Oh, BitchBlog.

Sometimes I just….GYAAAAAGH.

I admit my standards for feminist/academic writing on heavy metal are pretty exacting. So far the only person I have read who has written about it to my satisfaction is my nerd-crush Robert Walser. (Read Running With The Devil! IT RULES! It’s subtitled “Power, Gender and Madness in Heavy Metal Music,” for crying out loud!) But even lowering my standards a bit, I find this entry from BitchBlog to be…well…

Metal is a misunderstood genre; traditionally the domain of alienated pubescent males, angry dude-bros and broody Lord of the Rings fans, while women were relegated to groupie status only…Metal has come a long way since “The Hairy 80s”, and there quite a few metal bands around now that feature women in way more face-melting roles.

Hey, you know what else has a history of relegating women to groupie/fan/admirer status while leaving the heavy lifting to the fellows? Oh, that’s right, rock music as a whole. Noting that metal can be pretty sexist is like tasting five glasses of salt water and only noticing that one of them is salty.

And talking about women in metal as a recent phenomenon ignores the history of women in metal bands. Yes, there probably are more women in metal now then there were 20 years ago, but…hi, Doro Pesch? Jo Bench? Sabina Classen? Girlschool? Angela Gossow joined Arch Enemy over ten years ago, and she’d been in at least a couple bands before that. Those are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head. This indicates that I am a huge dork, obviously, but also that ladies playing/singing metal isn’t just something that suddenly started happening in the last few years.

And please, for the love of god, no more of the “metal is for angry nerd dudes, herp derp.” I am a grouchy nerd but I am not a dude. Women liking metal isn’t unusual. Every single metal band I’ve seen had a significant proportion of women in the audience. STOP MAKING A BIG PRODUCTION OUT OF THIS. IT IS ANNOYING.

Well, at least they featured the excellent Dark Castle. I saw them play here a while ago (with Ocean, I think), and they were amazing. I would have also mentioned Ludicra, personally, but whatevs. Also, 3 Inches of Blood? Please. If you want to talk about metal being ridiculous, post a Manowar or Dio video and leave that self-aware wink-wink-nudge-nudge poser tripe out of it.

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~ by Smellen on February 11, 2010.

6 Responses to “Oh, BitchBlog.”

  1. “Women liking metal isn’t unusual. Every single metal band I’ve seen had a significant proportion of women in the audience. STOP MAKING A BIG PRODUCTION OUT OF THIS. IT IS ANNOYING.”

    Yes it is. This situation – where the massive numbers of women involved in a scene, community or practice are overlooked because that particular scene etc has already been characterized as male-dominated – is a funny bait-and-switch. You’d think it’d be the most transparent act of male dominance around, but somehow the characterizations remain intact despite blatant evidence to the contrary. There’s the real male dominance at work.

  2. Not to mention that to describe metal’s “progression” from the hairy 80s to the neo-feel-good-trippy-indie thing invoked in the article just makes me cringe. You wanna talk about dangerous? Let’s bring up the issue of “progress.”

    • I have a lot to say, most of it in an angry yelling voice, about people who only started listening to metal when it started getting played by ex-punks/indie rockers. Nothing against those bands because I know they can’t really help how people talk about them (well, some of them, like The Sword, I hate for being derivative and boring, but I digress), but I think there’s a definite classist/bullshit element there – like it’s metal, but it’s “safe” because it’s being played by people from a similar background.

  3. That’s a very good point – I didn’t even think of it in terms of class but that’s very much the feeling: middle-class pseudo-educated kids trying to “raise” (progress!) metal, etc up from its low-brow working-class or outsider roots. Crossbred, predictably, with their parents’ psychedelic collection. There’s something strong to be said here about the Baby-Boomer influence (and affluence) on the whole situation.

    The “safety” was always a red flag as well, one of the first gauges of something being gentrified. When violent and energetic music suddenly becomes the soundtrack to people nodding with beers in their hands, I’m done. I realize this doesn’t properly discuss pit politics, with all of their attendant problems, but the process of things becoming safe is a fatal one. This sort of safety is not one of common sense, but of fear of risk.

    • I wouldn’t type psychedelic metal as strictly a hipster phenomenon – bands like Saint Vitus and Electric Wizard have been doing it for years. Which is why it was frustrating to see that writer treat Purple Rhinestone Eagle’s musical style as this huge innovation. I mean, I listened to a few of their songs and they were pretty solid – if they came to town I would probably go see them. But they’re hardly the first band to play like that.

      And yes to frustration with the nodding-with-a-beer thing that you speak of. I see it with punk, too. Once upon a time, I was reading the blog of some folksinger fellow with some sort of radical political affiliations which led him to associate with punk rockers, and he was complaining about a Caustic Christ show he went to because everyone was shoving each other and being “violent.” Um, yeah, duh. I got into punk in part because it’s angry. That’s part of why I hate shit like folk-punk – since when did being a touchy-feely pseudo-hippie become the new punk rock aesthetic? NO ONE CONSULTED ME ABOUT THIS.

  4. Black Sabbath is psychedelic in its way, which is where I see Electric Wizard et al coming from. Maybe it is the credit of innovation and marketed friendliness that gets me, more than the phenomenon itself (because Electric Wizard are awesome, for one).

    And yea, PUNK IS ANGRY. That anger is force and force is drummed up and generated at shows. It doesn’t have to be violence like the whole hardcore scene turned it, but you can be angry and forceful and energetic without targeted violence. That’s what the best pits are, in my experience. It’s the difference between “hurt” and “harm.”

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