Taking the cock out of rock

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I’m sure I’ve spoken about this topic before but at the moment I am genuinely concerned about the role of feminism in heavier music scenes. This really all started a couple of weeks ago when I went to see Steel Panther.

I am very much aware of who they are and what they do, and for the most part I enjoy them on a purely silly level. Tiny Kate’s 1st love was Guns’n’Roses after all and cock rock was the epitome of boys and their toys, nearly all the girls mentioned in the songs were either strippers or junkies or both and it took grunge coming along for women to have a stronger place in the alternative music world. By the time I was 16 we had so many strong female role models to look up to that it was a unique and awesome time to be growing up.

Back to present day and I have to say the Steel Panther show was a lot of fun up until one point. Towards the end of their main set, they got ladies from the audience to come up on stage with them. Now that was completely up to those ladies. You know what you’re getting in to with a band like that and I am all for personal choice, but the ladies on stage were cajoled in to taking their tops off. A lot resisted and good on them, but a few didn’t and I guess good on them too if that is what they wanted to do and didn’t do it because they felt they had to. It was the reaction of the band I didn’t like. There was one girl, and she didn’t have large breasts but she was so enthusiastic about everything she didn’t give a shit and good on her. The band took the piss out of her mercilessly. They did the same to another girl who was literally head turning beautiful (saw her earlier in the evening being gawped and catcalled at by some primates as she was walking through the venue) and they basically made jokes about her previously being a man. She got up on stage and danced with you and that’s what you do….dude, seriously, you’re old enough to be her dad! A little respect please! It all seemed too much to be an abuse of power to me.

I know I may be coming across as a feminist killjoy but I handled everything so well up until then. They are a comedy band after all and they take the piss out of themselves almost as much. They didn’t really make it as cock rock superstars the first time round, but being a walking, talking, rocking parody of themselves seems to be working for them now. My sister saw them at a tiny venue just a couple of tours ago and now they’re selling out Wembley Arena? That is a very quick momentum. The band said the same thing during their set, how they were support at Wembley for Motley Crue and Def Leppard just a year ago and now headliners in their own right. They were genuinely thankful for that, but the end of the gig really unsettled me. Even the support act, Skindred, made a couple of jokes that didn’t seem fitting to me; like they were pandering to the audience a little. They’re much better than that. I have seen them a few times now and they are always awesome but perhaps they weren’t the right support act in this instance. It was amazing to see most of Wembley Arena doing ‘The Newport Helicopter’ though (look it up!)

It’s almost like I want another wave of grunge to balance the playing field again. Rock is a very male dominated arena, it always has been and always will be, but for the sake of today’s young women there need to be role models like the ones I had – Shirley Manson, Tairrie B, Sean Yseult and Tobey Torres were mine and they made being a rock/metal fan easier. Men were overall very respectful and protective of us in various mosh pits. Yes I had times where they most certainly weren’t but that never happened at any of their gigs that I went to – probably for fear that being caught would lead to being called out for that sort of behaviour. Now, I don’t see many bands challenging that, and when bands like Steel Panther are getting girls half naked on stage with them well that sort of behaviour may even be celebrated.

I am hoping that bands of my generation coming back – Sleater Kinney, Garbage and now Jack Off Jill – will help bring some balance. I don’t want to stop a band like Steel Panther; hell I can’t be a feminist killjoy and sing along to ‘Gloryhole’ at the same time. I just want young women to be in a mutually respectful environment whilst enjoying rock music. That really isn’t much to ask for. Luckily next time I go to Wembley will be for System of a Down and that will definitely realign the balance for me, or at least put this uneasiness to rest.

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