Social Justice Warriors… in Metal?

Update: Since this article is fairly long, feel free to just listen to an audio version. Now you can do other stuff while you half-pay attention to what I say!

This is a long article, dealing with a couple of claims regarding race and sex in metal. So much so that I doubt most people will read the whole thing. Still, just in case, I decided to add a little index to it, since you might just want to read parts of it, or just skim through it.

Introduction

Being a gold medalist in the Oppression Olympics seems to be the biggest goal for some people. For many, growing up in a privileged environment almost seems to be a source of shame, and so they go out of their way to find some enemy, imaginary or otherwise, as a way to earn some of those sweet, sweet oppression points.

They feel like the fact that they have never suffered any real problems means that they are missing out on something, and so they create a source of oppression. Their failures are the result of a bigoted enemy, and never of their own shortcomings.

It’s the rise of the “Social Justice Warrior”, a person, usually a middle-class white guy, who lives to tell others about “privilege”, “rape culture”, “patriarchy” and who is always happy to add more and more letters to the LGBT acronym. The kind of person who sees it fit to refer to people who identify with their gender of birth as “cis”. You know, because we really needed a word for 93.5% of the population, as much as we really need to speak about “4-wheeled cars” and “2-wheeled motorcycles”.

In their attempt to fight the power, they choose enemies such as video games, arguing that Mario rescuing Princess Peach is a sign of misogyny (“damsels in distress”, you see?), without really raising their voice against the very real misogyny and rape culture (as in people literally getting raped) within pornography (they embraced and praised a “feminist” who seems proud of her debut in facial abuse) or prostitution (where the majority of women have been raped). The same people who made a fuzz out of Dr. Matt Taylor wearing a shirt featuring Bond-esque drawings of girls (which was made and given to him by a female friend), arguing that this clearly shows that women are not welcome in STEM fields (instead of, you know, a nerd not having basic understanding of what is or isn’t appropriate to wear during an interview). Tumblr is full of them. Otherkins, 1/27th part Cherokees, nonbinary genderqueer furries and the like, all of them desperate to yell “oppression”, “appropriation” and to speak of straight white people as if it was a slur. They live in a world of noble savages, where they are carrying the White Man’s Burden; they are happy to be the saviors of those poor “people of color” from those completely homogeneous lands of Asia, Africa and Latin America.

What I’m saying here, in case it wasn’t obvious, is fuck those people.

Social Justice Warriors as depicted by PeblComics
Social Justice Warriors as depicted by PlebComics

The SJW Claims

Recently, I stumbled upon two articles written by Kim Kelly, of hipster repositories Pitchfork, Spin and the crime against journalism known as Vice, which immediately brought to mind some of those same characters. Also, they showed me how some people, clearly mouthbreathing morons, can only express their criticisms by means of misogynistic and homophobic remarks, when they try to prove that misogyny and homophobia are not a real thing. Fuck those people too.

In one of her articles, featuring an interview with female African-American metal singer Kayla Philips (of Bleed the Pigs), Kim mentions, almost in passing, that

“Bleed the Pigs are the latest entry in a long line of individuals who have been steadily chipping away at the long-held view of heavy metal and hardcore as members-only clubs for straight white cis men, and for Philips, it’s a beautiful thing to see.” [emphasis is mine].

I spoke with Kim about this line, and she was very adamant that “It’s literally not an opinion, it is a fact”. She is, obviously, wrong, at least in the way in which she characterizes the fact that metal has been largely populated by white male performers (unlike Kim, I have no idea about who they choose to fuck) as a bad thing. In her run in this edition of the Olympics, it’s a “members only” club, where women and minorities are not welcome.

The problem with her understanding of the situation is that it glosses over the fact that metal started as a white genre of music. Its origins are in the white working class areas of England and, as such, it appealed to white, working class, men. Of course, as time passed metal reached a wider audience, and it moved away from that restricted environment, and it became popular among other social classes, genders, and ethnicities. If you go, for example, to South America, Asia, and even the Middle East, there are metal bands in every city, and concerts are filled with fans. Although it might surprise Kim, these concerts do not look like the Nuremberg rallies, and they are actually quite representative of the ethnic makeup of those countries. The problem is that if you make your analysis based on what you see in America, England or Germany, not surprisingly, your results will tend to reflect, to an extent, the ethnic makeup of those countries. This type of analytical bias is a common denominator amongst Social Justice Warriors; they see their environment as the environment, and as a result they assume that everywhere must be like that.

But even beyond this, the idea that metal appeals to whites as a negative thing is ridiculous. Would she lay the same criticism against rap and hip hop because they have traditionally catered to black males? Or what about reggaeton, which has appealed to people of Latin America much more so than to WASPs? Of course not.

In the world of Social Justice Warriors, when a white person “twerks” it’s cultural appropriation (because within their infantilizing view of blacks, Africans have a proud tradition of shaking their asses until they clap), while a female African American playing heavy metal is just a good “you go girl!” moment. This is, incredibly, both hilarious and infuriating at the same time, since while nobody has ever said that Derrick Green should leave Sepultura because he’s black, commentators, and even performers, demand whites leave jazz, rap and hip hop alone. Thankfully, those defenseless minorities can count with the Social Justice Warriors carrying the White Man’s Burden.

From Plebcomics
From Plebcomics

Another article, and which even got Kim some harassment, was one in which she interviewed the remarkably insufferable-sounding Andy Curtis-Brignell of the band Caïna. Although he fails to reach the punchable levels of Liturgy and their “transcendental black metal” bullshit, he sure as hell tries.

Starting with his bullshit self-diagnosis of being “clinically depressed/bipolar/whatever” (unless he has the world’s most incompetent psychiatrist, that’s not how diseases are diagnosed), this asshole goes into a tirade (that you can almost bet was uttered without projecting his voice, so as to sound deeper and darker) that seems fit for the blog of a 14 year old desperate to sound edgy and unique. It’s the same kind of crap we’ve seen before, some misanthropic bullshit (of the likes Dissection, The Devil’s Blood, Watain, Mayhem and others have already used before), although in this case with an added bonus of being a special little snowflake that nobody can understand.

“I have huge problems with humankind’s existence on this planet — we’re a colony of grotesque, toxin-spewing parasites — but that’s a philosophical perspective, and one that’s impossible to truly embrace without being a fucking sociopath.”

You see, he isn’t a sociopath for thinking this bullshit, he’s just too deep (and hardcore edgy) for you. Among pathetic attempts at sounding cool, he’s only marginally worse than the kid yelling at you in Call of Duty that he fucked your mom and that he’ll kill you because he graduated at the top of his class in the Navy Seals, although less than the poorly-written claims by Flo Rida (known for a song about his fucking car) that I’m Bill Gates, take a genius to understand me.

Reportedly, this is the cover of Caïna's upcoming album.
Reportedly, this is the cover of Caïna’s upcoming album.

He is different, and of course better, than the rest, not like that “bunch of identical-looking white bros throwing their bullshit shapes and spouting the same quasi-edgy satanic motivational speaker bullshit.”. He’s deeper than that. He is not “quasi edgy”. He is edgy (I almost cut myself writing that, actually). I mean, he is spouting some generic misanthropic shit… but he actually means it, you see?

He then goes to claim that the fact that somebody described his music as “girlfriend metal” is just the result of people thinking that it’s bad that he tries to appeal to both men and women. He is, of course, wrong. “Girlfriend metal” is just a term to refer to emasculated music that lacks the punch and power of metal. It’s not that your music appeals to girls (so do Watain and even Manowar) it’s that some people see it as wimpy music. I’m sorry to be the one to burst your heroic bubble there.

He goes through the motions of the Social Justice Warriors, and bring up some of the Women’s Studies 101 topics, and even seems apologetic for being a white heterosexual male. He even seems to imply that The Oath disbanded because people were, apparently, sexist. Just like these Warriors claim that women, like Dracula and crucifixes, will not join STEM fields because of a shirt, the damsels in distress of The Oath must have disbanded because of misogyny.

Still, in all fairness, this 2edgy4u guy does bring up some real issues. Hell, if a broken clock can be right twice a day, so can this asshole.

The Anti-SJW Attacks

He mentions, like I’ve done in the past, that shit like “The Hottest Chicks in Metal” is shameful, since it puts the sexuality of female performers ahead of their musical talent. He is right on this, since even labels continue to push this bullshit, by vomiting out bands like Butcher Babies and In This Moment, which seem to be committed to telling girls that the only way to make it is to fit an objectified (if not pornofied) version of femininity. I’ve written enough about this topic, and this article is long enough as it is, that I will just refer you to those articles or to my talk with Melinda Tankard-Reist about objectification, instead of just repeating myself even more.

Is there misogyny in metal? Yes, just like in every other part of society. But, as I’ve said before, this misogyny is not inherent to the genre itself. Metal, in its lyrical content, is not a misogynistic genre of music, and although some of its fans, particularly on the internet, do go out of their way to make sexist comments, this is more a consequence of the internet than of metal. The problems that we see in festivals, for example, and that I have been very critical of, are the same that we see in the rest of society (the “she had it coming” or “she’s asking for it” mentality) and are not inherent or unique to metal. Too bad this pretentious black metal version of Bono (living deep inside his own asshole) isn’t complaining about girls having credit cards slid through their asscracks or women being treated like objects in rap and hip hop. No, it’s easier to pick on metal; picking on rap and hip hop would be “problematic.”

These brave alpha-males later deleted this.
These brave alpha-males later deleted this.
Keep it classy, moron.
Keep it classy, moron.

Although some people don’t like to hear criticisms, like the mouthbreathing morons pictured above, the fact of the matter is that there is plenty of room for improvement in metal, and we do have to face that. It’s a mistake to think that raising questions about our behavior somehow means that we’re stifling dissent or trying to castrate the “extreme” character of metal. I mean, metal is not characterized by misogyny, so criticizing those metalheads that do act in a misogynistic manner isn’t “anti-metal”, but rather “anti-asshole.”

Let’s be clear. If you’re offended by someone saying that women shouldn’t be objectified or that it’s not ok to grope random women just because of how they’re dressed, well, you’re a fucking creepy asshole who deserves to have his ass kicked.

The same thing happens if you feel that calling people “faggots” when they think that homophobia is not OK is appropriate. This isn’t a very difficult topic. Nobody is asking for Watain to play YMCA, or to have “pink” bands, to support gay marriage or adoption for gay couples. Nobody is asking for any message to be added to metal or to add socially-conscious lyrics. This is simply about not endorsing or defending gay bashing. If you’re that concerned about gay people, if other men’s sex lives are so fucking important for you (because for some reason gay bashers are always OK with lesbians, since they’re “hot”), chances are you’re just craving to have sweaty sex with other men.

For some reason, some people see it fit to criticize feminism by calling women “cunts”, “sluts”, “whores” and “bitches”, threatening with rape, and then feel happy about how they absolutely stopped the “feminazis”. Their small minds fail to understand that their actions are the equivalent of beating the shit out of someone to prove they’re not violent. Not only are they imbeciles, but they’re also the kind of guy whose definition of a “date night” probably includes stopping by the local pharmacy to score some Rohypnol.

Conclusion

Feminism, in its most basic form, is something that everyone can get behind. A society in which men and women are treated with the same level of respect, and who have the same rights and opportunities, is something that only a backwards moron would oppose. Can there be extremes within feminism? Absolutely, but attacking all women because of that, and dismissing any criticism as just “radical feminism” is not constructive, and is just an example of a small mind.

Metal does pretty well when it comes to its lyrical content, but the environment in which metalheads move can probably be improved. Opposing that is not the way to go. We all have mothers and sisters, whenever you insult or mistreat a woman, simply because she is a woman, you’re doing that to them too.

Just because plenty of competitors are trying to win the Oppression Olympics doesn’t mean that some criticisms aren’t valid. Dismiss the stupid ones as stupid, and feel free to call out the privileged Social Justice Warriors for the bullshit they keep regurgitating, but always remember that, as I said before, even a broken clock gets to be right twice a day.