Whether it’s angry music to thrash your limbs to or slow, melodic, dreamy grunge meant to make you fall in love, punk music made by women occupies a special, permanent place in our hearts. But the punk scene isn't the easiest place to be a woman in. Typically something of a boy's club, making it as a woman in this music genre is no small feat.
With that in mind, we’ve highlighted five women who are using their voice, literally and figuratively, to break the stereotypes associated with women in music. Whether it’s by heading their own band like Jenny Tuite of Dirty Dishes, speaking up for causes that are important à la Glittoris, or working with feminist charities like Art School Jocks is doing, these women are anything but complacent; they’re using their dissatisfaction with a cisgender white male scene to create their own path, and alter the sound of what “punk” is while they’re at it. In case you didn’t know where to start on your journey to discovering these punk goddesses, here are some of our favorite women-fronted punk bands that are making waves (and mosh pits) one show at a time. Added bonus: We got them to dish out advice on how women can embark on their own journeys to empowerment.
To listen to when: You’re making out
Don’t categorize Jenny Tuite. If you do, you’ll miss the best part about her. The frontwoman and guitarist of New York City-based band Dirty Dishes is straightforward when it comes to her band’s sound, a mixed bag that culminates in a shoegaze, hip-swaying climax of subtle punk rock. “We sound kind of rock, kind of sludge, a little shoegaze with some experimentation. We are sonically heavy but also delicate and pretty. I’ve heard it described as 'the prettiest heavy,'” Tuite says. And the prettiest heavy isn’t wrong—it’s in the band's DNA to experiment and find the sweet spot between tried, true, and new, something that’s evident in their latest LP, Guilty.
“Thank You Come Again” is the first song on Guilty, and its perfect mix of in your face lyrics and gritty, brash sound encompasses what Dirty Dishes is all about. In “Androgynous Love Song,” Tuite croons over the sound of a sharp guitar, bringing you back to the last time you felt your heart rip in half. “All of Me,” the band’s latest single, has this same sort of emotional and melodic power, this time with Tuite’s voice pouring slowly over whiny guitar and slow drums creating a dark stoner rock fantasy with plenty of reverb.
Recording has always been an important part of Tuite’s relationship with the band. But as she’s grown as a musician, playing live music has become equally as significant to her as creating a timeless album. And the pressure that woman feel when they want to perform or create a band is something that Jenny is also keenly aware of. “Women shouldn’t be faulted for feeling shy or uncomfortable playing at first. Learning an instrument is hard enough, and women have the added pressure of people critiquing them prematurely. Learn, however, to be comfortable,” Jenny says. At the end, it comes down to one piece of advice: Start a band and be your own boss.