Subcultural Longings

Dear teenage girls of the 1970s, what did you think of subcultures? Were you part of one? Did it free you from oppressive gender norms, or was it just another set of rules to follow? If culture is, as writer McKenzie Wark, says, “A series of totally made up consensus, hallucinations, and myths through which we all live” then subculture is its wayward twin and subcultural style is a form of resistance.

I am thinking of a hat I bought in a Footscray op shop in 1986. The hat was black velvet, cloche-ish. I thought it made me look cool. My mum said it made me look like a pensioner. I wore the hat for months, teaming it with a black T-shirt and a pair of orange paisley men’s pyjama pants. I no longer have the hat or the pants. The pants I retired but the hat, as far as I know, was “disappeared” by my mum. I don’t know what style I was going for with this look. I only knew what it was against.

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