Feminist WTF Moments
Cosmo Lee said you need to know what a song is about to have a deeper understanding of the music. At first, my thoughts were just a Big Lebowski quote: “That’s just like, your opinion, man.” Lyrics? Pshaw! Johan Hegg said it himself during Amon Amarth’s set this week. “It’s death metal. If you don’t know the words, no one will know.”
So, I windmill and headbang to my heart’s content without looking up any lyrics. After all, I’m mostly disappointed by esoteric wankery or bad teen poems whenever I look up words to songs. Why would I go out of my way to find something that would detract from my enjoyment of the music? I don’t need to know the “deeper meaning” of a song when I’m rocking out in my room and my neighbors are doubled over in silent laughter.
Something always throws a wrench in that arrangement.
A while back, I had a Feminist WTF Moment when I was blasting the album “Burial Ground” by Grave. The lyrics “DIE YOU FUCKING WHORE!!” interrupted my trance during the song “Sexual Mutilation”. I did a double take, stopped what I was doing, and backed up the song.
My thoughts were, “Damnit! Why were these lyrics the ones that I could understand out of the entire album?” I know, it seems kind of silly to be bothered by one that – after all, the band is called GRAVE, they’re a death metal band. It like, comes with the territory, ya know? It could be compared to Walmart selling CDs with the curses taken out. All the sex and violence is fine, just don’t curse!
My discomfort runs deeper than simple cherry picking. Prostitutes and sex workers live in state of uncertainty, not knowing if they’re going to survive this day, not knowing if this John is going to get his rocks off on spilling blood. Because such work is criminalized in the United States, prostitutes bear the brunt of others sadistic desires – both from pimps and Johns, and they can expect no justice for crimes committed against them. They exist perpetually between a rock and a hard place.
It’s this climate that allows us to scapegoat prostitutes: to laugh with glee at murdering them in Grand Theft Auto, to give oscars to songs called “Hard Out Here For a Pimp”, to call it “theft of services” when men rape them at gunpoint, to prosecute 15 year old prostitutes trafficked into the trade when they cannot legally consent to sex, to blame them for their own murders…
And yes, to scream “Die you fucking whore!” and not bat an eyelash at the implications.
When it comes out that dead bodies were people who once engaged in sex work, all bets are off. It’s no biggie, they’re JUST prostitutes, their lives are worth nothing. Someone else already sentenced them to death, and we approve of such judgements. They deserved to die for what they were doing, amirite?
As a culture we only acknowledge that some deaths are tragedies. Others are not even blips on the radar. The result is still the same. Someone died. Their voice will never be heard again, their families will be without a mother, daughter, sister… someone will miss them dearly.
So what’s on the other end of this story? We scapegoat prostitutes because we project everything we feel is wrong with ourselves onto them. It’s not a problem that some dude will seek sex and going as far as paying a stranger for it. His needs, motives, vulnerabilites… those are not what’s wrong with the picture! It’s some woman who “chose” to sell sex. (It’s not a free choice across the board.)
Thus, we call for their deaths. An outpouring of emotion as cleansing as a public stoning.
“Die you fucking whore!”
Yeah, this is all from one line of one song. I can’t find the lyrics to that song anywhere. I’d like to know the context. However, my view towards lyrics has changed considerably. Try as I might, I can’t completely erase the anti-feminist sentiments and “deeper meaning” from my consciousness on this one.
Touche, Cosmo. I’m not willing to bang my head to my heart’s content to something like this. Well played, sir.
\m/ Ms. Anthropia