Where are the Girls? – A report from Germany

In German there is only a minor difference between the words “Jugendkultur“ (Youth Culture) and “Jungenkultur“ (Boys Culture). And in fact, it seems as if these two words can be used simultaneously when discussing cultural movements of young people in Germany. Until today boys form the majority of nearly every youth scene. Apart maybe from the frenetic cult around Boy groups – where the male sex of course forms the centre, women themselves have never found no dominated any youth culture in Germany.

There are many youth cultures which are exclusively male. Hooligans, for example, which are youngsters organised in groups fighting and vandalising around football matches or other major events. More disparate, but no less female is the skinhead scene. “Being a real man”, “Being different”, “Provocative wherever you can” – are their mottos and motivation. Characterised by their heavy boots, bomber jackets and bald heads, skinheads follow their own rules within their milieu. Being prepared to fight for your honor is as important as listening to certain types of music or going to sporting events.

However, it is not only the tendency to violence which prevents women from participating in a youth culture. For instance, the gaming scene considerably lacks female support as women tend to spend much less time in front of a computer screen.

In the rap and breakdance scene the male gender represents until today the worshipped ideal. There are many established German rap queens, but their influence and success remains small compared to their dominating male counterparts.

Punk, another protest movement comparable in some aspects to skinheads, was the first culture where women could be found on stage and in editorial departments of fan magazines. Male domination and sexism did exist in the beginning, but this scene enabled nevertheless an “unfeminine” or “male” self-presentation within the idea of nonconformism and rebellion.

Until today the “black scene” is the only German youth culture where the male and female sex is equally represented. Apparently consumer critique, rejection of outward appearance and emotionalism within the milieu of Gothic has been very appealing to female youths.

The fact that in the vast majority of German youth cultures female account only between 20 and 30 per cent reveals how great the differences between the upbringing of girls and boys still is. While it is generally accepted that teenage boys run riot, try their first drugs and make first sexual experiences, girls outbreak from their childhood home is much faster sanctioned.

I myself have experienced that in school boys in dirty cloths and died hair or in the Gothic version with black nail polish, lip stick and dark coat are rather considered as being “interesting” and “cool”, while fellow girls are critically eyed and face the unspoken question, why they have decided to not follow the general beauty standard.

How is the situation in your country? Are girls better represented in young cultural movements? Is there even an exclusive Girls Culture?

by Schirin H.