COLUMN | Fuck Yr Brotherhood
AUTHOR | Honey Andres
When sexism is the scene, its hurting more than just mainstream society
Breaking the Silence, Garmonbozia
(Image by Melting Yellow blog)
I was twelve when my brother let me listen to the music he listened to. He let me read his zines too and created a Myspace account for me. I was thirteen when I attended my first local hardcore show. And then the next. And the next. And a couple more within the local punk scene too, and an eternity of feeling invisible; either I comply with the women punk-hardcore aesthetic or do something high key, if I want to be included in the scene. And besides, I am a girl. The scene is a brotherhood.
My first hardcore-punk heartbreak was: living in the shadows of my brother. My brother used to play for a couple of bands and made zines. He definitely was the first person, ever, to introduce me to hardcore-punk music. However, I never attended any shows with him (there were a couple where we were at the same show but never together). People who knew we were related used to call me using his name but adding the word *girl at the end of it. It was either people wouldn’t hang out with me because he was my brother and I was seen as a little girl or, they would BECAUSE he was my brother. I felt invisible part one. Part two was when I started making my own zines and giving my two cents about social issues, my intelligence was still, attributed to him.
Feeling invisible and heartbroken part three was when I dated one admired dude from a HC band last year. I came out to the Bane Final Show with him and the next day, was showered with friend invites from Facebook. Some people who never talked to me, and who made me feel invisible, suddenly started associating with me. There were even invites of hanging out which of course, required and requested his presence. There was this one time I got into a FB argument with another known dude who plays in a HC band too, who previously had an argument with someone I had dated, and upon knowing that I was dating him, made him assume that I was speaking out for him, like I didnt have a mind of my own. I started friend-ing more people from the scene yet it made me feel the friendship weren’t genuine. I got into more arguments with dudes I had been trying to hold accountable for sexist, misogynistic, homophobic, transmisogynistic behaviors but it made me more and more anxious. It felt like I’d forever be living in the shadows or in fear. The shadows of dudes I associated with, the fear of dudes from the scene.
Heartbreak number four was when I had a conversation with a woman who fronts a local hardcore band and how pissed off she was that her Facebook newsfeed was full of sexist posts by dudes from the scene or them complimenting women who front hardcore bands as cute chicks whose angst and anger were too cute, as if their relevance was only accessories to beautify the scene and glorify men.
The scene gave me the most painful heartbreak in the name of sexism and misogyny, compared to what Ive experienced from the mainstream society. I ofter wonder why there are so few girls in the scene. I wonder why there are less women fronted bands. I wonder why there will be times a couple of women will be around and will suddenly disappear. Or there will be some staying but theyre not into addressing the sexism within the scene. I can never expect the scene to be completely a safe space for women or marginalized folks, even the most radical spaces within activist/radical spaces or anarchists communities arent, but the people in these communities are always doing their best to make it less unsafe and continuously addressing and having conversations about these issues (eg. sexism, misogyny, homophobia, transmisogyny, *gender based oppressions* etc), unlearning oppressive behaviors no matter how uncomfortable it is in the hope of creating a genuine community thats built on respect and solidarity and not lip service, and this is what I feel to be lacking within the local scene I have. It shouldnt be an excuse that because the scene seems to be apolitical (I would even bet that the scene helps you become politically conscious and that staying apolitical is more about privilege) makes it fine to normalize shitty behaviors which perpetuates violence towards folks who are seen to be less relevant or that it is fine to not even try to understand how the violence and oppression we try to resist through our songs or that which we write about in our zines, which we scream angrily about, are present in our own selves and that we are projecting them towards our scene and the people in it.
There are dudes who talk to me about these issues and I feel a great deal of sincerity with them being allies, and for this I am thankful, but theyre outnumbered by dudes who constantly sing anti-sexism lyrics or claim they were allies yet exhibit sexist and misogynistic behaviors and try to justify it. Most will play bystanders, afraid of damaging relationships with people, with their brotherhood, with hardcore unity, because they think that conversations like this will likely cause fights because it is being too PC or politically correct (as if political correctness is shameful). People often give a pass to someone whos called out for abusive/problematic behaviors just because it is people they admire, people from their favorite bands (imposing respectability politics) or they were friends. There will be a couple of women too (because being a woman never excuses a person of perpetuating misogyny too) who will attack me and call me names because what Ive experienced seems to be impossible for them and that makes it harder and more painful.
People try to encourage me to educate people by writing or by being less militant when talking/arguing so I will be effective, but is that really my job? Do I need to fucking calm down when every single issue I am trying to address, which I receive shrugged cold shoulders, come from the same people who shout their lungs out and brag about how awake they are? Do I need to be polite for something that is damaging me forever as a person because what I have experienced is because I am a woman? Do I need to be patient for unwilling people who are always missing the point because theyre dismissive and in denial? Do I owe men education or do men owe me for the violence I have experienced from them regardless of how small it may seem?
Dudes in the scene often label me as a feminazi or a misandrist yet at the same time it is my feminism that most men mistake me for being someone ready to jump in bed with anyone who shows interest in me. I am tired of these double standards. I am tired of endless justification and excuses and cold shrugging shoulders. I am tired of having to educate. I am tired of your slogans of unity as if what it actually means is loyalty with your toxic masculine brotherhood.
Men in the hardcore scene arent awake from birth but it is your fucking job to make yourself well aware of womens issues and it is your fucking job to be critical of yourself and your actions and behaviors - every single fucking day. IT IS YOUR FUCKING JOB TO CHANGE, TO UNLEARN YOUR OPPRESSIVE BEHAVIORS and it is no ones obligation to educate you of your privileges and how it can be oppressive in an almost impossible shade. Your tenure-ship and friendship, the number of records you listen to or zines youve read or shows youve attended, people youve associated with or whats in your playlist or what you claim yourself to be, NONE will determine if you are sexist or misogynistic or not, nor it will excuse you for being one. Women will tell you if you are, and if we do, stop justifying yourself that you are not, listen and hold yourselves accountable. And it starts with admitting that you are not excused from being problematic (we all are, it’s what we do about them that makes a difference). When someone tells you that youve hurt them, no matter how impossible it may seem, listen and try holding yourself back from justifying that you didnt. You dont get to determine what the impact of your actions will be, regardless of its intention. When someone talks about their pain from the scene or the people in it, do not invalidate them just because you didnt experience the same thing. Their pain is as valid as yours.
Let me end this angry rant with a phrase from a writing by Mellow Yellow, Maybe then can there be a community of us. I think we all just want to feel like we belong somewhere and its especially hard where you can never feel fully comfortable in any established communities, and at this point, I know its not a place I will ever find but a place we have to make for ourselves .Music is so personal/political.
Sexism power imbalance that is systematic and institutionalized, commonly between women (as oppressed) and men (as oppressor). For those who will argue about reverse sexism, please see http://stfu-moffat.tumblr.com/post/45043580758/shitstraightwhiteguyssay-excuse-the-sloppiness.
Misogyny- hatred of woman.
Homophobia – negative attitudes and feelings toward homosexuality or people who are identified or perceived as being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT). (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homophobia)
Transmisogyny – the negative attitudes, expressed through cultural hate, individual and state violence, and discrimination directed toward trans women and trans and gender non-conforming people on the feminine end of the gender spectrum. (http://everydayfeminism.com/2014/01/transmisogyny/)
Intersectionality – a framework that must be applied to all social justice work, a frame that recognizes the multiple aspects of identity that enrich our lives and experiences and that compound and complicate oppressions and marginalizations. (http://everydayfeminism.com/2015/01/why-our-feminism-must-be-intersectional/)
Editor: Honey Andres is a woman of color, based in the Philippines, who runs a small zine distro called Mad Womxns Project and who helped found Incog Press (a radical reading press). She made a series of perzines called Candies and Whims which mostly talks about womxn’s issues, mental health, music and intersectional feminism.