FEATURE/7“, 7‘“ t .
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chestnut that‘s wheeled out every ten
years to embrace everyone from The Nolan Sisters to Pon Styrene. The term itself sparks division in the ranks. PJ. Harvey. Chrissie llynde and L7 recoil at even discussing the gender issue. preferring to hoist
‘M'v vagina doesn't come into
mv guitar plaving or the Don’t-Talk-About—lt-Just-Do-lt flag and singing , . . I want [0 get [0 the holding with UN hCllCl' llllll th COIlllllUéll point where women aren't treated like . . . harping on about women as separate entities
will only exacerbate the problem and slow down the natural integration. Valid as this may be. it does not. as 'l‘anya Donnelly points out. diminish the pervasive fact that for the majority of female rockers their gender rather than their music goes before them.
Why should this generation of she— rockers succeed in banishing the cyclical phenomenon forever. when the explosive. speed-fuelled punk scene that catapulted The Slits and The Raincoats into our DIY lives. failed? Liz livans. freelance music journalist and author of ll’oinen. Sex and Rock ’n' Roll believes that the key to longevity lies in the diversity of music currently on offer. ‘lt‘s different now because the music isn‘t genre bound like punk was.’ she points out. ‘There have obviously been women
girajfes. It shoaldn 't even be interesting at this point that I 'tn female and I do this . . . But it is.’ Tanya Donnelly. Belly.
his quote is from Amy Raphael’s forthcoming book Never Mind The Bollocks. Welcome to the world of sex(ism). drugs and rock ’n‘ roll. the self-proclaimed bastion of rebellion that purports to boldly break down the barriers of popular culture. take no prisoners and kick ass where others fear to tread.
Yeah. right. Get real boys and girls. Despite four generations of galvanising female rockers that spanned Janis Joplin in the (i()s. Patti Smith in the 70s. Debbie Harry in the 80s and Courtney Love in the 90s. the music industry still reeks of stubborn. head-in-the-sand attitudes towards the marketing of female rockers that induce open- mouthed disbelief.
However. in the last five years especially. a generation of female rockers has risen to the challenges presented by the music industry’s
male infrastructure and are succeeding on their 118 strong. 115
own terms. This burgeoning group of women is POWCI‘lUl 11ml 115‘
engaged in the task of blasting the old guitar rClCViml 21$ “0W
school foundations. shirking the stereotypical but lhc)’ 8061“ m
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the genre that tried to contain them.’ Amy Raphael. author of New!“ Mind The Bollocks agrees with livans in recognising that althoughpunk may have inspired many of the present
From grunge queens Hole. Babes in 'l‘oyland and L7 to the bold folk melodies of Liz Phair and the eclectic wonder that is Bjork. their collective efforts are in the process of trashing the music industry’s outmoded constraints.
Yet, lurking at the back of any music fan’s mind must be that hideous term ‘Women in Rock‘ —
5 The List l3—26 January I995
generation. the movement was too shortlived to have any long-lasting affect. ‘Punk wore itself out in two years.’ she says. ‘so it didn’t create a very strong forum for these women to build their talents on.’ One more reason Evans believes the young bucks of the 905 will succeed where their Aunty Ari Up struggled. is the increasing acceptance of the F-word — feminism. ‘We might think of rock as rebellious. but if they can’t take on feminism then it’s hardly revolutionary.’ says Raphael. One revolutionary force who decided that rock music. and the industry in particular. were in dire need of firebrand feminism and a good dose of fuck-you-punk-rock philosophy. were those smiley. happy people the Riot Grrrls. Extremist bratty teenagers unleashing their pent up hormones with third-rate guitar licks or full-on feminists who questioned and confronted the industry’s misogynists‘? The truth lies somewhere in between. Originating on America’s west coast in 1991. the movement spread to Britain and found a strident voice in bands like Huggy Bear. Mambo Taxi and the Voodoo Queens. Female bonding was the bottom line: from the rash of consciousness-raising fanzines that served as the essential communication network to the identity bracelets of slogans like ‘slut’ and ‘Fuck’ daubed on arms and bellies. to the women-only gigs that stood as a statement against the beer-boys terrain of moshing and stage-diving. Their methods alienated some and were embraced by others. Transient Grrrl icon Courtney Love played at the infamous . " Subterrania gig as a supportive gesture after being sexually assaulted while crowd-surfing at a Hole gig in London. but then rejected the movement due to their ‘brattiness’. Nearly ﬁfteen years after punk the same never-mind-the-musical- ability-here’s-the-politics ideals were seeing
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