"Don't Worry, it's Just a Girl!"

negotiating and challenging gendered assumptions in Sydney's breakdancing scene

Rachael Gunn*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)


In this article, I analyse how bodily potential is culturally regulated in Sydney's breakdancing (breaking) scene through drawing both on my breakdancing practice and interviews conducted with prominent figures in this scene. I critically examine my lived experiences as one of only a few female breakdancers ("b-girls") in Sydney through analytic autoethnography, and use the theoretical tools of Deleuze and Guattari to unpack and challenge normative gendered narratives. With breakdancing culturally inscribed as masculine ("b-boying") and its conventions interlocking with broader patriarchal restrictions that inhibit female participation and bodily expression, I argue that the Sydney breaking scene is both a site of transgression and regression for the female body. This paradox confronting the b-girl sees her participation as "othered", while also challenging normative assumptions of gender. Through situating specific practices of breaking within broader Australian culture and gender norms, I examine how the performances of b-girls and b-boys in Australia disrupt the stability of binary logic on which the organization of bodies is so heavily reliant and, in doing so, allow for the experience of breaking as a site of "pure" difference.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-74
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of World Popular Music
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • breakdancing
  • dance
  • gender
  • hip-hop
  • performance

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