Macquarie University
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Women's music in Australia: space, place, bodies, performance

posted on 2022-03-28, 15:57 authored by Kathy Sport
During the 1970s-1980s, Australian women’s music flourished at women’s dances, feminist rallies, non-feminist pubs and clubs. Then it disappeared with hardly a trace. In the present day, the recordings of Australian women’s music are difficult to find, as it was predominantly a live music scene. But why did over a hundred all-women bands emerge so decisively, then ‘vanish’ from view? Women’s music in Australia was a spatial intervention, a paradigm shift at a particular historical moment. All-women bands, many self-taught, took to the stage for the first time and created music in a manner necessary, it was believed, for a political, socio-sexual revolution. In part, it is possible to show the influence of America and that the Australian scene actually tends to be understood in U.S.-centric ways. Yet the second wave feminist ideas and ideals that shaped Australian women’s music were often fractured, sometimes competing. A closer examination, suggests there were conditions particular to Australia that enabled feminist lesbians and lesbian feminists to forge a distinctly local music scene; people drawn together around affinities, tastes, lifestyles and activities that were not intentionally singular or universal in their objectives. Although complex, music is an exciting vehicle for constructing subject histories. To account for the subjugated knowledges of Australian women’s music, this inquiry deploys Foucault-influenced genealogy and maps non-normativity and relations of power operating on multiple fronts. The scene in Australia was relatively small; its spirited fight for survival was pragmatic, and at times, competitive. Mapping and formulating the histories of the Australian women’s music scene makes a different type of contribution, a musicalised historicisation of feminism, gender and sexuality. It reverberates presence and offers unique insights into the embodied performances of public/private sexualities situated by time, space and place. The overlooked are re‐performed. The past and present are imbued with potential for further understandings.


Table of Contents

Introduction -- 1. Rethinking women's music -- 2. Spatial interventions : second wave feminism and women's music in Australia -- 3. Performing social worlds : everyday life, sexualities, music -- 4. Making musical selves : production -- 5. Queering histories : writing a film on Australian women's music -- Personal end note.


Theoretical thesis. Bibliography: pages 221-243

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, Department of Media, Music, Communication and Cultural Studies

Department, Centre or School

Department of Media, Music, Communication and Cultural Studies

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Mare̋e Delofski

Additional Supervisor 1

Nikki Sullivan


Copyright Kathy Sport 2015. Copyright disclaimer:






1 online resource (vii, 294 pages) illustrations (some colour), portraits

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