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Revenge of the She-Punks

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

The colorful "Punk Professor", new-wave musician, and critic/filmmaker spins a dazzling survey of women in punk, from the genre's inception in 1970s London to the current voices making waves around the globe.

May 2019
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232 pages | 5.5 x 8.5 | 91 b&w photos |

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.

  • Womanifesto: The Opening Vamp
  • 1. Girly Identity: Who Be Me?
  • 2. Money: Are We Our Stuff?
  • 3. Love/Unlove: Busting Up the Binary
  • 4. Protest: Woman the Barricades
  • Outro: Our Coda
  • Acknowledgments
  • Index

Vivien Goldman
London and New York City

Born in London, Goldman has been a music journalist and documentarian for more than forty years and served as Bob Marley’s first U.K. publicist. She is a former member of the new-wave bands Chantage and The Flying Lizards; Resolutionary, a retrospective compilation album of her work, was released in 2016. She is now an Adjunct Professor teaching Punk, Afrobeat and Reggae at New York University. Her five previous books include The Book of Exodus: The Making and Meaning of Bob Marley and the Wailers’ Album of the Century. Goldman co-wrote the book for Cherchez La Femme, the Kid Creole musical that premiered at the La Mama Theatre in NYC in 2016.


"In this must-read introduction to punk music (that includes generously curated playlists), Vivien Goldman sifts through decades of first-hand encounters with feminist musicians to identify how and where these colorful she-punks have arrived--and where they might be headed."
Tina Weymouth