Rock Against Sexism
Rock Against Sexism badge
made by RAS Boston - 1980s
GenrePunk rock, Protest art, etc.
Location(s)UK, North America
Years active1978-

Rock Against Sexism (RAS) was a political and cultural movement dedicated to promoting women in music,[1] and 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.[2]

RAS began 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.[3][4][5]

In the UK, it began amid controversy when rock and reggae shows hired bands that some participants in the scene felt were misogynist, and amid growing complaints that women musicians were expected to "flaunt their bodies, both in performances and adverts".[4] This resulted in community discussions of sexism in music and art, which were not always taken seriously by the established music press.[6] However, prominent Rock Against Racism organizers saw RAS as a "sister-organisation" and the two groups supported each other.[4]

In the US, Rock Against Sexism, centered in Boston, was an activist group of "artists, musicians, and others who sought to fight sexism and heterosexism in rock culture by promoting women musicians and alternatives to mainstream rock music."[2][7] They sponsored local punk shows and radio shows; they published a zine, organized protests and marched together as a contingent in larger events such as Boston and New York City gay pride.[7][8][9] The group hosted a monthly dance party at a local gay bar, and hosted benefits for the HIV/AIDS activist group ACT UP.[10]


Rock Against Sexism, in both the UK and US, promoted punk rock, performance art, art installations, and other community events by women and members of the LGBT community.[1][2] In the US, the Boston chapter held music workshops for women wanting to learn to play and start bands; "RAS prefigured the riot grrrl movement, giving women more access to punk subculture."[7] Both movements challenged heterosexism, homophobia, sexism and elitism, while confronting stereotypes of women and LGBT people.[2][11]

See also

Related lists


  1. ^ a b "Blast From the Past: The Petticoats". Maximumrocknroll. 24 March 2021. Retrieved 10 March 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d "Rock Against Sexism at the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America - Musicians". Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University. 24 March 2021. Retrieved 10 March 2021.
  3. ^ "Mary Quaile Club presents Rock Against Sexism: I was there". Salford Star. 24 March 2021. Retrieved 10 March 2021.
  4. ^ a b c Renton, David (2018). Never Again - Rock Against Racism and the Anti-Nazi League 1976-1982. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 9781351383905.
  5. ^ Bangs, Lester (1988). Marcus, Greil (ed.). Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung: The Work of a Legendary Critic: Rock 'n' Roll as Literature and Literature as Rock 'n' Roll. Anchor Press. p. 282. ISBN 0-679-72045-6. Note: Original essay that mentions RAR and RAS is from April, 1979.
  6. ^ "No Fun!". 24 March 2021. Retrieved 10 March 2021.
  7. ^ a b c "Rock Against Sexism Records at the Feminist Movements collections, 1880s to the Present, at the Sallie Bingham Center for Women's History and Culture in the Rubenstein Library". Third Wave Archival Collections - Duke University Libraries. 24 March 2021. Retrieved 10 March 2021.
  8. ^ Rock Against Sexism records, circa 1981-1994 and n.d. Rock against Sexism (Group : Boston, Mass.) Archival and manuscript material. 24 March 2021. ((cite book)): |website= ignored (help)
  9. ^ DeCosta, Tess (1991). "Queer Nation: Ladies First?". Rock Against Sexism. Boston: Rock Against Sexism.
  10. ^ "Rock Against Sexism and WBZC's 'A Shot in the Arm for the Needle Exchange Defense Costs Fund'". Rock Against Sexism. Boston: Rock Against Sexism. 1991. pp. 18–19.
  11. ^ Schilt, Kristen (2003). ""A Little Too Ironic": The Appropriation and Packaging of Riot Grrrl Politics by Mainstream Female Musicians" (PDF). Popular Music and Society. 26 (1): 5. doi:10.1080/0300776032000076351. S2CID 37919089.