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Rock concerts

pwnage
On women being uncomfortable at rock concerts
And I've never felt particularly uncomfortable at rock shows. After several dozen shows over two years, it's a familiar atmosphere. But that comfort is due to my privilege as a part of a heterosexual couple. I almost never go to shows without my male partner, whose central passion is live music. As a single women, I would be vulnerable, a target, but my unavailability signals to men that I am deserving of privacy. I'm never hit on or made to feel uncomfortable - unless my partner is in the bathroom. This applies to no just drunken frat boys, but those lovely and benevolent authority figures.
Personally I've never felt uncomfortable at any concert. Maybe I just go to the wrong ones, or maybe (as someone once said to me on an e-list) my lack of femininity gives me a certain kind of armor, or maybe my disability marks me as Untouchable and so I avoid this sort of thing, or maybe the fact that I'm never in or near pits because I am too short to see and would rather not be trampled and die, or maybe it's that even if I wasn't aware going to a concert alone was a bad idea it would still sound totally un-fun not to go with someone and I never would even think of going alone, or... who knows, really.

But, well, the one time I remember anything of the "show us your tits" school was at a Marilyn Manson concert, and the women in question had actually already exposed themselves and were making out or the like, and Marilyn said something ridiculous like "That's it, show off your tits for Jesus!" I didn't get the impression that they felt pressured into it at all. Maybe I just hadn't become a feminist yet and missed something, but I got the impression that they actually did want to do it. I got the impression Marilyn was rolling with something that was already going on, not provoking it.

To me, that was the atmosphere of the show. Not patriarchy, not "this is the cost of beholding our music, becunted ones," but rather something like "This is a Manson show. This is a place for libertinage, for exploration, for showing off, for reveling in doing all those things that, as older teens, you really want to do, and do loudly and rebelliously, but don't get to do."

I didn't have a problem with that little show because as I understood it, it was simply a part of the atmosphere. Maybe those women were put up to it, drunk (or high on the ubiquitous weed) and Bi For A Boyfriend. But I thought, maybe completely wrongly, that they were actually dykes. That they were reveling in the freedom to be Bad Dykes for a few hours, proud and loud and unashamed. It didn't look like they were trying to win approval, at least not how I remember it (of course, I misremember things all the time, and this was ten years ago at least.)

And it felt good to me to see it, good in that ribald, raucous, Carnival-smarmy way that's so awesome about all the places adolescents let their budding rebellions and passions free. It was a little bit over my line, so I don't want to give the impression I loved it, but it was over my line in that "We're here to be over lines. We'd never have showed up to a Manson show if we weren't" kind of way. Not that "These boys are tough to deal with, but if I want to see the show I guess I'll pretend I'm OK with degradation" way. 

At least not for me. I don't pretend to speak for anyone else. And I was never a "go backstage" kind of person, much less a "maybe wanna fuck the band" kind of person, so I generally just... left when any concert ended, because it was over. So people who have experience with that may have things to say that I really can't touch, much less dispute.

But... I often feel very, very far removed from many feminists, because I've either not had the experiences or I've I guess had them and experienced them completely differently.

Comments

( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
miz_evolution
Jun. 9th, 2009 07:19 am (UTC)
I;ve been to a lot of concerts. I'm not uncomfortable. Shrug.
snowdropexplodes.myopenid.com
Jun. 9th, 2009 09:13 am (UTC)
I get the feeling that it's another permutation of the whole "women wouldn't do THAT sort of thing unless they were FORCED!" meme that is ever-so prevalent around sex work etc. Because all women are natural prudes, of course *yawn* *sigh*.
fierceawakening
Jun. 9th, 2009 02:07 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure, SD. I can easily imagine some concerts becoming really uncomfortable places for some women, particularly very feminine or conventionally attractive ones. I don't think I'd go nearly as far as to say that it's just imputing prudery to all women.

(Also, you're in the UK. From what I understand, exposing one's breasts is for some reason a lot more of a big deal over here. I've never gotten why, but I'm wondering if maybe "Show us your tits!" from rowdy men would be a bit more threatening/uncomfortable-making over on this side of the pond. Though I'd think it would be quite unwelcome in either place from gross people.)

What I do think, though, is that some of that comment thread misses experiences like mine, where yeah, it was all a little sleazy, but it was a sleaziness that seemed to be part of the atmosphere, something people wanted.

In the comment thread of the post that provoked this whole discussion, for example, there's this:

At Wing Ding last Sunday, I saw Powerman 5000 perform, and at one point during their set, the vocalist said that he was going to dedicate a song to all the "dirty, filthy, rotten girls" in the audience. With those words, he effectively turned the women in the crowd into fetishized "naughty girls." As I stood in the crowd, I could feel the implied sexuality dripping from his words, and I didn't feel at all like they were aimed at women, but were aimed instead at the men listening. They made me cringe, but still I stayed there for the remainder of the set.

On the one hand, I understand how she feels and I think her response makes a lot of sense. On the other, I'm a pervert. :) I don't know whether it would have offended me, because although "dirty" is not my favorite word for it, I do and have gotten flack for being on the wrong side of the Madonna-whore dichotomy before, and it's nice when people celebrate people like me and turn our "filthiness" into something to be honored rather than something that makes us bad.

That said, it really depends on how he meant it. If it was "I love women who have as dirty minds and as voracious libidos as men are supposed to," that's not something I'd feel insulted by. If, however, the context made it clear that he also assumed women deviants are actually just desperate for men's raunchy attention, and doesn't understand that we have our own desires and aren't just "the one who will do anything," then I would have been very insulted as well.

But the mere fact that men rock stars like "filthy girls?" Nah, not so bothering to me. Unbridled sexuality and "being bad" are part of what rock is all about. :)

Edited at 2009-06-09 02:10 pm (UTC)
snowdropexplodes.myopenid.com
Jun. 9th, 2009 06:37 pm (UTC)
I take the point about cultural differences. While "get yer tits out!" is still a threatening thing over here, the fact is at rock concerts, going topless seems to be something very common (look at crowd shots at events like Glastonbury Festival, and you'll usually see plenty of breasts on display) - so yeah, there is a difference (the whole Superbowl "wardrobe malfunction" thing was something the people just didn't understand what the fuss was about over here).

And yeah, I can see how someone who wasn't used to the "dirty rock grrl" image or culture would find it threatening just being around all that. But the suggestion seemed to be that the only reason anyone would get their tits out must be because they felt threatened, and that just doesn't seem to hold water.

But the mere fact that men rock stars like "filthy girls?" Nah, not so bothering to me. Unbridled sexuality and "being bad" are part of what rock is all about. :)

Yes, that.
fierceawakening
Jun. 9th, 2009 06:44 pm (UTC)
I take the point about cultural differences. While "get yer tits out!" is still a threatening thing over here, the fact is at rock concerts, going topless seems to be something very common (look at crowd shots at events like Glastonbury Festival, and you'll usually see plenty of breasts on display) - so yeah, there is a difference (the whole Superbowl "wardrobe malfunction" thing was something the people just didn't understand what the fuss was about over here).

Yeah, that's what reading your comment made me think of.

And yeah, I can see how someone who wasn't used to the "dirty rock grrl" image or culture would find it threatening just being around all that. But the suggestion seemed to be that the only reason anyone would get their tits out must be because they felt threatened, and that just doesn't seem to hold water.

Was she saying she was unused to rock culture though, or used to it but angry? She mentioned seeing several bands. It didn't sound to me like she was saying "I'd never been to a concert before."
snowdropexplodes.myopenid.com
Jun. 10th, 2009 06:22 pm (UTC)
Okay, I fail at reading comprehension and I think I'll just stop digging now...
miz_evolution
Jun. 9th, 2009 06:37 pm (UTC)
see, I am going to a concert tonigh, so i will be observing now and considering all this stuff.

It's outside, and it is hot, so I prolly won't be wearing much. I guess one could say I am 'conventionally attractive'- if you like ink and cyberpunk....but hey, it is a NIN concert, so yeah, prolly a popular look. I am in General Admission. I shall report my findings later.
fierceawakening
Jun. 9th, 2009 06:40 pm (UTC)
*nods* Please do.
miz_evolution
Jun. 9th, 2009 06:44 pm (UTC)
will do..should be interesting. In the 11 times I have seen NIN, I have never attempted to make it some sort of social experiment. I will, however, feminism be damned, sing along to 'Closer'. Heh.
fierceawakening
Jun. 10th, 2009 12:00 am (UTC)
Heh. I must shamefacedly admit to hearing the Combichrist song making fun of feminists for being prudes and laughing my fool head off. No, it isn't very nice of him, but as someone who's a veteran of The Sex Wars Vol. 2 and got the scars to prove it... well... I laughed my fool head off.

Edited at 2009-06-10 12:01 am (UTC)
lilairen
Jun. 9th, 2009 08:06 pm (UTC)
Wiseass mode on ...
I'm not comfortable at rock concerts because they're full of people, much like baseball games, subway trains, and parties.

I call this "introversion", not "femaleness". ;)
ninja_kiza
Jun. 9th, 2009 08:32 pm (UTC)
Excuse me, but: PFFFT.

Next week I'm heading to this festival for the 2nd time, I've been to numerous smaller metal festivals and concerts here and there and honestly....NEVER felt this kind of 'intimidation'. In fact I'll have to say I've felt more discomfort at pop/rock or techno shows than ever at metal gigs. In my experience there's a certain bonhomie and 'unspoken' understanding that maybe comes from being in a group of people who probably have, atleast at some point, experienced being ostracized or unfairly judged by society simply by their appearance/music taste and nothing else. It makes you appreciate the relatively few people that 'get' you, and you try to not behave like an ass to those few.

Last year I was at Hellfest with my best (female) friend, there were a bunch of people (mostly dudes) from Iceland there which we met occasionally and hung out with, but mostly it was just the two of us and neither of us felt uncomfortable or 'objectified' at any point.
There was of course some very scantily clad women and of course the general silliness of certain black metal band stage props (and *ahem* 'dancers') but that was to be expected (and chuckled at, watching the Dimmu Borgir band members melt in the 25°c French summer heat is quite a sight ;)
Even with the small number of women on the festival in general, most seemed to genuinely be there for the music and the campsite camaraderie, we met a lot of cool chicks, actually.

Blah insanely long comment is long.

sentso
Jun. 9th, 2009 11:30 pm (UTC)
I'm more annoyed about couples that make out/dry hump during the whole friggin concert. Look, either give me a show, or leave. I didn't pay seventy bucks so that some 'bag and his bleethed out spray tan girlfriend for the night can block my view of Nikki Sixx. I'm just saying.

Any concert I've been at, there has been more of a tribal feeling to it. You were there for the music and how it made you react. Get in the pit, sit down and appreciate, stand up and head bang, sing, scream, rage, get it all out cause on that night you got to be part of a monolith for two to three hours.

Maybe I'm a dinosaur tho. The bands I grew up with have grey hair and roadmaps of lines around their eyes and mouths. All the tattoos are faded. Maybe there's a newer, wilder, nakeder type of fan that roams the concert hinterland. Sure there were the occasional free-range boobies in my day, but it wasn't nearly the meat factory the OP makes concert-going sound like.
fierceawakening
Jun. 9th, 2009 11:55 pm (UTC)
Any concert I've been at, there has been more of a tribal feeling to it. You were there for the music and how it made you react. Get in the pit, sit down and appreciate, stand up and head bang, sing, scream, rage, get it all out cause on that night you got to be part of a monolith for two to three hours.

Well said, my friend. :) Though for me the thrill isn't being "part of a monolith" -- I hate that, as it makes me feel insignificant and stuck in a Procrustean bed -- but the thrill of being there for real, carried away by the music and the energy it provides.
crafting_change
Jun. 10th, 2009 02:34 am (UTC)
I think it depends.
I've gone to shows all over the board, small electronic shows, clubs, day long 'alterna-rock' festivals of the late 90s, and giant stadium shows. Douche bags are going to be everywhere. I'd see women jump into the mosh pit/crowd surf and have their clothes stripped in ways guys never did. I'd had the security at 9:30 manhandle me at a Mogwai show that definitely made me feel unsafe (in fact, I've avoided that space since - though not many bands I want to see have been there). Hell I knew 2 guys who went to Tori Amos concerts trying to buy young women drinks in the most obnoxious of ways. (again, years ago).

The problem is complicated... it depends where you fall on the spectrum of identity, presentation, 'attractiveness' by western standards, the crowd..., the pop culture, the political climate etc.
fierceawakening
Jun. 10th, 2009 11:01 am (UTC)
*nods*

I'm sure you're right about that. I don't want to say that the problem isn't real. I just, well, I've had it said I have "butch privilege" and that's why I'm not harassed, which is I suppose possible but I do wonder. Most people's response to the very idea I might be butch is laughter.

I do remember that Nashville Pussy opened for Manson at that one show, and I did think they were using sexuality as a schtick in a way that I didn't like. (Though just focusing on that is just to touch the tip of the iceberg of what's stupid bad and not funny about Nashville Pussy.)

But I never felt threatened by the sexual bits. I just was sort of "Okay, yes, you're a very nice looking woman, but why does that mean I'm interested in seeing the other female musician in the band pretend to give you head? Why not write better music?" But that didn't feel like a referendum on all women to me so much as it felt like "they're a crappy band and want money" to me. It is of course sad that (fake plastic) sex sells like it does, but that didn't make it threatening to me. And they were the opener, and most openers are horrid.

I just keep thinking back to a Genitorturers show I went to. I kind of expected that people would be acting wild or something and I might be uncomfortable. No one was anything but infinitely polite. And that was a show that Gen spent much of waving her strap-on at us all.

Well, the fact that that band is fronted by a woman might be why that was, I don't know. But they were very warm to the fans in ways that weren't "yeah, come backstage little girl" or whatever.
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )

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fierceawakening
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