Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Ari Up died last month. You might not know who Ari Up was but she was a member of the punk group The Slits. The Slits were formed when Ari was only 14, a product of growing up in a household that had many musicians staying and passing through. The Slits became known for their provocative performances and lyrics which explored the role of women in their society.

“Who invented the typical girl?
Who’s bringing out the new improved model?
And there’s another marketing ploy
Typical girl gets the typical boy.”
– Typical Girls by the Slits

Punk, with its DIY attitude, meant that women could start their own bands with the same ease as men. Patti Smith arguably heralded the start of punk in America, with her lyricism and music style. And from Punk (The Slits, Siouxie and the Banshees and Xray Spex), through to Post-Punk in the 80’s and the Riot Girrrl movement in the 90’s (Bikini Kill), women have had a presence in music that gets superseded by whoever is the current pop princess. While the Britney Spears of the world sing about perfect love and pleasing your man, bands like Breeder and L7 sing about the issues that affect women.

 Women playing in their own bands, playing their own instruments and writing their own songs has constantly remained underground.  Though I’m a failed musician (could never quite get the hang of the guitar) these women have influenced me in the way I live, in the way I seek to be treated by others and in what I hold valuable in people. Don’t be a Hannah Montana when you can be an Ari Up.
– Julie Anne Young
Junior Girl
Girl Museum, Inc.

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