By Laina Dawes
We live in a world where sensationalism sells. The more outrageous you are online (whether your argument is valid or not), the more your writings are destined to get “hits”: the site in which your drivel is published on is destined to make its advertisers happy.
In the past few years, outrageous blog posts and salacious news items have garnered mainstream media’s attention. Hell, the Kardashians have made millions from Kim’s sex video. Charlie Sheen had a nervous breakdown in front of millions and we all just sat back, laughed, and then paid money to see him melt down, in person, in comedy clubs across North America.
However, there are many of us that watched these public embarrassments and wondered what the hell is going on in the world. We wondered if, despite what we think of ourselves as somewhat rational human beings, if there are people out there outside of our homes that actually love this crap – and guess what folks? There are.
I got home from my 9-5 job and fired up my laptop to check out my Tweetdeck. One of my “Twitter followers” had re-posted a tweet about a recent column by Sergeant D over at Metalsucks entitled “Public service announcement: Girls do not like metal.” In the article, he (satirically, I’m hoping) writes this:
“Although times have changed, women still basically work the same way. All of them look for ways to stand out from the other females and attract the best mate possible. Men are not really attracted to personality, so this usually means that girls must change their appearance to get their attention, much like the female ostrich grows colorful plumage during mating season. For some women this is as simple as wearing lots of makeup, others go as far as bleaching their asshole and installing fake tits (and for the record, I totally support asshole bleaching).”
Now again, I’m thinking that while the post is generally offensive, that Sergeant D – whom I first became aware of years ago over his “Wigger” articles – was joking. But it’s not the ‘joke’ that annoyed me – it was the subject matter. To be fair, the writer does admit that he is generalizing – not all women in metal are whores – but it doesn’t matter. It’s too late.
If all the commenters on this post had risen up and refuted his generalizations, perhaps I wouldn’t be writing this. If a commenter on my Facebook page hadn’t chastised me for posting the link to this blog post, writing “just ignore him and he’ll go away” and if the man who got upset with me for re-tweeting his tweet leading to the article because he was afraid of what people might think, I wouldn’t be compelled to comment on this post. Deep down we all know that Sergeant D was wrong – and as much as I like the guys from Metalsucks– they were wrong, too.
Disparaging women is a real problem in our society. Ignoring someone who has been given a platform to write that the images and videos of young women, scantily clad with self-tailored metal gear is an irrefutable sign that women in metal do not, and will never be legitimized as true fans, is wrong. As a metal journalist, author and concert photographer, and more importantly a female metal fan for almost 30 years, if we want to generalize even more, that post essentially told me that regardless of the fact that writing about metal and shooting concerts serves as a portion of how I make my living, my work is not relevant because I do not have a penis.
But you know what? This post will not change a thing about how I choose to live my life, and it probably will not make a dent in the lives of the female music journalists and fans I personally know. But I do not like the theme of the post, especially in this era where there are far too many people who dismiss what Sergeant D and people like him write as a ‘joke’ because as men, or as people they simply do not care about anyone outside of their small world. This is a signifier that we still have a problem with sexism in not only the metal scene, but in society as a whole because we refuse to be bothered if it doesn’t directly affect our lives. It’s okay that women in the audience at a concert will be regulated to the deceitful, lying ‘girlfriend’ who is only there to a) support her boyfriend’s musical tastes because we all know she couldn’t really enjoy the music; or even worse, b) a whore who wants to sleep with not only the headliner, but the two opening bands, too.
I have a book coming out next year on Black women in the metal, hardcore and punk scenes. For the past four years, I interviewed about 30-40 young female metal, hardcore and punk fans that told me that sexism (and racism) serves as a real deterrent in actively participating in the scene. That despite their fandom and their musical knowledge, that they are not perceived as ‘real’ metal fans and while it is not deterring them, they have to endure racist and sexist comments and actions in a space where they, as legitimate ‘fans’ should not have to. Hell, a couple of weeks ago when I was covering a show for another publication this guy got in my face and called me a “fucking nigger,” and some of the women I interviewed had also been physically attacked. I’m not talking about a (still offensive) breast-grabbing situation or a pat on the bum – I’m talking about being punched in the face. Even the stereotypes about the ‘weaker, more fragile’ sex couldn’t get them out of that one.
Outside of the offensive generalizations, what concerns me about this post is the affect that it will have on young women – and especially the young men whom they partner with. There is a underlying theme in the post that women are devious, and would do anything to take their money or their time, would be willing to essentially ‘lie’ to deceive them. There is also an aggro-male posturing that belies the notion that the metal community is an “all-inclusive” community of people who question the mainstream, that all that matters is a commonality in feeling passionate about the music and the scene.
Now to be fair, those images that Sergeant D wrote about didn’t materialize from thin air. There are women like that in the scene that do use their sexuality to get attention, but it is extremely unfair and quite frankly illogical to paint the picture that was painted in that post – it is akin to me saying that all white people in the scene are racist. What wasn’t discussed was the many women musicians who have worked very hard to be seen as relevant artists who do not want to be regarded by their breasts or ass, but by their talent. This post disparaged not only the female fans and industry workers like myself, but also them.
As much as my “Facebook friend” would like me to, we cannot simply dismiss this post and other posts / articles that disparage women. If you read the newspaper or watch the news, there are still too many reports of sexual and physical abuse against women, and I will safely assume that the perceived inequality of women has a lot to do with that. People who abuse women are getting those messages from somewhere. I am not saying anything personally about Metalsucks, or the writer, as I do not know them personally, but this shit serves as a glaring reminder that in terms of creating the ‘inclusive community’ that metal is supposed to create, we still have a long way to go.