Poly Styrene, the lead singer of the pioneering punk band X-Ray Spex, died on Monday after a battle with cancer. She was 53.
Styrene's glass-shattering vocals made the band's 1978 album Germ Free Adolescents a punk masterpiece, and the song "Oh Bondage Up Yours!" in particular stands out as one of punk feminism's original eff yous to the sexism and prejudice that existed not only in mainstream society, but in the burgeoning punk community as well.
By the end (I'm hoping not for good, but for now, anyway) of Sleater-Kinney Corin Tucker's voice was a finely honed weapon, full of deep, slow, sexy soul and capable of an earsplitting wail, a bonechilling snarl, a rock'n'roll howl that didn't so much as defy gender as rip the guts straight out of it.
Her new record, 1,000 Years puts that voice front and center, without the thrash that made The Woods so threatening at the time.
The first line of Virginie Despentes' King Kong Theory (written originally in French as King Kong Theorie and then translated into English) is:
"I am writing as an ugly one for the ugly ones: the old hags, the dykes, the frigid, the unfucked, the unfuckables, the neurotics, the psychos, for all those girls that don't get a look-in in the universal market of the consumable chick."
"Rave On" is the Page Turner series that asks feminist writers, artists, musicians, activists, leaders, and scholars to talk about a book that completely rocked their world. Today we feature media activist and writer Anne Elizabeth Moore on the Dirty Plotte comic books by Julie Doucet.
I don't spend a lot of time reading feminist theory, which speaks to an inherently limited audience. I study anti-oppression strategies in general, so most of what I've read that's influenced my drive as a political person who identifies as female isn't overtly feminist.
In fact, I find far more use in work that's not usually discussed in a feminist context, like Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Or books that sort of rail against feminist projects or events and address its weak points, so I can sort out where those sit with me. Like Norma McCorvey's I Am Roe.
But if I really think about something I read that made me gack with identification—that spoke to me in a pretty deep way about being a girl in the kind of world I was living in—it would have to be Julie Doucet's Dirty Plotte comic books.