"Write what you know" is advice Lauraine Leblanc took to heart when she decided on her dissertation topic, "The Flowers in Your Dustbin: Girls in the North American Punk Subcultures of the 1990s."
Leblanc, 28, shaved off her punk hairstyle and settled on a more sedate cranberry hair color when she arrived at Emory in 1992.
After receiving a master's degree from the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences in 1994, Leblanc went on to pursue a PhD in women's studies. Her dissertation focuses on how female punks, ages 14-37, use the subculture to resist mainstream gender norms. Leblanc interviewed 40 girls in the cities of San Francisco, Montreal, New Orleans and Atlanta.
"The definition of punk is a subculture that is anti-authoritarian a very spectacular way," said Leblanc. As a teenager in Montreal, she was thrown out of high school for shaving her head. "The educational system was corrupt," said Leblanc, her voice still full of contempt as she recalled the event. "I had an A average and not one detention. I transferred to a school where they cared about academic performance rather than appearance."
Punk girls, said Leblanc, reject the images of femininity as projected to them by the media. She found that the punk girls had "very good self-concepts based on an alternative culture they had created for themselves. My message to parents of middle-school girls who are 'acting out' is not to see it as a problem, but as a way for the girls to deal with a society that has created roles that are fundamentally unhealthy for them," said Leblanc.
So what happens to ex-punks? Danielle, one of the girls Leblanc befriended during the course of her research, enrolled in the London School of Economics, green mohawk and all, to pursue a master's of sociology degree. As for Leblanc, she received an AAUW American Dissertation Fellowship and an Emory dean's teaching fellowship during her time at Emory. She now works at the DeKalb Rape Crisis Center and is implementing a curriculum on sexual harassment for DeKalb middle school students. DeKalb county."
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