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Go Where Women Don’t Go

January 5, 2010

I’ve always been a bit of an iconoclast. Or perhaps just a crabby contrarian. In my formative years (read: the late ‘80s) – before I used the F-bomb to describe myself — this meant listening to music that was the opposite of what those around me listened to. I grew up in a small rural town. So, the opposite of what the people around me listened to – contemporary Nashville country – meant I was fond of ‘70s punk and ‘80s post punk. Sure, a few youthful boy band transgressions occurred, but, generally, I was far more likely to want to be Joey Ramone than Garth Brooks. I’d even listen to disco loud in my car. I wish I still had that mix tape.

Feminism has always inspired me to go where the women don’t tend to go; to claim spaces for women that have otherwise gone unclaimed. Young women in the early ‘90s claimed punk spaces for themselves and called it riot grrrl. It wasn’t about taking away space from boys; it was about calling attention to the pervasive sexism in the scene and to call attention to women who could play, too, and also discuss topics and issues of concern to them.

Metal was always present when I was growing up. Second to country, it was well appreciated by mostly young men in the aforementioned small town. Much of this metal included classic NWOBHM bands like Mötörhead and Iron Maiden. A lot of it was the standard mid-‘80s glam. Some guys, the “scary” ones, wore Slayer and WASP shirts to school they were asked to turn inside out due to offensive imagery. I always secretly wanted to wear a shirt that would have had to be turned inside out, lest I be sent home. The truly scary guys said fuck off and got sent home with their “offensive imagery” still visible. Thing is, though: I wanted to BE these guys, not, you know, bang them.

While metal was always present and I knew a lot of bands’ music and went to occasional shows, I didn’t fully embrace my metal heritage until college when everyone I knew was listening to what was then called college rock and is now called indie. I was so bored with Lilith Fair – not for what it represented (women-friendly, pro-woman spaces for women artists are an awesome idea), but for the content. I was tired of weepy women wearing flowing dresses and talking about their rapes. I wanted rage. I wanted fury. I wanted grindcore. Rape didn’t make me twee. It made me angry.

So, I started to go to more shows and to pay attention to music that addressed the anger I felt about being a young woman in patriarchal society. Often I had to find this meaning in the form, ignoring the content, but at least I saw power and anger, instead of soft resignation or wailing agony, in the form. And I started to notice how, while few women were at these shows, those who were there were tough ass. They were survivors. Moms. Sisters. Maybe some of them had been raped. Maybe others were athletes or scholars. People who had lived and knew and told you when you didn’t know shit. Maybe they didn’t always call themselves feminists, as my college counterparts who loved Jewel did, but they were the kind of women I wanted to be, and I hope I am, today.

And that’s what it meant to me to go where women don’t go.

Morla, the ancient one

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. prettyinblack permalink
    July 6, 2010 5:40 pm

    Finally! Someone who agrees with me about Lilith Fair! I love the idea of the Fair in theory, but it did jack shit for any women who prefered hard rock or metal. An honorable idea, but doesn’t take into consideration music for all (and I do mean ALLLL) women.

    Kudos! I am so glad I found this blog. Rock on! \m/

    Sincerely,

    Fledgling Feminist Metalhead

  2. prettyinblack permalink
    July 6, 2010 5:41 pm

    Sorry, preferred. Typo.

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