The idea behind Circle Pit has been simple: talk about uncomfortable and polarizing topics in this non-judgement zone, allowing the internet at large to hopefully react, interact and move forward as a collective. This month, we decided to address the way women in music are handled, particularly in metal journalism.
“Women in metal [and women in music in general] have always been present. We go to shows, see them in the crowd and in bands, we see them online writing reviews and showcasing art. There have been recent movements in the community to make sure that women feel safe and represented, particularly online, but a lot of the time these efforts, while well-intentioned, lose focus on what’s really important.
What are the positives and negatives of the current situation of women in music, and what, if anything, can we as a community do to make it better?”
Jaci aka Dæmoness: I’m sure you don’t have time to unfurl and absorb a scroll that would be roughly 17 miles worth of rant about how sick I am of reading the same type of shit, so I’m going to offer up instead a quick list of suggestions on how to improve things. I feel like it’s possible for writers to be more thoughtful in their approaches — we don’t need to be hit over the head repeatedly with a vagina-shaped brick.
Not all men are misogynistic assholes; not all women are patient saints. Do not raise women up by putting men down. Additionally, do not raise up a woman by comparing her to other women.
Jesse Degytarov: Let’s start with the negative. One thing that will not improve the situation of women in metal is a vomitory stream of think pieces in which writers treat both the metal ‘community’ and women as singular entities to be used in the umpteenth transparent attempt at virtue signalling. Metal is huge, diverse and terribly inconsistent. As soon as you start getting noticed, there will be people who love or hate your work for reasons right and wrong. And women? Well, they’re not exactly a hivemind either, and telling them to collectively feel offended is precisely what you should not be doing.
Manny-O-War: Ah. Where to begin. Let’s begin with the positives. Right off the bat I think it’s clear that we are living in potentially the most open, accepting and inclusive metal community known to human existence. Women have always been a big part of not only metal but the music scene in general both as performers and as more behind-the-scenes label and promotion types. So it is not only the presence of women that speaks to a positive situation. But, much like many maligned groups (and there has never been a group more maligned than women who have historically always taken a back seat to other social movements despite being the majority of humans walking the earth) it’s important for women to have solidarity movements, support each other and ultimately protect each other. I think many of the female journalists out there have been very great at carrying this torch. Of course, sometimes, I wince at how far they go, or perhaps the battles they pick (because I see many of them as too small to worry about). So, here’s where I start to lean towards the negatives.
For starters, I think the idea being bandied about by journalists (led by females but supported by a fair share of males) that women are being “pushed out of metal” or “forced to the sidelines” is simply false. The vast majority of metal fans (particularly in America) are reasonable, modern human beings who do not simply malign a group simply based on their chromosomal makeup. Thus, they do not need to, or perhaps want to, be preached at by thinkpieces when all they initially wanted were a few good music suggestions.
It’s a gross fact that people do attempt to malign women simply because they are women. These people, however, are a minority that should not be validated by think piece after think piece. Dedicating 1,200 words to what a single misogynistic male said is only validating that behavior. Rather, the journalists of the metal scene should merely focus on the positives and move forward. (#NiceMetalTwitter has been blowing up in 2016.) Even when offended, journalists in the scene should always seek to rise above save for when the outrage is so irreprehensible that no weapon mightier than the pen can be used to admonish.
In reference to improving relations and comfort for women in the metal community I propose that there isn’t any active, revolutionary steps to be taken. Rather, I think women should continue to carry on being leaders of the metal scene by writing, producing, composing, performing, etc. We all, as individuals, need to put gender to the side and, for the sake of metal, honor solid work on all side of the coin regardless of who or what was behind it. Be who you are regardless of what people say or think.
Women have always been a part of music (and metal) and they will forever continue to be a huge part of it. Anyone that believes differently is simply a draconian troglodyte that refuses to accept reality. Thus, they can go join each other in a cave and attempt to create Wardruna style drum chants.
Tenebrous Kate: One of the beautiful things about metal is that it’s a malleable form of music, with innumerable styles and subgenres for musicians to explore. As a result of all these avenues of expression, there’s space within the boundaries of metal for people of any background to vent in a number of cathartic, creative ways. It only makes sense that diversity in metal will increase with the rise of cheap and user-friendly channels of internet distribution. Signal-boosting woman musicians–or musicians of all races, creeds, and nationalities–is great when the intent is to uncover exciting new music. Simply put, there’s no down side in giving everyone a fair shot at expressing themselves through metal.
Josh Stewart: To start with and just so we are crystal clear: anytime a person attempts to step in someone else’s shoes whether to write a piece, comment on something, and/or try and sympathize with a situation this person is automatically wrong. Period. Until one actually walks in their subjects shoes — and this can never happen — it is literally impossible to know what the subject is going through, has lived through or even their take on life in general.
Jeremy Hunt: First up, I probably need to to own up to my own contribution to the problem. As a fan of heavy music, most of the bands I listen to are male-centric. I don’t always go out of my way to seek out female-fronted bands (or bands with female members), so that’s something I personally need to do a better job of.
Beyond that, I think the bigger issue comes down to the continued inequality between men and women in all spheres of life. The issues we see in the music scene are symptomatic of the illness everywhere. Whether it’s pay inequality, assumptions about how a “female version” of something will automatically suck (oh hey new Ghostbusters), or the continued bigotry against women in leadership in the Church (at least in the traditions of my childhood), it’s beyond embarrassing that we haven’t made more progress.
On the one hand, yes, sexism and misogyny are as old as time and it’s likely that we’ll be battling them until the Sun burns this planet to a crisp. On the other hand, it would be nice to think that we could be the shift that fully grasps basic concepts like: women are human beings, they deserve respect and every opportunity than men receive and lots of other ideas that are so fundamental it’s pathetic that we have to spell them out (maybe they should be able to go to a show or walk down the street without getting catcalled or groped or harassed).
And so at the end of the day, I think it’s on us men, not to “save women” or somehow treat them as damsels in distress, but to be much more vocal and supportive of the women in our lives. I’m a big believer in working to bringing about change in the spheres of influence that we have in our daily existence. Not to downplay the importance of larger movements, but I think lasting change often comes from regular men and women taking continued, repeated stands for what’s right in their everyday lives.
As the father of four girls (soon to be five), I can’t tell you how often I’ve had complete strangers say some variation of:
“Holy cow, you have four daughters? I’m so sorry. Just wait until they’re teenagers!”
Are you kidding me? Why in the world would I want sympathy for having four amazing young women to raise? What a privilege for me. So part of my goal (and my longterm contribution to the solution of the original question) is to raise my daughters with the knowledge that they are fully capable and empowered to do whatever they set their minds to…and more specifically, to hopefully embrace music in all its forms and to give life to the songs that are already present in their hearts.
And that wraps up Volume V of the Circle Pit. Have a any thoughts to add? Of course you do. Hit us up on Twitter (@_NineCircles) or leave your thoughts in the comments below. And as always, feel free to drop Circle Pit suggestions at us at NineCirclesBlog@gmail.com.
– The Nine Circles Team