"punk" of course refers to the guy in prison that gets butt-effed. Here in the U.S. taking on this tag was the classic inversion of social value, basically saying "the thing you despise us for is the very thing we're proudest of." The early punk scene (let's say '74 - '76 was mainly peopled by geeks, geeks who decided to capitalize on all the things that made them relative pariahs - passion for unpopular music, disdain for mass produced style and public displays of affluence. It's not for nothing that early punks often evoked disdain and wrath from members of mainstream society since this was an open, visually obvious rejection of its values. Of course in the UK it functioned differently because of their economic system, but before you dismiss American punk as a middle class affectation -- this was the beginning of the disintegration of the middle class -- the original punk generation had a lot of folks who had finished college and gotten their degrees AND THEN found out that there was already a dearth of good jobs to be had and wound up working retail, in food service etc...gigs you'd expect that a college education would allow you to do better than - WAKEY WAKEY!