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Challenges Females Face in the Hardcore Scene

Originally Published: Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Written by: Ali

Journey as a Female in the Hardcore Music Scene

I’ve been going to hardcore shows and in bands for a really long time now. As a female, I’m always looking at other females in the scene to help gauge our progress from where we started out when I first started going to shows.

Reflecting on Female Musicians’ Challenges

(We have come a very long way.) Anyway, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what the biggest challenges are for female musicians in the hardcore scene.

My Experience with Fall River

I’d been singing in active and touring hardcore bands for about 6 years, until the break-up of the last band I was in, Fall River. Fall River went places that I never imagined we would. We actually got the opportunity to get our music out there and accessible, an opportunity that doesn’t seem to come often to female-fronted bands, particularly ones who are openly feminist.

The Highs and Lows of Touring

We played with some of our own heroes such as Coalesce, Converge, and Drowningman. We toured with amazing bands and formed amazing friendships. We even snuck our way into a few magazines and record stores, which totally tricked our families into thinking that; just maybe, we weren’t freeloading failures after all.

The Unique Struggle as a Female Musician

Despite all of that, there was something about the years of actively trying to pursue music full-time that just made me so tired. I know this is the case for many musicians, male and female, but I just felt like there was a difference between the way I felt and the way the male members of my band did towards the end.

Feeling Isolated in a Male-Dominated Scene

On tour, they were surrounded by tons of people just like them – mostly guys. I often felt peerless and isolated. I felt like the novelty. I wasn’t happy anymore, but I was hesitant to give up the ground we had gained because I felt like I would somehow be letting other women in the scene down.

The Challenge of Appearance in the Hardcore Scene

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the only one of many obstacles standing in the band’s way and we parted ways last spring. Since I’ve been a little more removed from the scene, I’ve been thinking about all the challenges that women in the scene face. In thinking about what was so challenging for me personally, I kept coming back to the same issue – that as a female in the scene, everything, good and bad, is about the way you look.

The Double-Edged Sword of Being “Hot” in the Scene

If you aren’t attractive enough to the scene in general, your band sucks. It’s likely that people will dislike your band, no matter how talented you actually may be, because of it. The flip-side of this is really not much better. If you are worthy enough to be deemed “hot”, that is all people focus on.

Rejecting Objectification in Music

What you say becomes overshadowed by how you look. Instead of getting notoriety for your talent, you get it for how you looked at a show or in a certain picture. A perfect example of this came through an offer I had from a major metal magazine. I won’t say who, but you can probably guess which one would be lame enough to run this piece.

Standing Up Against Stereotypes

Anyway, they contacted us to ask me to be a part of a piece called “Hottest Women in Metal”. Of course, I laughed out loud at the thought of participating in this. I was reassured by several people that this would be tasteful and a great opportunity for me to speak my mind and share my feminist ideals.

The Importance of Challenging Physical Obsessions

I am glad that I turned it down because I would have been doing a disservice to myself, to my band, and to other females in the scene. So where am I going with this rant? I’m not really sure. I guess what I’d like to do is encourage other women and girls in the scene to work against this obsession with the physical.

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