As these pictures show, Kim Gordon, bass/vocals in Sonic Youth wore a T-shirt saying: Girls invented punk rock, not England.

Shifting discussion from geography, from the long discussions about whether punk started in the USA or in Britain (or maybe in Peru?) to gender.

Whether you see London or New York City as the birthplace of punk, there always remains the fact that without women, punk would not have become punk. Before punk started, Viv Albertine, later Slits guitarist, thought that women could not realistically aspire to any other role in music than groupie.

Where would punk be without mixed-gender bands like the Patti Smith Group, X, X-ray Spex, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Poison Girls, Crass? And the Damned and the UK Subs (yes, they both had female instrumentalists at some points of their histories)? And without all-women bands like the French/Dutch Lou’s and the English Mo-dettes, Maid of Ace and Ramonas? Without the Slits, started as all-women, later mixed-gender? Without the Raincoats and Bikini Kill, started as mixed-gender, later all-women?

The same goes for punk in the Netherlands. Where the first punk was a woman (drummer of the Lou’s, later of Leiden all-women Miami Beach Girls). In one of the first 1976 Dutch punk bands, the Speedtwins, were two women. See for a still far from complete list about punk women in 1976-1982 in the Netherlands here. Ranging from always all-women bands like the Nixe, the Ramona’s (mind the ‘) and Riot Pill to sometimes all-women, sometimes mixed-gender bands like the Wanda’s and Bambix, to always mixed-gender bands like the Bugs and Cheap ‘n’ Nasty (both founded in the 1970s) to Livmoder (founded in 2021).

Do these women always get fair chances to play? According to research in Germany, only 4% of people on stages in all kinds of rock music festivals are women. I doubt whether things are much better in other countries. Punk festivals should be better in this than general music festivals. They owe that to the origin and development till now of punk. Unfortunately, they are not always better.

In 2020, a hardcore punk festival was planned in Belgium. By an organisation stating that they are committed to anti-sexism. Their planned line-up: all 100% male bands. One exception: one band with a female singer. A heavy metal singer. So, at a punk festival, not even one punk woman on stage! Corona intervened. The festival was off. Much will have to be learned, much will have to change.