During a recent interview I conducted with Oscar Dronjak, guitar player of Hammerfall, we touched upon the topic of the position of women in the metal community. Basically, we agreed upon the fact that female metal fans are often in a disadvantageous position compared to their male counterparts, and are often targeted for different degrees of abuse.
During my first day at the Wacken Open Air Festival 2014, I talked with a girl who was dressed in a rather revealing way, and noticed how wherever we went people stared or made inappropriate comments towards her. Although with the exception of one guy who was too insistent, and to whom I explained that I’d punch him in the throat if he didn’t leave, most people were just satisfied with doing some ineffective cat calling and staring. This is still not good enough.
Far be it from me to claim that I’m a good person. I’m sure that many people who’d be happy to list my always increasing list of defects; however, I always felt that there needs to be something deeply broken inside of you to think that you’re somehow entitled to be inappropriate towards a woman just because she’s dressed in a certain manner or, even worse, just because she’s a woman.
One of the many negative effects of the commodification of women is the sense of entitlement that men develop as a result. After all, if women are a product, then why shouldn’t you have access to them? This is the kind of downright crazy mindset that makes a rape-friendly asshole think that he can cup a feel of whatever random woman happens to be in front of him. It’s the “she was asking for it” philosophy: “if she didn’t want to get groped, she wouldn’t be dressed like that” or “she wouldn’t be here”.
As a person who was raised mostly by women (my father died when I was a kid, so my mother and my grandmother did the job) I find it sickening to see that someone would even consider abusing a woman, and yet here we are. The fact of the matter is that propositioning a random woman is neither funny nor cute, but downright fucking creepy, not to mention threatening. Despite what you might think, approaching a girl that just so happens to be walking by you and telling her something about her tits will not get you laid. It might, however, get you a well-deserved dose of pepper spray right into your corneas. I’m not talking about asking a girl out, or trying to start a conversation with someone you find attractive (I’m sure there are some crazy people who would call those behaviors creepy, but fuck those people anyway); I’m talking about the insane idea that telling a stranger that you’d like to fuck her is a good philosophy.
The internet is, of course, rife with this crap. Look at any video featuring a female musician and you’ll see plenty of comments left by people talking about fucking them up every imaginable orifice, whether willingly or not, as if that was funny. Just as it happens with a bad smell, we’ve grown so accustomed to this type of behavior that we tolerate it as if it was the most normal thing in the world, never stopping to actually think how deeply fucking wrong it is.
This whole situation is particularly worrying in a festival setting, where women are often the object of abuse, perhaps because “they knew what would happen here anyway” philosophy of the drunken morons who crawl around the area. There is something deeply wrong about a community where we accept treating women like shit, as if it was an inherent risk of being there. Of course, this is not just a problem in metal, but rather in all of society; and even though we do fairly decently in comparison with other genres of music, we should aspire to be more.
As I said once, if you see something, say something. Don’t just sit idly by while shit like this happens around you. If your friends act like assholes, tell them; call them out on their crap. And, most importantly, find better friends.