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Dear Hardcore Men: Challenging Sexism and Toxic Masculinity in the Scene

Please take a moment to read, and ponder on the following questions. 

I don’t particularly want you to respond directly to me (though feel free too) and these questions are not designed to attack anyone – this isn’t just about YOU and I’m not asking for people to justify or defend themselves. 

But I ask these questions, because the scene, the scene I LOVE with all my heart and soul – is sexist. It’s full of toxic masculinity and good people enabling this shit to thrive. I ask because I want change, I want people (men) to speak up and out, to make the scene a more inclusive, support one. 

When I use the term ‘women’ I mean all people that identify as such.

  • Do you think hardcore is a man’s’ scene?  If so, do you want it to stay that way?
  • What role do you think women should play in the scene, if at all?
  • When you think of the hardcore women you know – what do you think about them? Do you place them in groups – the ‘real’ hardcore fans, and not?
  • If a woman sleeps with different men in the scene do you think there is anything wrong with this? If so, why? What do you think is wrong with a woman having sex with multiple partners?
  • Do you expect women to be lesser musicians?
  • Do you expect women to less know about hardcore music?

And, if the answer to the last two questions is ‘Yes’ – does it matter and why? 

And if it does matter – do you feel the same bar applies to men?

  • Did it take you to become a Dad or Uncle to realise women should be treated with respect?  (This is something heard on stage and in interviews frequently.)
  • If so, what are you doing to ensure that other men, and boys DO NOT wait that long – that they learn now girls and women should be treated with equal respect? How are you educating and guiding others?
  • Do you feel it is appropriate to use fear to scare younger men into respecting women? ‘For example, if you hurt my daughter I will fuck you up?’ If yes, why?
  • Do you think violence and threats against a perpetrator helps the victim when allegations of sexual violence within the scene appears? 
  • Do you believe violence help solve the issue of violence?
  • Do you believe women need to be protected? If so, why – from who?
  • Do you think of things as masculine and feminine? If so, ponder a little longer on what, and why.
  • Can men be feminists? If not, why not? What do you even think feminism is? 

I was blocked by a prominent hardcore singer for asking him to politely discuss this with me, as he said men cannot be feminists, and that feminism had ‘gone too far.’ 

Perhaps he had some interesting points about how modern feminism is perceived, which is why I ask the question of what you think feminism is. Feminism at its core is asking for equality for ALL humans. There are different opinions and branches of thought in regards to certain issues, but fundamentally, this is what feminism is and strives for. That regardless of how you are born or how you identify, you are granted the same opportunities, respect and safety as anyone else – ultimately as a white cis heterosexual male.

YOU may not ‘be’ sexist, but how do you facilitate it – laughing at jokes, by allowing gossip on ‘sluts’ to go unchallenged? By making ‘funny’ sexual comments, or even physical advances? ‘She’s my mate –it’s fine!’ (It’s not.) By rating women by their looks on podcasts?  

By not reaching out to bands with women in them and putting them on your shows?

Representation IS important.

I know some people disagree (including women) on this one, but for me, until there are more equal bills, I think it is right that promoters, especially those putting on bigger shows and festivals actively seek out bands with members who identify as women. The bands ARE there.

Or maybe you are sexist to a certain degree, but don’t realise it – much like white people, like myself, are being asked to reflect on the ingrained racism learnt and accepted over the years – and now have to reflect and face uncomfortable truths, and make, and facilitate change – ACTIVELY.

I complied these questions from conversations I’ve had with other women in the scene, and from over two decades of being a woman listening to hardcore, punk and metal.

Initially I posted these up on Facebook and Instagram, and in all honesty, I was nervous. I thought either the post would be largely ignored (as if often the case on what I see as more important issues) or potentially I would receive backlash. I was completely surprised and heart-warmed that in fact it was shared and liked a lot – globally –  by many younger people in the scene, and many men. I also received personal responses – some telling me their thoughts, and others just reaching out to say thank you, that these questions were much needed. 

Some responders said this toxic masculinity, the ‘machoness’ of the scene, and the way their female friends were treated – was a reason that they left, or stopped going to shows; both male and female – and it’s a point that I’ve had asked to me before, or thought about – if it’s that bad, that sexist – why stick around? But that is an easy one to answer for me; firstly, the world is no less sexist. 

And in hardcore I found a community like no other. Early 20s, after always being the ‘weirdo’ (with friends, but the odd one out) I felt I belonged somewhere. After years of going to shows alone, or dragging random friends with me – I finally started to get to know people in the scene. And there are so many great, passionate, people, with great ideas, so much activism, and so many good, fun, hangouts. The worldwide hardcore family, in my eyes, is like no other. I have met people all over the globe, that have welcomed me with open arms – as friends of friends – all through hardcore. I can walk into a show in London, and be surrounded by familiar faces – the moment I walk in, it feels like home.  

But fundamentally, the music. The rawness and fury with how it’s delivered – the way hardcore makes my insides explode, makes my heart melt but beat furiously – feeling empowered – all at the same time. It’s like nothing else. The lyrics – generally so relatable;  a call to arms, or expressing feelings – feelings that are then moshed out at shows!  The music is obtainable. Anyone can start a hardcore band – and that band potentially could be one of THE best hardcore bands – it’s not about technical skills. It’s about anger, passion, rage, solidarity. 

But it’s not just men in hardcore that need to ask themselves these questions. Some sharers commented on their re-posts that they also needed to be asked in other scenes; cycling, skating, football, petrol-heads. But hardcore is MY scene, it’s a huge part of my life – it IS life. I can’t change the world, I can’t change the scene alone, but we can all do our bit, asking questions, reflecting on what we say, how we act – we can support each other, stand up for each other.

Sadly a few male responders said they’d done this and had been met with threats of violence. Some women said they had stopped going to shows alone because they were constantly chatted up, and didn’t feel safe. There are ways of approaching people standing on their own – at Cavite Fest in the Philippines many people came up to my lone self saying, ‘Hey – saw you were on your own. Just wanted to say hi in case you were lonely! But if you don’t want to chat, that’s cool.’ It was awesome, and very welcome. Drunkenly being slurred and leered at – at best it’s gross, at worst it feels very intimidating and scary.

Some queer women commented that because they were gay they did not face the same interrogation they saw their straight female friends get –  that they felt they had a ‘pass’  –  not being into hardcore for the men. It also made me wonder what the experience is for gay men, or trans people. 

I do believe the scene globally is changing, there are more women in bands, more women technicians, writing zines, doing spoken word – but it needs to be better. Men need to do the work too. 

But just in case you think; ‘OH! But women can be shit talkers as well!’ – yes, I know women are often pitting themselves against each other, and this needs to change – I wrote an article about it.



With love, on a Sunday morning, listening to Betrayed. 

‘Still lost, still hurting, still searching, so desperate for answers
But you have to know they’re out there, you just have to keep looking
Still growing up, still fucking up, still lost and desperate for answers
I know you came up hard and it’s pushing you
But the choices you’ve made, well they’re killing you
You know I understand, but you’re in a fight
Yes, you’re in a fight for your life’

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