A comment/question posted on my last blog entry by an anonymous reader caught my attention.
"I like your observation that punk changed the way women felt about themselves because that attitude certainly seems to be prevalent among females of that generation but I am curious to know your feelings about young women today. Do you feel that punk made a lasting impact on how women view themselves and each other and if not, why?"
That's a tough question to answer because I'm not comfortable speaking for a generation of women, especially a generation to which I don't belong. I'd say that punk did have a lasting impact on women, whether or not they're aware of it. The advances each generation makes contribute to the advancement of future generations, each building upon the work of those who came before.
I think that many young girls today are hesitant to label themselves as female musicians or point out that they are in all girl bands and would rather not use the label of feminist because they are not stepping into a situation where they have to prove that they are equal. Somebody who came before them already proved it.
I think it's great that they don't have to prove themselves, however, not being aware of the fact that there still is a need for a feminist attitude can be detrimental because refusing to acknowledge where you've come from makes it difficult to recognize that you haven't yet reached your destination.
I think for the women who became immersed in the punk culture, it was life changing. Today, it's difficult to tell a mall punk from a person who truly believes in self-determination. There's a difference and the broader culture tends to enforce and reward conformity. Young women today are still modern day virgin sacrifices. They are just grist for the consumerist mill and unfortunately that reality has not changed. In fact, it may be even worse because as mass media has become omnipresent, young women are bombarded by messages that tell them they don't look good enough, are not thin enough, need to buy stuff to help them stop stinking, breaking out, etc. The only way they'll get the coveted boyfriend/husband is to buy more stuff.
I should clarify that I am what used to be called a lipstick feminist, meaning that I believe anyone should look and feel their best when they go out into the world and there is no shame in making the most of what you have. But that is not the same thing as an all-consuming obsession with an ideal image that is created by somebody else so that they can make a profit off the insecurity they've fostered in you.
So the short answer is, some things have gotten better, some things have gotten worse. Still plenty of things to write songs about.