The Royal Ladies of Punk Rock

10 famous female punk rock bands.

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The Royal Ladies of Punk Rock

One of Kim Gordon's, the co-leader of Sonic Youth, famous feminist t-shirts reads: "Girls invented punk rock, not England". It may be a controversial statement, but still makes one think about how many punk-rock bands they can remember. Bands made up entirely (or mostly) of women are not a very common thing now, but more pop up every day and others are still going after all these years. Here are 10 female punk rock bands you need to know.

Bikini Kill

Reportedly formed out of rebellion towards the male-driven hardcore scene, 1990s punk rockers Bikini Kill from Olympia, Wash. drove a movement of feminism referred to as "riot grrl" unlike any other all-female rock band today. Bikini Kill's political and societal focused content partnered with their angst shed light on harsh issues such as rape, abuse and sexism.

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Slant 6

Featuring members of the Washington D.C. gem Autoclave, Slant 6 was a tuneful titan of punk’s third wave. Their music feels genuine, disassembled, and filtered through their adventurous life-stories.

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Founded by a group of teens in Basque Country, Vulpes (“foxes,” and sometimes styled as Las VulpeSS) became Spain’s first all-girl punk band. The band’s claim to fame was “Me Gusta Ser una Zorra” which means “I Like Being a Slut”. Unfortunately, released eight years after the death of the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, Vulpes’ anthem for sexual freedom was far too much for the religious and traditional country. Soon after the scandalous song TV premiere the band split up.

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The Red Aunts

The Red Aunts arose during the California punk revival of the '90s in Long Beach, CA. Their meaty drum beats and whirlwind bass lines make the entire sound quirky, loose, and resonant with a constant Stooges rock lust core.

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This Japanese bubblegum punk maniac trio is like a heavy dose of adrenaline that never dissipates. Perhaps they are best known for the western listeners because of their guest appearance in Quentin Tarantinos’s “Kill Bill” movie.

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7 Year Bitch

This punk rock band from Seattle, Washington and was active for 7 years, between 1990 and 1997. Their career yielded three albums, and was impacted by the deaths of their guitarist Stefanie Sargent and close friend Mia Zapata. Their loud music with buzzsaw guitars and gruff vocals was dedicated to women who had survived sexual assault.

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The Slits

This unit represents the first wave of anarchic British punk that re-molded the parameters of pop music. In their music they conveniently combine raw dance floor reggae and dub, bursting tribal-stomp beats, exploding punk and even American soul. Long live recently deceased singer Ari Up.

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The Raincoats

The Raincoats are a British post-punk band from the late 70s. They were a self-described feminist punk band when there was no precedent for such a thing. The British music was shook by their raw and meaningful songs such as 1979’s “Off Duty Trip,” about rape culture. Kurt Cobain listed the Raincoats LP 20th on his Top 50 favorite albums.

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Speaking of Kurt Cobain. At times, Courtney Love, his beloved scandalous wife, has been written out of feminist punk history, for different reasons: Hole became an alt-rock commercial juggernaut, Love derided riot grrrl and Kathleen Hanna, and, of course, there are still conspirace out there who want to believe that Kurt Cobain wrote Hole's best songs. But it’s worth remembering that Hole started as an L.A. punk band, with Love screaming about her stint as a teenage whore, and she’s never lost her indelible punk sneer.

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Le Tigre

Does dance-punk really qualify as punk? Only when Kathleen Hanna’s at the mic. She is the badass that brings radical politics to the club. Her vivid brand of dance-party punk feminism is clearly presented in Le Tigre “Hot Topic” song. Thanks to an earworm melody and the convenience of Google, thousands of Le Tigre fans can still dance their feet off to the hot tune.

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31 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Sleater Kinney are pretty bitchen as well.
    Yeah. Shocking omission, especially since they're a better band than any of the ones from this list, imo, and they're really all-female, unlike a bunch of them.
    Le Tigre stinks. I could get on board with the rest of this list though. Glad Pussy Riot isn't on here. Their music is terrible. 
    Ok fuck you deceptacon is amazing as for the rest of their music yeah I see what you're saying 
    Fuck me? Fuck you! Haha, you talking about Pussy Riot or Le Tigre? 
    Hahaha having fun with you my man talking about le Tigre...seriously check out deceptacon by them it's awesome 
    I'm sorry, but your list reveals your age and lack of OG punk rock knowledge. Where's Siouzsie? Where's Lorna Doom (The Germs)? Where's Chrissie Hyde (The Pretenders). Where's Joan Jett & Lita Ford (The Runaways), Exene (X)... On and on... Crap list
    Phoenix V
    Also, L7 isn't in this list. WTF. I believe they were classified as punk. On my list they are definitely in the top 3. Went and saw the girls November last year and shit they definitely still got it.
    Phoenix V
    X-Ray Spex with Marian Elliott (stage name Poly Styrene) is noticeably missing from this list but fair enough the band wasnt all female though. But she pioneered and made it ok to pave the way for females in punk bands. 'Bondage Up Yours' is the staple of British Punk of that era. Marian was 18 when she wrote the song and fronted the band. The controversy it caused was totally acidic for the mainstream media and British moderates.....for the time. Now days it's all blaze'.
    Bad Cop Bad Cop are a newer all girl pop punk band. They have a really cool style. They're really fast and incorporate harmonies. They're the only pop punk band I really like. Also G.L.O.S.S. is a really sick hardcore band made up of trans women, and the lyrics are interesting stuff. They talk a lot about the concept of femininity. Also, Bikini Kill weren't all girls.
    Hole always had Eric in the band. Not quite an all-female band, but Kristen Pfaff - my god!
    The Bush Tetras aren't on here and Hole is?!? Courtney Love was in diapers when Cynthia Slay and company were RULING the NYC punk scene. With ACTUAL punk music. "I'm Miss World"?! Give me a break....SMDH