International Women’s Rights Day : A Humble Selection

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Rock and metal is unfortunately still a men’s world in 2022. Despite observing a lot of progress as more bands and institutions start to take feminism and oppression seriously, thousands of testimonies still prove that women feel oppressed on different levels in the metal-and-apparented scenes. And while misoginy is not exclusive to metal, let’s not take this as a strawman argument not to examine how, as men in the scene, we can help.

As a white, cisgendered and heterosexual man (not taking this as an infamy or as a submissive avow, just a fact that is worth acknowledging), there are many pitfalls I can fall into when talking about feminism and many things I yet have to learn, so I will only refer to the two common and most important pieces of advice I got from literally every feminist I have talked to so far:

  1. Don’t make this about you. Because it’s not. Sure, you certainly are a nice guy and a nice person, but that does not mean you are exempt from errors, and that doesn’t mean that criticism from feminists cannot or should not touch you. The good news is, feminism critique is not personal, and not an attack to who you are as a person; it’s a plea for examining the impacts of stuff we say and do without always realizing it.
  2. In many cases, the easiest and most effective thing you can do is shut up. In 99% of cases, just listening is all that matters. Easy. No one gets upset, you might get a chance to learn new things, everyone is happy.

So to all my fellow men who are still reading at this point, I can only pass a selection of songs and artists singing and speaking about feminism and women’s condition, and encourage you to apply this simple motto, as Kendrick would say: be humble.

Sit down.

… And just listen to what they have to say.

Milena Eva & GGGOLDDD

Post-Punk/Blackened Shoegaze, Netherlands

Milena Eva is the singer and frontwoman of the magnificent GGGOLDDD, one of the glorious offshoots of the Dutch scene legends The Devil’s Blood. Blending the ethereal beauty of shoegaze, with the cold and uplifting energy of post-punk and the riffing fury of black metal, their 2019 album Why Aren’t You Laughing ? hit the metal scene like a train. Their upcoming release This Shame Should Not Be Mine promises to be even more intimate as it is Milena’s personal testimony on being sexually assaulted, battling over the shame and self-repression, and hopefully finding resilience after the trauma.

There’s so much in the rearview
Hard to see what’s going on
It hasn’t been this blurry before
Something feels wrong

Where do I go? Who do I follow?
Who bring me joy? Who bring me sorrow?
How do I make sure I don’t go through this again?

Glued myself together
So that you can’t see
That I don’t know any boundaries
Impossible to read

Do I even know the way?
I need space so I can make mistakes
Confidence will be my best revenge
So I can start to live again

Lyrics from Notes on How To Trust (GGGOLDDD, 2022)

Mystic Priestess

Death Rock / Darkwave, USA

A recent discovery and « love at first listen » for me, Mystic Priestess are, as they self-describe, an « anarcho death-rock darkwave band » from Oakland, CA, playing in the footsteps of Christian Death, Siouxsie and early Killing Joke with a grit and energy that is guaranteed to lift your booty out of that chair and get it rampaging on the dancefloor in no time.

Even though I didn’t find a full lyrics transcript yet (shoutout, if anyone has already done the job please reach out to our Facebook page or Instagram account), their style and their themes clearly suggest they have a thing or two to say about feminism, trans identity and toxic masculinity. Let’s listen, shall we.

Larissa Stupar & Venom Prison

Death Metal, UK

Russian-born, raised in Germany and now UK resident Larissa Stupar had already been an active animal rights activist, radical feminist and antifascist for years when she founded Venom Prison in 2015. The fact that she chose death metal as a weapon of choice is very significant, as it is probably the metal subgenre that has the biggest tradition of using graphical, violent imagery in cover arts and lyrics about projected violence, along with goregrind / pornogrind etc.

The fact that they got some of the most efficient death metal / deathcore albums of the past years out there shows that is it possible to love and respect the genre, while denouncing the perverse effects of depicting violence or violent intents that are, in many cases, especially directed towards women personae. Not taking things literally, not blindly « cancelling » anything, but allowing oneself to use their brain and think about it while still being hit in the face with demonic riffs, hellish vocals, crushing breaks and blast beats.

This short Bandcamp Daily article from 2019 gives an interesting take from Larissa herself.

While some fans will probably be disappointed at their recent turn towards a much more melodeath-styled approach and the signing at Century Media making them « big shots », I personally see this as an interesting turn that might give more visibility to what Larissa has to say (or scream), and make them a MUCH more engaging festival headliner than say… Arch Enemy for instance.

The latest Venom Prison’s music video, making no secrets about the underlying theme.

Kathleen Hannah & Bikini Kill

Feminist Punk, USA

Kathleen Hannah is a punk. A true, loud, all-in, uncompromising feminist punk, and not sure she needs any introduction from me. Co-founder of Biklini Kill and the infamous Riot Grrrl movement who gave widespread resonance to revolutionary feminist themes in the NYC punk scene in the 1990s, then founding the mesmerizing electropunk band Le Tigre in 1999, Kathleen has been hitting hard throughout most of her career, and got over Lyme disease to get back on stage in 2019. Never surrendering.

The words from Riot Grrrl’s militant fanzine are still very relevant today, almost 31 years after its inception :

Recognize that you are not the center of the Universe.
Figure our how the idea of winning and losing fits int your relationships.
Selectively ignore all oppressive laws.
Don’t judge other people, only yourself.
Acknowledge emotional violence as real.
Recognize vulnerability and empathy as strengths.
Cry in public.
Don’t allow the fact that other people have been assholes to you make you into a bitter and abusive person.
If someone tells you they are in pain, believe them.

Riot Grrrl’s zine first issue, 1991. Full document here

We hope you enjoyed this short article and if you have any corrections to suggest or any relevant artists you’d like to see in our columns, don’t hesitate to reach out on Facebook or Instagram !

Alex, for the Riff