Thursday, March 10, 2011

Why Women In Metal Are Not Taken Seriously Pt. 2



I have been meaning to do a part 2 about this topic and today I just saw this ad for the Hottest Chicks In Metal-excuse me-Hard Rock: Hall Hath No Fury Tour with In This Moment (ick) headlining. Other bands on the bill include Sister Sin (eek), Straight Line Stitch (Meh, but I respectfully applaud), and System Divide. (Ugh)
Whenever I see the Hottest Chicks In Metal anything I receive a mixture of emotions that consist of anger, shame, and frustration. Why is this?
This kind of promotion is a double edged sword.
The Hottest Chicks In Metal title, I believe, does abso-fucking-lutely nothing for women who sing or listen to heavy metal. Its not empowering and its not honorable. Some may disagree but I believe this sort of title is setting us back.
First off, by creating this (be it man or woman) we have essentially separated ourselves from the metal community by gender first and not anything else. That's the first red flag.
The second, of course, would be the blatant hyper-sexualized photo/promotion for it. I think in my last post about this I said that men are not going to take a women seriously who dresses like one of the above ladies as showed (I'm thinking you can guess which one). Women who make it a point to dress provocatively in an industry that is ruled by men will not be regarded as a serious band. The only angle they may have is 'Uh, well she's hot so I'll watch them anyway'. An anon commenter left this comment in Pt.1:
"...If women are gendered into the beauty complex and use this to their advantage, I take my hat off to them.
Judge musicians based on the music they make, not their clothing.
It's not about the way women dress. It's about the normalisation of belittling women for the way they dress, rather than judging their talent."

You should go back and read the whole comment. Very interesting.
However, I disagree.
Again, that's taking leaps back. Specifically the first sentence. That's the exact reason why we should not take that angle because its expected and its very easy to gain notoriety for beauty rather than talent. People will be so blinded by the lead singers tits to really notice that the music may actually be great...or terrible. Its also different depending on the type of metal we are talking about as well. Women in symphonic metal bands may dress different than women in metalcore or black metal.
The Hottest Chicks In Metal title may give a lot of bands great promo but I also notice that this tends to shift the focus from not only the actual music but the other members of said band.

I actually have tons of respect for Angela Gossow (as I said before pt.1, she may be one of the few who successfully separated herself from 'lead female singer' and band to just Arch Enemy. She has really proven that she is in it for the music. Whether or not you dislike Arch Enemy, you have to respect that.)
Gossow did an interview for KNAC.com and the interviewer asked if she had basically ever wanted to be involved with the Hottest Chicks of Metal.
Angela said: " It's funny that you mentioned that because I just had a huge clash with the editor of Revolver. He's put me into the 2010 "Hottest Chicks in Metal" calendar with that picture in of 2004, so they keep kind of recycling that one. And, I've explained several times I don't want to be featured in that — in that corner. If they want a picture of the band and it's about the music, all cool. No problem. But if it's about me being a woman… I don't like the "Hottest Chicks in Metal" movement at all. I think it's very counterproductive and kind of retro, you know?...
I hate the "Hottest Chicks in Metal!" It's an embarrassment for women, I think (laughs). It's an embarrassment for female musicians, who actually are musicians.

You can read the whole thing in it's entirety here:
I have to say I agree with her.
I understand why some do it though. For promotion and all. But I honestly think that its a path that doesn't have to be taken if your serious about being in this business. I really do.
I literally had to do my research in order to find out that its for the Keep a Breast foundation. ( I was too focused on Maria Brinks to notice any other breast anything. As I'm sure most men who look at this are).

I dunno, maybe its just me.
I'm not saying a woman has to growl or act like a guy in order to gain respect in metal music. But ladies, show a little respect for yourself and then maybe you can gain respect from everyone else.
I want your opinion, guys.

(By the way ladies, Who would your nominees be for the Hottest Guys in Metal? Post some below!...I know how hypocritical. But I couldn't help myself)

26 comments:

Mighty Lambchop said...

This is very frustrating. I feel women have made tremendous gains in heavy metal yet actively participating in "hot metal chick" propaganda does nothing but set things back. It gives permission to men to ONLY judge women by their looks and not music. Frankly, I think it sells women in metal out. Look at the horrible things written about Kimberly Goss and Sarah Jezebel Deva. Rarely discussed is their music, they only fixate on their looks. (Putting aside whether you like what they've done, mind you.)
Is it really so difficult to focus on music and music alone?

Now to be a hypocrite and answer your question, I love Fernando Ribeiro from Moonspell. I can confidently say that I loved their music long before I even saw what they looked like. So there. ;)

BBROCKSTAR said...

It is sad to see that nothing has changed since the 70's when the all American all-girl teenage rock band, the Runnaways dropped the Cherry Bomb and took the US and later Japan by storm (no pun intended).

DareDevil said...

I do not think that it is possible to separate music and sex completely. Female Metal fans drool over male musicians and male fans drool over female musicians. This is the way it is, and also the way how it will most likely stay. I do not even think that it is a problem as such, but I do believe that it is very important for a Heavy Metal musician to not be reduced on his/her looks alone. Heavy Metal as a genre is simply too dirty and too sweaty for that.
This is particularly true for female musicians, as the Metal scene is still mostly a “boys’ club”. A female musician may present herself as hot and sexy of course, but if she lacks the necessary credibility to somehow counterbalance this kind of self-presentation then many fans will not see her as a hot and sexy musician, but rather as a hot and sexy piece of meat.
This may not be fair, but that is the way how things are, imho.

Kelly said...

I'll come back and read this later to comment, as I've been thinking about doing a post on a similar topic anyway. But for now I just wanted to alert you to Enoch, a pretty good stoner/sludge band featuring a black dude. As soon as I saw the picture of them, I thought you'd want to be aware of their existence.

Seance said...

So women in metal have to wear burkas to be taken seriously?

If the music is good it´s good and if you want to use your good looks or great body to get the band more exposure why not. Many male bands have done that through the years to gain attention from females.

That doesn´t make the music better or worse just get more people aware of it.

I want more female metal musicans/bands and fans. The male domination bore me to tears.


And if you or your band want to have garbage lady look that L7 had or you want to look as the ladies in the "Hot Metal Chick" or what ever it´s up to you.

DareDevil said...

@ Seance

I agree that this is not fair, but frankly, why should people pay more attention to a Metal band just because one of the band members happens to be a hot female? Yes, people might take a look, but most non Metal fans would only look at her as they would look at a glamour model. They would drool all over her, but it would not turn them into Metal fans.

Heavy Metal fans would not react much differently. They would drool over her, probably even listen to her band's music, but that would be it. Just think of Angela Gossow. Do you really think that Arch Enemy would sell more CDs if she dressed like a stripper? It would not be fair, but I suspect that most Metal fans would even start to consider Arch Enemy a sell out band for associating themselves with a "slut" in such a way.

With male bands this is different though. Male band members who dress up to get as many "chicks" as possible are considered "cool", of course. I agree that this is not fair, but a sexually promiscuous woman is still considered a slut while a sexually promiscuous man is still considered a MAN, if you know what I mean.

This is also why I think that women in the Heavy Metal scene are well advised to ensure that they come across as women who respect themselves, i.e. to make sure that men do not start to see them as a living and breathing sex doll. A woman who respects herself in this respect WILL be respect in turn, and women who don't will be treated as a piece of meat. This is not fair, this is rude, but in a way it is also honest, or does anybody here really think that women who dress like sluts are treated any differently in real life?

The Black Girl into Heavy Metal said...

@Mighty Lampchop- I agree. It does sell us out and only spreads this (sometimes violent) hypser-sexual view of women. And its considered okay and even normal.
And Fernando is a freakin' dish. Thanks for your comment :)
@Daredevil: I agree. It'd basically impossible to separate the genders in metal because its so obvious already. However, I don't think it should be made even more apparent by titles such as this. But the fault also lies in the women objectifying themselves for a fledgling career in metal. They need absolute skill to back up the sexiness and if they don't have it no one will take them seriously. There is a fine line between sexy/demure and raunchy. There has to be a happy medium. Great comment, btw
@Kelly: Hey, throw me a link when you make that post. I want a guy perspective as well. And many thanks for Enoch. Doom metal eh? Will check them out.
@Seance: I don't think the women should dress like butch hambeast. However, if you ever seen what Maria Brink wears on stage sometimes, you may understand what I mean. Metal is about the music. period. If you want some visual sexy stimuli than you may be at the wrong kind of concert or be into the wrong kind of music.
I never understood how men can want more females to listen to metal and play videogames/etc. but have such a violent response to it. Sorry, I went off on a tangent. May have to do a separate post about violence in metal.

Seance said...

I sense a double standard here men in band can dress sexy women not!

If you clearly read my other post the most important thing is music.
If the songs isn´t there it doesn´t matter how you dress or what image you have.

But if you want to stand out from the millions of bands out there, to get reconized and you choose to use your looks/clothes whatever thats up to you as an invidual.

Many of the so called male hair bands in the eightess did just that didn´t hear any girls crying about that some bands looked like chippendales.

Anonymous said...

Its not empowering and its not honorable. Some may disagree but I believe this sort of title is setting us back.
YES!! I just finished Ariel Levy Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture and what she says about women who do "contests" like this and GGW videos really resonated. Sadly, some of the women interviewed for the book have the tired old "I hate other women/they're a bunch of bitches/sluts mindset. Sorry honey, you can diss/objectify
all you want, but your "friends" would turn on you in a minute if you violate their terms.

DareDevil said...

@ Seance

This is the double standard I was referring to. It was and still is okay for a man to go out and have sex with as many women as humanly possible. Well, okay... this is not okay, but most people still think that it is okay. Heck, I wonder how many men TODAY would still dress up like a Hair Metal band from the 80s, if this meant that they could have more women than they could possibly "manage".

Kelly said...

My thoughts are here. I hope you find them thought-provoking.

Anonymous said...

Women in metal, aren't taken seriously because there is a certain repetoire and "angle," to metal.

Metal is promoted and presented as a genre of aggression. It is the soundtrack to violence, the prompt for one to embrace their primal-aggressive nature. Qualities, which in most societies and cultures, are seen as being for men (masculine). Metal is, in the end, a "masculine" genre.

For a women to generally take on the charateristics of displaying a stronger proclivity towards violence, or to have aggressive ("brutal") music, makes her a "feminine" oddity or the antithesis of femininity. So, already, it is difficult to take her seriously.

She may come across as "trying to hard," even if she is barely trying at all. If she comes across as ultra-aggressive in her music and over all demeanor as a performer, she may be put-down more-and-more for not adhering to the sexualized status quo of most females in metal.

The less she sexualizes herself, the more the focus on other qualities become enhanced. Such as talent, skill, presence, etc. This also ends up to a general scrutinization of her as a woman in a masculinized genre. Her being sexualized, caters to male fans-giving less reason for her to experience the same type of underlying sexist retort and critique desexualized female performers experience.

Seany Genovese said...

What the hell, System Divide are amazing! But onto what I was gonna post...

The vocalist of Cerebral Bore
The drummer of Blackguard
The aforementioned Angela Gossow
The bassist of Bolt Thrower
Flagitious Idiosyncrasy In The Dilapidation
Dr. Mikannibal of Sigh

Proof that not all metal chicks are eye candy. Granted, Mikannibal does sometimes perform in strange and revealing outfits, but she's yet to become a victim of Revolver's hypermasculine testosterone factory. :D

As for the "Hottest Guys In Metal", I'd totally love to see that happen, being a bisexual guy... but there aren't many of us, and I'm sure that I could get a couple of my friends and Rob Halford behind it, but that's not much to go by. Damn shame. :(

Most metal women I see at shows are accompanied by their boyfriends/husbands and don't get into the action much, but it's certainly great to see them there. Mainly because they counteract us smelly men and they offer a much better view ;P Hell a couple of times I've seen Black and Hispanic women at shows, which is always great. I like to acknowledge the presence of bruthas, but sistas are the real treat :)

Afroman said...

The reason that a very small amount of female based bands aren't taken very seriously is because they are overlooked due to the stereotype of women that can't outperform men in the metal genre. This tour is a way for the women to draw in the men, so too speak, and have them leave saying "holy shit, that was f**king awesome!!". This tour is more than some horny guys going to see some hot chicks on stage. It is about these bands showcasing their abilities.

As In This Moment proves, Maria Brink can go straight from screaming to a beautiful and melodic voice which compliments the strong riffs of the guitars and heavy rhythm section.

Obviously you have not thought of this from a band's point of view because the chance to blow someone's mind is fun and exciting to watch and gives you a feeling that you can't describe. My band Infinite Eclipse has a female singer and when we take the stage, we walk out there with smiles on our faces knowing what is to come.

So, unless you know what it is like, don't criticize these bands for what they have done.

BTW: In This Moment are one of the best bands of all time, Thank You

The Black Girl into Heavy Metal said...

@Afroman: I respect your argument, however this line voids whatever case you were attempting to make.

"BTW: In This Moment are one of the best bands of all time, Thank You"

I sure hope your female lead relies on her her voice and your talents rather than her...assets to draw an audience
Good day to you.

Notes of All Trades said...

I really like this blog. I am relatively new to the world of blogging, but I too am a black girl who loves heavy metal: folk/Scandinavian, death, power, classic metal, etc.

I believe that the promotion for female-fronted bands can sometimes get out of control. Whatever the reasons that vary, I think that it does place a label on females in general. It says a lot more for females (and males) who appreciate and understand the history of heavy metal's distinctive subgenres.

Even though some of the songs from the era were okay, it seems reminiscent of the shallow-sounding '80s "hair metal" days. Then, many females exposed to heavier music were the groupies who were just present for reasons other than to defend the genre or the girls in the videos who became a part of pop culture (ex: Tawny Kitaen's vehicle dancing fest). However, I'm sure there were loads of female fans.

I don't want to appear hypocritical (because I enjoy Straight Line Stitch's music and because I haven't heard tracks from some of the bands mentioned), but the borderline hard rock/metalcore stuff seems to correlate with commercial metal of the '80s. Perhaps some metal fans and nonfans will view the females being over-exposed and distort whatever values that can potentially blossom. The entry point of metal becomes misrepresented, and it does make everything backtracked. People may not take females in bands seriously for those reasons; that is not so cool.

Death Ray Specs said...

In certain area's of metal a womens looks are left alone, so musicians like; Katherine Katz of Agoraphobic Nosebleed & ex of Salome,
Liz Buckingham of Electric Wizard & ex guitarist of 13 & Sourvien,
Lori S of Acid King - are able to perfom without the tag "female metaller", being given to them most of the time.
In all musical genre's mainstreams, where acts are trying to sell to a larger audience then artists will use their image, antics, 'sexuality' etc, to increase sales & promotions.
I mean a number of country musicians are gay, to the point where their managment/labels have fake wifes/gf's for them & they have two sections to their homes to hid their sercet lives.
I know that sounds like this is off-topic slightly, but I think this points to a bigger problem were unless an artist/musician fits or plays the role to fit in to the mainstream's (whatever music genre) views then they are left by the wayside interms of sales & coverage.
Codaires.tumblr.com recently did a number of feature pieces on female musicians in the sludge/stoner/doom scene, & a short essay on why she thinks that the scene is better suitated towards the equal treatment of female artists.

Anonymous said...

Manowar and the image of masculinity heroism and fighting is a big part of Metal and all the aggression.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJ0sW7KOFhU

Now i noticed that girls became more and more popular in metal now lately.

But thats because it's NU metal and other new types that are more soft and feminine.

But i'd love to see more of black females into Metal that would be awesome. But me myself i'm much into manowar and stuff like old metallica with lots of agression and battle in it.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to see more women in metal generaly.
But i think that some songs and bands just fit men better.

The universe would self destruct if the Manowar members would be exchange to women.

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lGDqxB6PII4

rebelgrrrl said...

So basically I just wrote up a whole long comment that could have been cool that has now been erased. So I'll have to try again, but I can't promise it'll be as good!

First: Thank you so much for this entry! It's a great entry and I love conversations like this, so I'm glad you're encouraging them and making them happen on your blog! I'm not the biggest metalhead in town but I do love to see women in metal kick ass and take names, you know? It's so awesome to see women rebel against what we so often think of as quote/unquote: "guy standards"; the idea that women aren't metal is so fucking bogus, grr! (btw, I'm feeling a little saucy, so my language might be a bit...naughty? :)

so to the point: I absolutely HATE HATE HATE seeing the damn "Hottest women in metal/hard rock" magazine issues. This totally sets women back as not performers but eye candy. it's totally dismissive of their ability to play and rock the fuck out and only affirms that metal is a male genre. It frustrates me every single time I come across these issues, so thank you for vocalizing it!

I think it's also interesting that there seems to be a gendered uniform for women in metal, and it's one that seems to have been approved by the guys. Whether it's the hot chick in leather and spikes or the hot chick with the sexy corsets/period clothing, it seems like there's a weird 'accepted standard'. please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, but I swear that's what I see half the time, on frontwomen in bands...Anyway, that said, should the woman be taking herself seriously as a performer/musician, it is not necessarily our place to judge, especially if she is vocal about her art/style/etc. the most relevant example I can bring up at this moment is Lady Gaga. I do not love Lady Gaga, but it's clear from her interviews that she knows exactly what she's doing and realizes that music is actually much more than JUST music. It's performance. It's stage performance. and she owns that. She creates these crazy/bizarre outfits that get people talking, and get people listening. It's a fascinating line that musicians sometimes have to draw on to be successful.

Anyway, yay for this blog entry! and keep up the amazing work! Conversations like this are awesome, and I need more of them!!

Nila-Raine BlixtWolf said...

Firstly let me say I am sooooo happy I found this blog!

Second, totally agree, and it is soo tremendously frustrating especially when a lot of metal guys are more girls than we metal ladies are.

Core said...

While i do agree with aforementioned post i have a few thoughts i wanted to share. I am a 25 year old white dude. So perhaps my thoughts are skewed lol

1. With so many mediocre acts out today i feel like anything that can give you an edge is a good thing.

2. Myself, i usually listen to a band before i see them in person or check out there pictures or anything. Good tunes is good tunes. I dont think anyone listens to metal for the attractive people. In the immortal words or Mikael Akerfeldt "the problem with filming is that metal people so fuckin ugly"

3. I have tremendous respect for all musicians who can create great music regardless of gender or race.

Nick said...

It doesn't matter one fucking iota if a person is god's (gods') gift to men/women. Yeah, you can ogle them a bit, but let's be honest. Hot people are a dime a dozen. If your favorite vocalist isn't amazingly attractive, type in the words "hot chicks" on google to get your fix. Or go to the mall. There's no shame being a woman and not looking like a supermodel, ESPECIALLY in metal. This isn't a pop show that's more beauty pageant than concert. If looks mattered more than talent, lots of big time male vocalists would have never had success. Dio would have been a laughingstock, his being a munchkin and all. Good on Angela Gossow, for all Arch Enemy gets accused of being poser metal, they keep it real.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry,but I disagree to at least some extent and to some extent I do agree.While yes sexuality is used to get women over in metal perhaps sexuality is also used to get men over as well in metal.Does anybody remember the hair metal genre that was so predominately powerful during the 1980's and early 1990's with bands such as Motley Crue,Poison,Bon Jovi,along with countless others????Anyway I remember those boys wearing like skin tight spandex or leather pants and either sleeveless shirts,unbuttoned shirts,or no shirts at all to show off their arms and chests.Also I remember girls of that particular time period in music history talking about how cute this lead singer was or how hot that another lead singer was.And this led to the reason that most guys hated hair metal.Anyway why I do find most female lead singers in metal bands hot myself I DO NOT let that add to or take away from how I view them as musicians.For example I think that Liv Jagrell from Sister Sin is HOT....,but I actually love her music with the exception of her very first album which was the album before Switchblade Serenades it sucked.Same thing goes for Amy Lee from Evanescence or Jada Pinkett Smith from Wicked Wisdom.So far as Otep goes I CANNOT stand their "music".And so far as respect goes Lita Ford,Joan Jett,and Doro Pesch from Warlock are considered to be pioneers and legends in the world of heavy metal music.Back to subject and my earlier rant sexuality IS NOT just used to get women over,but men as well.Heavy metal is very sexual in nature and always has and should always reflect not only in the artist's songs and videos,but in their dress and public persona's as well.Without skin tight outfits and revealing clothing heavy metal would take a MAJOR blow in comparison to it's earlier days.

Anonymous said...

I support your views. The rest of society tend to view metalheads as a bunch of Neanderthals, and I cringe when I think of a non-metal person seeing the 'Hottest chicks in metal' cover. Just confirms the stereotypes. When metal is much more open minded than that.

We have so many talented female musicians and singers, and their gender comes second to their love and dedication to music.

A man will not understand why some female metalheads find it alienating. These tours and magazines treat the women as novelties, and it is sexist. I love how Angela Gossow demands respect for her vocal abilities and not how she looks. Also Laura Pleasants from Kylesa, she's a musician who just happens to be female. Som Pluijmers is a vocalist who just happens to be female. THOSE are the types of women I look up to.

And In This Moment are a truly truly terrible band. They are not metal, they're a cheesy metalcore/ rock band.

Also, I love metal because it is not mainstream, but it's depressing that we still can't escape the whole 'sex sells' thing'.