Fight Of The Valkyries
I'm not one to get angry about things I read on the internet unless it's something truly outrageous, but a few weeks ago, I read something that infuriated me. I was going through my Facebook feed when, on a thread about Arch Enemy singer Alissa White-Gluz, a person declared:
"I don't like Women crying in metal band... I am a Woman but Metal is a male thing! And i fucking love Metal... Sorry"
Cue my confusion. And my betrayal. And my bargaining with my brain to accept this person's point of view as being valid. And my anger, which was fast replacing all other emotions. How could this have happened? A woman, a self-proclaimed lover of metal, who also holds the archaic belief that metal is a male thing? Despite her being a woman? And being into metal?
The betrayal on that one cut deep. Not just for myself, but for all other women in metal who have tried to make a name for themselves in the scene, or just struggled to get accepted by it. Because people are quick to say that metal is an all-accepting scene and that everybody's welcome, but for women, there's often an admission test.
You have to prove that you're not in it just to fuck band members, because apparently there isn't enough dick floating around women at all times that they actually need to pursue those in metal bands exclusively, of course.
You have to prove that you're a real fan, because not knowing every single detail about the history of every sub-genre, every band, and every band member past and present means that you're not trve. Or are in it to fuck band members. Or both.
Getting quizzed at a show so that an inquisitive showgoer may find out whether you're truly into blackened Finnish humppa or just into the keyboardist, being told "you don't look metal" or "you don't look metal enough to be into X", or simply being treated differently at shows, in person, or on the internet are things that happen routinely to women whose crime is loving the metal genre.
The amount of women who report getting groped at metal shows is outrageous. But metal is all-accepting, right?
The vitriolic comments on women-centric stories in metal publications is outrageous. But there isn't any misogyny in metal, right?
The attitude that some - even other women - have towards women in metal bands is outrageous. But metal is for everyone, right?
I'm not particularly a fan of Arch Enemy, but the betrayal cut deep when I read that statement. Because women like Angela Gossow, Doro Pesch, Cristina Scabbia, Jen Majura, Otep Shamaya, Emmi Silvennoinen, Jill Janus, Netta Skog, Doris Yeh, Lita Ford, and Alissa White-Gluz have been fighting for their place, fighting for their right to entertain, grinning and bearing through gritted teeth the catcalling and sexual harassment yelled from the crowd, the wandering hands during meet and greets, and the shitty comments like "metal is a male thing!" for years. Yet, their contribution to the metal scene has been invaluable to the scene, and not just from a musical standpoint.
For women who previously felt like they had no place in the metal scene, seeing women in influential bands like Arch Enemy, Ensiferum, Nightwish, and Lacuna Coil is empowering. It's giving women who don't feel accepted the confirmation that they are wanted, that they indeed have a place in a scene that is so male-dominated.
I'm writing this as a woman who loves metal, as a person who has been asked on many occasions if I love (insert band here) because (insert band member here) is attractive or because of the music, as a person who has been groped at shows, who has been threatened with grievous bodily harm for voicing my opinion on a local metal band, and who continues to go to shows because of the pure fact that I live and breathe the music.
Let’s get one thing straight: no woman in their right mind would stay on the front barrier of an Amon Amarth show while a 6’4”man gropes her from behind if she didn’t really want to growl along to “Under Siege.”
No woman in her right mind would keep wearing her Sabaton shirt at metal shows only to be questioned every time if she’s always been in the band or if she only hopped on the war metal bandwagon after a certain member joined in, unless her love for the band came from a really real place.
No woman in her right mind would continue going to Belphegor shows if, every time they play in town, her conventional appearance is met with scorn from other concert goers, unless she really wanted to have her eardrums melted by the band once again.
It is time that the metal scene puts its money where its mouth is, time for women in metal to stop being ostracized for simply being women. It’s time for the metal scene to be respectful of all members of its family, time to stop using “female-fronted metal bands” like it’s a real genre, time to stop questioning the motives of women who feel the steel as much as their male counterparts, and time to become the loving family we all pretend to be.
It’s 2017, it’s time. Metal IS for everyone.