Hand wringing letter in Spare Rib, No. 96, July 1980.
Punks Are Nasty
I am enclosing cheque for subscription for another year, and congratulate you on your achievement in appearing regularly for so many years.
I am continuing my subscription because I support women’s liberation and believe that a women’s journal committed to “consciousness raising” and news about efforts to combat sex discrimination etc. deserves support.
However, I feel obliged to express – not for the first time – my uneasiness about some features of presentation and style. First, why do you so often have such repulsive front covers? The latest (SR94) is even more than usually repulsive. That is, repulsive to me, and I suspect to most women who are not punks. And what have punks to do with women’s liberation? By their way of dressing and painting their faces and hair they deliberately emphasise that they are not and do not wish to be as other women. And considering the age and mental range of punks, either male or female (and if it were not for the lads there would be very few lasses), it seems to me that they are hardly the people to make any contribution towards improving the quality of life. (Yes, I know that some of them are kind to their mothers and help old ladies across roads – but that is not the point!)
Second, I am uneasy about the general feeling of hostility to men (half the human race!) so often expressed in contributions: dreary, incompetent lovers; brutal, selfish husbands; horrible fathers…. True, all true – there are such. But there are also dreary, incompetent women; brutal, selfish wives; vampire mothers…. So what! There are good and bad in both sexes, but nobody would get that feeling, from reading Spare Rib, that there are loving, kind fathers; loyal, helpful brothers; beloved husbands and sons; lovers who bring joy and contentment.
I think a bit more objectivity – more common sense – a touch of humour – would encourage a wider readership, if that is what you are seeking. I believe that the campaign for women’s liberation is one which must go on for a very long time to achieve it’s objects, and be carried on by – to a far greater degree than at present – ordinary women living ordinary lives, with whom other ordinary women can identify.
P.S. There are some other points, like gratuitous bad language – but this letter is long enough already, and I think the obscenities have been toned down in recent months.
Perhaps we should point out that the young woman on the cover of SR94 is not a punk. Her picture was part of a series on face-painting at a youth club girls’ night, as the relevant article showed. But in any case, we do not agree with Vivien that a punk girl would make a repulsive cover!
There was a letter in response from a punk in issue 97.