“I’m a feminist, and I love Butcher Babies. I love burlesque. Not because I think someone like the Butcher Babies is a paragon of heavy metal sonicsphere either. But they are “hot.” As a lesbian fan of metal, I gain a great deal of pleasure from seeing them and watching them perform. The cover story in Decibel that featured Marissa Martinez among others is one of a few the Decibel has run featuring non-normative gendered performers. Martinez has been in another cover story for Decibel, and a story called “A Rainbow in the Dark” discussed glbtq performers a few years ago. Interestingly, however, those articles are infamous among queer fans for being so bad. They make it sound like queer fans and performers are rare, unknown, hidden, scared and secretive. It is just not that simple. If I derive pleasure from my “Hottest Chicks in Metal” issue, does that make me sexist? If we go by the definition that sexism is about power, and we decide that as a lesbian metal fan I wield little power, can that act even be sexist? And what about Revolver’s “Hottest Men In Metal” article and poll? Is that sexist too, or are we leaving that one out?
I guess what I’m trying to say, and what my work is focused on, is that the problem is not just sexism in metal. The problem is that we all continue to compare everything to masculinity. Metal, it is frequently presumed, has one standard: cock rock, straight white men with a growl and an axe (both literal and figurative) to grind. The consummate outsider that everyone follows- but is that person an outsider? If we continue to hold up the cock rock standard, then we compare everything to that standard. We compare the female performers, the queer fans, the trans singers (think about all the press about Laura Grace from Against Me!) to this single standard. We need to get about the work of questioning cock rock, about the work of seeing metal not as a great masculine monolith, but as the transitory space it is. That’s why we end up with the idea that when Dee Snider puts on makeup and women’s lingerie he’s really just so feminine he’s masculine, when perhaps we should think about what Dee was emulating in the first place. I think it vitally important, as metal studies grows and develops, that we work hard to avoid reductionary thinking about a genre/sound/community/space/place that we all know isn’t as reductive as outsiders consider it to be.”
From a reply I made to a discussion on Metpol about sexism in metal.