“Don’t Worry, it’s Just a Girl!”

Negotiating and Challenging Gendered Assumptions in Sydney’s Breakdancing Scene


  • Rachael Gunn Macquarie University




breakdancing, hip hop, dance, gender, performance


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.

Author Biography

  • Rachael Gunn, Macquarie University

    Rachael Gunn is completing a PhD in the department of Media, Music, Communication and Cultural Studies at Macquarie University. She critically examines her own participation in Sydney’s breakdancing scene through poststructural cultural theory, which is used to both complicate normative gendered assumptions and also locate possible sites of transgression.


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Gender, Popular Music and Australian Identity

How to Cite

Gunn, R. (2016). “Don’t Worry, it’s Just a Girl!”: Negotiating and Challenging Gendered Assumptions in Sydney’s Breakdancing Scene. Journal of World Popular Music, 3(1), 54-74. https://doi.org/10.1558/jwpm.v3i1.31223