal to my inner child. The kind of artist I am is a perpetual discoverer, one whos always growing and learning about life ,and writing about how I see it to convey what my heart wants to say. Ive been singing since i was 3yrs old in church and all through my years of school in various groups like choir,glee club, and in theater. Ive been writing since 10yrs old when I got my ﬁrst diary. I started writing poems bout the way I felt and the emotions that I was feeling at the time. The funny thing is at the time I never thought they would turn into songs. I was a rebel child ﬁnding enlightenment in writing. I still feel like a little girl sometimes.”
• Analysis• These women are shaping their art according to a kind of organic subjective feminist and/or race theory.• These women are no where nearly as apathetic as their unwillingness to identify with any particular community would suggest, but they do not want to participate in the many kinds of ‘systems’ which they distrust. because of their system distrust, they no longer wish to identify with a structured community, but rather loosely identify with the ideology of a new, more nebulous feminism.• This new feminism reflects an understanding of intersectionality in punk, and could be a distant cousin of the DIY ethic - DIY feminism - but when considered in relation to race as well as gender, this DIY ethic still places the burden of being heard on the marginalized voice.
• Analysis• These women reﬂect the problematic idea of transcendence.• I dont see myself as a woman of color or as "white/caucasian". I see myself as the future...a diverse blend.• I found that the riot girl groups were highly political and not so much my style. I prefer to make an impact on my surroundings through my direct actions and inﬂuence. Im not on a pedestal shouting my beliefs into the ether. Female musicians tend to be more along my line...mostly the same beliefs as the political feminists but more interested in the application of their beliefs in their immediate surroundings.• I feel I have had the most issue with my social background (later described as ﬁnancial/ cultural capital opportunities) rather than any gender or race issue. However, during one of my undergraduate critiques, I was told by my all male panel that they wanted my music to be more "aggressive." I took that as meaning more masculine, but that is open for debate.• I try not to allow my gender to directly affect my music as I prefer to be considered a composer and not a "woman composer." I want to be a strong contender in the majority and not considered a minority.