Punk and feminism in Indonesia

Jim Donaghey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

A strong feminist strand has run through punk since its earliest incarnations, but, because punk scenes are inevitably affected by their wider social contexts, the influences of sexism and patriarchy must be continually (re)negotiated – feminist punk interventions are therefore a key aspect of contemporary ‘global punk’. This deliberate and conscious feminist interventionism is a key aspect of punk in Indonesia too, recursively taking its cues from ‘punk history itself’. Feminist punk interventions in Indonesia include feminist zines, women-centric bands, explicitly feminist gigs and festivals, communication and support networks of punk women, and anarcha-feminist ‘info-house’ initiatives. These interventions are necessary because, as elsewhere in the world, sexism is part of the lived experience for punk women in Indonesia. Patriarchal repression is acute in wider Indonesian society, and, despite the rhetoric of equality and opposition to oppression, these sexist norms are reproduced in the punk scene in the form of homosocial gender division, marginalization of women, derision of feminist initiatives, sexual objectification, and sexual assault. The influence of morally conservative fundamentalist Islam in Indonesia also shapes expressions of sexism in the punk scene.
Drawing on three periods of ethnographic research (2012, 2015, 2018), as well as key secondary sources such as the Ini Scene Kami Juga! (This Is Our Scene Too!) documentary film (2016), and ongoing dialogue with women in Indonesia's punk scenes, this article considers the influence of feminist interventions in punk. Whilst feminist objectives are limited to transforming their immediate punk scene, and though they face continued sexism within the scene and concerted repression from the state and from religious groups, these initiatives represent a significant political/cultural platform for feminism in wider Indonesian society.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)136-161
JournalCultural Studies
Volume35
Issue number1
Early online date24 Nov 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021

Keywords

  • Punk
  • Indonesia
  • feminism
  • sexism
  • intervention
  • anarchism

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