it’s a man’s man’s man’s world (or not)

As many chumps have noted to me before, and no doubt will continue to note, I am a lady with many stereotypically male interests. Such has it been ever since my childhood – my dad and I had movie nights every Friday, and I’m sure if you asked him he could wincingly attest to the volume of bad sword and sorcery movies I made him sit through (dear god, we even watched Red Sonja. Sorry, Dad). I dress like a slob, curse like a drunken pirate, listen to metal a lot, and watch horror movies with delight.

There are a couple things about being a lady in various “man’s spheres” that have troubled me. One is the level of shit-talking that I see go on between women in similar places. I guess I can understand it – you want to be part of the boy’s club, you gotta let them know you’re not one of “those girls.” I got a zine a little while ago from another lady metalhead, and she complained a lot about girls she saw at shows who dressed in an exaggeratedly feminine manner, in contrast to her t-shirt-and-jeans-wearing self. I admit I am confused by women who wear, say, high heels to go see Amon Amarth, but just because someone’s wearing something I think is horribly impractical or ugly, does that mean I should assume that they’re not as true a fan as I am? Just because a woman’s wearing something tight-fitting and flirting with some fellows, does that mean I should write her off as a skank? While I have no interest in getting along with every lady metalhead (or every dude metalhead, for that matter), I also have no interest in passing judgment on people based on dumb shit like their wardrobe (well, judgment beyond “goddamn, that outfit is fugly”).

And I want some room in there to acknowledge the social context: the sanctioned roles of dudes as producers of art and women as people who fawn over that art, the ways in which women in bands end up getting judged by things other than their creative output (thanks for that “Hottest Women in Metal” issue, Revolver! I see that it’s only women from jaw-droppingly awful metalcore bands, but whatevs!). Sexism in metal isn’t just the fault of the ladies in the spandex pants, and my eyes roll like a damn slot machine every time I hear someone say something like “well, if those women only respected themselves more, metal would be less piggish.”

Going beyond that, I am dissatisfied with the gendered terms at work here (yes, despite my use of them at the beginning of this entry). I do not want to frame my love of Iron Maiden or Evil Dead in terms of being an outsider in a dudely realm. While it may be true that, demographically speaking, appreciation of those things is male-dominated, I enjoy them just as earnestly as any fellow – why can I not own that just as much as fellows can? I wrote a piece for my zine a while ago about how awesome I think Rob Halford is, and a big part of that was the way he doesn’t try to downplay his being gay – he dresses like a leather daddy and sings hilariously awesome innuendo (“Ram It Down,” teehee), and to hell with chumps who think it’s “not metal.” This shit ain’t a man’s world, or a hetero world, or anything like that – it’s the world of anyone who loves it, and no one should feel like they have to hide or downplay part of themselves in order to fit in. I’m not going to try too hard to act like “one of the guys,” just like Halford isn’t going to pretend he’s straight. (And yes, I know that he didn’t talk about it for quite some time. But come on. Have you listened to “Eat Me Alive”, to name but one example? I remember hearing that when he officially came out, he said something along the lines of “what? You people couldn’t tell?”)

Anyway, speaking of Iron Maiden, here’s my favorite song from my favorite album:


~ by Smellen on December 11, 2009.

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