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.
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
“This book should restore Goldman's place in the rock-crit firmament just as she sets out to give punk's women their long-denied dues.”
“Revelatory…[Revenge of the She-Punks] feels like an exhilirating conversation with the coolest aunt you never had, as she leaps from one passion to the next.”
“While Goldman jumps around, hopping from band to band, she places the female musical foment within the critical context of feminist theory and the cultural context of society’s upheaval...Known as the 'Punk Professor' as an adjunct at NYU, Goldman extends her authority here.”
“[Revenge of the She-Punks] doesn't just retell the story of punk with an added woman or two; it centers the relationships between gender and the genre, showing how, through the right lens, the story of punk is a story about women's ingenuity and power.”
“Revenge of the She-Punks is an engaging and politically charged exploration of women in music looking to the past, present, and future.”
“Riotously entertaining…a vibrant and inspiring introduction to feminist music history that invites more scholarship and music making.”
“A distinctive look at [punk]…For fans of punk as well as a wider audience of music lovers, feminists, and social historians curious about the genre and its far-reaching influence.”
“Alongside musician interviews with the likes of Kathleen Hanna and Patti smith, the engrossing read leans on the unmatchable source of Goldman herself, who participated in punk's genesis as editor of London weekly Sounds.”
“Goldman offers a seamless mix of personal memoir, historical detail, direct interviews with the musicians, and her own academic analysis…[a] seriously excellent treatise. Revenge of the She-Punks is not to be missed.”
“Captivating…Taking a lateral approach, Goldman weaves a fascinating tapestry that threads together themes of identity, money, love, and protest over five decades.”
“Essential…With personal encounters running parallel with themes such as identity and protest, Goldman makes excellent points about punk's 'liberating aspect on the less-privileged sex,' framing it as the 'primal yowl of a rebellious underclass [that] has always specially belonged to girls.'”
“Revenge of the She-Punks is as energetic and full of life as I imagine the author must be…an exciting, inspiring and thought provoking book that should be an important weapon in women's ongoing battle for equality, space and freedom.”
Echoes and Dust
“In this witty, must-read introduction to punk music (complete with generously curated playlists), Vivien Goldman sifts through decades of firsthand encounters with feminist musicians to identify how and where these colorful she-punks have arrived--and where they might be headed.”
Tina Weymouth, Talking Heads, Tom Tom Club