So, TYPICAL GIRLS...
What is it all about?
Is it just because I like dressing up and creating characters? A little yes.
But this project means so much more to me than just having fun.
The idea for the project came after reading ‘Pretty in Punk: Girls Gender Resistance in a Boys Subculture’ by Lauraine LeBlanc. Written in the 90s, LeBlanc travelled around the US talking to and interviewing young women who were a part of the punk movement and together they discussed how they were treated, by their parents, society, peers, male punks etc.
The ways in which many of these young women were treated shocked me, especially the vitriol many of them faced from their own parents.
The ways in which the parents reacted ranged from embarrassment to be seen with their child, to treating them with suspicion (being a punk being apparently synonymous with stealing and taking drugs!), to parents actually abusing their children, simply for being in the punk movement – “My dad, he punched me and stuff. My dad says, he tells me that I’m a prostitute, and he says I’m a junkie.” (LeBlanc, 1999, p.96)
Then there were places and groups such as Back in Control Training Centre and ‘Parents against Punkers’ who forced young people to stop being punks. To ‘de-punk’ their children, parents were told to take down posters, take away music, take them to hairdressers to remove punk cuts and colours. The confines of the ‘de-punking’ even meant that they were not allowed to ‘doodle anything punkish’ (LeBlanc, 1999, p.57).
The venom towards the punk movement and disgust at their daughters wanting to dress in such away even led to 83% of psychiatric units, that catered to adolescents, recommending admitting young people solely on the fact that they chose to be a part of the punk movement, regardless of whether they did or did not have any other emotional or mental health issues – “…a fifteen year old California girl with no history of emotional problems, was unwillingly committed to one psychiatric institute for forty-five days and another for nine months simply because her punk style ‘offended and embarrassed her father’…” (LeBlanc, 1999, p.58)
When I read this book, I was shocked to hear of the ways in which these young women were treated. When I was growing up, I was bullied and called names, mainly ‘goth ‘and ‘ugly’ (bullies aren’t the sharpest tools in the box, after all) but that was where it ended.
My mum still loved me and had no desires to lock me away until I looked ‘normal’ or had swapped The Distillers for Taylor Swift. I was her weirdo kid, and now her grown up weirdo kid, and nothing about the way l looked mattered.
I was beginning to feel thankful that in the modern day, how people dress does not seem to cause such an immensely over the top response. Within a day or two of me thinking that, it was the 24th August 2018 – 11 years since Sophie Lancaster was murdered for being a ‘goth’. 11 years since a beautiful young woman was brutally murdered just for being for ‘different’. Trying to save her boyfriend, she was kicked to death. And I realised that I was coming from a place of privilege, in my thinking that in the modern-day people are not killed and locked away for being ‘different’.
Nowadays this venom, more often than not, is thrown onto people because they are trans, because they are gay, because they are fat, because they are black.
I made ‘Typical Girls’, looking back at all the movements and subcultures, because I wanted to show that there is no such thing as a ‘typical girl’ and nor has there ever been. As people we all sleep, eat, use the bathroom etc, but that’s round-about where the similarities end – every woman is different, every person is different, no one is typical.
And it is about time people started to realise that if they have a problem with someone because of how they look, their gender, their sexuality, the colour of their skin, their weight, then that problem is theirs. They need to work on why they are judging and hating on a fellow human being for simply being who they are.
Nine times out of ten I would imagine it is because they are unhappy with their own lives and too scared to even try and be themselves so they cannot stand to see someone else shine.
Or maybe they are just a racist, homophobic, misogynistic, transphobic asshat. Unfortunately, they do exist too.
Try not to be one.
'Pretty in Punk: Girls Gender Resistance in a Boys Subculture' by Lauraine LeBlanc - Available here - https://www.amazon.co.uk/Pretty-Punk-Gender-Resistance-Subculture/dp/0813526515
'TYPICAL GIRLS' by Becky Handley - https://www.beckyhandley.com/typical-girls