I had the chance to interview Alice Bag for “City of Style” and learned that she’s not only a pioneer in the punk music scene, but a style pioneer as well, fusing punk elements with Chola-style for a look completely her own and totally ahead of its time. xxM
Thanks for posting regarding your reactions to my statement that I didn’t experience sexism in the early LA punk scene (note that I speak only of my personal experience; I wouldn’t make a blanket statement that sexism or racism didn’t exist in the scene or that no one else experienced those things.) I can understand how this would be hard to accept for people who weren’t there at the time but I take exception to the assumption that I somehow had an easier time because of my association with already well-respected male musicians. This was definitely not the case. I only expected people to accept me as an artist and a creative person on my own terms, first and foremost. I wanted to play on an equal footing with male artists and musicians, so I put myself in a position to do so and I did it. My place was never accorded to me by others - I just did what I wanted to do. I still do.
I suspect that any progressive social or art movement (like punk rock was in the 70’s) is much more egalitarian by nature, simply because of the small number of “prime movers.” Plus, the early LA punk scene prided itself on its heterogeneous makeup: it was all about celebrating otherness, and not about codified looks, behavior or attitudes. I think if you read my book, you might come away with a better picture of what the early scene was like and what our artistic communities can become when they embrace our differences.
Thanks for hearing me out,
I don’t think I have rebelled against Latin@ culture. I have rebelled against those who try to make me warm tortillas for my brothers when they can warm them for themselves, I have rebelled against a patriarchal religion. I rebel against small mindedness in all ways and in every situation but those things are not an intrinsic part of latin@ culture and I will fight tooth and nail against anyone who tries to make me feel like I’m less Chican@ for not embracing the small-mindedness.
- Alice Bag, interview on 1/23/12
When I saw Alice Bag speak and perform recently, I was shocked to hear her say that she didn’t feel as though there was any sexism in the punk scene when she was starting out. I have a tough time believing that. I haven’t gotten around to reading the book yet, but a friend of mine who has suggested that because of her associations with already well-respected male musicians, she would have been treated like royalty from the get-go. That’s one of the shitty, insidious things about sexism: as a woman, you need men to vouch for your legitimacy as an artist, a professional, a person, in order to be treated as “equal” by men and women who have internalized misogyny. I think it’s really great that Alice Bag didn’t feel like she was impeded by sexism, but it was disappointing to hear that she felt it wasn’t there at all.