Freedom of expression on stage isn’t just limited to musicians, it applies to anyone, and so the tag of punk must also stretch beyond the confines of music performers. Rebecca Crow is a highly successful alternative model, a fire performer, burlesque artist, podcaster and You Tube vlogger. She is also a woman who isn’t afraid to speak out in support of women and of their right to be free to express themselves. Gary Trueman chatted to Rebecca about a woman’s right to use her sexuality, men supporting feminism and her beloved Suicide Girls.
People talk about punk and naturally assume it’s got to be mohawks and stuff like that but at the end of the day it’s an ethic which has developed from the 70s and is fundamentally for freedom of expression. It’s the right to look how you want and the right to express yourself. Do you think sometimes people look at the punk movement from outside or from within and don’t get that ethic?
“Yes I do think so, it is more of an ethic than a look. It’s similar to the term suicide girl which is from a Chuck Palahniuk novel meaning social suicide, so it’s about personality, beliefs or looks that doesn’t fit in with the main stream. It’s an attitude rather than a look.”
Specifically talking about women on stage and the right to wear what they like. There seems to be this thing where some people criticise a woman for using her sexuality to gain fans. Thoughts on that?
“How dare a woman use what she has been given! I think it’s people trying to own women’s bodies and tell them what they can and can’t do with them. A woman’s sexuality is her own. Men obviously have their own sexuality and they can use it any way they want and it’s never looked down upon. But a woman’s sexuality is routinely oppressed. And people doing that can go fuck themselves because it’s mine and I’m going to do with it what I want.”
Do you think it’s a shame that places like social media and Facebook in particular will allow male nipples but not female ones?
“It’s a disgrace. If you see a man’s nipple and a woman’s nipple cut out they’re identical. It’s bizarre for me. I would understand perhaps it if they deemed it to be about breasts but when nipple pasties are routinely allowed but nipples are shunned it’s a joke. They’re a laughing stock and I don’t understand how they don’t see it when everyone else does.”
The other thing that has come up recently at The Punk Lounge is how transgender people are treated on social media with censorship. Some sites seem to have got themselves into a bit of a state over it because they’ve taken down pictures of people who identify as male but also visa versa those that identify as female.
“I think it’s the same as the bathroom scenario. People are criticised for being the way they were born, the way they appear. There’s no blanket rule. As we know gender is a spectrum and trying to put anybody into a box is a joke. By doing that you’re creating a horrible society which is punishing people for being who they are. It’s very upsetting to transgender people and it’s upsetting for people who aren’t seeing these other human beings who are flesh and blood like anyone being told that they are wrong.”
There are a lot of haters out there, a lot of trolls too. You’ve had experience with these kind of people. How do you deal with them?
“There are two ways that I can deal with trolls. It depends what kind of mood I’m in. Sometimes if someone’s trolling is based more in misinformation then I will try to educate them using videos and news articles. Anything I can do to try to open their mind and broaden their experience really. Some people just have that small town mentality and they just don’t know about things. Occasionally I’ve brought somebody around. Sometimes though people are just out there to start a fight which is fine by me because the more times you comment on my shit the more reach it gets. So knock yourself out. I love winding people up and then thank you for those 50 comments you’ve just helped my reach loads.”
Let’s talk about Suicide Girls. It’s a girls only thing, run by girls for girls? So to basically be in a safe place?
“Yep. So Dis-Grace Suicide Girls is the world’s only endorsed Suicide Girls club night. We are a femme led club night. So anybody who identifies as female we will employ. So we have an all female team front to back, performers, DJs, dancers and all of our flyering staff and door staff and all of our management staff, all female identifying. We do try to encourage a safe place for women. A lot of people would assume that a night with burlesque performers would have a male heavy audience but the great thing is we’re actually very evenly split. We have a hard line zero tolerance policy on any kind of harassment for anyone. It’s a safe place for all and I do see all kinds of people coming in wearing amazing things that they probably wouldn’t feel comfortable wearing at a normal club night.”
The alternative subculture as a whole made up of punk, goth, metal, EBM and more and the sub genres such as cyber goth and steam punk, do you see the lines blurring more and more these days?
“I think they are and I really enjoy that. I think the thing that has put a dampener on the alternative scene recently is that some people are falling into these little cliques where something isn’t heavy enough or something isn’t light enough and it’s policing ourselves in a way that is shooting ourselves in the foot. Everything is a spectrum in life though so it’s nice to see it all becoming as one.”
There seems to be more than one way that people are looking at feminism. You see people, women, that are so angry that they don’t seem to want to accept men who support them even if those men consider themselves to be feminists. Do you think there sometimes needs to be a bit more understanding when people are supportive?
“I can understand where people’s anger comes from but I believe that anger is quite sincerely misplaced. Women have been oppressed for ever and some women have experienced that more heavily than others and they’re going to be angry. Realistically feminism is only going to be feminism if you’re going to be supporting other women and supporting all genders. Feminism doesn’t mean women to be on top it means gender equality. And to be gender equal we can’t just have that with males and females we need all the genders in between. Being angry at a specific gender is not going to help it’s just going to create more resentment. Feminism is empowering other women and accepting what those women choose to be empowered by. You can’t tell a woman what to do to be empowered in the same way that you can’t tell a man off for trying to be an ally, it’s not going to work.”
So feminism in part is literally supporting freedom of expression.
“It is exactly that, freedom of expression, freedom to be yourself so long as you’re not being a cunt.”
With what is taking place in society with women becoming more equal although there’s a long way to go for true equality what’s the best possible outcome and do you think we will see it in a generation?
“The best possible outcome is not just in the UK women becoming equal but elsewhere. We do have fairly equal rights but it’s more the mistreatment of women, the rape culture that is perpetuated here. The best possible outcome is for everyone, not just women, is for women world wide to become equal. So we want forced marriage to become illegal, female genital mutilation to become illegal, women’s sexuality should never be owned by anyone. Rape should be eradicated. At the moment 93% of reported rapes are on women. We’re not going to see that in a generation unfortunately. We’ve got to keep working towards it though. We’ve got to do it.”
Rebecca can be found performing on stage at Dis-Grace with Suicide Girls which runs every second Friday in the month at Omeara in London. Also look out for her and her fire troupe Pyrohex.