The Origins of the Riot Grrrl Ethos

Interview with Fulden a.k.a. She-Demon: Secondhand Underpants, EMASKÜLATÖR and co-founder of Chaos, I Am Your Mistress

Fulden She-Demon talks boys-clubs, feminism, how much she loves Marina is Red, Loud Women and Hell Hath No Fury Records... we llllluuuuuurrrrrrvvvveeee this lady!!!💖💖💖

"I am motivated by anger and the desire to live in a just world, so I work with others to bring that kind of world into existence"

Who are you and what do you do?

Hey, I’m Fulden (aka She-Demon), the singer/guitarist for the Turkish queer feminist punk bands Secondhand Underpants and EMASKÜLATÖR and co-founder of Chaos, I Am Your Mistress, an online punk/metal community for womxn and non-binary individuals. In the past few years, we’ve built an online community, released a zine, annually organized Ladyfest Istanbul along with various other shows, started an independent DIY label (CIAYM Records) and released albums, including the HERESY split, featuring Secondhand Underpants, REVULVA, GUTTFULL, Cryptic Street, and Twin Pigs. This year we were hoping to organize Ladyfests in Ankara and Izmir as well, if it weren’t for the pandemic lockdowns. We are now in the process of putting together the second issue of the CIAYM zine. My new band EMASKÜLATÖR will have its debut album released on May 21 by Mevzu Records.

Who or what inspires you?

I am motivated by anger and the desire to live in a just world, so I work with others to bring that kind of world into existence; one in which womxn and other disenfranchised groups are not continually misrepresented, erased, and pushed aside, but instead heard, respected, and centralized. I am inspired by those who work toward these goals and who create the kinds of music, art, and poetry that serve as the ammunition in our fight against oppression. I’m also very much propelled by the kind of community building that I see here in Marina is Red and Loud Women, as well as the records put out by Mevzu Records and Hell Hath No Fury Records, both of which have recently become my favorite DIY labels and I pretty much gorge on whatever they release as of late. I am also incredibly inspired by Petrol Girls,Twin Pigs, and Project Youth, all of whom we’ve had the opportunity to play with, which makes me a really lucky girl.

What challenges do you face?

The Turkish scene continues to be a boys’ club despite the self-proclaimed anti-sexist commitments of many of its participants, both individually and collectively. It seems to me that sexism is often reduced to a matter of individual choice rather than being seen as a systemic problem, and this omission allows it to operate without interruption. For example, we can expose those who commit sexual harassment , expel them from the scene and/or take direct action to kick their asses, but there remain lingering questions, which are left untouched: Why aren’t there more women playing music? Why do the ones who do play music often feel excluded? Why do grrrl bands get less attention and support? Why is it that grrrl bands are considered to be acceptable so long as they speak to the male gaze and thus can be fetishized as such? How is such fetishization off-putting for many women who need to build up the confidence to get up on stage and play music? Why is it that many women choose to continue their efforts individualistically or ally themselves with men, without becoming a part of a feminist community? These are systemic issues that cannot be adequately addressed unless we no longer reduce sexism to a matter of individual belief or choice and recognize that it is much larger than that. We are taught to be timid. We are taught to be afraid. We are pigeonholed and stereotyped as man-haters once we build up the courage to speak up and make music and take a stance. I don’t think most men in the scene have any idea about various challenges faced by women and other underrepresented groups, challenges that are material, ideological, and psychological and that cannot be easily overcome. They see the scene as an even ground upon which anyone who plays good music would get attention and support, and that is just a myth. The way in which the scene operates today has everything to do with whom you know, who your friends are, and very little to do with what you do. When people are asked their favorite local bands, they’ll just tell you the names of their besties’ bands. That worries me. It feels disingenuous, self-perpetuating, and ultimately detrimental. We need a true commitment to dismantling the male hegemony in the scene, which would involve supporting underrepresented musicians. It would also involve changing how men are always centralized and how they always centralize other men. And that requires a feminist consciousness, as well as a community of womxn, non-binary individuals, queers, and allies who will stand in solidarity. The way the scene currently stands seems to be an amalgamation of various cliques that constantly intersect and diverge. And that’s an insular organization that is sterile. We could be and do so much more.

Last, but not least, there are also real material constraints. Making and promoting music on your own is incredibly expensive in Turkey, and becoming more and more so, due to the continuing devaluation of the Turkish lira. It’s not just the musicians--the venues are struggling too. And that makes it a class issue. DIY is not cheap. And that denies many people the ability to participate as creators, artists, and musicians. We had to raise money to be able to travel to Ireland, for instance, for the This Legislation is Shite Festival (shout out to Jamie, who has been amazingly helpful through this whole process), as it’s just simply unaffordable. We were planning to take out loans just so we would be able to do a short tour over the summer. All of these had now been canceled because of the pandemic, but my point is that things are rough and that this isn’t really sustainable. First world privilege when gone unrecognized is definitely another challenge. As Turkish citizens, we need visas to travel to Europe for shows and many musicians I know have been denied a visa before a tour. Then you go to these shows half a band and with some session members who volunteer to help out, and the (Europe-based) headliner announces before a song, “Fuck your racist borders.” Yet it’s all words to you because they have no idea (and nor do they seem to care) that you had to go through all that crap just to be able to travel there, and some of your bandmates just couldn’t. I wish there was more of an understanding of these difficulties and an organized attempt to address them."

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

Two come to mind--the first one is Ladyfest Istanbul. It is such a powerful event that happens every year, powerful in terms of bringing womxn and other underrepresented groups together and showcasing and celebrating our work collectively. It made my heart sing to have young women approach me during the first ever Ladyfest Istanbul and say, “Finally!” and ""This is exactly what we needed.” I’ve learned a lot from those workshops and the art exhibit is always so provocative and mind blowing. There’s always such a great crowd to collaborate and be inspired by.

The second one is playing at Loud Women Fest with my band Secondhand Underpants. It felt incredible being there with such an amazing group of people and playing alongside so many great bands like Petrol Girls, The Menstrual Cramps, T-Bitch, and Pleasure Venom. We were truly honored to have been invited. It really made me wish we had more of a community of womxn making music in Turkey." "I hope we continue to grow stronger as a community and go on to spread rebellion and joy as far and wide as possible by constantly creating and organizing. In the words of Sissyfit, “Fuck your boys’ club.”

What are your hopes and dreams for the future?

I also very much hope we can play live music again soon--I miss going to shows and also being on stage so much. We were supposed to play at the This Legislation is Shite Festival in Ireland and at the Booze Cruise in Germany, and we were also supposed to do a little Northern European tour with my band Secondhand Underpants--all of these had to be postponed until next year. I am hoping we’ll get to play these great shows and many more in the near future. I also hope we can learn to show up for one another and not be competitive, but cooperative instead. I hope our commitments are not just abstractions but they rather shape our reality. I hope we have the strength and perseverance to bring our ambitions into fruition together." "Thanks a lot! Here are some videos and links for you to check out:

EMASKÜLATÖR (Ankara / Bitchcore)

Chaos, I Am Your Mistress (Community/Indie DIY Label):

EMASKÜLATÖR (Ankara / Bitchcore)

Acı Çek Şaban Video:


Secondhand Underpants (Istanbul / Riot Grrrl)

Autopleasures Video:

U Video: