Many of you know of Eddie Trunk, the respected and well-known journalist and radio/television host with a reputation that, in many cases, precedes him. As such, one would expect that his experience and wide breadth of knowledge would give him insight into what’s happening in the rock and metal world, both good and bad. One would think that, if an issue was brought to his attention, he would have an insightful answer.
This is why, when the subject of sexism in Glam Metal came up, I was all ears, waiting to hear what he would say. I was then disappointed. Rather than acknowledge this as a real problem, Mr. Trunk avoided the argument by pointing out that Rap music contained misogynistic lyrics as well. This struck me as a little odd. Two wrongs don’t make a right, after all, and thus, Trunk’s argument was flimsy at best, a result of avoidance and transference of the issue at hand by means of fallacious argument.
Since the 80s, much of metal music has harbored sentiments of objectification and sexualization in regards to women. One needs only to look at the Hair bands of the 1980s to see where it all largely started. The sexism evident in lyrics such as Poison’s “Blame it on You” and Warrant’s “Sweet Cherry Pie” is numerous, and that’s not even including the bands’ personal actions in which they would exploit groupies and other female fans.
One could see that in the 80s, women occupied a very small space in the metal community, usually as sexual objects. Has that changed much today? Well, there are more women musicians in the community now, that’s for sure, but oftentimes I find that, while they may enjoy the music, male fans and listeners also view the female band member(s) as a novelty. For many men, the women up on stage is not just someone playing their instrument or singing in a metal band. Rather, there’s that “hot chick who plays guitar,” or…you get the point.
This strips women musicians of their identity as musicians and as part of the community, viewing them still as sexual objects. To many men, women in metal are not just women in metal. They are either things to be sexualized or they are women who have adopted the roles of men to exist in a man’s community. Both of these invalidate the role of women in this music, and therefore, even with the advent of more women in metal, propagates an attitude of at least passive sexism, while encouraging such a system to persist unopposed.
Now, I know there are plenty of good and rational argument for and against the one I have just made, and that’s good. If anything, I would like to encourage discussion on an issue that I believe has made metal music – a music of community and inclusion – rather exclusive and divisive. Open your ears and eyes and you may just see that this problem is bigger than you thought.