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SEXIST BEATDOWN: Tell You My Name, F-U-C-K Edition

Ladies! Have you ever entertained the desire… to rock the fuck out???

Well, too bad. The dudes, they do not support you in this ambition! Some of them! (“But some of us DOOOOOOOO” — The Comment Section.) And, in this very special LADYPALOOZA edition (yes, it’s the worst title for a Theme Post Party ever. And I’m going to be typing it, it looks like, for AT LEAST TWO WEEKS NOW. I will have plenty of opportunities to regret this decision, is what I’m saying) of Sexist Beatdown, we discuss why that might be the case!

Yes, the legendary duo of Amanda Hess of the Sexist and I — the Indigo Girls of blogging! — will posit several reasons why The Dudes look to exclude or ignore The Ladies in the field of musical accomplishment. Our hypotheses involve (a) wedgies, (b) sexism, and (c) the fact that a lot of indie rock dudes are just basically the same guys that go to Ren Faire., but in different outfits. (So, again: Wedgies.) Also, we reveal the song that first delineated the Tiger Beatdown Method Conflict Management. SPOILER: It’s this one.

ILLUSTRATION: Oh, like you are surprised.

SADY: Well, good morning! Are you prepared… TO ROCK??? I myself am underprepared to rock. But, for those about to rock: I do, in fact, salute them!

AMANDA: Same here! I have to admit that I’m perhaps not the best lady to be standing up for the rights of ladies to rock, because I actually really suck at playing music. The question is whether this is on account of my being a lady or not? Discuss.

SADY: Well: Here is the thing. When I was a wee young pre-blogger, of about the age of eleven or twelve, I discovered a variety of music! Such as the Juliana Hatfield (DON’T YOU JUDGE ME) and the PJ Harvey. And I was like, “ladies who are in bands get to yell about things that are personally offensive or troubling for them! A lot! Surely, this is my career path.”

AMANDA: Hahah. Almost!

SADY: Yes! So I got a guitar, and I told all of the boys in school with Kurt Cobain haircuts that if they wanted to help me learn this “guitar,” we could be in a band together.

AMANDA: Sounds reasonable.

SADY: And then one of them, the cutest one, the one that I liked best, told me why I was not getting any positive responses. He sat me down, and he said: “The thing is, we don’t play girl music.” And now I am a blogger, and still cannot play guitar, although my brother can, because I gave it to him, THE END. So, like: The question of ladies in music is one I like to think about, because (a) FUCK YOU TYLER FUCK YOU RIGHT IN THE KURT COBAIN HAIRCUT YOU WEREN’T THAT CUTE, and (b) I feel like, as a venue for angry or self-obsessed or confrontational expression, people have a VESTED INTEREST in barring ladies from the field of rock music, really!

AMANDA: I see the same sad sexism in a lot of different subcultures, and I think women are often drawn to these spaces because they’re outside of the mainstream – because the mainstream marginalizes them, but perhaps in a different way than it does sensitive rocking Kurt Cobain haircut boys.

SADY: Agreed!

AMANDA: So on the one hand, you’d think the subculture would be totally interested in accepting women – how rejecting of mainstream values is that! – but on the other hand, the subculture is also about building a culture around the primacy of the sensitive rocking Kurt Cobain haircut boy’s particular flavor of marginalization, and when women come in with some other shit to talk about it tends to threaten that dynamic.

SADY: Right. I mean, not to re-iterate an old cliche, but: The guitar is a tried-and-true way, not only for Wussy Guy to become Charismatically Sensitive Guy, but for men to sort of build hierarchies outside of the gym class where they are all getting wedgies. And I think women are drawn to rock or indie rock or whatever the kids with the cool haircuts are doing these days – and I’m not even trying to exclude other genres, this is just the genre in which I have the most experience – because, they think, “a-ha! Outsiders! As a lady, I am kind of BY DEFAULT an outsider, in that I am not a dude!” But the dudes are like, “you don’t get it. We WERE outsiders. But we built a WHOLE NEW INSIDE, for us specifically, so that we wouldn’t have to be outsiders any more. And now you are not invited.”

AMANDA: Exactly. But the same thing happens time and time again, which is that women are used in a very mainstream way in these subcultures, as a) prizes to show just how powerful the subculture has become, because these weird boys fuck all the hot girls now, b) uncool people that must be excluded in order to maintain the outsider vibe or c) tokens.

SADY: Right. I mean, who doesn’t like St. Vincent? Or Neko Case? Or that girl from Rilo Kiley who was in the Fred Savage video game movie?

AMANDA: Well, if you don’t like them, at least you think they are hot.

SADY: Yes! For also, who has not visited a publication of review for music, and seen the reviewer dedicate a substantial amount of time that could have been spent talking about music to, instead, talking about the lady’s sexual charisma and appearance, and/or the comment section devolving into a mass vote as to whether or not the male commentariat would Hit It?  But when it is time to talk about these women musically, folks get shifty and bored and start derailing the conversation so that they can get into a conversation about folks who are doing this “better” and also happen to be dudes.

AMANDA: Yeah, it’s sad. And it’s not in any way confined to the world of music. You can find the same patterns with pot, and with comics, and with goth, and sometimes in the gay community (D.C. has like one lesbian bar and a jillion gay bars, and gay men are much more visible, perhaps because they don’t even require the girlfriends), and can I tell you about the awful things I’ve heard about what happens to some women who are into Ren Faire stuff? GROPE-CENTRAL, for when the male and female nerds congregate for their yearly olde-tyme fantasy shindig, the misogyny, it is also olde-tyme.

SADY: Oh, man! And, yes: I think we even did a Ye Olde Sexist Beatdowne, about this, in Oldyn Tymes! My experience of lady-nerds is that they tend to be huge and fairly hardcore feminists. And I was like, “that’s funny, I never thought of feminism as a particularly nerdy thing,” but then I realized (a) I was on the Internet, and (b) male nerd subculture tends to be like INTENSE in its misogyny! Lady-nerds seriously grab on to feminism like it is a buoy and they are drowning, because it is! And they sort of are! And women in music sometimes do the same thing, see: Riot Grrrl, duh. Formed in reaction to dudes with floppy Kurt Cobain haircuts, at least one of whom was ACTUALLY KURT COBAIN. (Though he was a huge feminist, God bless.)

AMANDA: Yeah. It’s not that I don’t appreciate and understand men who are alternative in appearance or interest or values or whatever needing a space that’s outside the mainstream that’s their own.

SADY: Maybe they could all become Male Studies Majors?

AMANDA: BUT. I wonder if some of the disconnect here is in these guys thinking that their asymmetrical haircut or interest in Magic: The Gathering is like the most intensely othering experience that a human can have? And are unaware that there are some other people around who may have that experience of being othered no matter which subculture they attempt to access.

SADY: Right. Exactly. And, on that note, I think we’ve been talking about how women are viewed as Objects of the Male Gaze, or how they try to fit in to male-dominated subcultures. BUT, I think we should also note that women in rock music have been some of the most enduring models for female rebellion? Like, as in many cases, I find that the solution for not liking the scene you are in is to (a) make your own scene, which is (b) comprised of girls. Which is why we keep talking about Riot Grrrl in 2010. Or ladies who were never really IN a scene, like PJ, or Liz Phair, who wrote an entire album about how sick she was of the dudes in her scene, or Tori Amos, who was like, “well, I can’t play your fancy guitars, gentlemen, but I did take some piano lessons!” And the extent to which the ethos of Tiger Beatdown is informed by the PJ Harvey song “50 Foot Queenie” is NOT TO BE UNDERESTIMATED. Hey: I’m the king of the world. You wanna hear my song?

AMANDA: Haha. IT ALL MAKES SENSE NOW

SADY: Yes, no matter what PJ Harvey had to get through to become PJ Harvey, she did in fact record the sound of herself playing guitar really loud and screaming the phrase “YOU BEND OVAH, CASANOVA” and thus, I think, became a model for A Certain Variety of Conflict Management for many a lady person.

74 Comments

  1. missjulied wrote:

    I love me some PJ, but I’m so sad that she doesn’t seem to be playing the guitar anymore.

    Friday, April 16, 2010 at 11:17 am | Permalink
  2. Kristina wrote:

    Ah! Marginalized nerd-folk! I am one. It really turns into this misplaced sense of eliteness among nerd-men, as though they are alone in their aloneness. As though the plight of woman or person of color or trans-person or homosexual person or pansexual person or so many others is not comparable to the bullying in school. News flash: those people generally go through worse bullying, on the whole. Women can fake their way through if they are pretty and follow the heteronormative stereotypes, but the rest usually can’t, unless they also fake it and follow the white male majority, (which is MUCH harder for super-marginalized groups). And female feminist nerds? Even white ones are uber-marginalized. But I feel like we don’t have that weird elitist My Problems Are Bigger And More Existential And Therefore Problem-ier Than Yours thing. We don’t sit there and cry about it. At least not publicly. As women, we are told to hold this all in and accept that we are invaders in a man’s niche. But, um, it’s the same, boy-nerd, girl-nerd, and trans-nerd alike. We should be on the same side, not warring for turf in the middle of the ground we built together…

    Friday, April 16, 2010 at 11:23 am | Permalink
  3. Dora wrote:

    I wonder if some of the disconnect here is in these guys thinking that their asymmetrical haircut or interest in Magic: The Gathering is like the most intensely othering experience that a human can have? And are unaware that there are some other people around who may have that experience of being othered no matter which subculture they attempt to access.

    THANK YOU. I was just thinking about this today, following some conversations with men that I actually like and in some cases am related to. I’m a nerd. My friends are nerds. I am aware of all the social problems you can have due to that. And I want to be sympathetic to nerds who think they are the biggest outcasts in this society; some people have problems letting high school go. But it’s pure, blind, stupid privilege.

    It also ties into the Nice Guy thing where a man permits himself the most revolting and dangerous behaviors with women because he can’t possibly be an asshole — he is, by definition, someone that assholes pick on.

    Friday, April 16, 2010 at 11:28 am | Permalink
  4. Nancy wrote:

    I feel like this is another variation of what we see in society at large, wherein minority groups, rather than recognizing their common bond of being treated like crap by the ruling class, banding together (which would then in fact make them the majority), and fomenting revolution, look for ways to claw themselves a little bit higher up the ladder (and maybe identify with the ruling class) by finding some group a little lower down that they can treat like crap. Being downtrodden sadly does not make lots of people identify with other downtrodden types; rather, it seems to make them want to find someone to stomp on so they can feel better. And guess what? Pretty much every group, no matter how downtrodden, usually has some women around. Ta da!

    Or, you know, what John Lennon said.

    Friday, April 16, 2010 at 11:41 am | Permalink
  5. jfruh wrote:

    Wait, I am confused by the word “pot” appearing in your list of marginalized subcultures that exclude ladies. Are there really dudes who think that ladies are somehow bad at smoking pot, or don’t really “get” smoking pot, because of their vaginas? This is baffling!

    Friday, April 16, 2010 at 11:41 am | Permalink
  6. Laura wrote:

    It’s a thorny subject, and as a female muso / singer / occasional angry screamer ultimately you have to stop guessing the whole thing [if I sing angry songs will I get pigeonholed as an ‘angry woman in rock’ / if I play acoustic guitar and sing a soft thoughtful song will I get lumped in with the ‘acceptable’ end of female singer/songwriters / if I dress up a bit weird onstage will I be labelled quirky and therefore acceptable as another symbol of the “unhinged” woman) and just get the hell on with making the music that comes out of you, sentiment unedited.

    You still have to ignore a lot of ridiculous comments, but that’s to be expected, sadly. I get around the bitterness by making videos featuring zombie clowns and hula hooping, but that’s just me ;)

    http://www.shemakeswar.com/ltb.htm

    Friday, April 16, 2010 at 11:43 am | Permalink
  7. Katherine wrote:

    I LOVE YOU, SADY!

    Because, like these other lovely ladies, I am a nerd, one who thought maybe nerdiness, and a 20 year acquaintance, and actually being married to one of the founders, would gain me entry to the gamer nerd guy group. But, no, the “no girls allowed” rule held for a number of years (and believe me, I argued!) until some other people also got wives (like the host guy) and then the wives were allowed to hang out together upstairs and talk and do beading projects together. And so I was finally allowed to come (and this is especially a big deal because by this point hubby and I have a small child and not a lot of time to do fun stuff together) as long as I was girly enough. But the girly enough part wasn’t wasn’t explicitly stated and the host is a passive aggressive nut job, so when I joined in the Rock Band playing, wow, did things explode! Like, the host and my husband who had been best friends since kindergarten essentially broke up over my presence. And I learned that men handle intra group conflict very differently than women, in that there is no pretending to be nice to people, the “offending” parties are simply, permanently, excluded. So there go our friendships with all the other people in the group who may not have had a problem with letting the ladies in. And the whole while the host dude is loudly proclaiming that he isn’t sexist, it’s just that I’m a really terrible person for wanting to hang out with “the guys.”

    And, yes, this happened two years ago, and yes, I am still really pissed off about it. But! I am also now a hardcore feminist (instead of a vaguely raised by one kind of feminist) who literally kicks ass because I started doing MMA just so I could get in there and fucking fight. (Did you know, martial arts groups are remarkably low in sexism? When the women are encouraged to kick the shit out of them, the men are not so condescending.)

    Friday, April 16, 2010 at 11:59 am | Permalink
  8. Silvana wrote:

    Are there really dudes who think that ladies are somehow bad at smoking pot, or don’t really “get” smoking pot, because of their vaginas?

    I know it sounds crazy, but you basically hit it on the head.

    Friday, April 16, 2010 at 12:58 pm | Permalink
  9. Andy wrote:

    Smoking pot is a stereotypical guy thing to do. In pop culture, how many women do you see smoking pot? You know, all those silly movies where the dudes get high? There are no girls getting high with them! NONE! Because smoking pot is not for the ladyfolk.

    Friday, April 16, 2010 at 1:01 pm | Permalink
  10. JfC wrote:

    On the Nerd-lier subcultures:

    I think that this problem is fortunately slowly going away through grassroots chicks-liking-obscure-things and making friends with people like them (including dudes) in high school. Cross-gender friendships are becoming more and more common, and girls are welcomed as potential outcasts/nerds. If you look at the gender ratio on livejournal, for instance, you’ll find it’s often skewed in favor of ladies that like anime or fantasy. In the anime/manga subculture, ladies in Japan have already carved out a space, and that’s happening on this side of the pond. For western comics, a lot of female fans are picking up webcomics (I would like to thank Jeph Jacques for showing a large cast of well rounded female characters, and for titans like Kate Beaton and Rene Engstrom for showing ladies can comic and be funny quite well). At the big time organizational level, conventions and online forums, there’s still a huge entrenched problem that needs to be specifically addressed though. WoW is still a minefield.

    On indie rock and roll:
    I’m appreciating the swing towards more eclectic sounds rather than a specific sound that you recognize as ‘indie’ that is all boys and guitars. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Metric now are acceptable things for indie guys to appreciate and follow musically, and they do in large numbers, although a bit of it is sexualization of the frontwoman.

    Friday, April 16, 2010 at 2:29 pm | Permalink
  11. Pope Lizbet wrote:

    @ Kristina: trans nerds are, generally, either boy-nerds or girl-nerds, not third-gender or non-binary nerds. Considering girl-nerds ran trans girl nerd Sandy Stone out of Olivia Records in the day, because their cis-centered definition of women didn’t include her, this is not splitting hairs.

    I’m loving this series, SFD. Keep rockin’.

    Friday, April 16, 2010 at 2:50 pm | Permalink
  12. GarlandGrey wrote:

    @JFRUH Men exclude women by filling Pot magazines with things that men want to see when they are smoking, like scantily-clad ladies! and other stuff that gay men/straight women might not be interested in! Online pot communities include things like Funny Videos of People Getting Hurt! and discussions about whether or not dudes should smoke with women (The consensus seems to be Tits or GTFO).

    It is also easier to get pipes shaped like DRAGONS! and SKULLS! and AWESOME DUDE STUFF! and harder to find stuff that other people might like, a water pipe shaped like a violin.

    Friday, April 16, 2010 at 3:14 pm | Permalink
  13. Annaham wrote:

    I suppose that this comment would be an EXCELLENT place for me to talk about the weird feelings that intersect for me as an indie-rock fan and/or someone who goes to shows, a feminist and chick who does not dress like a traditional “indie rock” sort of woman, and a person with disabilities (I also use a cane)! But I realize that I could probably write an entire NOVEL on that shit.

    Friday, April 16, 2010 at 3:20 pm | Permalink
  14. Nora wrote:

    The good news about stoners is that a lot of stoner kids (at least the ones that I know) really reject the High Times/Cheba Hut/Stoner Movie thing because they feel it is The Man marketing to them, and since The Man invests a lot of time and money to Keeping Them Down they aren’t going to support their franchises with their money, choosing instead to spend it on increasingly elaborate water pipes made by local glassblowers. The stoners that I know are pretty evenly gender-divided, and they all hate on the mainstream stoner representations.

    Also I’ve been in sexist nerd circles and I’ve been in much less sexist nerd circles! I think it’s kinda getting better. Not in, like, Halo or anything, but we have a mixed group (3 female/4 male/1 two-spirit) in our DnD group, and that’s cool and stuff. This is in no way me going in and saying “NO THE PROBLEMS ARE NOT THERE THE PATRIARCHY IS DEAD” because they totally are! But the costumes in the games are occasionally not ridiculous, and women are increasingly represented, and more girls are gaming and reading comics and… I don’t know, eating oversized pocky than EVER BEFORE, even if it’s just baby steps.

    Friday, April 16, 2010 at 3:24 pm | Permalink
  15. sarita wrote:

    Hello! I have a few things to say.

    1) Tiger Beatdown is the best blog title EVER IN THE HISTORY OF EVER.

    2) I have enjoyed the rock musings very much. Well done!

    3) I’ve also observed an interesting thing being a female fan, where I frequently feel like I need to wear a t-shirt to shows that says, “No, I don’t want to fuck you, I just like your music.” I often hang with a male music fan, and the vibe between him and the musicians is totally different, even when I am clearly not. flirting. Just wondering if others had dealt with this.

    4) These posts make me want to share my favorite chicks rocking out, and so I will*: I give you the sadly defunct queercore band The Butchies, with whom I hope many of you are already familiar. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OoVpWg93pnw

    * idea for a post or three? Rocking Chicks You May or May Not Now

    Friday, April 16, 2010 at 3:39 pm | Permalink
  16. K wrote:

    1. “The thing is, we don’t play girl music.” This is a variation of something I hear from my boyfriend all the time — he classifies so much of what I listen to as “girl music,” I assume because I listen to a lot of female musicians… BUT, here’s what I don’t get: I can understand calling a band like The All Girl Summer Fun Band “girl music” (I mean, really, what the hell else are they?) but the Breeders? I never hear them called “girl music.” Same thing with Free Kitten. And these are both heavily female bands. The only thing I can think of is that they’re protected from the “girl music” label by their associations with widely admired, largely male outfits (in this case, Pixies and Sonic Youth), which is interesting to me, that idea of “earning” credibility through collaboration with dudes.

    2. RE: Lady nerd stuff, have you heard of WisCon before? It’s a long running feminist science fiction convention (the website is here). I’ve never attended, but a couple of my friends have & they’ve spoken very highly of the experience, especially the opportunities to explore sex, gender, race, and class through panel discussions.

    Friday, April 16, 2010 at 3:48 pm | Permalink
  17. AMANDA: BUT. I wonder if some of the disconnect here is in these guys thinking that their asymmetrical haircut or interest in Magic: The Gathering is like the most intensely othering experience that a human can have? And are unaware that there are some other people around who may have that experience of being othered no matter which subculture they attempt to access.

    This quote, right here, crystallizes the reason every race/gender conversation with my ex-boyfriend (and other nerds) dissolved into frustrating nothingness. Wow.

    Friday, April 16, 2010 at 4:05 pm | Permalink
  18. Farore wrote:

    It is definitely true that a large number of the geeky girls are feminists! Sadly, i have also found it to be true that the ladies who are not feminists tend to have this very geek-culture-specific sense of entitlement and ego as a result of constant token-izing by the dudes. Like, Yay! I get to be special because I am the ONLY GIRL EVER who has liked D&D!! Surely you all want to sleep with me, yes? And it’s really sad because it’s just this huge low-self-esteem party, but it’s also really annoying and it’s hard to be sympathetic to someone who is treating you like a CHALLENGER OMG because you also happen to have a vagina.

    But, yeah, whoa:
    “AMANDA: BUT. I wonder if some of the disconnect here is in these guys thinking that their asymmetrical haircut or interest in Magic: The Gathering is like the most intensely othering experience that a human can have? And are unaware that there are some other people around who may have that experience of being othered no matter which subculture they attempt to access.”

    YES. YES SO MUCH. i play/hang out with M:tG guys regularly and you would not BELIEVE the amount of shit i get piled on me for looking vaguely ladyish. i love the card shop we hang out in, but MORE OFTEN THAN NOT i cannot even bring myself to PLAY in the games because it would mean direct contact with the Dudes where i don’t have the option of putting on headphones and pretending i can’t hear them commenting on my chest or telling me i’m the only ‘girl’ that plays M:tG when there is another lady sitting RIGHT BEHIND ME or telling me i just don’t understand the complexities of the game because i am a GIIIIRLLLLLL, while i wipe the field with their crappy deck. Ugh ugh ugh.

    Friday, April 16, 2010 at 4:44 pm | Permalink
  19. Vee wrote:

    @Sarita re: 3 3) I’ve also observed an interesting thing being a female fan, where I frequently feel like I need to wear a t-shirt to shows that says, “No, I don’t want to fuck you, I just like your music.” I often hang with a male music fan, and the vibe between him and the musicians is totally different, even when I am clearly not. flirting. Just wondering if others had dealt with this.

    Oh yes, oh yes. There’s a charming video by the band All Time Low, who in addition to making pretty terrible music saw fit to make a music video where all the women in the video had roles that were related to whether or not they were fucking a dude in the band. This, to be clear, was a video where the people with roles had labels attached to them, so that the difference between male and female fans was then really clearly demonstrated. SIGH.

    Friday, April 16, 2010 at 4:59 pm | Permalink
  20. C.L. Minou wrote:

    @Farore: Rock on. Though the good news is the gaming books at least (especially the WotC books) do about the best job of being gender-neutral that I’ve seen in, well, just about any medium.

    I’ve been gaming more recently and for the most part being a woman (now) hasn’t been a big deal, and I’m rarely the only one, and I could go on but this might make a better post than comment. Being a Senior Noncontributor has responsibilities, you know.

    Friday, April 16, 2010 at 5:00 pm | Permalink
  21. Willow wrote:

    “And I was like, “that’s funny, I never thought of feminism as a particularly nerdy thing,” but then I realized (a) I was on the Internet, and (b) male nerd subculture tends to be like INTENSE in its misogyny!”

    I just had to say that this made me laugh out loud at work. I thoroughly enjoy reading this blog as it makes me giggle while feeling empowered. You guys rock!

    Friday, April 16, 2010 at 5:13 pm | Permalink
  22. bookbat wrote:

    Annaham, if you ever do write that novel, I will read the shit out of it.

    Friday, April 16, 2010 at 5:29 pm | Permalink
  23. kittyfood wrote:

    @Farore:
    God yes, I know exactly what you mean because I used to be one of those girls. I make no excuses save only the fact that I’m finally over it.

    Friday, April 16, 2010 at 6:11 pm | Permalink
  24. jenthing wrote:

    You know, the only movie I can think of that features a female stoner is Smiley Face. Interestingly enough, it is also the only madcap stoner movie I’ve ever seen where said stoner has to face legal repercussions for her actions during the film. ATTENTION LAYDEEZ: Smoke pot, go to jail! Because you’re bad at it!

    Friday, April 16, 2010 at 6:16 pm | Permalink
  25. Seriously, I want to print out the nerd-related sections and frame them on my wall. I had been wondering recently about the high concentration of feminism in nerdy areas and fandom in general, and this makes PERFECT SENSE. It’s like my feminist awakening all over again.

    Friday, April 16, 2010 at 6:35 pm | Permalink
  26. ozymandias wrote:

    Nerd culture is getting better a little, I think? Because at least with my soon-to-be-high-school-graduate nerd friends there are girl nerds and guy nerds in equal numbers. Of course, the guy nerds are primarily concerned with 4Chan, video games and SCIENCE! and the girl nerds are primarily concerned with anime/manga/Japan or bad fantasy novels with vampires.

    But progress is being made, is the point.

    Friday, April 16, 2010 at 7:22 pm | Permalink
  27. Andy G wrote:

    Great article! However, I did want to pick up on one throwaway comment:

    “sometimes in the gay community (D.C. has like one lesbian bar and a jillion gay bars, and gay men are much more visible, perhaps because they don’t even require the girlfriends)”

    Wow I’m not often conscious of privilege as a gay man, so I hope I’m not sticking my foot in it here, but while the underrepresentation and marginalisation of lesbians is definitely a problem, I’m not sure that this example fits neatly with the others, because the lack of visibility of and provision for lesbians is surely not principally down to gay men, and because to compare the LGBT community to the music-based subcultures is perhaps a bit misleading because the gay LGBT community is a cluster of overlapping subcultures, rather than a single subculture dominated by men to the exclusion of women.

    I’m also possibly being dense, but I didn’t get the girlfriend reference.

    Friday, April 16, 2010 at 7:24 pm | Permalink
  28. JMS wrote:

    the lack of visibility of and provision for lesbians is surely not principally down to gay men

    Within the LGBTQIA community in the US, it often is. Obviously, both lesbians and gay men are marginalized by the kyriarchy, but within the LGBTQIA activism movement and within LGBTQIA media, lesbians are very often marginalized by gay men (generally but not always white, middle-class, currently able-bodied gay men).

    Pretty much every prominent LGBTQIA media outlet in the US has a few scandals around marginalizing women contributors in its past; the one I’m most familiar with is the mid-90s scandal with The Advocate.

    Friday, April 16, 2010 at 7:34 pm | Permalink
  29. tree wrote:

    @missjulied: she still does! at least in concert. i would like to offer up the names of songs on which she played guitar at her last show where i was present, but i think she may have given me amnesia from her sheer awesomeness. however, i can indeed confirm that guitars (yes, more than one!) were played.

    Friday, April 16, 2010 at 7:43 pm | Permalink
  30. Lynn wrote:

    Being a nerd of the game variety watching coverage of PAX http://borderhouseblog.com/?p=2072 has been fairly depressing.

    I thought it just hadn’t occurred to the organizers that women existed, but later found that women on the Girls in Gaming panel were put on it instead of their actual panel of choice, keeping all other panels 100% male.

    Also re:webcomics. I love Carla Speed McNeil http://www.lightspeedpress.com/

    Friday, April 16, 2010 at 8:12 pm | Permalink
  31. ozymandias wrote:

    @Andy G: The girlfriend reference was that stoners, Ren Faire guys, musicians, etc. usually at least have girlfriends, which is one way for women to enter the scene “acceptably.” Gay guys, obviously, don’t have girlfriends.

    Friday, April 16, 2010 at 8:18 pm | Permalink
  32. JfC wrote:

    Andy: Yep, gay men often have privilege over lesbians, sometimes bisexuals (I’m bisexual myself so I feel uncomfortable saying unequivocally that /I/ it worse than /you/. That one is definitely tough to suss out) and certainly over transgendered people.
    Also the girlfriends thing was a trackback to a prior argument that Amanda made: “But the same thing happens time and time again, which is that women are used in a very mainstream way in these subcultures, as a) prizes to show just how powerful the subculture has become, because these weird boys fuck all the hot girls now, b) uncool people that must be excluded in order to maintain the outsider vibe or c) tokens.”
    Basically she’s saying that in terms of the gay men dominating queer spaces subculture, they don’t really have use for women in the a. position, because (out) gay men don’t generally fuck women or have romantic girlfriends, or if they do, they’re definitely not a status symbol in the scene.

    Friday, April 16, 2010 at 8:18 pm | Permalink
  33. Amanda wrote:

    Added to the list of subcultures: sports fandom. Especially on the nerdier end, in my experience. Thanks for the posts of Random Hot Girl! That in no way alienates your all non-straight-male readers!

    Friday, April 16, 2010 at 8:44 pm | Permalink
  34. C.L. Minou wrote:

    @Andy: I will chime in about the relative privilege of gay men in the LGBTQIA community. It’s sure as heck true that in queer circles gay men often seem to come before trans folk, and especially trans women. (Why yes, I *am* still bitter about my basic civil rights being used as a football/bargaining chip for a symbolic vote that was only important for the fundraisers back home. Fuck you, HRC.)

    @Amanda: Caryn at Metsgrrl not only is better than my sorry hometowners deserve, she does a great job linking to other women sports bloggers.

    Saturday, April 17, 2010 at 12:08 am | Permalink
  35. Dora wrote:

    Nerd culture is getting better a little, I think?

    I can’t speak about other countries or other geek subcultures, but my local science fiction convention crowd has been a remarkably good scene to be a woman in. Not perfect, but there are women running things (sometimes really young women, which is extra awesome) & forming around half of the audience, and you don’t feel like anyone is doubting your intelligence/competence or how much you belong there. Can’t say I’ve felt like that in many other places.

    Saturday, April 17, 2010 at 6:15 am | Permalink
  36. Andy G wrote:

    I agree completely with all the replies to my comment, which makes me think I didn’t get across the intended emphasis in my original post. Basically, what I meant was that I didn’t think it was helpful to group the very real issue of the lack of lesbian (and trans and bi) visibility within society and the LGBT community along with the issue of the lack of visibility of women within the other subcultures that were discussed.

    In particular, for instance, because there is no issue in the other cases that would correspond to the lack of lesbian bars.

    Firstly, I guess there’s the question of subdivisions: is the problem that there are insufficient specifically lesbian spaces within the LGBT community, or is this need to divide the spaces between the different letters itself a problem? I’m agnostic on that: my point is that it’s a question that doesn’t correspond neatly to anything in the other subcultures.

    Secondly, the lack of lesbian bars is down as much, if not more, to issues outside the LGBT community, which I’m not sure is as true of the lack of women rock bands. Is the principal reason fewer women come out and participate in the scene that gay men discourage/exclude them, or that there is greater pressure in society against lesbian (or bi or trans) identity than gay identity? While the former is a problem (all LGBT societies that I have been involved in have been very white-cisgendered-male-dominated), I can’t help but think that the latter is more decisive.

    However, as I said I am arguing from a position of privilege as a gay man, so I accept I could be entirely wrong here. I just wanted to try and express what I meant to convey originally sligtly more clearly. And I’ll stop now and listen to what anyone else thinks about it.

    Saturday, April 17, 2010 at 8:09 am | Permalink
  37. Fnord Prefect wrote:

    I love this series so much. That is all.

    No wait, and this too:

    Or that girl from Rilo Kiley who was in the Fred Savage video game movie?

    Jenny Lewis was also as far as I’m concerned the HERO of Foxfire, the not-entirely-unproblematic but dear-to-me rock n’roll feminist fantasy wish fulfillment movie of my teenage years.

    Saturday, April 17, 2010 at 10:40 am | Permalink
  38. Dances with Marmots wrote:

    Great post, Sadie! I’ma go put on some old Sleater-Kinney and fist-pump righteously.

    And continue praying to Ba’al to consume Gooey Deschanel in a column of hellfire.

    While drinking something out of that sweet leather mug I got at the rennfaire.

    Saturday, April 17, 2010 at 1:13 pm | Permalink
  39. Travis wrote:

    Reading the comments of women who felt marginalized in nerd cultures, I’m struck by a memory of being 15 or so, sitting with my D&D friends seriously discussing why girls didn’t seem to be any good at gaming.

    I guess I don’t really have anything to contribute to the discussion, other than to say how surreal it feels now to look back at those days. I guess it’s the feeling everyone gets when they look back at the ridiculous mistakes and bad decisions they made when they were younger, but nevertheless the most striking part of it was how innocent it felt then, to idly speculate on why we didn’t know any truly “good” female gamers.

    Hope this doesn’t come off as a Nerdsplination…I’m just filled with regret over the fun I could have been having, and the friends I could have made, in what I felt then was the darkest hour of my life (which turned out to be just high school) if it hadn’t been for…whatever was keeping me from allowing it to happen (my desire for acceptance? An overestimation of my own development and intelligence? A bad reaction to hormones? Solar flares? The motivations of my younger self are such a mystery to me).

    So, I was there, the privileged outsider. I was making excuses when I should have been making allies. I regret my contribution to the greater problem.

    Saturday, April 17, 2010 at 2:46 pm | Permalink
  40. snobographer wrote:

    Juliana Hatfield (DON’T YOU JUDGE ME)

    Something wrong with Juliana Hatfield? My iPod’s full of her stuff.

    More relevant: Since seeing The Runaways I’ve been watching a lot of Joan Jett interviews on YouTube. She has much to say on the exclusion of women from the rock segment of the music industry. Probably because she’s asked about it in practically every interview she gives, like she’s the foremost expert on the subject. Still, she has interesting things to say, like that rock is sexual and if a girl rocks, she’s expressing her own sexuality rather than being an object of other (male hetero) people’s sexual desires. And this freaks people out. And to that I would add also, anger. A lot of rock is about expressing anger, and girls expressing anger REALLY freaks people out, perhaps even more than girls expressing their sexuality.

    Saturday, April 17, 2010 at 9:36 pm | Permalink
  41. Doug wrote:

    Who are these guys who don’t love women who rock? PJ Harvey is a fucking goddess. Nerdy girls are hot too. Men can be such losers. We’re the sex in decline, though we don’t like to admit it.

    Saturday, April 17, 2010 at 9:38 pm | Permalink
  42. snobographer wrote:

    Amanda: “sometimes in the gay community (D.C. has like one lesbian bar and a jillion gay bars, and gay men are much more visible, perhaps because they don’t even require the girlfriends)”

    San Francisco, of all places, also has this problem.

    Andy G: … the gay LGBT community is a cluster of overlapping subcultures, rather than a single subculture dominated by men to the exclusion of women.

    The music industry is also a cluster of overlapping subcultures. And unless you go out of your way, the men in that cluster of overlapping subcultures are practically the only ones you’ll hear about. In this manner, the music industry is quite like the LGBT community and practically every other community. Did you see Milk? Did you notice a problem there?

    Travis – I’d put it down to your desire for acceptance. It wasn’t your hormones. It was years of indoctrination passed down for centuries. Boys are taught early that trashing girls is the easiest way to bond with other guys and establish that they are not fags. (see: throws like a girl, run screaming like a girl, cry like a girl, women drivers, etcetera) Bonus points if in the same breath you complain about not being able to get a girlfriend.
    I’m glad you’ve started to come around.

    Saturday, April 17, 2010 at 10:59 pm | Permalink
  43. JfC wrote:

    @Andy I get what you’re saying, and I want to tell you that I harbour no malice towards you before talking about some general gay man privilege. Conflating a subculture defined out of sexual and gender identity with subcultures defined out of loud guitar music or affinity for the nerdlier pursuits is bound to be problematic, but the metaphor seems to lend itself to some queer women’s perspectives.

    Sometimes I wonder about grouping LGBTIQQ2SP(and any other letters I missed out :P ) under one big queer umbrella. After watching the movie Milk I decided to look up all the fun associated interviews, bonus material etc, because one thing that struck me was the portrayal of Anne Kronenberg. When Milk introduces her in the movie as his new campaign manager, his entourage kind does this double take ‘a lesbian?!?’ as the lesbian community at that time was regarded as a separate entity with its own goals, and gay rights activism was this tight knit clique of men. She says that the group was distrustful of her at first because of her being a woman, even though their political aims were similar. And I think there are still echoes of that in modern queer rights movement, women being seen as part of this other, outside group. This other-ing does seem similar to other-ing in say, rock music, in that a lot of women in rock are told that they don’t really belong, or their experience isn’t what rock is about. There was a sort of picking at small things to show why women don’t really have similar experiences as gay men and don’t belong in the group of gay rights activism, as there is in rock music a sort of picking at small things to show that ‘female’ and ‘legitimate rock star’ are incompatible. The face and image of queer rights is largely white, cisgendered, gay, young, thin, ablebodied and male.

    As for women not coming out, I could point to my own experience. I had many similar forces keeping me in the closet as my gay male friends, some felt more strongly than others. The thing is, when they came out there were spaces to go to FILLED with people that were like them, that were relatively easy to find. So that eases the pain of coming out and makes it easier. Here is a scene/neighbourhood with people to befriend, date, advocate with, etc. What is there for me? What’s a visible space I fit into? Maybe one bar. Actually in my town, there is one gay bar and no lesbian bar. Sometimes I go with a gay male friend and I dance with a ton of gay men, and a few of their straight female friends. If I ask a girl to dance half of the time she’ll look at me funny. It’s sort of a self-perpetuating cycle. If there’s a very small poorly-visible community to go to, there’s not much incentive to come out, and when few people come out, the scene can’t grow. The same could be said of female rock musicians. If the scene is hostile/belittling to them, fewer of them are going to try their luck at it, and the scene remains a hostile sausage fest. There are also forces outside the indie rock scene that may keep people from entering it, both general ones that apply to men and women (you won’t succeed, you need a respectable job, it’s a waste of time, you won’t meet a respectable partner there) and ones that apply to women only (you don’t want to be out late in scuzzy bars with dangerous men, swearing and being angry is unladylike). Of course, those pressures are nowhere near the pressures keeping queer people closeted from mainstream society. And desire to play a musical instrument is a lot different than desire to be with a same sex partner/express your gender.

    Saturday, April 17, 2010 at 11:48 pm | Permalink
  44. JfC wrote:

    P.S. I nearly typed “desired to play a musical instrument is a lot different than desire to play a same sex person’s genital instruments” but I was all Sober Discourse then.

    Sunday, April 18, 2010 at 12:12 am | Permalink
  45. Andy G wrote:

    Thanks for those replies, that makes more sense of things for me. Regarding Milk (and film/TV in general, such as Queer as Folk), I was made very aware of the lack of visibility of lesbians in popular culture when a friend who came out recently asked me to recommend lesbian films/TV, and I could not think of, say, a single lesbian coming-out scene, even though I am sure most people could think of several gay man coming-out scenes.

    Sunday, April 18, 2010 at 6:46 am | Permalink
  46. Tori Amos, who was like, “well, I can’t play your fancy guitars, gentlemen, but I did take some piano lessons!”

    Oh fuck! I love that! Because that is me! (other than the not being Tori Amos, or famous, or even paid for music, part).
    OK, so I took piano lessons for all of my growing up years. I also totally wanted to rock out/write songs/be a musician, but my dad, (oh, my dad) was all “ok, but only if you practice really really hard, and if anyone ever hears you play you can never ever not yet be good at it” (basically). And frankly, I couldn’t say wheter the “be perfect or don’t bother” thing coming from my dad was sexism or whether it’s just his own issues, but regardless, it was PRETTY FUCKIN’ REINFORCED by the general culture of sexism. But whatever the reason, that meant that even though I was like 12 or something, I never got to go to the jazz club jams that all the boys my age did, and get practice in front of groups of people, and with other musicians. I also didn’t bother to write music because I knew it wouldn’t be perfect the first time. Or join a band because then people would see me not being perfect (also, piano in a band? unheard of! heh). It also means that even though I knew that piano is a horrible “travel” instrument, I never really got around to learning guitar, because I NEEDED TO BE PERFECT, or why bother?

    Finally midway through college I was able to let a little go of all of that toxic thinking, and start writing songs, but yet I am still not good at guitar. Which is to say, me and Tori Amos both do the piano singer/songwriter thing! Even if I am now a boy.

    Sunday, April 18, 2010 at 1:08 pm | Permalink
  47. @Doug, see that, right there where you said that one specific “woman who rocks” is

    a fucking goddess…[and] Nerdy girls are hot too.

    That is totally what Amanda Hess and Sady are talking about when they say that generally women become accepted by (cis straight men) into the “rock music” umbrella in order to be tokens (not full participants in their own right), and when they say that many (cis straight men) in the music scene

    …dedicate a substantial amount of time that could have been spent talking about music to, instead, talking about the lady’s sexual charisma and appearance.

    ‘Cause it’s totally fucked up to be like “I like nerdy girls ’cause their hot” as opposed to, say: “I like nerdy girls because they LIKE WHAT I LIKE AND ARE PRETTY COOL.” Just sayin’.

    @Andy, I’d like to also interject a little vignette: It’s right after prop 8 passed, and I have gone to the Boston based rally about equal marriage rights. A young (we’ll say 19) white gay (cis)guy is holding a sign that at first glance is pretty funny:
    “We still have to fight for this shit? Women’s Rights, Black Rights, Gay Rights” (paraphrased). Only on second look it is TOTALLY NOT FUNNY, because there were fucking check marks next to “Black Rights” and “Women’s Rights”. That right there, is how to actively push women (and people of color) out of the movement, and how specifically white gay (cis)guys do it.
    Another example, mags that are supposed to be for the entire “gay” community, such as The Advocate (and presumably published by the gay community, yes?), which have 24 issues a year (I believe), which have approximately 20 of the cover photos for the year being of hot (cis)male actors/prominent gay (cis)men, and then a couple “group shots” and then one or two covers a year of like Rosie O’Donnell or maybe the L-word cast (it’s been a few years, so I may have the numbers a wee bit off, but I’d doubt it is currently anywhere near parity). If a magazine had the opposite gender slant (as in 20 of various types of hot lesbians and like 2 of Elton John or something), it wouldn’t be considered “for the whole community” it’d be considered a *lesbian* magazine. Which is yet another way that yes, (white) GAY (cis)MEN push lesbians (and people of color) and basically anyone not white, gay, and a (cis)man out of the movement. Sorry if this sounds pissy, but it makes me cranky when people who have a certain privilege that intersects with their oppression seem to think that the oppression means they don’t ever oppress others

    Sunday, April 18, 2010 at 2:37 pm | Permalink
  48. @ Sarita way up in comment #14, I must second your request for a Women Who Rock That You Might Not Have Heard Of thread.

    Sunday, April 18, 2010 at 7:27 pm | Permalink
  49. Brimstone wrote:

    “Yes! For also, who has not visited a publication of review for music, and seen the reviewer dedicate a substantial amount of time that could have been spent talking about music to, instead, talking about the lady’s sexual charisma and appearance, and/or the comment section devolving into a mass vote as to whether or not the male commentariat would Hit It?”

    I reviewed a Joanna Newsom concert for a journalism class. An older British woman, during the group critique session, said ‘I think you rather fancy her’ and called me out for not talking about the music. I was pretty embarrassed and have tried really hard to avoid similar things in my writing now…really made me realize how I was ignoring Newsom’s lyrics/music for superficial reasons (though I’ll comment if a musician has an interesting outfit/tat)

    and as a marginalized nerd/geek I gotta say the misogyny can be even heavier in geek subcultures. part of it comes from resentment leading to hatred…. I’ve mostly cured myself of the ‘Nice Guy’ bullshit but it’s easy to run into people who still buy into some pretty ugly views (I probably do, too)

    but yeah… geeks are marginalized but often they just make things worse

    Sunday, April 18, 2010 at 7:34 pm | Permalink
  50. Maryofsilence wrote:

    @thedeviante: I got a lot of the “be perfect or don’t bother” shit from my father, too – and he’s still half mad at me that I decided to study art against his “advice”, because it was what I really wanted to do, and then I’ve just managed to be a mediocre artist. I don’t know if there’s sexism there, either.

    Sunday, April 18, 2010 at 7:56 pm | Permalink
  51. Farore wrote:

    @Brimstone: Yeah. Geek culture: it is a breeding ground for Nice Guys(tm). It practically festers with them, it does. Also dudes who are creepy because they are ignorant of social cues and conventions, like NOT TOUCHING SOMEONE YOU DON’T KNOW WITHOUT ASKING, or LEAVING SOMEONE ALONE WHEN YOU ARE CLEARLY UPSETTING THEM, and within geek culture they have built this into a paragon of uniqueness and bucking-the-mainstream-ness, rather than going ‘gee, I upset people a lot, I should probably do something about that’. They say that every oppressed group tends to pick a more oppressed group to act out their feelings on, to rag on and, uhm, well, oppress; white cismale geeks, being generally below white cismale not-geeks on the social scale but still ridiculously high up there, tend to embody this in full.

    @Doug: holy sexist obliviousness, batman! Can’t you think of something better to compliment a lady with than ‘fucking hot’? Cause that’s pretty amazingly skeevy. Also,

    “Men can be such losers. We’re the sex in decline, though we don’t like to admit it.”

    Actually, generally men are winners no matter what they do (at least, they are in relation to other social groups), and that’s part of why sexism.. is. o_o; No sex needs to be in decline, whatever that means. How about you work on pulling women up, instead of being one of the Women’s Studies Creeps and trying to get brownie points by being self-depricating and trying to distance yourself from your sex?

    DISCLAIMER: I am hungover and coffee-less. Excess snark, should it appear, is not intentional. The lid of my snark shaker may have fallen off while I was seasoning my soup.

    Sunday, April 18, 2010 at 7:56 pm | Permalink
  52. Andy G wrote:

    “Sorry if this sounds pissy, but it makes me cranky when people who have a certain privilege that intersects with their oppression seem to think that the oppression means they don’t ever oppress others”

    I’m really sorry if I gave that impression. I never wanted to argue that there wasn’t gay privilege in the LGBT community, but just that to me it seemed not to map directly onto the kinds of cases being discussed in the article. I’m aware that that privilege did nonetheless creep into what I said, and so I’m trying to take people’s comments on board.

    One of the kinds of things I meant would be brought out by your example of the magazine actually: the difference between music subcultures and the LGBT subculture is that you could have a gay men’s magazine, a lesbian magazine or an LGBT magazine (like The Advocate), but you couldn’t have a magazine that explicitly identified itself as being for male musicians (even if it was effectively just for them). There seems to me to be a legitimacy in having specifically and explicitly gay, lesbian etc. spaces as well as the overarching LGBT spaces (which I agree are dominated disproportionately by priviled groups).

    Monday, April 19, 2010 at 7:13 am | Permalink
  53. Samantha b. wrote:

    They say that every oppressed group tends to pick a more oppressed group to act out their feelings on, to rag on and, uhm, well, oppress; white cismale geeks, being generally below white cismale not-geeks on the social scale

    Farore, I question how valid even this much is? When I taught school after college, it started to seem like the bullies were reasonably often the bullied, i.e. getting raised with something close to child abuse at home. Granted this was young children, but I can’t say I’d be startled if it held up over time.

    So I guess I just can’t get worked up about how traumatic it is to, you know, not get voted in for prom king. You may not be at the top of the chain within the confines of high school, but eh, you don’t know what’s going on at home for the other dudes. And high school? Four fucking years of your life, and it’s over. Maybe I’m savagely oblivious because I was in the artsy crowd that was in betweenish tiers because, fuck you, we dress better than everyone else? But an absence of prom kingdoms just does not read convincingly to me as intractable marginalization.

    Monday, April 19, 2010 at 1:25 pm | Permalink
  54. JfC wrote:

    @Samantha B It could be argued that a lot of bullying is just policing of gender conformity, so if not all out oppressive, it is related to oppressive systems (sexism, transphobia, homophobia).

    Monday, April 19, 2010 at 2:58 pm | Permalink
  55. ozymandias wrote:

    @SamanthaB: From my experience before I located geeky friends, the main problem of geekiness is less bullying and more loneliness. No one else cares about your passions, everyone kind of thinks you’re weird, you kind of think everyone else is either boring or incomprehensible. There were days when I was younger where I would literally not talk to anyone all day and no one would notice.

    When you spend your formative years (not just high school, but elementary and /especially/ middle school)friendless, it tends to cause effects on your personality the rest of your life. This, I think, tends to cause a lot of the cancers of geekdom (jerkishness, lack of social skills, insecurity, NiceGuyism, reflexive hatred of “the mainstream”).

    Again, not exactly /comparable/ oppressions– once you go to a sufficiently large or weird school or the real world, it’s all over except for the personality problems. But still sucks.

    Monday, April 19, 2010 at 5:05 pm | Permalink
  56. JfC wrote:

    @Andy G Yeah, I’m of the opinion that it’s not a perfect comparison (how could it be?) but it has some parallels.

    Monday, April 19, 2010 at 5:45 pm | Permalink
  57. orestes wrote:

    Hah, yes. Manchester has the biggest gay party zone in England (outside of London?) and has a total of 2 lesbian bars out of about 40-50. This is not to say that lesbians would be turned away from most of the bars but they certainly cater almost completely to the shirtless man-dancey clientèle (and them only-why do people think that gay equals one specific strand of gay subculture only? Also, not all gay people like remixed Kylie Minogue songs, PLEASE TAKE NOTE every gay bar I have ever been to.) This is a bit shit for us lesbians and is pretty representative of gay visibility as a whole. I have theories (although they are just that;) gay men seem to have achieved a kind of acceptance that lesbians haven’t. Being a gay man is still dangerous-people are still being attacked and killed because of it so I’m not saying it’s a rose garden of acceptance. However, gay men seem to be taken far more seriously than lesbians and their sexuality is rarely question, mocked or derided in the same way. (It still is! But differently.) Female homosexuality is a cock-free zone, therefore it’s not real sexuality. Which of course leads to to the usual cliche of “but…but how do you guys have SEX?” If I had a penny for every time someone has said to me I just haven’t found the right guy/a good dicking would sort me out I’d have…about £1.50. People find male homosexuality threatening and female homosexuality is just a sexy joke. In a framework of women having no sexual autonomy/being merely reactive/the almighty wang being emblemic of all sex ever this makes perfect sense.

    This is of course an extremely UK-centric point of view and says nothing about corrective rape of lesbians in other countries or the whole cornucopia of horrors unleashed on the gay community elsewhere, something I have no experience of but makes me curl up in horror.

    @CL;”gay men often seem to come before trans folk, and especially trans women. (Why yes, I *am* still bitter about my basic civil rights being used as a football/bargaining chip for a symbolic vote that was only important for the fundraisers back home. Fuck you, HRC.)”

    I was talking to my ladyfriend about things along these lines pretty recently, about how it frustrates me that a lot of left wing causes/marginalised folks don’t seem to want to come together in mutual support but splinter and other each other. I did a band day with an lgbt youth group and there was a young girl of about 16 there who instantly got bullied and marginalised by the other members when she told them she wanted to transition. She was fucking up their cosy little dynamic-we just want to fuck our own gender, we don’t want to CHANGE it! Why would you do that? You’re making us look bad! No one will accept us if we ally ourselves with you! (I guess they thought the T in LGBT stood for toffee or something.)

    This happens a lot. We’ve fought hard to be accepted to the limited capacity that we are. Therefore, we want to keep that shred of privilege. Therefore, people even more marginalised than us can’t join. This extrapolates to many, many marginalised groups.

    @The Deviant E; “We still have to fight for this shit? Women’s Rights, Black Rights, Gay Rights” (paraphrased). Only on second look it is TOTALLY NOT FUNNY, because there were fucking check marks next to “Black Rights” and “Women’s Rights”. That right there, is how to actively push women (and people of color) out of the movement, and how specifically white gay (cis)guys do it.”

    Pretty much your whole post is bang-on and ties in with the left-wing-splintering-othering I was writing about before. It made me think of a picture I saw today that sadly I can’t find now, taken at an anti-facist rally with a white dude standing at the front holding a sign saying “Hitler was pretty gay.” Fuck you, sign-holding dude.

    All of this seems completely tangential to the main post. Whoops!

    Monday, April 19, 2010 at 6:04 pm | Permalink
  58. Samantha b. wrote:

    @Ozymandias,
    From my experience before I located geeky friends, the main problem of geekiness is less bullying and more loneliness. No one else cares about your passions, everyone kind of thinks you’re weird, you kind of think everyone else is either boring or incomprehensible.

    Oh well, then, welcome to my life, although I can’t say I’m very familiar with the staples of geek culture.

    @JFC, you certainly have a point about bullying as gender policing. I would still ask to what degree high school students are the points of origination of this policing. The idea that the high school bullies aren’t policed themselves via the same oppressive systems strikes me as not completely convincing, but maybe I’m being too generous here? I guess I just do believe that minors should be prosecuted, even in the abstract sense, as minors.

    Monday, April 19, 2010 at 6:56 pm | Permalink
  59. Kiri wrote:

    Commenting to say that “FUCK YOU RIGHT IN THE KURT COBAIN HAIRCUT” is entering my lexicon immediately.

    You two truly rock.

    Monday, April 19, 2010 at 10:50 pm | Permalink
  60. Trix wrote:

    And speaking of intersections between nerd culture and music culture, how about women in electronica? Almost non-existent, despite all those who started playing piano instead of guitar. Ok, you’ve got your Regina Spektors playing electro-pop, but I cannot think of any notable women creating dance/techno/drum and bass/dubstep/trip-hop/breakbeat/house sounds. There’s Gillian Gilbert from New Order back in the day, and Wendy Carlos, who was Walter when she first started releasing electronic music in the early 70s.

    So while the rock chick has a pretty well-established lineage (go PJ), there isn’t such a thing as an “electronica chick”. This makes me sad.

    Tuesday, April 20, 2010 at 6:10 am | Permalink
  61. Farore wrote:

    @SamanthaB: I think you misunderstood me a little bit there. I wasn’t saying that /I/ think geeks are an oppressed group; I was saying that /geeks/ tend to think of themselves as on oppressed group, which they use to validate and justify a lot of unsavory behaviours.

    And yeah, abused becoming abusers is a great example of what I’m talking about. Unexamined combinations of privilege and oppression often just lead to more oppression.

    @Trix: I’m never quite sure what genre people mean when they say ‘electronica’, but under the generalized umbrella of synth and poppy-techno sounds: there seem to be quite a lot of ladies, actually? They just tend not to be tokenized as much as ‘rock chicks’, I don’t think. There’s Alice in Videoland; Nicole Elmer; Mutamassik; Apache 61; Le Tigre; Psapp; Add N to (X); Analog Tara; Empress; Freezepop; Superstar Princess; Wendy Carlos; Nocturnal Emissions; Constance Demby; Anja Schneider; Ellen Allien….

    Of course, a lot of these are from Germany or Sweden or Norway or that general… area. I do agree that there is a decided invisibility issue regarding American female techno/electronica artists, but the whole genre tends more towards international than maybe some other genres do.

    Tuesday, April 20, 2010 at 11:40 am | Permalink
  62. Lampdevil wrote:

    What’s this about geek sexism? What’s this? WHY IT’S THE STORY OF MY LIFE, IT IS! Oh Sady, Amanda, you’re so incredibly awesome!

    I’m a huuuuuuge geek. This sort of “geek girls are hawt but don’t invite them to your D&D game they suck, now let me mansplain to you about your favorite anime and get huffy when you correct the facts, also there are no girls on the Internet” wank has been constant background noise from the moment I started seeking out other geeky folk to get geeky with.

    By the way, all you “I like nerdy girls cuz they’re hot”, people? GO FUCK YOURSELVES. A damn significant portion of you, if not all of you, like hot girls who are ‘nerdy’, or who put on the pretense of being nerdy. There are loads and loads of less-than-hot nerdy girls who are pretty much considered not to exist… or are considered fair game to be mocked and trashed, because they haven’t met the patriarchal beauty standard. I am one of those. I am NERDY AS FUCK, and there ain’t no one fallin’ to their knees and gettin’ all irrational over me, cuz I’m fat and have odd hair distribution. My tits are not wanted, and I have been told to GTFO.

    I’m blessed to have ditched the worst and most toxic folk that I used to know. I have awesome geek friends now, men and women alike. My boyfriend may have gone all moony-eyed at me when I went off on an enormous video gamey nerdrant this one time, but he appreciates me as a person and not some sort of status symbol. We’re a mature bunch, and I might have said that probably helps us out, but OH MY GAWD after reading Katherine’s post about her husband’s shitty, shitty gaming group, I want to turn into a giant lizard and breathe radioactive fire all over the nearest goddamn city. THAT SHIT DON’T FLY AROUND HERE, PEOPLE. That is the crappiest bunch of crap I’ve seen in a long time. Holy hell. I’ve got nothing left but profanity.

    Tuesday, April 20, 2010 at 2:13 pm | Permalink
  63. Samantha b. wrote:

    @Farore, I didn’t assume that we were that far apart; I meant to just kind of expand on what you were saying per my own experience. Apologies for any impression otherwise.

    On the electronica page, yeah, I dunno about what qualifies either, but I’m a massive fan of old school Brigitte Fontaine, Chorus Reverendus, and the ladies of Ze Records scene, Lizzy Mercier Descloux, Caroline Loeb, and Cristina. More recently: Beth Gibbons, Miss Kittin, Chicks on Speed, Yuka Honda, and Warrior Queen? And the Knife who fabulously had, as a protest to male music biz dominance, two Guerilla Girls pick up the group’s Grammy. If you are a purist, I think you are going to have a harder time, but definitely there are shiny bright brilliant female deities outside of the rock domain.

    Tuesday, April 20, 2010 at 2:26 pm | Permalink
  64. snobographer wrote:

    Samantha b. wrote:

    @JFC, you certainly have a point about bullying as gender policing. I would still ask to what degree high school students are the points of origination of this policing. The idea that the high school bullies aren’t policed themselves via the same oppressive systems strikes me as not completely convincing, but maybe I’m being too generous here?

    They mostly get it from their male elders; Fathers, older brothers, uncles, bigger kids around the neighborhood, etc.

    Tuesday, April 20, 2010 at 4:17 pm | Permalink
  65. Gembird wrote:

    Wow. This post explains… my entire life, pretty much. When you’re a ladygeek it is SO HARD to find people you can be around who won’t put you down because you’re not good enough for some reason. Apparently the only reason women like sci-fi is because of the dudes (really, even the gay ladies? Somehow I think the reasoning may be faulty there). We can’t play guitar, or video games, or DnD. We’re not good at science or maths. We can’t be good at these things because we’re female. Except I AM good at those things so then I’m ‘not a real girl’ and either get treated as some kind of fucking novelty object or like an ‘honorary dude’ which really means having to listen to misogynist crap all the time.

    And then some stupid goddamn guy tries to get it on with you because “Girls never do this stuff but you do and that makes you different and cool”. Well who is responsible for women not being part of your snarky t-shirt subculture of choice, hmm? That does not make ladies want to sleep with you, Mr Indie Rock. Excluding them and making them feel like they’re less than you will actually make them want to smash up your shitty guitars instead.

    I think the worst example of this I’ve ever encountered was when I was gaming IN MY OWN HOUSE. A friend of my boyfriend decided it was hilarious to give his character a ‘sexism’ flaw, knowing full well that I was the only woman in the room, playing the only female character (who was only female because I was sick of the freak-outs that happened every time I played a male character and others hit on said character without paying attention to the fact that he was, well, a he. Homophobia bonus points!). Seriously uncomfortable, and I refused to game with those people again. Luckily my boyfriend was like “Dudes that is not cool” but he shouldn’t have to say that in his own house where our rules apply. Anyway, I’m fortunate enough that one of my best friends asked me -specifically me! Excitement! Smugness!- to game with a group he was putting together. This group happens to be half female, and I feel a whole lot more comfortable with that. It’s not necessarily the proportion of women, but that I’m not alone.

    Actually, the whole post here (and the comments too) reminded me of that: I’m not alone. I don’t know how old everyone is here (and I’m new to commenting here) so maybe I’m a little behind everyone else, but aged 22 it’s only now that I’m finding all these other people who understand.

    Also (brackets)

    Wednesday, April 21, 2010 at 6:37 pm | Permalink
  66. Trix wrote:

    @Farore – I specifically mentioned electro-pop as where there was a female presence, but none in the subgenres I mentioned.

    As for discussing US artists, well, I don’t know about that. I know about NZ, UK, SA and Australian artists, and no, there are no prominent female non-poppy electronica musicians of note there either.

    As for the more poppy artists mentioned, I wouldn’t call them “deities”. Yes, they’re there, but not THERE in the way that female rock musicians or singer/songwriters are.

    Friday, April 23, 2010 at 10:55 am | Permalink
  67. NickS wrote:

    This thread is probably dead, but I just came across something perfectly appropriate for it.

    I was listening to _Tori Amos Live At Montreux_, which I just got, and thinking apropos of this thread that she was not at all hesitant about being loud.

    Then I noticed this comment in the liner notes, “You have to convey an approach, ‘This is my stage, this is mine, not yours motherfucker, and you will know it is mine within two seconds of me walking on.’”

    Words for tiger beatdown to live by.

    Friday, April 23, 2010 at 5:28 pm | Permalink
  68. Jeff wrote:

    Samantha b. wrote:

    @JFC, you certainly have a point about bullying as gender policing. I would still ask to what degree high school students are the points of origination of this policing. The idea that the high school bullies aren’t policed themselves via the same oppressive systems strikes me as not completely convincing, but maybe I’m being too generous here?

    They mostly get it from their male elders; Fathers, older brothers, uncles, bigger kids around the neighborhood, etc.

    Saturday, April 24, 2010 at 8:45 pm | Permalink
  69. B^4 wrote:

    @ Sarita way up in comment #14, I must second your request for a Women Who Rock That You Might Not Have Heard Of thread.

    Toshi Reagon

    Saturday, April 24, 2010 at 8:57 pm | Permalink
  70. Patrick wrote:

    Samantha b. wrote:

    @JFC, you certainly have a point about bullying as gender policing. I would still ask to what degree high school students are the points of origination of this policing. The idea that the high school bullies aren’t policed themselves via the same oppressive systems strikes me as not completely convincing, but maybe I’m being too generous here?

    They mostly get it from their male elders; Fathers, older brothers, uncles, bigger kids around the neighborhood, etc.

    Saturday, April 24, 2010 at 9:55 pm | Permalink
  71. Brad wrote:

    Samantha b. wrote:

    @JFC, you certainly have a point about bullying as gender policing. I would still ask to what degree high school students are the points of origination of this policing. The idea that the high school bullies aren’t policed themselves via the same oppressive systems strikes me as not completely convincing, but maybe I’m being too generous here?

    They mostly get it from their male elders; Fathers, older brothers, uncles, bigger kids around the neighborhood, etc.

    Sunday, April 25, 2010 at 1:30 am | Permalink
  72. Dave wrote:

    Wow. This post explains… my entire life, pretty much. When you’re a ladygeek it is SO HARD to find people you can be around who won’t put you down because you’re not good enough for some reason. Apparently the only reason women like sci-fi is because of the dudes (really, even the gay ladies? Somehow I think the reasoning may be faulty there). We can’t play guitar, or video games, or DnD. We’re not good at science or maths. We can’t be good at these things because we’re female. Except I AM good at those things so then I’m ‘not a real girl’ and either get treated as some kind of fucking novelty object or like an ‘honorary dude’ which really means having to listen to misogynist crap all the time.

    And then some stupid goddamn guy tries to get it on with you because “Girls never do this stuff but you do and that makes you different and cool”. Well who is responsible for women not being part of your snarky t-shirt subculture of choice, hmm? That does not make ladies want to sleep with you, Mr Indie Rock. Excluding them and making them feel like they’re less than you will actually make them want to smash up your shitty guitars instead.

    I think the worst example of this I’ve ever encountered was when I was gaming IN MY OWN HOUSE. A friend of my boyfriend decided it was hilarious to give his character a ‘sexism’ flaw, knowing full well that I was the only woman in the room, playing the only female character (who was only female because I was sick of the freak-outs that happened every time I played a male character and others hit on said character without paying attention to the fact that he was, well, a he. Homophobia bonus points!). Seriously uncomfortable, and I refused to game with those people again. Luckily my boyfriend was like “Dudes that is not cool” but he shouldn’t have to say that in his own house where our rules apply. Anyway, I’m fortunate enough that one of my best friends asked me -specifically me! Excitement! Smugness!- to game with a group he was putting together. This group happens to be half female, and I feel a whole lot more comfortable with that. It’s not necessarily the proportion of women, but that I’m not alone.

    Actually, the whole post here (and the comments too) reminded me of that: I’m not alone. I don’t know how old everyone is here (and I’m new to commenting here) so maybe I’m a little behind everyone else, but aged 22 it’s only now that I’m finding all these other people who understand.

    Also (brackets)

    Sunday, April 25, 2010 at 8:57 am | Permalink
  73. Wow. Very interesting thread. I am a female musician – I play keyboards and sing for a living, and I started playing professionally in the mid-70s, when there were hardly any pro women players around that I knew of. I spent a lot of years feeling like I had to ‘prove’ myself to be included in the male-dominated music world. What really pissed me off was that there was an assumption of incompetence that I had to overcome each and every time I played in a new situation. If a male player that no one knew were to get up on stage to jam or play, the assumption would be of a certain level of competence, and it would be up to the guy to live up to it or not, but a female player was assumed to be underqualified or token until proved differently. After a while I took a certain pride in busting those expectations, but it still rankled. And, as the only female in most bands that I played in, I was definitely marginalized early on – I wasn’t going to be invited to check out the hot chicks from the stage with the rest of the guys. I had to develop a foul mouth to keep from being marginalized by the faux ‘respect’ from even the guys who were trying to be nice and not curse in front of the ladies. And don’t even get me started on shopping in a music store. I was always ignored because it was assumed that I was somebody’s girlfriend instead of a potential money-spending customer. No one would take the time to show me different keyboards or court my business in any way – I just had to come in with the cash and say, “I’ll take this.” It was easier than trying to get a salesman’s attention.

    To be fair, things have changed a lot since my early days, and now there are a lot of great women players for young girls to look to, but there still is a gap, especially where playing leads or solos is concerned. My son’s high school jazz band had the same number of girls in it as mine did in 1976 – two – and neither of them would play solos. I have wondered why that is that a lot of girls are not improvisers or lead players, but the Deviant E mentioned something that makes sense – I think that women may be afraid of making mistakes or not being perfect.

    When you start to solo, you have to make mistakes and play bad notes, and they aren’t written out for you in advance, so you’re going to sound bad at first. Women players may not feel the freedom to make those mistakes in public, because those mistakes will reflect more strongly on the assumption of incompetence that we still start with after all this time.

    I now teach at a contemporary music school in Hollywood, teaching voice, keyboards and computer recording, and the next ‘glass ceiling’ that I see is the production/engineering/technical end of music. That is where a lot of the power is, and I try to encourage my female students to get involved in that aspect of music. The number of women producers and engineers now is about at the ratio of the numbers of women players when I first started – you can find them but they are still a very small percentage of the overall number.

    And, on a different angle, the up side for me about being old and fat is that when people hire me, they hire me because I’m really good at what I do, and not because they want to fuck me. When women musicians are hired on an an appearance basis and their skills are not up to par with their male peers, it reinforces that stereotype of ‘women can’t really play like men can.’ It’s hard on all of us – when women are not held to a professional standard, they are disrespected. I’ve seen many instances of ‘all-girl’ bands being put together, and laughed at behind their backs because of their lack of skill – as if that’s the best that women can do. So I really emphasize to my women students the importance of getting your shit together musically and technically, so that you are in charge of every aspect of your music career, and not at the mercy of others, and can relate to other musicians on the same professional level.

    I never played with women until about 20 years into my career, but the first time I played in a really great all-female band, I joined them not because they were women, but because they kicked natural ass. It took 20 years for me to experience the kind of camaraderie that men in an all-male band have. Now, I enjoy playing in all different situations – male, female, and mixed, and get something from each kind of configuration. But I sure did have to struggle a long time to lose the frustration of being treated as a second-class citizen musically when I was as good or better than the standard. Things are changing, and I’m trying to be part of that change, by mentoring as many female players as I can.

    Monday, April 26, 2010 at 12:56 pm | Permalink
  74. kristina bee wrote:

    here is what i don’t get and what i do not care for: the increasing number of all-male, or all-but-one-male, bands with the word “girls” or “women” in them. see: the women, vivian girls, dum dum girls, girls, brazilian girls, clorox girls, etc.

    it pisses me off, but i’m not sure why. any thoughts?

    Sunday, June 27, 2010 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

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  1. [...] Over at Tiger Beatdown, Sady and Amanda take on rock and roll, relating the sexism in rock subcultures to other subcultures and “outsider” groups: AMANDA: I see the same sad sexism in a lot of different subcultures, and I think women are often drawn to these spaces because they’re outside of the mainstream – because the mainstream marginalizes them, but perhaps in a different way than it does sensitive rocking Kurt Cobain haircut boys. [...]