This is something that a close friend said to me. I had just ended a toxic and dangerous relationship and was finally moving on — until I heard that. This relationship chewed me up and spit me out.
We had been semi-living together, all while I started playing in a band. The relationship was the first eye opener that I received when it came to the mistreatment of women within the hardcore music scene. This relationship immersed me into the scene in my hometown of Virginia Beach and also Richmond and trust me when I say that I dived right in.
I became friends with new people and still hold them near and dear to my heart. However, my love for them, the music, and the environment does not excuse the fact that I was simply nothing but a pawn in a sick and misogynist game.
After the breakup, I had seemingly lost all of my friends. I was met with turned backs from the people I cared for the most when I needed them. The people I spent all of my time with sided with him and it was disheartening to see that the same people who claimed to be against abuse, sided with an abuser simply because of his status among them.
It finally hit me and hit me hard. I removed myself from those toxic environments and had quickly realized that none of this was new.
This was happening to women involved with every scene, in every state, every single day. Even women seemed to fall into the pattern of deep-rooted, systemic misogyny simply because that is what they have always known. That is what sparked my interest.
Looking around a room and seeing a boys club that likes to claim that they are inclusive enough and seeing women who kept to themselves or kept with a group of men surrounding them. How were the women in this music scene perceived?
Why are the few who take part so drawn to it themselves despite being mostly surrounded by men? Do they feel welcomed?
I urge anyone and everyone who is reading this to understand one thing. This is not being written with hate in my heart. This is being written in order to bring light to a problem that has been hindering the growth and inclusivity of a scene that claims to welcome all walks of life, but blatantly discriminates against women. I originally set out with the goal to shed light on misogyny in punk and hardcore scenes, but as I continued to research and talk to many different women, it became perfectly clear that this is a problem that plagues more than just those two genres.
Whether I am at a Turnover show in Virginia Beach, a Ceremony show in Brooklyn, or playing a show in a secret house in a secret neighborhood, the systemic misogyny, and exploitation of women in music is a universal topic that is often swept under the rug. After I ed my band, I was constantly exposed to new bands, people, and experiences. While I was excited and eager to learn more, my excitement was with met with judgment.
It is not even obvious displays of sexism and discrimination that women face.
Sometimes the lack of faith in women within heavier scenes comes in different forms. Emilie von Unwerth of the Richmond noise punk band Gumming talks about her experiences.
The idea that a woman is incapable of handling their own equipment is only one example of how learned sexism is able to hurt the progress that the scene and women within it have made. Although Richmond has become a hotbed for inclusivity and diversity, there are still problems that plague the actual women and other marginalized groups which Sophia Lakis knows all too well. A member of local bands. Gif from God and Listless, Lakis, also helps promote shows for the Great Dismal, a booking company that promotes diverse bills and safe spaces in Richmond.
She told RVA Mag how many women involved with music are already at a disadvantage simply because they are often ignored by men in power in the industry. The abuse that women face on an everyday basis within the music scene remains to be an enigma.
Through different interviews with men and women of all genders, ethnicities, and sexuality, I came to a standstill when I noticed that the men in these scenes saw more of an issue than the women in it. The idea that every woman I have spoken to has told me that everything was fine and that they are greeted within the scene with open arms is often counteracted by men within the scene who are quick to describe the mistreatment that their counterparts inflict onto women on a day to day basis.
Emily speaks on her experience of being abused and for being called out for being a past abuser. This is the common mood of most women that I have encountered. Many women believe that they are unable to speak out because they will be simply swept underneath the rug. This is why the idea of callout posts on social media platforms like Twitter and Tumblr has become the norm in niche music genres, such as punk and emo music.
On one hand, it helps deal with the toxic people infiltrating local scenes, but it also invites more misogyny to plague the women involved with the callouts as well. But, callouts are not the only thing that is helping revive these scenes. The mood of the subject changed entirely when I spoke with Heather Eckstine, a young woman who has been attending shows for almost a decade.
Although it is possible for one to find their home within whichever music realm they may find themselves in, it is important to talk about the idea that many women refuse to speak badly about it and question why that is. It never stops — it starts to impact your social life.
Forsack discussed her experiences after the assault and how it impacted her social life and her everyday life as well after speaking out. She went on to say that while there are people speaking out against this type of sexism in the scene, there are still those making jokes out of it. Although women are still continuously facing issues with misogyny and sexism, there is still progress being made when it comes to women fighting against the pushback with more female-fronted bands making their way into the spotlight such as Code Orange, Mortality Rate, Screaming Females, Petal, Tigers Jaw.
The fight for equality amongst men and women has always been a power struggle that will continue — especially in the powerful music scene that Virginia has to offer.
However, it is no longer impossible to imagine the day that it finally comes into its own. Music Sponsored By Graduate Richmond. Samantha is a Virginia Beach native currently studying communications with a concentration in digital media at Longwood University.
She specializes in women's issues and empowerment in politics and visual and performing arts.
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