No Trend: Women and non binary people in Punk is an exploration of identity and its meaning in the contemporary DIY punk scene around the world. In societies dictated by beauty and uniformisation, these women and non binary persons take the risk to be different and to embrace some features that question gender normative identity. Nowadays, to be punk is to take control of your existence, to choose the liberty of being yourself and to auto determine as a creature beyond conditioned codes and gender enforced through education, culture and society. These portraits present people that have been involved in the scene for years, helping out, putting up shows, playing in bands. But they’ve been less visible because men will take a lot of the space. These persons are a challenge to the status quo and incarnate the essence of DIY culture being who they are ; strong, true and independent.
“I chose punk because it made the most sense and it gave me a langage. So I identify with punk because that’s what I always come back to, if I’m questioning myself or what do I like.
I can’t imagine what my life would be, if I hadn’t found punk. I always felt kind of alienated elsewhere, and that has to do with my gender as well in other communities or scenarios. Being a woman in punk is awesome, but it’s also very confronting or it has been at least. There’s been a lot of changes, it’s also about surrounding myself with people that I want to be around.”
Lena Molnar is from Brisbane, Australia, where she started to play in bands when she was around 18. She’s been involved in Heavy Breather, Overrun, Manhunt, Tangle, Thinking and Harriet, as well as distroying feminist zines and records from around the world that other places don’t have with Trouble is a Brewin’. She now lives in Melbourne where she is a sociology PhD, her study field being feminist social justice for media. Music wise, she’s involved with Bloodletter and 100%.
''The meaning of being a punk would be I guess completely accepting yourself for who you are. Do what you wanna do. If you wanna rock up in a suit do it. Whatever you feel like.
Someone who’s not worried about his look or scene points. Like who’s got the best Nikes or owns the most records or goes to most shows. People who support women, POC, trans people in the scene. People who support people who are not as privileged as them.
Sydney needs to bloody shape up."
I met Serwah Attafuah when she was 18 years old, but she already has been playing guitar for over a decade. She plays guitar in politically driven heavy metal band Dispossessed, and is the vocalist of Nasho, a punk band from Sydney. She's also a painter and a digital artist.
“I feel like nothing’s ever one way. Being a punk is different for everybody. My idea of punk is looking up for the existence of animals and the planet. Basically just not being shitty to each other, trying to take care of each other instead of fucking each other over.”
Kallie is from Auckland, Aotearoa, where she grew up listening to The Brats, X Ray Spex and a lot of cheesy metal. She then started to go to punk shows and moved to Wellington, where she started to sing in Sparkle Motion. She then toured Australia with The Poodles and started later on to sing in Scum System Kill. She sings now in Thorax and lives in Sydney, where she raises her kids.
''Being a punk nowadays for me is way less about the music, more about the politics. I mean the punk scene is over saturated with straight white men screaming about their feelings. And I just don’t think that a lot of what’s out there really matters. You can have the right sound and play the right shows but now it’s more about some form of social change. It's about empowering more diversity in the scene, more women and queer people. And supporting these bands and their messages."
T.J. is from Melbourne and lives now in Sydney. She's been involved in a lot of bands ; bassist in Shitweather, MSVBCP, Glory Hole, and vocalist of Circuits and currently Canine.
«I grew up in Singapore, where underground subcultures are not as visible or readily accessible due to authoritarianism and censorship.
Being a punk is about finding different ways of existing outside the status quo. It doesn't have to be the way you look, but the mentality is always there. Understanding how to live and love in a way that's critical, creative and communicative. Taking the things you do seriously but never taking your self too seriously. Learning how to be accountable to yourself.
This meaning hasn't hugely changed for me over the 14 years I've been involved in DIY-punk. Without it I don't think I would be alive today.
Punk has always been built on an utopic vision that desires for more. And what this "more" is greatly differs depending on who you talk to. As a subculture it will always remain a microcosm of the general culture we exist in, and as a result we bring in our biases, flaws and general disagreements to it regardless of the kinds of values that it claims to espouse. » Cher Tan
Cher Tan is the vocalist of Grimalkin, as well as a writer and essayist. She lives and works in Melbourne.
"I grew up in Bogota going to a strict girl's catholic school where you had to wear your skirt under your knee and be a ‘good girl’. My parents tried to keep me in a safe bubble because Bogota can be a very violent city ; people stay within their social class and you know you'll never venture into certain areas. I remember being attracted by what was outside the box from a young age. When I met punks I was about 12, and I felt attracted by their style and their attitude. Just seeing people that were different was more appealing to me that the regular people I would see around me.
I would see these punx doing what they wanted and that was inspiring. A friend was wearing a short skirt and that was a revolution! I wanted to be different, far from the masses. I wanted to take control over my own life"
Daniella is from Bogota, Colombia but moved to France years ago. She’s a feminist, a tattoo artist and also makes some zines.
"When people think of punk they think of masculinity I think.
At first I wanted to change that, I wanted to make punk girly and all about women, a sensitive, loving movement. But I just got burned out and tired from trying and I really respect some incredible women who are still doing that. It can be really crushing to keep trying saying things like ‘women to the front’ or that you don’t have to wear those patches or those studs, you can be in your floral dress and it’s fine. Men can be in floral dresses too! You don’t have to adhere to this uniform. I just got tired.
Being a woman in punk or being anything other than a cis dude in punk is an exhausting work and everyone I talk to that has been in the same position says the same thing."
Aisyiyah is the vocalist of anti colonial power violence band Arafura from Sydney.
Sarsha has been involved in the punk community for almost two decades in Aotearoa. She plays bass in Rogernomix, Freak Magnet, Bonecruncher and Fantails. Sarsha is Maori and wrote a thesis about Indigenous People in the Punk community in Aotearoa. You can read her thesis here :
"I grew up in North Queensland in a very tropical environment. The best explanation I have of my early existence is a friend of mine saw me walking down the street in a full woolen goth black clothing at the age of 15, and asked me what I was doing. I replied ‘I’m just existing’. Genera are very tricky because they can become fashionable. Genera for me have never been important.
It’s more about the expressive narrative. I identify with goth, I identify with punk, I identify with drag. I identify with all of these things. So I feel that I have a quality that is non existant, it’s almost like a nihilistic gender. " Christina
"When I met Robin (from Piss and Transylvania) it was the first time I felt like this feeling of being displaced was gone, and through him I met a lot of people. I was in my mid 20's and all a sudden I found myself in a social environnement that finally fitted me. I don’t like everything in the punk scene though.
I’m not for matching into a scene, having the codex of the scene on myself or in my biography. Wearing the scene’s fashion or doing what the scene wants you to do. I don’t fit into the codex and I feel disconnected to that, but I like the general ideas of that scene. The independence factor, the fact that you work with your friends and that's really D.I.Y."
Martina is from Berlin and started to play in Batalj. She since left and plays guitar and does vocals in The Cuntroaches and Assface. She's also an actress and a movie director.
“I think I used to know what it means to be a punk, but I was in my early twenties and had lot of convictions. I didn’t see the world in a broad view, it was much smaller for me. Since having children it’s definitely changed. I suppose because I’m not thinking about myself all the time, so then you beginning of thinking of the world differently. It was a lot more careless or fearless before and now I’m a bit more calculated in terms of what would happen if I do these things, or what will happen to my kids if something happens to me. I’m less inclined to get in trouble, at protest and stuff like that whereas before it didn’t matter, I would go out and do what I needed to do. Now I feel I have more responsibilities to them than my own self.
I’m also a lot more freaked out about what’s going on in the world where before I would get drunk and try not to think about it. I’m way more anxious about the world. I don’t know if it’s always been that fucked up and I would just not see it before or if it’s all of a sudden gotten crazy and shitty. And I now have to think about that in terms of what they have to grow up to. Then I feel guilty in that sense that I brought them into a world like this and they’ll have to cope with that shit. That’s very bleak.”
"Punk is many things to me but I think first punk is a rejection of normality, of being in a system.
Just not play by the rules of normality basically. You don’t have to have a 9 to 5 job, you can live just for the love of music, you can get your food out from the dumpster. It’s a reaction to society and social norms.
It’s also a way of life, a way of though. It’s a way to be, beyond the fashion and the music which is also a big part of punk identity."
V is from Brisbane (Australia) but moved to Berlin 8 years ago where she lived in the unfamous squat Tacheles and became a punk. She has a solo project called V, plays bass in Transylvania, keyboard in Holysix, and is a former member of Batalj. She recently moved back to Australia and now lives in Melbourne. She’s also a stick n’ poke tattoo artist.
“Maybe a freak is more relevant… Punk is music and it’s also a fashion statement attached to music and politics. If you identify as a punk, you know when you see it because of particular aesthetic choices, including the sound. It’s a challenge against whatever else there is or maybe just to yourself.
As a teenager, I was attracted to live music, politics and art, and those things mix into any DIY scene. Even in Indie scene.
I started going to numetal and metal core shows because that’s what was available to me in Brisbane, they were all ages, and then I realized it was all a bunch of dudes. Then i retreated and I did a bit of homework and find out about women’s history in punk, but couldn’t find anything in a local self made level. So I started to go to anything that looked kind of weird. I developed an eclectic taste. I was always looking for another option.
When I was a teenager that was numetal and metalcore that was happening around punk. Then I found out other stuff that were resonating with ideas that I had anyway, because I was always the cynical, questioning kid in school, not made to fit in. Asking too many questions.”
“If I’m being brutally honest, femininity has always been something that I have struggled with, having a mediterranean heritage I’m quite a hairier woman than usual. So it was always something I was picked on about, especially before playing in bands, it was always something I was really conscious of. And now I made a point where I don’t even shave my armpits or my legs anymore.
I think punk has actually made me more comfortable with my femininity and made me realize that there are a lots of different types of women, and you don’t have to be one cookie cut shape of a woman.
You can be whatever kind of woman that you want to be. And femininity is a feeling rather than a look. I feel feminine or I feel masculine. That’s actually something I never really though about, I kind of just realized now that music probably really helped me with it.”
Mariam is the vocalist and guitarist of Diploid, a hardcore/grind band from Melbourne. At only 23, she already toured outside Australia three times including in South East Asia, New Zealand and South Korea. She also created a platform called Cat Fight that helps women and non binary people to get involved in the DIY scene.
"There can’t be equality when there is so much structural sexism and homophobia. For the most part there are not too many safety problems compared to the larger Sydney community, but how many is too many? Perhaps it is more about everyday microaggressions rather than physical violence.
I do occasionally hear about instances of physical and verbal violence in other parts of the Australian scene. Certainly when I go to the more abrasive punk scene shows hearing sexist and homophobic language is pretty standard."
Rosie plays guitar in queercore band Glory Hole as well as in punk hardcore Canine in Sydney.
" I identify as a woman and I guess that’s really important to me that femininity doesn’t have to look any particular way. I think it’s really important to be able to be a really strong woman and not automatically be seen as a butch versus a typical femme.
I just think that when you’re doing something that is seen as stronger or more aggressive, like singing in a heavy band, I’m proud to be a woman in that role - compared to the idea that I'm just taking on a masculine role, which just kind of erases all the work that women do.''
"Punks in Germany are mostly white. Even if they look different because they’re punks they still get the best of the best because they’re men. They don’t have to worry about much and it’s not acknowledged except by people who got out of their way to educate themselves.
When I try to communicate to my male punk friends about the fact that they receive a huge amount of privilege they reject my point and say they don’t receive any kind of privileges, that we’re exactly the same, we are equal. Well in a perfect world ? Cause we live in the same society that treats us completely differently.
Living in patriarchy is fucking hard in any scene you’re part of."
"The alternative to mainstream society and being able to live however you want with respect with everyone else around you is what attracted me to punk in the first place. That’s what it still means to me.
In Maori culture, at least in my family, it was quite matriarcal. When I think of women I think of them as strong, leaders, and at the fore front of how society is organized.
And then colonisation comes and it flips it on its head and how women should stay at home and not say so much. So it’s really complex what femininity is and it depends on the context I guess and where it’s used."
" I think femininity is different for everybody. I’ve been doing a lot of research about Akan tribe that is my dad’s tribe in Ghana.
It’s so hard having roots in so many places and feeling like in a grey area. My mum is Italian-Dutch, and my dad is Ghanaian. When two members of my african family that I never met came to Australia, it was basically ‘ Hey, that’s your sisters, make them feel at home'. They were calling me 'red', which is a derogatory term. I was like whoa?!?. Then I go to my white side of the family and they would be like ‘ Why don’t you change your appearance, straighten your hair, dress properly’ etc?
I didn’t choose to be like this why can’t you accept me as I am anyway?
It’s so hard to accept the differences between both sides cause they’re so different and contradicting at times.'' Serwah
"I wouldn’t mind being part of what I think a queer movement should be where we just look at the people and who they are. Never mind if they have a dick or feel like they’re a man or whatever. Let’s look at how we’re though to be different. How we're taught to be strong, to be sensitive or how we're taught not to have our emotions. Men also have been told to be these genders and it’s also hard for them. It’s not just the women who have been screwed up. I feel the feminism movement is somehow just bullshit cause all of a sudden people with vaginas could work in the world that was made by men who were taught to be men which means they were taught to be the characteristics that are supposedly masculine and the whole society was made like that. I think gender is bullshit so being a woman yeah, I think I would call myself that. I’m a person."
Rosa is from Canada and Greenland. She moved to Copenhagen years ago and plays guitar and does vocals in Illegal to Exist, she also plays guitar in Mantilla.
"Regarding assault and apprehension that women can get in the street, when you’re a man you don’t even think about it. You go out in the street at 3 am and are carefree. When you’re a woman, you have to think about it, anticipate, and if you’re walking down the street and a man is behind you, you’re freaking out.
Fortunately a lot of women are taking the streets back and deal with daily life in their way. It’s really important not to fall into a discourse of victimisation or fear that would lead to a paternalist vision where women should avoid going out to limit the risk. =>
"I recently read this shocking article that could help cis straight men to understand this climate of rape culture. It was saying that in jail for example, there is the fear of being sexually assaulted for men, the jokes about soap bars etc. Well let’s face that the apprehension felt by a woman in the street late at night is quite similar to the threat that a man in jail would feel.
The life of a woman outside nowadays, that’s what you’ll think of you if you were in jail.
For cis straight male, jail is one of the only place where they’re put in this position of fear of sexual assault."
Alice, drummer in dance punk band Trashley and queercore band Hormones in Paris.
“Unfortunately we didn’t get to play with any other band with women involved while touring South East Asia, which sucked, so when playing a show a lot of people didn’t know I was a woman. So when I will start setting up on stage I noticed a lot of women in the room would come to the front. And after the show they would come to me and take pictures with me, asking me lots of questions. I was a bit nervous before going to SEA cause some touring bands had bad experiences there.
So I was ready for it but most people were very friendly. I made a point to surround myself with women. It was very interesting to talk to women in Indonesia, Muslim women wearing hijab and safety pins with punk patches, I was like “fuck yes!” Growing up with a Muslim dad, for me it was like Yes Muslim women are empowered, fuck people who say they are down trodden and that they have no rights!. It’s a personal choice to wear the hijab. So it was really cool to hang out with them.”
"The most amazing thing about punk is the punk community and the friends you make. For many years of my life I was putting up shows in Warsaw and then in Barcelona.
We’ve been really lucky to squat this great place in Barcelona. I got evicted from my place before the tour but I feel great cause every night I feel I’m home. And that’s really beautiful about punk.
I feel very feminine but I also feel some strong male elements inside. I don’t like these terms. I am a mix. I feel like I’m around this binary stuff."
Patrycja grew up in Warsaw, Poland. She's been putting up gigs and playing in bands since she was 18. She's been living in Barcelona for a while and is the Vocalist of Belgrado.
"In Korea we don’t care about politics. You can have skinheads in the scene, because the scene is really small. People don’t care about lyrics. That’s why we’re all together. A lot of punk band in Seoul are right wing and have an internet community.
In Korea men pay for women, a lot of men hate females.
There's this saying in Korea that "Three times a day, a man should beat his woman". Cause if they do, women would be great to men. The punk scene is safe but Korea is a dangerous place for women."
Juyoung is from Seoul. She started to play D-Beat when she was 19 years old after seing a punk band playing on a TV show. She plays drums in Scumraid, published a photo book about punk The More I See and organizes a major punk festival in Korea. She's also a designer.
"I think most women probably have a struggle with their gender identity at some point in their life, because of patriarchy obviously. Everything is telling you to hate yourself and to hate other women so it’s really hard to get over that.
I’m still working on that, I still have a lot of internalized misogynie that I need to work on to love other women completely and not have any jealousy towards them or competitiveness. So I’m still working out what it is to be a woman.
It’s not just womanhood, it’s also race, sexuality, it’s a whole package basically. I think it’s good to be able to say ‘I am a woman’, just because I have confidence in that. Identifying as a woman has allowed me to discover my femininity which I suppressed for a really long time, because if you’re a girl in punk you can’t be feminine or something. That’s how we felt for such a long time."
"I think it’s already hard enough for cis women in the punk scene. The punk scene has just started to catch on this queer and trans thing. It’s hard for us to exist as trans persons in the scene where cis women already don’t really have space.
It’s hard in political spaces too. Even when we go to a feminist demonstration with my best friend who is a trans woman, we feel uncomfortable because people are gonna assume that I’m a woman, and that she’s a man. So as trans people we can’t really exist anywhere.
Sometimes I’m more comfortable going somewhere I know people are stupid, because I don’t have to expect anything. Then I go to a political space and get left down, and I really didn’t expect this to happen."
Noa lives between Stockholm and Copenhaguen.
"I feel very comfortable being who I am and what I am. I never questioned my gender or my sexuality, I’m very happy with it. In the current society it’s hard in a lot of different ways and situations since this whole world is ruled by men. Of course a lot of women are fighting against it and trying to find the actual equality and climb the latter. But it’s ridiculous how you as a person don’t really matter but how as a woman you’re categorized."
Iina, former vocalist of Deathrace in Helsinki, Finland, lives now in Berlin.
“It doesn’t make sense to me that women won’t/should not feel comfortable in punk because of what I’m attracted to about it and what keeps me in it.
This is the place for everyone who has been challenged. However, part of that is a whole bunch of gatekeeping practices by a bunch of dudes who think they’re the leaders or that they’ve been more enabled to participate more easily for longer.
And part of the gatekeeping practices that they will challenge you, to make you feel you don’t belong. That would probably be more confronting if you’re not a white dude because you’re not able to relate to them immediately, and they’re not able to relate to you immediately. By you being there you bring up a lot about their feelings about themselves and their position in this community as well as in the world. And the ideas that they have and their sense of belonging.
They want to test you because you don’t look like them. You can also do the same to them if you want, or you can ignore it. It’s a space where there is a lot of hypocritical conversations as well as contradictory conversations and politics and behaviors which we are all sort of privy to as we grow up as well but punk is a challenge. You wouldn’t pretend to like distorted music, it sounds terrible to most people.”
"Being a woman in the punk scene is different because it’s a man's area. Sometimes they might think that you’re just a groupie. Now in Jogja people are changing because they read more or meet some other punk who come from abroad and visit your scene and maybe learn something from them.
I still experience how people from the scene look at you. If you wear eye liner or short skirt at a gig people just stare at you. You can’t even be yourself. But maybe now it’s changed.
In the society people stare. If you have tattoos or if you smoke they can easily say that you’re a bad girl or a whore. If you hang out in the street dressed differently or drink, they abuse you verbally."
Fenda is from Malang ( Eastern Java) but moved to Jogjakarta when she was in high school. 2 years ago she moved to Liverpool.
"I consider myself as a person, as a human being more than as a female. It’s a bit complicated to be a female but you can deal better with stuff if you consider yourself as people, as human being. Basically do what you want with respect for other people, and enjoy your fucking life every day.
I always feel comfortable with men. There’s not many women in the scene but I never felt I was kicked out because I was a woman. Probably because I met good people to support me so I never felt being left out.
Berlin is good, people have a lot of freedom to be what they want to be. Here no one looks at you, no one gives a fuck about your gender. In Spain it’s a bit more closed minded. We could make a line from France. The countries from the north are more open minded."
Patricia is from the Basque country. She squatted in London when she was 18 and then moved to Berlin where she plays bass and does vocals in Piss. She recently moved back to Spain and is starting a new project called Susu.
“Growing up in regional Queensland led me to the DIY alternative scene early in my teens. At that time we had a thriving music scene and the community was diverse and inclusive. Punks , goths, gay, and Indigenous found strength in solidarity in what was sometimes a hostile environment.
I have always maintained a punk perspective in my creative practices , music, film, writing, spoken word, or performance. Punk is a part of my identity and history. The amazing queer punk scene that was forged in the 70s still shapes my social narrative today . There are some incredibly influential people in the punk scene who inspire me to be fearless in my self expression.” Christina
"For a lot of people punk is an expression against everything sort of problematic or wrong, it’s an expression against extreme patriarchal control, against capitalist structure. Punk is probably the only place that I found as a platform to express how upset I am with so many things. It's also about finding like minded people who understand things that frustrate you, real frustrations that kill people.
Frustrations that keep us in poverty. There are class divisions, there are discriminations on so many levels and in so many different forms.
My actual band Lai is a place to rant about all the shit we are angry about and it’s still a huge problem because they’re still people within the community - I won’t name names for other people’s sake - who don’t like us and don’t like what we do, and that’s why we keep doing it. Because we think that punk is about acceptance and it’s supposed to be about some sorts of morals. But people are still people and some punks are still so misogynistic and incredibly entitled and threatened when something new comes in to take their fucking reign of power. There’s a huge patriarchal hierarchy within punk and everyone sees it." Nissa
« Well there is a Thorax song called Shit Chute to Oblivion and it’s about the world, and how people don’t seem to realize that everything you do has cause and effects. Basically we’re flushing our existence down the toilet and taking everything with us.
And people don’t seem to realize that you need trees in order to breathe. The majority of people just don’t seem to give a fuck!
I sometimes daydream about there being some kind of zombie apocalypse, like The Walking Dead, where we all just have to go back to basics, survival, self governing, community based. Got to look out for each other, got to fight to live, how it’s supposed to be. And not just complacent and consuming, relying onto money. I don’t think it’s far fetched. A way of living rather than existing. It’s living rather than just existing. Yeah, zombies, apocalypse. Something. The downfall of society, please. I can’t wait! »