No Cause for Concern? Issue #7 | March 1983 | Page 20 | You've Come a Long Way, BABY?
You've come a long way, BABY?
by Colleen Howe and Julia P
If we think our attitudes have progressed, we'd better think again.
In the subculture that many of us are involved in, and with the values and standards we (ideally) hold, you would think that we would be little more open-minded and thoughtful. You might also think that there would be more rejection of traditional values and sexual stereotypes. However, it would appear that instead of rejecting these values and stereotypes, we are reinforcing them.
To a great extent, the emergence of hardcore seems to have brought about a diminishing amount of female participation in bands and at gigs, at least in Ottawa. For example, a photozine from the States called "My Rules" (containing approximately 30 photos of hardcore bands and audiences) had not one picture of a female in the whole thing tells us that perhaps Ottawa is not exclusive on this subject. Another example might be the "Fear" video shown at Barrymore's; a live performance of an all-male band playing to the slamming all-male audience. At most punk and hardcore gigs in Ottawa, it's usually males taking up the largest portion of the floor by slamming as well as the fact that the bands are almost exclusively all male.
What we're trying to say is that it seems as if the whole "hardcore image" reinforces the same old "male dominant, female passive" roles.
Many of us continually put down "heavy metal" and "rock n roll" for the barbaric, sexist mental attitude that seems to go hand in hand with the entire image of the music. The idea of women as sex objects, rape as a justified act, and the "little woman" stereotype are still predominant themes in many songs. But hardcore isn't all that guiltless. Take the "poontang" spiel on the new Black Flag album. Whether it's a joke or not, it's not very funny. We could go on for pages and pages about hardcore bands reinforcing traditional roles through image and music, and these bands don't seem to receive censure from anyone on these warped view.
But it's not only hardcore that is at fault. There are many attitudes that are part of the general weave of our "scene" that are not logical. We find that there's an enormous mental block towards woman who are trying to work in a professional capacity with bands. This problem does not always occur but it is a persistent one. Many of us who have worked with Y.C.P. find that bands have a tendency to take you less seriously if you're a female. They're more likely to look down from their lofty heights thinking you're either a groupie or an airhead. And all because of our sex. That's pretty sick, isn't it?! Pardon us if we sound hostile bit if you've ever encountered it you know how frustrating it is.
We have all been conditioned (men and women) to play ridiculous gender roles, but if we realize this and fight it, we might finally attain equality. Before we can overcome any of the problems that so many bands address as basic issues we must first come to grips with this most basic issue of them all so that we can fight collectively instead of against each other.
This article is not meant as an attack on hardcore or punk. Our purpose is merely to make people aware that these attitudes exist. And to make you think the next time you react illogically to someone in any given situation -- why did you react that way? Was it a logical response or was it merely conditioning? (i.e. would your reaction to this article have been any different had it been written by a male?)
[Accompanying this article were lyrics from two songs by two punk/hardcore bands that I find so offensive now that I'm not going to reprint them this time around. I don't want to give those two long-dead bands any more attention. Hopefully they grew up realized what sexist shit that was, or came out of the closet or something. Assholes.]