Punk rock might be a relatively young genre, but the legend of its history has already become more or less solidified.
Ask what makes punk punk and you'll probably get a story that starts in 1970s London, or maybe New York; you'll get The Sex Pistols, The Ramones or The Clash; counterculture, anti-establishment and leather jackets.
Would you hear about bashing the wage gap? Shutting down slut-shaming? Or even Patti Smith? If not, veteran punk (and punk scholar) Vivien Goldman has news for you. In Revenge Of The She-Punks, Goldman sets out to rectify this gendered imbalance, tracing the formation, rise and global reach of punk rock and demonstrating women's central place within it. A self-proclaimed "feminist music history from Poly Styrene to Pussy Riot," the book 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.
In the manifesto that opens She-Punks — sorry, that's the "Womanifesto" — Goldman places the book's origins in 1976. She was fresh out of college and working as a journalist at the British rock publication Sounds when she saw, for the first time in her life, a woman onstage playing rock music. It led her to publish her first article about women in rock. By the '90s, Goldman says, this type of article had become "a predictable annual staple of rock magazines," fueled by lifeless cliches — but at the time, it was an exhilarating angle and, as this book attests, fertile ground for her lifelong dedication to the topic.
Since writing that 1976 article, Goldman has built a reputation as a punk lifer in every conceivable role: She's worked as a publicist, author, editor and biographer; she's recorded and performed her own music; she's been a producer and a back-up singer. She's taught at NYU's Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music long enough to earn the title "the punk professor." And throughout her five decades as a punk, she has paid careful attention to female musicians and fans — "she-punks," as she affectionately calls them — from the groundbreaking work of X-Ray Spex and The Slits through contemporary artists like Fea and Big Joanie. Goldman is driven by a true passion for the music's transformative potential: "For this writer," she writes in She-Punks, "punk's most enduring and significant achievement will always be its liberating impact on the less-privileged sex."