Friday, January 29, 2010

Sexism didn't disappear in my hiatus: "rock like men" edition.

So I'm back. My hiatus was full to bursting with grad school applications and other sources of personal angst. I pulled through. As the title suggests, though, the forces of sexism took no such hiatus. I wish the nefarious forces of sexism had to write, compile and pay for a few dozen grad school apps. That wouldn't leave much time or money for oppression and discrimination.

When I arrived at work yesterday morning, I asked co-blogger HB if she had read that morning's thought homogenizer (this is what I call Washington Post Express, the free newspaper everyone reads on the metro. oh, excuse me, some people read the ... Examiner? It's barely a real thing). She had, but had avoided the article that drew my ire, because when she saw that there was a writeup on a female-fronted rock band, she feared the worst. HB was correct. This article is THE WORST. Particularly the last few paragraphs. Here they are, courtesy of writer Nathan Martin (extra points for two dude-names!!)

The fast-driving music, irreverent humor and whiskey-fueled live shows might earn Those Darlins fans, but being a band fronted by females still comes with a predictable price.

"We're treated pretty much like you'd expect a female band to be treated: People call us an all-girl band when we're not," said Kvarnes, referring to drummer Linwood Regensberg. "Who gives a [expletive] if we're girls? We're not singing about feminist subjects; we're just a bunch of goofy people who like to have a good time and play fun music."

But even Darlins can dish out sarcastic sass when provoked.

"We get the fratty dudes being, like, 'Oh, great — a girl band. I bet they're going to sing about their periods or something, but you guys were actually good,' and I'm like, 'Oh, we were actually good. Thanks a lot, you ..." We had to delete the rest, in case there's any doubt a trio with a cuddly name can fight — and rock — like men.

Alright, my problems with this are numerous. First there's the old "but we're not feminists!!" canard. Ok, sure, you're making music that you feel is broadly relatable and not alienating to people who do not identify as feminists. But the very act of getting up, playing music and telling the stories of three young women from the point of view of said young women (and in the process illustrating that you're "just a bunch of goofy people" and not necessarily defined by your sex/gender)? Yep, that's a feminist act. And you should be thanking your feminist forebears on all places of the radical-ness spectrum for the fact that you have the ability to do it.

I'll cut the quoted musicians a small amount of slack because they didn't get to choose which quotes were used and one of them took the swipe at the casual misogyny of "fratty" dudes. The writer slips in a doozy of his own, though, in the closing sentence. " case there's any doubt that a trio with a cuddly name can fight -- and rock -- like men." This one really pissed me off. First, it comes directly after a paragraph expressing the anoyance of one of the musicians at being called an all female band, and then does exactly that. They're not a trio with a cuddly name, they're a quartet. The male drummer is a "Darlin'" too. And then the assertion that they fight and rock like men. Well, I bet the drummer, who's a man, is really glad to hear that ...? And I bet that the women in the band -- who categorically do NOT rock like men, by virtue of rocking while women and therefore rocking LIKE women -- are probably relieved to hear that they have, in the opinion of this one dude, exceeded the natural limitations imposed by their ladybits? And I'm sure that Janis Joplin, Grace Slick, Chrissie Hynde, Debbie Harry, Joan Jett, Alanis on that one album (you know which one), Siouxsie Sioux, Kathleen Hannah, and SO MANY OTHERS are glad to hear that it's still only men who rock. To the point that there aren't even any female rockers to make a comparison to.

Meanwhile, the rest of us who aspire to do X (whatever is is that we do, outside of the very narrow prescribed confines of femininity and acceptable female endeavors), are interested to learn that to be taken seriously we will have to do it like men. You know, the default humans.

In other news, Those Darlins are pretty decent. Some of their songs are quite catchy. Here's their website, and the picture that appeared with the article. Apologies to their drummer, who did not make the band photo due to not fitting in with the "all girl bannnddd1!!?!" dog and pony show.


  1. This photo was taken before the girls had a drummer.

  2. Those Darlins have inspired me to start a separate segment of Ladybrain Reviews, the always-loveable: Don't worry, I'm not a feminist!

    For review, everyone in internetland and beyond: Feminism is believing women should have equal rights to men. I'd venture to guess you'd all admit to believing in that. God I hope so.