In a recent AP Poll, we asked if you’ve ever experienced sexism at a show. You’ll have to wait for your copy of issue 304 (revealed today!) to see the final results, but some of the discourse opened through the question was a bit unsettling. It seems many young people turn a blind eye to or blatantly support the inherently misogynist tendencies of our society that continue to trickle into alternative culture.
We’re not here to give anyone a Women’s Studies lecture or scold people for doing something they probably aren’t even aware they do. We’ll keep it simple with a list. After speaking to many fellow ladies and supportive gentlemen who share mutual frustrations, I compiled the following guide to music-related the things we're fed up with hearing and experiencing.
1. INAPPROPRIATE TOUCHING AT SHOWS
I once told a male friend that, with regular frequency, I have been grabbed or groped at shows. He was shocked. “That actually happens? You’re joking.” I’m sure that many females reading this can attest with their own stories of having been touched or held in the waist/hip area or have felt a not-so-accidental hand slip when they were crowdsurfing or moving through the audience.
Our bodies are ours alone, and no one has permission to touch them unless we consent. Yes, bumping into others is inevitable, but intentional grabbing/holding is not welcome. It makes us feel unsafe because we are stuck in that spot and can’t escape. No one can see what the toucher-feeler is doing, and we live in a world where women are often punished for speaking out when they report physical assault. It’s never okay to make a woman feel unsafe and uncomfortable at a place that should feel like home.
2. “YOU’RE A FANGIRL.”
I took issue with the use of this term in our New Year’s Resolution post last year, stating it implies that there’s a hierarchy of fans with men perched firmly at the top. People usually use this term negatively to dismiss dedication as purely superficial. “Fangirl,” an obviously gendered term, has become just one more way to belittle the value of young women as music fans.
3. “YOU ONLY LIKE THE BAND BECAUSE THE SINGER IS CUTE.”
Saying something like this sexualizes and trivializes a woman’s interests. More than likely, a woman is interested in a band because she likes the music. And if she does think the singer is cute–so what? Shaming her for being a naturally sexual being isn’t okay either. Rule of thumb (ed. note: We were unaware of the misogynist implications of this phrase. Many apologies.) : If you ever feel like you’re making assumptions that are turning someone into a one-dimensional caricature of herself in any way, stop, talk to her. Ask her what her favorite song is and discuss the band with her instead.
4. “YOU WORE _____; THAT MEANS YOU’RE A ______.”
One awesome way that people can express themselves is through the variety of choices in fashion they have and the resources available to make each garment completely their own. So, when a woman walks into a show wearing a skirt, it means this and this alone: “I like this skirt. It makes me feel good.” That is all it means. Period. End of discussion. It doesn’t mean she’s “showing leg for the band.” It doesn’t imply anything about her sexual intentions (which are no one’s business but hers and her partner’s, anyway). It doesn’t mean anything, except that she likes and wanted to wear her skirt.
5. FEMININE FEMALES NEED TO “TOUGHEN UP”
Gender is absolutely fluid, and often in the music world those who veer too far to the feminine side of the spectrum are punished for it. They're told they need to “join the boys’ club” or “be one of the boys.” Believe it or not, we can be strong and feminine. We can wear a dress and manage a band. We can also be masculine and run a soundboard or scream along in the front row. We can be anything we want. Gender has nothing to do with it.
6. IF IT’S ‘UNATTRACTIVE,’ YOU SHOULDN’T DO IT
I do these joke Vines I call “screamo drive-bys.” I put on my most growly, throat-ripping voice and just yell about things I pass on the street. An actual comment left on one of them read: “This is so unattractive. Leave the screaming to the dudes, dog.” I was shocked. “Unattractive?” I wasn’t trying to be attractive. I was trying to make people laugh. Here, this total stranger–most likely ignorant of the full implications of his comment–had asserted a degree of ownership over me as an object of his gaze that could do only what he perceived as “attractive,” and leave the “unattractive” things to the males (i.e. not the objects of his gaze). Women do not exist to be gawked at. We are autonomous beings who will do what we please, whether it looks pretty or not.
7. “GIRLS CAN’T _____.”
…be in a band, wear that to a show, go on tour, be successful in the music industry, etc. The list of things women are told we can’t do on a daily basis and throughout our lives is infinite. We need to tell more young girls they can. We need to live as the accepting community our punk founders intended.
8. ASSUMPTIONS OF SEXUAL ATTACHMENT
Wearing a pass or being backstage at a show means, nine times out of 10 that someone is there to work or is visiting friends. For men, wearing a pass to an outsider means “He’s in a band,” or “He’s working.” Women don’t always receive the same treatment. Instead of faces of awe or admiration, women are sometimes met by nasty glares and muttering behind her back that she’s a “groupie” or out of place when she’s likely exactly where she worked to be and is required to be to do her job.
Taking the accomplishments or interests of a woman in the alternative scene and narrowing the focus to the fact that she’s a woman and how “weird” that is makes no forward motion. Rather than focusing on her as a female, people should look at her accomplishments as a human being. ”Good, for a girl” should just be from the vernacular entirely.