Girish Mahajan (Editor)

Rock Against Sexism

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Genre  Punk rock, etc.
Years active  1978-
Location(s)  UK, North America

Rock Against Sexism (RAS) was a political and cultural movement dedicated to challenging sexism in the rock music community, pop culture and in the world at large. It was primarily a part of the punk rock music and arts scene.

RAS started in the UK in 1978, and by the mid-1980s also had a presence in North America. It was strongly inspired and influenced by Rock Against Racism and the two movements had many of the same participants.

In the UK, it began amid controversy when a Rock Against Racism event hired some Rastafarian reggae bands that some participants felt were misogynistic. This resulted in a discussion of sexism in music and art. The bands (Aswad and Misty in Roots) either responded by saying it was the will of God, or that they didn't know what sexism was. The UK Rock Against Sexism often gained press coverage in the music press, such as the NME.

In the US, RAS Boston sponsored monthly dance parties at a local gay bar, the 1270. They put out a zine and promoted art events and gigs by non-sexist bands. RAS sponsored music workshops on writing, playing and promoting events.


Rock Against Sexism's musical and political legacy was many more women playing in bands, working as promoters, and an increased awareness of women's and queer perspectives in the punk rock community. Many trace the riot grrrl movement in the 1990s to RAS roots. It challenged heterosexism, homophobia, sexism and elitism, while challenging stereotypes of women, and the way they are represented.

Many later punk bands challenged the machismo of rock'n'roll by diversifying into cuddlecore, as well as the less rockist side of post-punk and New wave. It could be argued that RAS may have been the catalyst, as the advent of twee pop in the mid-1980s lead to rejection of the machismo of hardcore punk at the time.


Rock Against Sexism Wikipedia

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