Women in Metal

By: Julie Pinsonneault

Posted 03/19/2007 - 09:28:39 AM by scooper:
 great job. thanks for writing (julie) and publishing (stylus) a long-overdue article. i've been going to metal shows for twenty years, and during that time i've paid close attention to the range of what sociologists call "subject positions" available to women in the audience and on the stage. this article asks some important questions about that, and provides some interesting context to help try and unpack the very noticeable gender shift that has been occuring in metal in the past decade. "women in x" articles are always a dicey proposition; writers and readers, too, have a habit of falling back into received categories. that happens here in a couple of spots, and a few important points (the meaning of male rage, for instance, and the perspectives of women audience members, whose numbers have increased to a far greater degree than women performers' have) end up only skirted or avoided altogether. on the whole, however, a thoughtful and enlightening piece. julie: you've got a new blog reader.
Posted 03/20/2007 - 02:24:43 AM by iworshipnoise:
 Hi, I saw a feature about your article on (the wretched hive of scum and villiany) entitled "Portrayal Of Women In Metal Media: Sexy Or Sexist?" and I wrote some big commentary rant there but I also wanted to give it to you (copy-paste...) since I think it's an extremely relevant topic in music right now and wasting a perfectly good diatribe on the Blabbermouth retards seems a shame (if you've been on there you know what I mean). So here you go, maybe you have some thoughts. :) "'Sexy or sexist?' Both. And the former does not outweigh the latter. Of course, it would be nice if the female and female-fronted metal bands had more to say. The image of metal chicks we get are goth sluts and lyrically-self-indulgent whiners. No one's thinking bigger than "I, me, mine" (which is really just part of a bigger problem with the more popular heavy music today). It's all "my poor broken soul" and "look how fucking metal I am!" Which, in turn, is partly the fault of the media's portrayal. Round and round in a circle. It would be nice if what we were dealing with were female vocalists even a tenth as interesting as Joan Jett, Anne Wilson, or Janis Joplin. Tarja [Turunen, formerly of Nightwish] puts me to sleep. Scabbia is cookie-cutter with how she does the sexy breathy vox and then flips to belting out the same 4 notes per song. No personality. Morgan Landers of Kittie has her moments before going back to whining. All the great and interesting-sounding female vocalists in metal, like Vibeke Stene of Tristania and Lucia Cifarelli of KMFDM, are getting swept under the rug in favor of cardboard cutouts with American Idol-soundalike feats of studio technology like Amy Lee. Then again the women who have the MOST interesting voices and write the best lyrics usually are busy doing something interesting other than trying to convince everyone girls can be metal." I think you can probably agree that the way women in metal are portrayed is typical of the recession in feminism over the last few years. I saw that issue of Revolver of the shelf, and wouldn't even pick it up, even though I knew sadly that there would be many who WOULD pick it up and buy it for the same reason I wouldn't. Revolver's a shit music publication anyway, almost (but not quite) as bad as Hit Parader, which basically just serves as an advertisement for the majors. Sorry to be so wordy. :/ Thanks for a great article.
Posted 03/20/2007 - 10:56:50 AM by cosmokane31:
 iworship - you address some great issues. The two dominant kinds of female singers in metal today are either the Angela Gossow scare-your-head-off ones or the Cristina Scabbia goth sirens. Both are very much objects and cater to male fantasies. I think this predominance is due to record labels (probably male-dominated) signing only these kinds of acts, knowing their audience, which is primarily straight male. There are definitely women in metal, though, who are "just part of the band," and command respect for what they do, and not what they look like. They seem to occur most in grindcore - the singers from Fuck the Facts, Landmine Marathon, Bolz'n, and Watch Me Burn come to mind. As time goes on, through sheer numbers, hopefully women in metal will become less of an anomaly - like in any other industry.
Posted 03/21/2007 - 02:46:12 PM by garlad1:
 Hmmm, why is metal such a male dominated genre? hard to verbalize, but I can provide an example that distills it down pretty well: quick show of hands, how many females like the band Rush?
Posted 03/22/2007 - 01:09:23 AM by iworshipnoise:
 Thanks, cosmo. I like Angela Gossow though, she's pretty cool. :P Garlad... I'm male and I don't care about Rush and neither do any of my male friends. Partly because Rush is old school. The more relevant question is to ask now is closer to "who likes Tool?" which is kind of like our generation's equivalent, and that audience is certainly not male-exclusive. Music in general is male-dominated, and that goes for roughly any genre. What's on MTV obviously doesn't tell a billionth of the story. I really admire female musicians; it takes more balls for a girl to be a musician and deal with the still-patriarchal world of musicics than it does for a guy. It sucks that things are still this way, but hopefully things will change.
Posted 03/22/2007 - 01:09:56 AM by iworshipnoise:
 and my spelling skills are obviously brilliant.
Posted 03/22/2007 - 10:20:27 AM by jhitting:
 What was that all-female metal group called? The one with that video of the fallen angel with bloody wings and shit? They were around in the late 90's if I recall correctly...
Posted 03/22/2007 - 02:37:26 PM by digitallyyours:
 Crisis? Are you guys fucking kidding me? Might as well include bullshit like Kittie, Drain STH, Evanescence, Nightwish and Within Temptation in your analysis of women in "metal" I guess. Seriously, there's a whole bunch of women in metal that are doing actually interesting shit (Runnhild of Thorr's Hammer and, more recently Khlyst, Wata of Boris, Liz Buckingham of Electric Wizard, Emilie of Monarch, Mia Matsumiya of Kayo Dot, all those grind bands cosmokane mentioned) outside of the Hot Topic-approved metal of Bleeding Through and Crisis. Check them out.
Posted 03/23/2007 - 07:40:53 PM by barbarian:
 I'm not interested in metal, but the writing was good.
Posted 03/25/2007 - 04:28:44 AM by iworshipnoise:
 Haha. Evanescence and Within Temptation do suck. Lacuna Coil isn't great either. I'm always rooting for Kittie, but I wish they'd just write better songs.