Unprecedented access? Women instrumentalists in punk bands 1976-1984: an exploration

Reddington, H. 2004. Unprecedented access? Women instrumentalists in punk bands 1976-1984: an exploration. PhD thesis University of Westminster School of Media, Arts and Design https://doi.org/10.34737/93411

TitleUnprecedented access? Women instrumentalists in punk bands 1976-1984: an exploration
TypePhD thesis
AuthorsReddington, H.

This study has been undertaken because of a gap in popular music and subcultural history. The significance of the first large influx of women into rock music, as punk instrumentalists in the late 1970s, has been underplayed; instead, women punks have been stereotypically documented. Girls' and womens' roles as producers of music, and their consequent contribution to the sound of punk music, have been subjected to a collective amnesia.

Four areas of literature have been reviewed to clarify the reasons for, and extent of the gap: writings on subcultures and scenes, writings on women in rock and pop, writings on the socio-political context, and writings on punk.

One of the main foci of the study has been to identify the reasons for the fading away of the presence of women instrumentalists in the early 1980s. I wanted to discover why this phenomenon had such a short time span.

The primary research involved a newspaper survey (300 local papers were contacted across Britain) from which 24 useful questionnaires were gleaned; I interviewed 15 women who were in bands at the time, as well as a radio DJ, record company owner, band manager, and several male band members and political activists from the scene. Fanzines, music papers and the feminist magazine Spare Rib have also been referred to extensively. I have also had my own recollections of the time to draw upon.

Following the literature review, the study is divided into sections on Access (enabling and empowering factors), Media Gatekeepers and Cultural Intermediaries (external controls and filters), The Brighton Scene (a case study of my own local punk enviromnent), Noise, Violence and Femininity (the practice of music making by these women, and the resistance to it), the Aftermath (exploring factors contributing to the ending of the moment), and Conclusions.

PublisherUniversity of Westminster
Publication dates
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.34737/93411

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