10 Feminist Punk Bands You Gotta Support! ♀
DIY Conspiracy has been inspired by the punk feminist collective Les Insoumises to turn their latest Instagram post into an entire article.
Women and non-binary people to the front! It’s a message we all agree with wholeheartedly, but we still have a lot of work to do to make it a truly inclusive scene. Feminist punk bands and bands with female or non-binary members have been challenging the patriarchy with angry screams and rabble-rousing music for decades—from Patti Smith to Crass, Honey Bane and Poison Girls in the 1970s and ’80s, to the ‘Riot grrl’ movement of the ’90s that spawned bands like Bikini Kill, Team Dresch and Bratmobile; to uncompromising bands like G.L.O.S.S., Petrol Girls, Unsanitary Napkin, and other current favorites like Gel and Scowl who are taking the scene by storm as we speak.
But the scene isn’t just about picking up an instrument and playing to an energetic crowd; it’s also about supporting pro-queer and feminist action groups; about bands creating their own merchandise with a feminist message; and about producing zines, both print and online, on issues ranging from gender-based violence and economic inequality to bodily autonomy and dealing with catcalling on the street.
Among the tireless activists who combine punk feminism and activism is the collective Les Insoumises. They are an intersectional punk feminist collective based in Tiohtià:ke, also known as Montreal. Their main goal is to promote women, trans people, people of color and non-binary artists in the DIY scene, and they do this time and time again, whether by organizing gigs, interviewing bands on their blog, or creating inspiring music playlists on all these modern streaming platforms.
Les Insoumises are also incredibly active on social media and this list article was inspired by one of their recent Instagram posts, which we decided to turn into an article for our website and publish on a symbolic date like International Women’s Day (March 8).
1 King Kong Meuf
King Kong Meuf are a brand new indie riot grrrl band from Montreuil, France, who are just starting to make waves with their fresh aesthetic and a single song sung in their native tongue, making their sound all the more interesting and radical. As passionate Francophones, we have to say that France is the cradle of revolution and progress, and a raw feminist punk band coming from there is not surprising given the country’s musical and political history. With a raw and gritty sound similar to the more punkish edge of riot grrrl, King Kong Meuf would make Virginie Despentes, the French feminist who inspired their lyrics, proud that her work has yielded considerable musical results after all. Bands like them prove that the style is far from dead, and we wait for more of the same, hoping that they will be as active as some of their more prominent counterparts.
2 The War Lovers
It goes without saying that we’re more than excited about the recent riot grrrl revival, but we’re also always up for some good old snotty, fist-pumping punk rock with sneering vocals that stick two fingers in the air at police bastards and any other bloody authority you can think of. Syracuse, New York two-piece The War Lovers are rough, rugged and ready to play those dirty streetpunk tunes for the punks & skins with unstoppable pogo joy and sarcastic lyrics (as you can guess from their name) on various subjects. People will compare them to Total Chaos, Blanks 77, Lower Class Brats, The Virus, etc., and they will be absolutely right. Let’s have some real streetpunk fun!
3 Killing Pixies
You probably know a lot about the Pixies, but have you ever heard of Killing Pixies? Based in Detroit, Michigan, the band delivers high energy music characterized by a steady stream of contemporary melodic punk rock and angsty riot grrrl style vocals, backed by some harder screamed choruses. The band’s latest single “Killing Fetus” takes on the war on women’s rights in the US with fiercely uncompromising and direct lyrics that somehow fit in with their more melodic and pop sound without losing the angry political edge. Fans of melodic punk should take note, as Killing Pixies are one of those promising new bands with the ability to create dynamic, catchy tunes that keep the listener engaged from start to finish.
4 Penadas por La Ley
The girls of Penadas por La Ley pioneered feminist punk in Argentina in the early 1990s. In 2001 they moved to Bilbao in the Basque Country, where they continue to create fiercely political yet catchy melodic punk with a message that is more relevant than ever. Today, the original duo of Nayla and Faby have been joined by two other members, and while most of the other bands mentioned in this article are newer up-and-comers, Penadas por La Ley have arguably been one of the most important feminist voices on the Spanish-speaking punk scene since their original formation in 1993. To find out more about the band, check out their recent interview with Karton Zine.
5 Daisy Chain
Daisy Chain are a promising new indie punk feminist band with roots in trippy psychedelic rock and classic ’90s indie and riot grrrl. Their short album is a breath of fresh air in today’s overcrowded indie scene, with really clever lyrics about body positivity and the sexualization of women in a patriarchal culture that does it itself, but then ironically blames girls for doing it themselves. Hailing from a town like Springfield, Missouri, the four-piece sound completely different from their peers, standing out as an empowered all-girl riot grrrl band that defends their radical values with pride and dignity. Sounding like a mix of Bikini Kill, Pixies and L7, with some surprisingly doomy riffs, their short album will blow away anyone thirsty for this kind of feminist indie, fresh and original, new and unapologetic—their potential within the scene and as a whole is certain.
Ternura is a newer hardcore punk band from Bilbao, formed in 2022, with a strong focus on veganism and DIY ethics. Their Spanish lyrics are based on the ideas of helping each other, building strength through friendship and changing the things we don’t like by fighting against them. All the things we love about hardcore, delivered with fast, energetic sound and aggressive vocals that convey a sense of urgency and passion. The band’s musical influences range from classic Youth Crew to more modern metallic hardcore bands. Released on Valentine’s Day 2023, Ternura’s debut tape release Trinchera is an impressive offering from a band that clearly knows how to pack a sonic punch and leave the listener wanting more. Their artwork is also beautiful, and fans of bands like Scowl should definitely check them out. We have already fallen in love with Ternura and will certainly be keeping an eye on them in the future.
These girls from New Jersey bring a breath of fresh air to the riot grrl sound with their short new album Gremlin Cave. With more of a garage punk sound and a lo-fi production, you’d think this is some lost ’90s gem… Their minimalist approach definitely brings out some weaker moments but in the same time does them a favor in sounding more genuine, with a free spirit not bound by any patriotic idiocy. The five short tunes are catchy, the lyrics cleverly critique some of today’s US policies which affect the women community badly—mainly themes about abortion rights which is a very important issue now, sadly. This political trio from New Jersey brings new sounds to the scene, sounding very compact and full for a trio—we’re sure their sound will evolve in other also interesting directions later in their career. New Jersey is no doubt a good place for feminist punk it seems! Kathleen Hanna will definitely be proud to hear this piece of minimalist post-punk garage riot grrrl.
8 The Fauxs
With a catchy indie garage style, Portland, OR’s The Fauxs are just starting to infiltrate the scene with their almost twee-influenced indie punk. Very compact sound, vocals that would make Kim Gordon proud and great power pop riffs that remind us of ’90s indie pop bands like Eric’s Trip. Also very memorable and original bass lines, an absolutely huge contribution to their overall catchy sound. The Fauxs are definitely a great hope for the feminist punk, indie and riot grrrl movements, and listening to their relentlessly catchy demo album leaves us thirsty for more of the same.
We’ve been keeping a close eye on the contemporary French punk scene for some time now. If you’ve been following DIY Conspiracy, you’ll know that French feminist and female-fronted (we know it’s not a genre!) bands like Catisfaction, Radical Kitten, Going Away Party and Neuf Volts have left a lasting impression on us, but we’re still discovering amazing new bands like Paris-based Ménades, who burst onto the scene in 2020 with an excellent self-titled debut. The band’s ability to seamlessly blend punk rock with elements of a whole host of other rock genres is truly impressive and sets them apart from many other acts in the scene. Their brand new album Cramée has just been released and is available on most streaming platforms. If you like riot grrrl crammed with melodic punk rock with French lyrics and thrilling rock’n’roll sensibilities, you’ll love this!
10 Sailor Poon
Named after a play on words from a cult ’90s anime, Austin, TX’s Sailor Poon delivers a diverse set of genres and can vaguely be called, as themselves put it—doomy sludge garage post-punk. The five piece does a fierce style of riot grrrl not to dissimilar to experimental bands of the ’90s like Yo La Tengo and Sonic Youth’s later albums. With lyrics ranging from intersectional feminism to humorous bits about society as a whole, the band’s jokey attitude definitely brings a breath of fresh air to the scene—experimenting with different genres and fearlessly trying new things. With heavy guitars, a brash, unapologetic attitude, angry Swans-esque vocals and drums that leave you feeling almost exhausted from all the positive energy this piece brings, their debut album is something to check out if you want some fresh feminist punk that is not done by the book.
Check out the original Instagram post that inspired this article, and support these bands in any way you can. It’s time to smash the patriarchy!