I didn’t think I was a punk.
Maybe it’s because I grew up in a time when punk meant liberty spikes, safety pins in your ears (I would do that later, let’s not talk about it), dyed hair – all the things I was too young for, or too timid. If asked, I would have said my little sister was the punk one, the one who did her eyeliner by closing her eyes and rubbing mascara across her lids with her finger, who had the Bisexual Haircut ™ long before I did, who played in a band where the lyrics would have been – had we had YouTube – subtitled [incoherent screaming].
I’ve had to revise myself lately though. A friend has been posting “deserted island” thinkpieces. As in “what movie would you take to a” and “what food would you miss most on a” and “which book would you bring to a” and she called me all the way out.
Look, she said. Your whole list is hopepunk.
And I was reminded, in a rush, that punk was up for grabs. You know. Like Coke flavors in the 80’s. We have Cherry coke, Coke Classic, Diet Coke, etc. (Obviously the only correct choice was Coke Zero, until they replaced it with Coke Zero Sugar, which tastes like butt.) And punk, steampunk, dieselpunk, splatterpunk, and… hopepunk?
It’s the antidote for dystopia, obviously. It’s the reminder that no matter how fucked things are, they can get better. Because I’m wrung out with dystopia. My day job is describing how fucked we are. And how much more fucked we’re about to be. But my day job is also about describing the ways we can unfuck ourselves. My day job is about believing people want to. And… that’s radical.
When I want to escape I don’t want utopias. I don’t believe in them. I want hope. That, too, seems radical these days. More radical than a perfect world: a world that wasn’t perfect and made it anyway. Resident Evil. Howl’s Moving Castle. Susan Matthews’ Jurisdiction series. DS9. Not places where things are ok. Places where things are very much not ok, but where ordinary people can make an extraordinary difference.
Because it’s punk as fuck to believe that we can help each other.
It’s punk as fuck to give money to a homeless person and not ask if they’re gonna spend it on drugs. One, it’s none of your business how they get through the night, and two, see one.
It’s punk as fuck to believe that we can make a difference.
It’s punk as fuck to walk out of your workplace because they treat people like shit.
It’s punk as fuck to not cross picket lines.
It’s punk as fuck to say “she said that first.”
It’s punk as fuck to decolonize yourself.
It’s punk as fuck to believe that clean water, clean air, and healthcare are human rights.
It’s punk as fuck to punch a Nazi. (ok, that was always punk)
It’s punk as fuck to use the right pronouns.
It’s punk as fuck to share your lunch.
It’s punk as fuck to not call the cops.
It’s punk as fuck to lift each other up.
It’s punk as fuck to hope.
PS: If you’re about to say “oh I liked your post but you said fuck a lot so I guess I can’t agree” then you were looking for a reason to disagree all along.