The high school girls at Austurbær School in Reykjavík made their musical debut at the Iceland University of Art earlier this week as part of art student Brynhildur Karlsdóttir’s final project: an all-girl, teenage punk band, Kjarninn reports.
The project, which is aimed at empowering young women and helping them create space for themselves within their environment, was inspired by what Brynhildur’s mother described in a Facebook post as a “sorry state of affairs” in her younger daughter Álfheiður’s ninth-grade class. The class has been consistently pulled off track by a rowdy and loud group of boys, and the teacher’s attention is always focused on keeping these students in line. As such, the girls in the class—of whom there are only seven—“have gotten used to taking up very little space and receiving little attention.”
After talking with Álfheiður about the situation, Brynhildur decided to involve all of her sister’s female classmates in her project, which she explained was intended to give people the chance to hear what 14-year-old girls have to say. The punk band was also aimed at empowering these same girls and as such, Brynhildur says that the process was just as important as the final outcome. She says that all of the girls are dedicated feminists and politically minded, but they simply have not had any space for themselves in their immediate environment.
“What seems to happen when you’re a teenager is that boys find vent for their problems outside of themselves, while girls turn inwards. From my perspective, this is damaging because they don’t get to express their feelings and don’t get to stand up for what they believe.”
Brynhildur continued to discuss the issue with the girls and brainstorm ways to address it, but her goal was always to support and strengthen the girls themselves. “We started talking a lot about the issue and about feminism. We read a book about women’s uprisings and watched documentaries. Then we did some group bonding activities and went to karaoke and were just trying to bring them out of their shells,” says Brynhildur. She got the idea to take them to a band practice space, where they could try out playing instruments. “Then something kind of genius happened. When they had the electric guitar and microphone, then they all of a sudden started to say something that I hadn’t been able to drag out of them in other ways.”
The band has then become the answer to all the questions that Brynhildur and the girls had been asking themselves, namely, “How they could take up space and how they could express the things that they want to say and be able to stand together and form one whole.”