Bag, Mackaye, and others discuss punk and gender

Huck Magazine has posted an article on changing gender politics over the history of punk and hardcore. The piece, which first saw publication through Huck's print equivalent in June, was put together by Jon Coen, and features commentary on the issue from several key figures in punk and hardcore over the last few decades, including the likes of Alice Bag (The Bags), Ian Mackaye (Minor Threat, Fugazi), Allison Wolfe (Bratmobile), and Katie Crutchfield (PS Elliot).

We've selected some key quotes to highlight, but you can check out the article in full here.

Alice Bag:

Punk was inclusive, outspoken, innovative and often outrageous. The early LA punk scene, in particular, was diversely populated and reflected the many ethnicities that made up Los Angeles. It was a community where people of every class, race and gender felt at home.

I didn’t see sexism in the punk scene until years later, when it became male dominated. I had come to expect the audiences at punk shows to be populated by extravagantly plumed creatures of all shapes, sizes, colours and genders whose very appearance cried out originality. Suddenly, there was an eerie sameness.

Ian Mackaye:

There was a guy in California who would hang out and travel with Minor Threat when we were out there, and he was coercing women to give him blowjobs at shows. That was just something we never did. Punk girls from LA would tell me about their experiences there and it sounded insane.

Violence is an effective form of communication, but it’s an incredibly stupid one, and people who are not interested move away from it. Women weren’t really into it and less socialised to fight. It starts when people back away from the stage and eventually it drives them right out of the room.

Allison Wolfe:

For me what Riot Grrrl meant was a way of making punk rock more feminist because really it was like this boys club, for the most part. But Riot Grrrl was also a way of making academic feminism more punk rock or more DIY.

Katie Crutchfield

When it comes to these debates, men who are insecure will always turn it around to make the woman a butt of a joke. So when you confront them you have to use humour. I mean, macho attitudes, gym shorts and X watches? These guys are taking the shittiest parts of a culture and making it their lifestyle. You can only laugh at that.

Punk is so inclusive. It’s so easy to become a part of. There’s just this little list of things - don’t be homophobic, racist or sexist. Basically, as long as you’re not a total idiot, people accept you.

How do you feel about gender politics in punk and hardcore today, and what changes, if any, have you perceived over the time you've been involved in the subculture? Take it to the comments.