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Revenge of the She-Punks: A Feminist Music History from Poly Styrene to Pussy Riot

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As an industry insider and pioneering post-punk musician, Vivien Goldman's perspective on music journalism is unusually well-rounded. In Revenge of the She-Punks, she probes four themes--identity, money, love, and protest--to explore what makes punk such a liberating art form for women. With her visceral style, Goldman blends interviews, history, and her personal experience As an industry insider and pioneering post-punk musician, Vivien Goldman's perspective on music journalism is unusually well-rounded. In Revenge of the She-Punks, she probes four themes--identity, money, love, and protest--to explore what makes punk such a liberating art form for women. With her visceral style, Goldman blends interviews, history, and her personal experience as one of Britain's first female music writers in a book that reads like a vivid documentary of a genre defined by dismantling boundaries. A discussion of the Patti Smith song "Free Money," for example, opens with Goldman on a shopping spree with Smith. Tamar-Kali, whose name pays homage to a Hindu goddess, describes the influence of her Gullah ancestors on her music, while the late Poly Styrene's daughter reflects on why her Somali-Scots-Irish mother wrote the 1978 punk anthem "Identity," with the refrain "Identity is the crisis you can't see." Other strands feature artists from farther afield (including in Colombia and Indonesia) and genre-busting revolutionaries such as Grace Jones, who wasn't exclusively punk but clearly influenced the movement while absorbing its liberating audacity. From punk's Euro origins to its international reach, this is an exhilarating world tour.


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As an industry insider and pioneering post-punk musician, Vivien Goldman's perspective on music journalism is unusually well-rounded. In Revenge of the She-Punks, she probes four themes--identity, money, love, and protest--to explore what makes punk such a liberating art form for women. With her visceral style, Goldman blends interviews, history, and her personal experience As an industry insider and pioneering post-punk musician, Vivien Goldman's perspective on music journalism is unusually well-rounded. In Revenge of the She-Punks, she probes four themes--identity, money, love, and protest--to explore what makes punk such a liberating art form for women. With her visceral style, Goldman blends interviews, history, and her personal experience as one of Britain's first female music writers in a book that reads like a vivid documentary of a genre defined by dismantling boundaries. A discussion of the Patti Smith song "Free Money," for example, opens with Goldman on a shopping spree with Smith. Tamar-Kali, whose name pays homage to a Hindu goddess, describes the influence of her Gullah ancestors on her music, while the late Poly Styrene's daughter reflects on why her Somali-Scots-Irish mother wrote the 1978 punk anthem "Identity," with the refrain "Identity is the crisis you can't see." Other strands feature artists from farther afield (including in Colombia and Indonesia) and genre-busting revolutionaries such as Grace Jones, who wasn't exclusively punk but clearly influenced the movement while absorbing its liberating audacity. From punk's Euro origins to its international reach, this is an exhilarating world tour.

30 review for Revenge of the She-Punks: A Feminist Music History from Poly Styrene to Pussy Riot

  1. 4 out of 5

    Gabrielle

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aTfgW... This fucking song. The bombastic sound, the angry vocal, the ironic, funky saxophone. It’s perfect. And its meaning has only gotten stronger over the years. I’ve read a few books about women in the punk subculture, and while they were commendable efforts, they didn’t really resonate with my experience of being a girl in the punk scene. This book is different. The first thing that really struck me with the she-punks, when I was an isolated teenager just disco https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aTfgW... This fucking song. The bombastic sound, the angry vocal, the ironic, funky saxophone. It’s perfect. And its meaning has only gotten stronger over the years. I’ve read a few books about women in the punk subculture, and while they were commendable efforts, they didn’t really resonate with my experience of being a girl in the punk scene. This book is different. The first thing that really struck me with the she-punks, when I was an isolated teenager just discovering the punk subculture, was that they were not conventionally attractive. When I looked at pop stars with straight hair and straight teeth, I couldn’t see myself in them, couldn’t hear my experience in their songs. But girls with untamed hair, badly or theatrically applied make-up, who wore both comfy clothes and defiantly feminine clothes at the same time (I am definitely a 90s kid through and through because I still think a cute dress with Doc Martens is just about the coolest outfit one can wear) – now THAT was something I understood. Also, the stuff I felt didn’t make me want to sing, it made me want to scream. And those girls roared. They talked about eating disorders, identity, depression in their songs, stuff I could understand. How could I not love it, how could it not mean the world to me. Goldman took the history of women in punk, and divided it into 4 themes: identify, money, love (or unlove) and protest. For each section, she offers a playlist, and if you are going to read this book, you owe it to yourself to hop on YouTube and listen to the songs she lists. Those themes serve as windows through which she explores how the punk subculture galvanized some truly remarkable women and gave them a platform and an outlet for all the things the mainstream just wouldn't let them express. Each section explores the works of various bands and artists, as per the playlist at the beginning of each chapters, and it is a wonderfully inspiring journey to read through the lives and achievements of those amazing she-punks. The topics explored by Goldman are complex and nuanced - but I found them important and relatable. This is an important book on the topic of women in music - not just punk rock, because it addresses a lot of the challenges that are specific to female musicians and artists, and why what they did mattered, and more importantly, still matters to those who have no realized what can be accomplished by learning to play three chords and scream on key. If I have one tiny complaint, it's that Goldman's prose sometimes feels a little overdone, but it's not a big deal: her words are very important, even when the turn of phrase is a little weird. Highly recommended for feminists, punk rockers and other Doc Marten wearers.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Every chapter starts with a playlist that connects with the chapter topic. In some cases, the songs aren't searchable anywhere, like the Indian teen girl group that was prevented from ever recording. I love that unrecorded songs sit shoulder to shoulder with punk icons, as they should. Every chapter starts with a playlist that connects with the chapter topic. In some cases, the songs aren't searchable anywhere, like the Indian teen girl group that was prevented from ever recording. I love that unrecorded songs sit shoulder to shoulder with punk icons, as they should.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Vartika

    Oh Bondage, Up Yours! Writing a feminist history of punk—especially one that goes beyond the New York-Seattle bubble or the Riot Grrrl movement and into international depths—is an ambitious project, and although rather capsulised within a mere 200 pages, Vivien Goldman has written hers astonishingly well. Revenge of the She-Punks is a vivid exploration of punk as a liberating force for women's self-assertion; an electrifying herstory of rebel girls and outliers across the world who have channeled Oh Bondage, Up Yours! Writing a feminist history of punk—especially one that goes beyond the New York-Seattle bubble or the Riot Grrrl movement and into international depths—is an ambitious project, and although rather capsulised within a mere 200 pages, Vivien Goldman has written hers astonishingly well. Revenge of the She-Punks is a vivid exploration of punk as a liberating force for women's self-assertion; an electrifying herstory of rebel girls and outliers across the world who have channeled their radical and emancipatory ideas regarding identity, materialism, love and protest into convention-defying music that has come to define a movement. Intent on producing an immersive history that allows the reader to properly experience these sonic social revolutionaries as they read, Goldman begins each chapter with a playlist of songs by the bands she discusses, establishing the music as links through which she weaves the narrative around each artist, connecting them into sisterhoods at the helm of a powerful wave. She uses oral history, profiles, criticism, and the aforementioned playlists to situate these "she-punks" in feminist history, while also elucidating on the social, cultural and political (and often personal) contexts that their music sprang up around. Goldman also supplements the vibrant narrative with her personal recollections of the artists as an industry insider and fellow punk musician to lend the book an intimate, conversational feel even as it explores a dizzying array of acts, ranging from England and America to Japan, China, Spain, India, Colombia, and Jamaica at breakneck pace. The problem with Revenge of the She-Punks is its brevity: while it captures various artists' angst and justified anger against the societal barriers that weigh down women in general and women artists in particular, it is too brief and distilled a history to accommodate each band beyond their barest essence or boldest message — I certainly wish it were longer, and provided more than some glimpses of the "she-punks", especially regarding the queer-core and trans artists; the Kashmiri girls impeded by a fatwa; and the bold situationism of artists like Malaria! in 1980s East Germany and Pussy Riot in Putinist Moscow. Still, I loved this book for its approach to punk: not as an (ironically) aesthetic subculture but as a vehicle for rebellion against systemic injustice, political activism, and reclamation of women's lives and experiences as their own. This feminist music history isn't restricted by style, genre, appearance or commercial success (it in fact brings to fore many suppressed and forgotten voices). It is instead supported by a liberating understanding of the spirit of punk—questioning, angry, powerful, and definitely not dead.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Mallory

    3-3.5 stars. I appreciated that Goldman covered such a wide range of artists, several of whom I’ve never even heard of, and I look forward to listening to their music. However, the structure of this book is a bit formulaic: awkward paragraph trying to connect the band she just talked about with the next band she is about to discuss, followed by some paragraphs on that second band, and then repeat this method throughout the book. Also, the section on trans musicians really really really could hav 3-3.5 stars. I appreciated that Goldman covered such a wide range of artists, several of whom I’ve never even heard of, and I look forward to listening to their music. However, the structure of this book is a bit formulaic: awkward paragraph trying to connect the band she just talked about with the next band she is about to discuss, followed by some paragraphs on that second band, and then repeat this method throughout the book. Also, the section on trans musicians really really really could have used some feedback from a trans person before publishing this because yikes.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Joshua

    Histories of music and musicians often seem to boil down to a lot of cliched narratives of drug-use, loss of identity to fame, and then sometimes a kind of personal redemption and acceptance of fame. This book thankfully is none of that. Vivien Goldman gives her reader a fascinating oral history mixed with meditations on feminist ideologies mixed with contemporary political insight mixed with honest music journalism to create a wonderous book that leaves the reader with a deeper appreciation of Histories of music and musicians often seem to boil down to a lot of cliched narratives of drug-use, loss of identity to fame, and then sometimes a kind of personal redemption and acceptance of fame. This book thankfully is none of that. Vivien Goldman gives her reader a fascinating oral history mixed with meditations on feminist ideologies mixed with contemporary political insight mixed with honest music journalism to create a wonderous book that leaves the reader with a deeper appreciation of the punk scene over the last forty years. The only problem with the book is because it tries to handle so many different bands and so many different ideas the book often feels like it's being stretched and twisted in multiple directions. Ultimately this might just be part of the aesthetic goal, and a book about punk-rock should never have to worry about fitting up to somebody else's standards, but I feel that this book could have and should have been an interesting opportunity to set the history of women in punk music in a more narrative format. But whatever, this book exists and it doesn't care whether or not you like everything in it. And I honestly can't think of anything more punk rock.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Nestor Rychtyckyj

    Talk about a timely book….a current retrospective of women in punk rock is finally available and Vivien Goldman puts an explanation point on this well-written and impossible to put down other than “bringing up YouTube or Bandcamp to hear all of these bands” book. In the last few years we’ve heard from Viv Albertine, Carrie Brownstein, Chrissie Hynde, Alice Bag, Kim Gordon and we’re all anxiously awaiting books by Debbie Harry and about Poly Styrene. Vivien Goldman is a excellent musician as well Talk about a timely book….a current retrospective of women in punk rock is finally available and Vivien Goldman puts an explanation point on this well-written and impossible to put down other than “bringing up YouTube or Bandcamp to hear all of these bands” book. In the last few years we’ve heard from Viv Albertine, Carrie Brownstein, Chrissie Hynde, Alice Bag, Kim Gordon and we’re all anxiously awaiting books by Debbie Harry and about Poly Styrene. Vivien Goldman is a excellent musician as well as an writer and hearing her solo work is mandatory for readers of this book. The book is sub-titled a “Feminist Music History from Poly Styrene to Pussy Riot”, but it actually goes past these endpoints as earlier influential women musicians such as Patti Smith and the Runaways are not bypassed. Of course, there were and are many other women who played and still play punk rock (a shoutout to Nikki Corvette, Carolyn Striho, Sarana Verlin, Laryssa Stolarchuk and all those other cool Detroit chicks) that made punk so great in those early days. If you’ve been listening to punk as long as I have than you probably know all about Poly Styrene, the Slits, the Raincoats and Pussy Riot, but the real value of this book is when Vivien dives deep into places like Communist China and Kashmir where being a girl in a punk band is a lot more complicated than dealing with sexist booking agents and setting up a tour. Here she shows how totalitarian governments and centuries of oppression make the simple act of playing in a band a real life-threatening situation. In some places, the book is difficult to follow as it jumps around from a little too much, but trying to cover such a broad subject in 200 pages is asking the impossible. A couple of annoying geographic mistakes crept in such as stating the Riot Grrl movement started in “America’s Northeast” and moving Carole Kaye from LA’s Wrecking Crew to Motown, but overall this book is a “must have”. So, yeah buy this book and be prepared to dig in and learn how women have made and are making punk rock as relevant as when I first heard the Slits and X-Ray Spex blasting from my 8-track player in a 1971 Ford LTD. P.S. At this year’s Punk Rock Bowling in Las Vegas, two standouts were the Coathangers and the Darts – they didn’t make it into this book, but they and many others make it clear that the “She Punks” have a lot more in store for us.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Abby

    Vivien Goldman is a British journalist who has been following and participating in punk since its origins in the 1970s. She knows her stuff. In Revenge of the She-Punks, she studies women's involvement in punk in a transnational context. It's not a history so much as an academic, thematic study of different bands. I learned about a *lot* of bands I've never heard of before. Reading this book works best if you read it slowly, stopping to listen to the music Goldman discusses before moving on. It' Vivien Goldman is a British journalist who has been following and participating in punk since its origins in the 1970s. She knows her stuff. In Revenge of the She-Punks, she studies women's involvement in punk in a transnational context. It's not a history so much as an academic, thematic study of different bands. I learned about a *lot* of bands I've never heard of before. Reading this book works best if you read it slowly, stopping to listen to the music Goldman discusses before moving on. It's a truly academic read--and a good one!--but not for you if you want more of a popular history of women in punk.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Jackson

    Rather than a staid history, Goldman is interested in how feminist punk remains relevant. She interviews pioneers like The Raincoats, The Slits, Au Pairs, Delta 5, and Bush Tetras to discuss their artistic processes, their paths through the industry, and which elements of their radical art echo most loudly today. She looks at the Riot Grrrl movement and more recent female bands who've found empowerment in the philosophy of punk, while also exploring the genre's global influence. It's fascinating Rather than a staid history, Goldman is interested in how feminist punk remains relevant. She interviews pioneers like The Raincoats, The Slits, Au Pairs, Delta 5, and Bush Tetras to discuss their artistic processes, their paths through the industry, and which elements of their radical art echo most loudly today. She looks at the Riot Grrrl movement and more recent female bands who've found empowerment in the philosophy of punk, while also exploring the genre's global influence. It's fascinating to read how artists in China, India, Mexico, Jamaica, Nigeria, etc. have adapted punk to their own specific sonic and cultural agendas. Exploring identity politics, gender fluidity, relationship dynamics, capitalist roadblocks, and political protest, Goldman embraces the complexities and teases out the nuances of this provocative music.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Derek

    I struggled with rating this book: I have been turned on to so many new bands, and my definition of punk has been further broadened by this book. As a punk fan, I thought it was so great. The global approach is wonderful, and it’s something that punk fans often ignore. However, the way the text discusses trans* identities, however, reads as though Vivien Goldman does not consider trans* voices beyond a curiosity or online debate. This never touches on TERF level offensiveness, but just reads as I struggled with rating this book: I have been turned on to so many new bands, and my definition of punk has been further broadened by this book. As a punk fan, I thought it was so great. The global approach is wonderful, and it’s something that punk fans often ignore. However, the way the text discusses trans* identities, however, reads as though Vivien Goldman does not consider trans* voices beyond a curiosity or online debate. This never touches on TERF level offensiveness, but just reads as though it’s written by someone who has not thought to reach out to more transgender women artists. Laura Jane Grace, for example, gets a mention, but her role as a powerful voice for trans artists in punk and alternative scenes, and as a producer of Queercore and post-Riot Grrrl music (including the band Fea, who is featured in the text) seems to be ignored. I would have liked to see the inclusion of more transgender voices in punk. It’s more LGB inclusive than Queer inclusive. (3.5 stars)

  10. 4 out of 5

    Courtney Stevens

    I really wanted to like this book, but it didn’t quite hit the mark for me. Reading this felt like reading someone’s final paper in school about feminist punk that didn’t get an A. The author organizes artists under categories that don’t necessarily make sense. I really felt like this could’ve been more readable if bands were categorized by time period or by geographical location or by “scene” instead of the unorganized themes she chose to use. Maybe those themes could still have been addressed I really wanted to like this book, but it didn’t quite hit the mark for me. Reading this felt like reading someone’s final paper in school about feminist punk that didn’t get an A. The author organizes artists under categories that don’t necessarily make sense. I really felt like this could’ve been more readable if bands were categorized by time period or by geographical location or by “scene” instead of the unorganized themes she chose to use. Maybe those themes could still have been addressed under different organization. The threads she tried to link everything together with didn’t feel fully realized. Too much was crammed into a very small amount of pages. However, I did appreciate the diversity in artists that were used as examples. I got to learn about artists that I had never heard of and artists from other countries. She did an incredible job at not just covering the white punk bands of America and Europe.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ailbhe

    in a generation where we have access to music from artists like patti smith, bikini kill, the slits, x-ray spex and so many more within a few seconds on our phones, i think it’s so important to read about the roots of the riot grrrl movement. this book was structured so well, with four sections covering different themes of the history of women in punk music and why they’re so liberating. my favourite thing about this book is that at the start of every section, there was a playlist with the songs in a generation where we have access to music from artists like patti smith, bikini kill, the slits, x-ray spex and so many more within a few seconds on our phones, i think it’s so important to read about the roots of the riot grrrl movement. this book was structured so well, with four sections covering different themes of the history of women in punk music and why they’re so liberating. my favourite thing about this book is that at the start of every section, there was a playlist with the songs and artists discussed. i hadn’t ever heard of the majority of the artists so it was exciting to listen to them while i read. my only complaint is that i felt there was too much information packed in. i feel like with less quotes and references and more of Goldman’s personal thoughts and opinions, it could’ve been a little more enjoyable. overall i really enjoyed this book and learned a lot from it. if you are interested in music and women in music i’d highly recommend

  12. 5 out of 5

    Adam

    Smart. Incisive. Uplifting. Encouraging. Raw. Powerful. Inspirational. Check out my review over at Bearded Gentlemen Music: https://beardedgentlemenmusic.com/201.... Smart. Incisive. Uplifting. Encouraging. Raw. Powerful. Inspirational. Check out my review over at Bearded Gentlemen Music: https://beardedgentlemenmusic.com/201....

  13. 4 out of 5

    Gretchen

    I’m tempted to give this book 5 stars just for breadth and depth of bands covered alone (so many amazing diverse women, many in bands I’d never heard of). Goldman’s themed playlists are things of beauty, truly. Her writing is vibrant, but sometimes gets a bit too meandering, and very occasionally was off-putting. That said, I enjoyed the chapter on money/economics the most and I will certainly be making my way through these playlists.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Juha Heikkilä

    I think I'm even more disappointed in this book because the topic of women in punk is extremely interesting. This book however didn't seem to find a proper narrative throughout the history, rather jumping from band to band, and era to era with quite slight connections. I gave it three stars because of all the bands and artists it introduced me to, but as a book, I found it quite hard to read. I think I'm even more disappointed in this book because the topic of women in punk is extremely interesting. This book however didn't seem to find a proper narrative throughout the history, rather jumping from band to band, and era to era with quite slight connections. I gave it three stars because of all the bands and artists it introduced me to, but as a book, I found it quite hard to read.

  15. 4 out of 5

    David

    Title notwithstanding…this is not about anyone’s revenge but it offers a packed and relatively wide-ranging history of the role of women in punk rock. It is written by one of its participants. Vivien Goldman played in Chantage and the Flying Lizards and now she writes about music and teaches Punk, Afrobeat and Reggae at New York University. The book is set up around track listings with the stories that shape the songs. It is grouped into 4 categories: Girl Identity. Money, Love and Protest. The i Title notwithstanding…this is not about anyone’s revenge but it offers a packed and relatively wide-ranging history of the role of women in punk rock. It is written by one of its participants. Vivien Goldman played in Chantage and the Flying Lizards and now she writes about music and teaches Punk, Afrobeat and Reggae at New York University. The book is set up around track listings with the stories that shape the songs. It is grouped into 4 categories: Girl Identity. Money, Love and Protest. The idea of Punk being uniquely suited to feminism belies the fact that for much of its history, many of the same factors that work against women in the greater world outside are also very much at play in the punk scene--only in punk there is an avenue for self-expression not readily available elsewhere. At 200 pages, it reads like a long zine or a short documentary.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    Vivien Goldman ("Launderette") surveys women in punk from the 1970s to present-day. As much as I love the Slits, the Raincoats, the Au Pairs, and Delta 5, I was glad that Goldman did not dedicate all of her pages to those influential groups, but actually spends just as much time on punks of color including those from South America and Africa. I'll be checking out her playlists that accompany each chapter in the weeks to come. Vivien Goldman ("Launderette") surveys women in punk from the 1970s to present-day. As much as I love the Slits, the Raincoats, the Au Pairs, and Delta 5, I was glad that Goldman did not dedicate all of her pages to those influential groups, but actually spends just as much time on punks of color including those from South America and Africa. I'll be checking out her playlists that accompany each chapter in the weeks to come.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Maisie

    Definitely enjoyed this book. Really liked how each chapter starts with a playlist of songs that will be discussed. I think the book would've benefited from going in chronological order and focusing on less artists so that it could go in more in-depth to particular songs, albums and the culture of the time. The way the book bounced between songs, artists and time periods was a bit awkward at times, especially when it was discussing topics that are sensitive. Definitely enjoyed this book. Really liked how each chapter starts with a playlist of songs that will be discussed. I think the book would've benefited from going in chronological order and focusing on less artists so that it could go in more in-depth to particular songs, albums and the culture of the time. The way the book bounced between songs, artists and time periods was a bit awkward at times, especially when it was discussing topics that are sensitive.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Rikki King

    Probably the best history of punk music I've ever read, re-establishing the lost trail of women in punk that were so important to several different genres. Goldman has a unique ability to accurately and compellingly describe the sound of songs. Probably the best history of punk music I've ever read, re-establishing the lost trail of women in punk that were so important to several different genres. Goldman has a unique ability to accurately and compellingly describe the sound of songs.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Rom Mojica

    I want to start this book by saying that I don't bear anything against Vivien Goldman, the author of this book. On the contrary, I think that she is an excellent writer, especially where music is concerned. Her descriptions of every part of each song she chooses to cover in this book are immediately evocative, and drove a greater interest in me to actually look up the artists in question and find out more about them. It helps that it's a genre she was familiar enough with that she's also met, an I want to start this book by saying that I don't bear anything against Vivien Goldman, the author of this book. On the contrary, I think that she is an excellent writer, especially where music is concerned. Her descriptions of every part of each song she chooses to cover in this book are immediately evocative, and drove a greater interest in me to actually look up the artists in question and find out more about them. It helps that it's a genre she was familiar enough with that she's also met, and even performed, with a good few people covered here - her bona-fides are clear before you've even made it to the first page. I honestly don't think that anyone could have written a book on this subject, in under 200 pages, that I would have been particularly happy with, mostly because it's too large a project for too short a page count. An attempt to cover 43 bands in around 180 pages means around 4 pages on average to tell a band's story - and not just their story, but the story of punk and the history that led to them existing in that specific place and time. To whiz from a group in post-Franco Spain to then talk about a band that formed out of the Jamaican population in the UK and the 2 Tone era is a hell of a whiplash which feels like it has to start from scratch all over again. Though in here are also successes - whizzing around the world does show the similarities, but it also shows the differences in these bands, these women, and their mindsets. The difference between a group like X-Ray Spex and The Slits, at least based on the songs covered, is a gulf despite both being from the UK at around a similar time. And yet, like with many of the other bands in here, the choice to speak out against the ills they perceive, to stand up for themselves, is ultimately what brings them together in such a diverse tapestry. Turns out women have a lot to be mad about! And through these bands they found not only an outlet, but a community. Except the weird conservative lady that's covered in here. I found it odd that the tone around her was "boy she's got some backwards leanings and is right wing and anti-choice but what's more punk than not following the status quo?" I get the thought but uh, this ain't it, chief. Ms. Goldman's main problem with her writing is a penchant for name-dropping and a sort of hero worship that can also close her off to realizing problems with what she's saying. Patti Smith's outsize section in this book has the clearest example, where, as she attempts to talk about Patti Smith's giving nature and desire to support her fellow artists, describes Ms. Smith giving away a jacket to someone who needed it when she was just starting out to Ms. Smith in the 2010s buying the house of a long-deceased artist. It's clear these are almost completely opposite, yet the book seems to present it as "Look at ol' Patti, my friend, who's still supporting others!" I think I'd much rather read a memoir by Ms. Goldman about her time in the punk scene, and her 40 years of chronicling music. It would let her drop her names, talk about her songs, and probably give more context through the specifics of her own life in a way that this book doesn't really let her. It instead reads like a listicle in book form - aided by the fact that in the process of reading this book, I discovered that I'd had a tab open on a computer about the 50 songs that showcase the evolution of women in rock music, by this very same author. Maybe I'd have gotten the same out of just reading that list that I ultimately got from reading this book. If you do read it I definitely recommend listening to the songs as you read about them. Her writing on music is good, but actually pairing it with the song helps to surround you in it more. There's definitely some great bands to discover in here (many of these women only now getting the spotlight on them for the first time, as this history starts to now be something people are caring about more) and you'll probably find some discographies that you're only too glad to delve much deeper into.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Grace Kennedy

    3.5 stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 Overall, I am glad I read this book and got some background knowledge about the uprising of female punk in British and US circuits. The author includes quite a wide variety of social context and historical background while taking a close look at specific punk songs with what felt like a musicologist's view - the assessment of lyrics and melody were a refreshing part of the book. I also enjoyed the direct quotes she utilized from musicians and industry insiders as it made the boo 3.5 stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 Overall, I am glad I read this book and got some background knowledge about the uprising of female punk in British and US circuits. The author includes quite a wide variety of social context and historical background while taking a close look at specific punk songs with what felt like a musicologist's view - the assessment of lyrics and melody were a refreshing part of the book. I also enjoyed the direct quotes she utilized from musicians and industry insiders as it made the book feel much more alive and tangible. I will say the book was written a bit dryly for my taste, and I struggled to get through the high density of information in a timely manner. But my main issue with this book is that it just *almost* reached its radical potential as a feminist work, but no cigar. The author's subtle "Britain is past racism" attitude felt pretty disingenuous, especially as she was approaching a succinct analysis of the specific difficulties WOC faced in punk movements unlike their white counterparts. This book just overall felt like it was close to making real statements about how punk fosters and doesn't foster intersectional feminism (not a term I recall the author ever using, but the concept was there) but in the end the color blind unifying girl power theme seemed to drown out the more interesting social observations the author was making. I recognize that this was meant to be a piece providing a background to she punk history and not a piece of feminist theory, but in some ways it felt like the author could not commit to the radical concepts she was beginning to explore

  21. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    Interesting survey of women in punk, written by an insider. The book ranges from the early 70s through now, and (thankfully) spans the globe to include bands from China, Indonesia, Japan, Jamaica, Spain, Russia, and other nations, so we don't just get the same 20 UK and US bands that usually get covered in these kinds of things. The book is broadly (heh) organized in sections -- money, identity, protest -- instead of chronologically, so the same artists appear and reappear. It's a bit jumbly, bu Interesting survey of women in punk, written by an insider. The book ranges from the early 70s through now, and (thankfully) spans the globe to include bands from China, Indonesia, Japan, Jamaica, Spain, Russia, and other nations, so we don't just get the same 20 UK and US bands that usually get covered in these kinds of things. The book is broadly (heh) organized in sections -- money, identity, protest -- instead of chronologically, so the same artists appear and reappear. It's a bit jumbly, but it also makes the book feel conversational. Each section also begins with a killer track list, so you can dig up the songs as homework after you finish the book. Or maybe I'm the only one who will do that. On the downside though, holy cripes, there's some sloppy editing. Typos, misspellings, and just plain wrongness (misquoted song lyrics; Carol Kaye played with the Wrecking Crew, not Motown; I've never seen Tina Weymouth referred to as "Tina Frantz"; and for the love of gosh, writers and editors of English, it's not "lynchpin").

  22. 5 out of 5

    Raymond Rusinak

    As a total music nerd, one who firmly finds himself a huge fanboy of today's female fronted indie and punk scene, I found Revenge to be way more than I initially expected. Sure there are great stories from the usual suspects that one would expect from a book with "She Punks" in the title. The stories of and about the likes of The Slits, Raincoats, Patti, Debbie, etc. are certainly enlightening and informative but those aren't what did it for me. Reading vignettes about the Scroggins sisters of E As a total music nerd, one who firmly finds himself a huge fanboy of today's female fronted indie and punk scene, I found Revenge to be way more than I initially expected. Sure there are great stories from the usual suspects that one would expect from a book with "She Punks" in the title. The stories of and about the likes of The Slits, Raincoats, Patti, Debbie, etc. are certainly enlightening and informative but those aren't what did it for me. Reading vignettes about the Scroggins sisters of ESG making their way out of the South Bronx, cold war era West Berlin artists, Malaria!, Pauline Black, herself a biracial female in multi-racial Two Tone band, The Selecter during the Thatcher days and so many more that I won't name...these were the amazing stories which you'll want to sink your teeth into.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Katherine

    Found this book at my local library. I love heavy metal and punk. I'm also a proud feminist. Of course, I had to read this book! Goldman does an excellent job explaining what punk is and why women are so important. I can't think of an angrier human than a woman being told what they can't do. I agree with Ms. Goldman that womanhood in itself is punk. Revenge of the She-Punks was full of information that I had no previous knowledge about. I've never heard of any of the bands mentioned. So, while I Found this book at my local library. I love heavy metal and punk. I'm also a proud feminist. Of course, I had to read this book! Goldman does an excellent job explaining what punk is and why women are so important. I can't think of an angrier human than a woman being told what they can't do. I agree with Ms. Goldman that womanhood in itself is punk. Revenge of the She-Punks was full of information that I had no previous knowledge about. I've never heard of any of the bands mentioned. So, while I read I also put these bands into my Spotify or Youtube to hear what they sounded like. It's one thing to read about a band. Another to understand their sound. Overall, I enjoyed learning and discovering new bands to listen to.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    Revenge of the She-Punks is not a linear history. Instead it is a rollicking examination of women in punk (and punk-adjacent) music, from early pioneers like Poly Styrene, Patti Smith, and the Slits, through Riot Grrl and right into the present. Goldman organizes her discussion around a set of themes: identity, money, love, and protest; she devotes a chapter to each. I thought this framework was very successful, in that it allowed the author to make astute connections across time periods and geo Revenge of the She-Punks is not a linear history. Instead it is a rollicking examination of women in punk (and punk-adjacent) music, from early pioneers like Poly Styrene, Patti Smith, and the Slits, through Riot Grrl and right into the present. Goldman organizes her discussion around a set of themes: identity, money, love, and protest; she devotes a chapter to each. I thought this framework was very successful, in that it allowed the author to make astute connections across time periods and geography that revealed something of a through-line for punk women. Goldman is an insider to her material, having worked as a rock journalist and a punk musician herself - her affinity and enthusiasm for her subject matter makes this a fun read as well as an informative one.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    I originally assumed this would be a chronological history of female punk artists, but once I started reading, I realized how difficult that would be to do. Instead, this book highlights important tracks from various subgenres, countries, and periods of time to show how punk has changed over time and how women have had a new perspective on punk music. I learned a ton about different punk groups around the world and got exposed to a ton of new music - which is always the best part of reading a mu I originally assumed this would be a chronological history of female punk artists, but once I started reading, I realized how difficult that would be to do. Instead, this book highlights important tracks from various subgenres, countries, and periods of time to show how punk has changed over time and how women have had a new perspective on punk music. I learned a ton about different punk groups around the world and got exposed to a ton of new music - which is always the best part of reading a music book. I'm exicted to learn more about punk's history and that part that women have played in it.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Julia

    This book essentially gives a history of women in punk music and was definitely something that I enjoyed. Over quarantine, I started exploring new music genres, one of them being punk music so chose to read this book in order to learn more about the history of it. Overall, I found this book to be fascinating, and different from a lot of other music-related books I have read in the past. One thing I found to be really interesting and cool about it is that, before each chapter, there is a small pl This book essentially gives a history of women in punk music and was definitely something that I enjoyed. Over quarantine, I started exploring new music genres, one of them being punk music so chose to read this book in order to learn more about the history of it. Overall, I found this book to be fascinating, and different from a lot of other music-related books I have read in the past. One thing I found to be really interesting and cool about it is that, before each chapter, there is a small playlist with a selection of songs that fit with its theme.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Caro Malphrus

    And amid the grime and grit, there will be glitter. Vivien Goldman gives us a comprehensive overview of the history of feminist punk. Her writing while informational was also beautiful and inspiring. I can only wish I could write about music in the way she does. Reading this book, I didn’t really know too much about feminist punk going into it, and I’m not sure that I am even a genius on it now. But, I do have a good starting point. It has opened my eyes and ears to hear the influence that these And amid the grime and grit, there will be glitter. Vivien Goldman gives us a comprehensive overview of the history of feminist punk. Her writing while informational was also beautiful and inspiring. I can only wish I could write about music in the way she does. Reading this book, I didn’t really know too much about feminist punk going into it, and I’m not sure that I am even a genius on it now. But, I do have a good starting point. It has opened my eyes and ears to hear the influence that these rock and roll women have had unto culture and the music industry as we know it now.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Mishap

    Once I fell into the rhythm of her writing, I really dug this looping narrative covering an array of bands and performers from several decades, countries, genres, and scenes. By incorporating contemporary performers, making connections between generations, and talking directly to all the people, it doesn't come off as a hagiography. Instead, she weaves a time-loop tapestry of women finding their voice in punk rock. Once I fell into the rhythm of her writing, I really dug this looping narrative covering an array of bands and performers from several decades, countries, genres, and scenes. By incorporating contemporary performers, making connections between generations, and talking directly to all the people, it doesn't come off as a hagiography. Instead, she weaves a time-loop tapestry of women finding their voice in punk rock.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jessica DeWitt

    Goldman provides a thoughtful and fresh global tour of some of punk's female/femme/women/queer formative artists that is brought to life with an accompanying playlist (most of which one can listen to here: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/3J2...). Look out for my full review in an upcoming issue of the journal Labour / Le Travail. Goldman provides a thoughtful and fresh global tour of some of punk's female/femme/women/queer formative artists that is brought to life with an accompanying playlist (most of which one can listen to here: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/3J2...). Look out for my full review in an upcoming issue of the journal Labour / Le Travail.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Monica

    I finished this on my travels home today. It’s breadth is admirable, especially as it completely disrupts the New York/London binary that so much punk writing adheres to. This covers “she-punks” from the Caribbean, Eastern Europe, Africa, and Asia. It’s a fantastic supplement for books like Angry Women in Rock and Roll and even She’s a Rebel. Very well-done.

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