“It’s my body and my choice”: Petrol Girls’ punk is empowering

Isn’t it funny how sometimes bands come along just when you need them? Petrol Girls’ Ren Aldridge’s essay for Nasty Women, I later learnt is named after this very song, resonated with me as a woman involved in the ‘alternative’ scene. Reading the chapter on a packed bus in Edinburgh city centre, as the rain lashed down on the window, I was wet, grumpy and deflated but started to feel inspired and excited by the story being told. Here was a voice that had a bigger platform than mine and here was someone with a better way of putting things than me.

Recently, following an incident with a local promoter and venue in which I expressed my disgust at the behaviour of The Dickies and was attacked online by a mob of strangers, I was sick of punk. It had started to feel like it was time to give up on a culture that I’d become a part of, albeit through sub-genres rather than old school ‘punk’ itself, and I was ready to pack it all in after one too many personal digs and moral fights that felt pointless.

Whether it’s always been there and I was fortunate enough not to notice, or more stories are being shared online, or it really is worse than ever, there’s a sickening sexism that’s hanging over music, gigs and attitude that I’m coming across on a daily basis. I’ve recently stopped listening to several bands I like due to their behaviour, I’m bored of songs about how heartbreaking women are and – as a young woman – I can rarely go to gigs without someone behaving inappropriately towards me.

Following their praised performance at 2000 Trees Festival (I will go next year, I will) I popped Petrol Girls’ ‘Touch Me Again’ on for the first time. Here it was: the song I had been waiting for. Angry, defiant, determined and sick of your shit, it’s a repetitive, insistent statement that drills home its point:

“It’s my body and my choice […] Touch me again and I will fucking kill you.” Petrol Girls, you’ve got yourself a fan and an ally.