When Bikini Kill’s Kathleen Hanna made her influential call for “girls to the front” in the early ‘90s, she aimed to make punk gigs more accessible to the women who were often neglected, rejected, or physically threatened in the scene. It’s no secret that punk rock has always been a boys' club—and a very exclusive one at that. Since the genre’s inception in the late ‘70s, women have often been an afterthought in this community, if they were even thought of at all. That’s not to say that punk—a subculture to which women too have gravitated because of everything it offers in terms of creative and social escape—has never been welcoming to women, but there are outdated values pervading this male-dominated space that continue to affect women and female-identifying individuals today.
Despite these prevalent issues, something amazing has happened recently in the contemporary punk rock community: Women have not only succeeded in taking up space, but they are also dominating and taking the reins, thus leading the music scene forward. Still, though, it's not perfect. Music promoters and festival organizers have been known to push back against requests for more femme-fronted acts by arguing that there aren’t enough female musicians to book and feature. Well, there’s no reason to hide behind this excuse any longer, and any justification for not booking more female-fronted acts is completely invalid because of all the amazing acts out there.
Need proof? Below is a list that details the best and most prominent femme-fronted acts putting in work today. While not totally comprehensive, these bands are a testament to the remarkable fact that women in punk are no longer a rarity, commodity, or a gimmick. The women—especially the women of color—have always been here, will always be here, and are no longer in the shadows of white, hyper-masculine, suburban boys with outdated perceptions of punk.
The Oakland-based quartet is one of the most successful and better-known femme-fronted acts in the scene today—and with good reason. TØRSÖ captivates audiences with their aggressive performances and bombastic raw energy, but they also manage to transcend their live sets with the respectable philosophies that drive them. The band’s vegan, feminist, and straight edge values are just as important as the music they write, and as impressive as the cacophonous melodies they create.