It’s an undeniable truth that the metal community, while a glorious, tight and diverse group as a whole, is infected with a deep-rooted macho dudebro element. On an almost daily basis, I’m ashamed for both a culture I feel close to and my gender as a whole, looking through comments on metal blogs, or YouTube videos, or even some of the blogs themselves.
Pick the comment section of virtually any post on a prominent metal site and it won’t take long to find diatribes ranging from high-level hatred of women to homophobia, racism or general bullshitery. On good days, it’s just the ever-lasting argument of what is and isn’t metal (protip: no one gives a shit, just shut up and listen to the music).
This issue was recently highlighted by Agoraphobic Nosebleed vocalist Katherine Katz in a post on the band’s Facebook.
Now, you’d think that by a) being an awesome, passionate vocalist; b) being part of a legendary grindcore band and c) having just released one of the best, most personal EPs of the year would be enough to deserve respect. But no. Because woman.
Regardless of the blogger’s opinions about the music (they obviously listen to strictly the most br00tal metal) that’s just some straight up ignorant bollocks.
But it’s bollocks that’s repeated over and over again in blogs, news sites, social media and comment sections across the internet like a raging river of flaccid hatred intent on drowning the metal community.
Obviously, it’s not just metal. The music industry as a whole is clouded with a deep-seated divide between the way male and female (and non-binary) artists are treated, portrayed and expected to behave.
Below the post, Katherine Katz went into more details:
“If you think about it though, it’s because women are primarily valued as sex objects by our culture that they can’t express their sexuality without being shamed; our culture conveys that women’s sexuality belongs to men. Men can be both sexy and respected; women can’t. I hate that I have to evaluate how I dress everytime I play a show – I know that if I dress too sexy, I will receive disrespect and be seen as a gimmick.” – Katherine Katz
You’d have to be blind, deaf and/or stupid if you think it’s not true. Just look at the almost perpetual criticism that’s been thrown at Butcher Babies for daring to look however the fuck they like.
The article highlighted by Katherine obviously isn’t the only one of its kind. But as she mentions, it’s definitely one of the more ridiculous examples of lady-hating nonsense out there.
The author, who being the brave gentleman his is, wrote under the anonymous title of “staff”, laid in to several other bands who obviously made the mistake of thinking women could do metal.
When it came to Germany’s The Oath, captain anonymous had this nugget to say:
“Usually metal girls are fat, under 5’4, and have saggy tits. Or they love Slipknot. I can see why Lee Dorian is dicking the hot one. This at least has riffs even if most of the songs wear out their welcome fairly quickly.”
I’d wager the writer doesn’t get to “dick” much more than his own right hand. It’s good to see, though, that he’s up to date with the metal scene, considering The Oath broke up quite a while ago and key member Johanna Sadonis is doing pretty awesomely in occult rock band Lucifer (who are well worth checking out).
Even – all male – sludgers Baroness got a little homophobic dig thrown at them with:
“The most generic heavy metal rhythm guitar riffing possible clipped with too much compression and mixed with queer hipster rock for those who question their sexuality.” Neat.
Again, this article isn’t alone. It’s just one of the most blatant, most ridiculous.
So ridiculous in fact, it’s easy to just laugh off. But that doesn’t solve the problem at hand: women in metal getting equal billing to the men.
Ask yourselves how many interviews you’ve watched or read an interview with a woman from a metal band where the majority of the questions have been about exactly that – being a woman in a metal band. Instead of, say, what fucking guitar do you use, how drunk were you last night on stage or what’s your influences. You know, the questions guys get asked in basically every interview ever.
As a guy in metal, my personal experience is obviously limited to spectatorship. But recently UK hardcore band Svalbard’s guitarist/vocalist, Serena Cherry, wrote a brilliant in-depth article on gender respect on on Noisey that’s well worth a read on this very issue.
All I can say is who cares who’s making the music – just shut up and listen to it. And if you don’t like it? Shut up and listen to something else.