Although decades have passed, Riot Grrrl and D.I.Y movements still thrive in the pockets and crevices of creative communities all over the world. Infusing punk and politics, these two subcultures often produce artists who are passionate, empowered, and vocal about their progressive agendas. In an age where creativity is becoming increasingly commercialized, these underground punk-fueled spaces are vital to the continuance of accessible means of artistic expression for people of all backgrounds.
As PussyLiquor, an all-girl punk band hailing from Brighton, England, presents to us a battle-cry of uncensored, pure, feminist rage in their song, “My Body. My Choice.”, director Poppy Stokes captures the raw energy, angst, and colors that differentiate D.I.Y punk from other music scenes.
The opening shots set the scene: concrete walls decorated in graffiti, cigarette smoke, beers, and an eclectic cast of colorfully clothed punk youth congregated to declare their solidarity for PussyLiquor’s cry of “My Body. My Choice.”
Stokes’ penchant for montage defines the piece, with cuts from various PussyLiquor gigs, friend group hangouts, drag shows, and band shenanigans. Although the piece is brief, Stokes hits nearly all the topics the song addresses at an astoundingly swift and chaotic pace. Dismantling the patriarchy, gender norms, and rape culture never looked so fun.
This isn’t Poppy Stokes’ first piece with PussyLiquor, but it is the most recent one. She describes her style of work as “a compliment to people in their natural state” and is most fond of filming women dancing; the crossing over of nature and night-life being the overarching vision for all she does.
Stokes’ piece is significant in a variety of ways: it’s real, it’s honest, and so relatable. It brings together the vibrancy of D.I.Y punk while celebrating the power and prowess of women everywhere. It showcases how there are many ways to be a woman while combating the gender binary narrative. It reminds us that our lives, bodies, and voices are purely our own— it’s that simple.
Born and raised in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area, Ashley Thuthao Keng Dam is a PhD researcher in Ecogastronomy who currently resides in Turin, Italy. Ashley’s interests (both academic and not) centre around the empowerment of marginalised women in numerous forms. They are the producer of two podcasts: “Recycled Air” and “Bites of the Round Table”, as well as the editor for the food and arts zine “Gastronomical Grrrls”.