A punk writes in Spare Rib, number 97, August, 1980.
Dear Spare Rib
I am deeply shocked by Vivien Pixner’s letter ‘Punks are Nasty (SR 96). I am a punk, 24, experience of life – married six years, two children, just taken A levels, heavy experience with my parents… I don’t know why I should have to prove my validity as a woman. I’m stopping.
My “way of dressing”, and painting my face and hair is a visual expression of my rejection of how society (male dominated) dictates how women should look. So I am a visual joke, shocking others sometimes, though not purposely wanting to offend.
Punk women have a lot in common with the women’s movement. We (though I can’t speak for all) refuse to support a society that oppresses women, and we wish to give back to the people, those “ordinary women, leading ordinary lives”, the chance to live their lives as they choose.
I feel so angry. I feel like gobbing and cursing, but I won’t offend Vivian’s delicate sensibilities by using “gratuitous bad language”. Don’t “ordinary women” swear? Besides who are all these women? It seems that Vivian’s ‘ordinary’ is interchangeable with ‘normal’. Who’s ordinary, who’s normal? I find her assumptions offensive. Am I the only one?
My own husband is loving, liberal, ‘lets’ me do what I want, but…can’t rid himself of feeling that my freedom is a concession from him. I love him dearly, but he is a part of the male world and its values.
I would hate to see Spare Rib concede to a viewpoint which in Vivian’s words would include more “common sense” just in order to get a wider readership. It is quality not quantity of readership that would count. I don’t want to see you conform.
In defiance and sisterhood,