Stage diving into sexism

Why female punk fans are fed up and forced to create their own subgenre.

Morgan Mitchell, Writer

Why female punk fans are fed up and forced to create their own subgenre. |


Back in January, I could not get any of my friends to go to a Pity Sex show with me in downtown San Diego. You cannot go to punk shows alone as a girl because they are heavily male dominated and tend to get violent. I stayed home that night and listened to Pity Sex on youtube.

The Punk Community

Six months after that, I went to a Modern Baseball show where a man tried to use me as a floor mat to get closer to the front, forcing me to break his finger so he would let go of my arm. Then, a grown man stage dived right on top of me. I could not hold him up and he kicked me in the ear so hard my earrings cut into my head and I started bleeding.

This is the punk community. And quite frankly, I am fed up with it.

Back in September 2014, the lead vocalist and guitarist of Joyce Manor, Barry Johnson, called out a man for stage diving at their show. He stopped the man and asked him how much he weighed and was told the man weighed 190 pounds. Johnson then pointed out a smaller girl in the crowd and that this man weighs much more than her, yet he had no problem jumping full speed and full force onto her and other girls in the audience.


Johnson later tweeted, “So far on this tour I've seen a girl with a black eye, a girl with a concussion and a girl with a dislocated knee…Great way to make young women feel safe at a show when the rest of the f—— world is hostile towards them already.”

This remark sparked a ton of controversy in the punk community. A lot of fans were upset, saying that stage diving and “moshing” were an important part of punk culture and that it was a great way to release energy and have fun. But women in the punk community, including me, were thanking Johnson for pointing out something that frustrates us at every single show we go to.

Finding a Solution

No, you should not be throwing your 190 pound body onto my 94 pound body. No, you should not be shoving, elbowing and “moshing” with unwilling women around you. No, making women feel unsafe in a community that is supposed to be a safe place for us is not an important part of the punk scene. But that is the reality of punk shows and has been for many years. So what did these frustrated women do?

We created our own punk subgenre and we called it Riot Grrrls.

An Underground Genre

Riot grrrl is an underground feminist hardcore punk genre that started in the early 1990s. Riot grrrl bands address issues such as rape, domestic abuse, sexuality, racism, the patriarchy and female empowerment – issues that do not get attention anywhere else in music.

The riot grrrl genre is a release of frustration and anger at not only the punk genre, but society and sexism in general. The lyrics are unapologetically blunt, like the song “White Boy” by Bikini Kill and “I’m not Waiting” by Sleater-Kinney.

Free, Liberated, Angry

At Bikini Kill shows, lead singer and the face of the riot grrrl movement Kathleen Hanna writes “slut” on her exposed midriff and tells all the boys to go to the back of the crowd and encourages the women to come to the front. This is a genre that allows to be free, liberated and angry. We can enjoy music without fearing for our safety. We can bob our heads to lyrics that resonate deep within us and feel the sense of community we desire from the punk scene.

While I am incredibly grateful for riot grrrl bands and everything they have done for the punk community, I wish feminism did not have to be a subgenre of punk music. I wish it was everywhere in the music industry in explicit ways and at every show. When I am 50 will my daughter be able to go to a punk show alone?

Environment Awareness

These are things men never have to worry or think about, and you might enjoy moshing or stage diving, but you need to think about the kind of environment you are creating for your fellow punk fans. You have the privilege to have fun at shows and not worry about your safety, so I encourage you to use that privilege to protect those who cannot protect themselves.  

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