Pullout Jun 22, 2011 at 4:00 am

Being in a Band with Two Other Girls Reveals the Unchecked Sexism of Music Journalists and Queer Punks Alike

Comments

1
But if you make songs about partying, you're going to be labeled a slut. Total catch-22, dude.
2
Baconcat <3 Tacocat, this article is +5,000 points of truth. We need a Tacocat-shaped box.

I also love cats. Why can't someone just fucking sing about cats? We need more songs about cats.

(BTW, I need to see Tit Pig in person instead of recorded. I like what I see, I like what I hear, and I would probably bone down with Tit Pig. They're like a Morbid Tales-era CF that is also boneable.)
3
"This song is about how my cat hates chicks who aren't feminists"
4
I find it surprising that an article complaining about not being taken seriously kicks off by saying "Tacocat is a band with three girls in it."

I don't know your band, so perhaps you are all under the age of 18. In which case, carry on. But if you ARE over the age of 18 and you want yourselves and other women to be taken seriously, give yourself some credit and stop calling your bandmates "girls." You've done your time and you—and me and all my friends, thank you very much—deserve to be called women. You don't refer to Black Flag and Minor Threat as all-boy bands, do you?

Women, please, stop calling yourselves and the rest of us "girls." It's embarrassing and sexist and contributes to the infantilization of women.
5
LoveLoveLoveLove
6
@4 I'll call myself whatever the hell I want, thank you very much.
7
#4, really, that's the only thing you could think of to add to this discussion? There are no female equivalents of the words "dude" and "guy" that aren't lame and full of even more grody, sexist connotations ("ladies" and "gals," ugh). No one says "man" band, either, because that would be stupid. "Girl band" is the colloquial term used to refer to a band containing mostly girls. Even feminist music critics like Everett True use it.

Or maybe we should call ourselves "slut bands" because feminists apparently think that's an awesome thing to be called now. Please, other feminists, do not even try to coach me on acceptable ways of referring to ourselves this week of all weeks...

Bree, this article was right on. I'm in an all-girl band and can assure you we'll all be talking about this at practice and nodding our heads in agreement. Thanks for writing it. I remember Grandy's bullshit review of Tacocat and commented on how ridiculous it was back then.
8
This is a really great article with some valid points... But what does this have to do with sexist queers? There is nothing about that here. Given the opportunity to address gay male misogyny, I was slight disappointed to read what was pretty much an advertisement for your band.
9
I LOVE YE BREE. I WILL BUY ALL THE RINGPOPS IN THE CITY OF SEATTLE FOR YOU.

This is spot-on. LOVE N JAH
10
@8 ALL THINGS SHOULD BE AN ADVERTISEMENT FOR TACOCATS
11
Wait, I think this is more of a thing on how MUSIC culture is sexist instead of queer culture. Did I miss it in between all the band stuff? Good article, but doesn't quite fit the theme of the series...
12
Um, is this article about sexist queers or sexist music critics? Seems a bit off-topic.
13
@10 - If you love them so much, you'd know their name isn't pluralized. And that wasn't my point.
14
I dunno. I agree with your basic premise, Bree. it's should be okay for punk girls to sing about fun things the way the boys do, not have to constantly worry about it being so fucking didactic. absolutely. but, at the same time, I'm like one of Seattle's main players in THE WAR ON FUN, so it's sometimes hard for me to get behind "fun" in general when it comes to the punk scene here. I not blaming anyone, but it's just something that bums me out. I have called out Tit Pig for not being political enough before too, so take that however you want...
15
@4: Oh, give it a rest. I'm in my 30s, and still call myself a girl. I refer to my guy friends as boys sometimes, too. I like "gals", but it sounds too hokey to be used in most conversation. "Woman" implies a certain level of grown-up-ness that I do not yet aspire too. Please do not encourage people to start forcing that maturity on me. I prefer to remain a girl.
16
Slightly off topic, but don't the Presidents of the United States have possibly the most political name possible? And didn't they have hit songs about a cat, about their favorite fruit, and about a couch-potato lump?
17
Oh girls will be girls
18
Jane's Addiction and Presidents of the United States of America both have songs about their cats. And both of those bands are 100% male. And those songs are also 100% cute. So play all the damn cat songs you want and tell everyone else to suck it.
Part of feminism is having the freedom to take the political out of our personal identity--the same way men can. Let's not try to jam politics back down our own throats; we'll never be taken seriously if we can't stop taking ourselves too seriously.
19
Lovely article, Ms. McKenna! I hope to see more by you soon.
20
Well said tacocat. One thing about seattle is that there are many different punk scenes and a few different hardcore scenes but what u say is exactly right, straight up truth.
21
Amen!!!
22
#7 Everett True is a "feminist music critic"? When did that happen?
23
Ok - fine but I'm not really seeing how this relates to Queers. How does this article belong in the queer issue?
24
I really loved this article and I loved seeing your band at SXSW 2009! Great stuff. Reposted.
25
@7 - what about "chick?" That works.
26
This is Jesse from CAT VET and we sing songs about snakes, caves, period blood, consent and of course, CATS! Three girls playing music, oh how cute!!!! Fuck that bullshit!! We are so stoked to play with you in Philly and even more so after reading this article. Our sentiments exactly!!! xoxo
27
#22, read True's "Collapse Board" blog. Mostly girl bands and tons of feminist articles. Plus, he actively seeks & features articles by female music journalists. Don't know where you've been, but he's been doing this for a while now.

http://www.collapseboard.com/everett-tru…

http://www.collapseboard.com/brisbane/mu…

http://www.collapseboard.com/everett-tru…

http://www.collapseboard.com/features/co…

28
"I found it offensive that this political/queer/female punk band would get up onstage and trash another grrrl band for having fun subject matter."

That's how it relates to Sexist Queers. Granted, the sexism in music journalism was discussed more, but writers don't usually choose their titles, and catchiness/brevity rules above all.
29
I wish people would just focus on the content of the music.
30
@26: MORE FUCKING SONGS ABOUT CATS NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW NOWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW

Thanks <3
31
re: #7 We actually had a blog entry about this very issue

http://www.collapseboard.com/blogs/sian-…
32
Some words are equivalent...

female <-> male
woman <-> man
girl <-> boy
gal <-> guy
lady <-> gentleman (or gent, or dude?)
chick <-> (I dunno, dog??)

If you mix those parings up, you are gunning for trouble...
33
PARTY ON, BREE... we love YOU & cats & tacocats.. and pallindromes.. and YOU
34
@4 - Laaame. #7 was spot-on to say "Please, other feminists, do not even try to coach me on acceptable ways of referring to ourselves."

If YOU feel infantilized by being called a girl, then you can bust some balls over it when it happens in your own life. But don't you dare think you speak for the rest of us. I like being called a girl and think it's a subtle compliment saying "you look young." Then again, I also respond in like when someone calls me a girl, and call them a girl or boy. Equivalent exchange :)
35
The thing about white guilt, is, the only people who feel it are the ones who probably shouldn't. I don't feel it (I consider it misdirected) ergo I probably am white-guilty. But not as white-guilty as the proud racists here. And they themselves are at least drawn to the discussion, hence ironically are not as white-guilty as their ancestors who set up the institutions of racism and could have cared less!
36
whoops wrong thread. Love TacocaT
37
Yeah, cause if your shitty band was a shitty all dude band, the Stranger would totally be giving you press and letting your write your own column.
38
Love this. Thank you.
39
Team Gina called. They want their outraged sense of entitlement back.
40
@4 Respecting other people means letting them choose how they self-identify. Some people self-identify as girls, and they have a right to do so. You have a right to self-identify as something else and to object if someone calls you a girl. Just as I am going to object pretty much equally if you refer to me as a girl or as a woman. That is might right. (I am a person. And if for some reason it matters, I am willing to admit to being female. But that doesn't mean I self-identify as a woman or as a girl or as a lady, and I find your attempt to shove a self-identity onto someone else objectionable.) When someone is within a group and choosing their own label, let them do so. The terms don't even mean the same things to everyone.
41
Love this article.
42
you start off by writing/complaining that your reviews are all trite BECAUSE you're a female band, but then immediately go on about how your songs are all trite party lyrics? woes me...the world is so harsh.
zzzzz
43
Tell em Bree! Being in an all girls/womyns band I hear the same stupid shit all the time. That is probably why I beat those damn drums so hard!
44
@6 @7 You're right: I should have also said that this is a really good article that needed to be written, and I appreciate it. And hey, go and call yourselves whatever you want—sluts, girls, whatever. But then don't complain when you're not given the respect you deserve. Words have power and consequences.

45
@32

chick <-> cat

She's one cool chick. He's one cool cat.
46
#31, oh yeah, I remember reading that. Her first paragraph sums up why I've never had a problem with the "girl band" label. I've been a girl pop DJ (meaning I play only girl bands) for years, and I wouldn't know about half the bands I play if it weren't for being able to search "girl band" to find them.

Given the ratio of girl bands to guy bands, gender is relevant. The problem with pretending it isn't is that editors and journalists (who are mostly male in the music industry) can then stop attempting to represent all facets of a scene, including minority groups. This happens in the arts all the time. It's why we still have to have classes like "Women in Literature" or "The History of Black Theater" in college.

So stating, "Hey, we all have equal opportunities to be critiqued and if you aren't given the same respect that guys making the same type of music are it's because you aren't as good" doesn't quite work when those judging you are 90% male and defining what constitutes "good" in male terms.

I suffered through "...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead" last night and witnessed a room full of almost all guys singing along like lesbians at a Sleater-Kinney show. I can assure you, what guys relate to and enjoy does not always make any fucking sense at all to girls (and vice versa).
47
My biggest ish as a female-musician-womanface is that men are always asking me "Is that you playing guitar on that recording?" Or "who else is in your band?" Like they are always looking for the hidden penis lurking behind me in my music - like it's a game of Where's Fucking Waldo.

Sorry, there's no dick in my music, broseph.

It's so amazing to me that certain people have to point out that women have talent like it's an exceptional thing:

"You Guys!!! They are girls AND they play INSTRUMENTS!!! AND I want to have SEX with them! Can you believe all of this????!!!"

Thanks for writing this, Bree. I am a fan of Tacocat, you guys rule and I'm so glad people still have fun with music. I sure as hell don't want to be political. Except on comment boards apparently...
48
This was a really good article and judging from the comments it was obviously something that needed to be said. However I would like to point out that you will really limit the joy you receive from music making if you give a shit what critics say. I don't care who you are or what you're doing, there will always be some douchey critic with something completely insignificant to say. You need to give critics the middle finger and you know why? Because fuck em, that's why.
49
@37 FTW
50
I don't get around the music scene much and have never heard of Tacocat -- but if you're music is even half as good and fun and true as this article, you've got yourself another fan.
51
#49, yeah except that they do that all the time. Ty Cowgill, Trent Moorman, Kaz from PWRFL Power and Lars from the Intelligence's tour diaries. Nice try, though.
52
@47: All musicians get asked if that's them playing on the recording. It's a really stupid question that seems to be on the tip of everyone's tongue, so I get how you could relate that to being female, but...it's more common than you might think.

@ the author:
Totally love the article, totally love riot-grrl, totally love Bikini Kill, not really sure why you are complaining about being compared to good bands. :/
53
I totally love this article and agree with everything said, 100%.

But I was hoping The Stranger would take the bull by the horns (so to speak...) and address the attitudes of misogynistic gay men and lesbians who (what is the opposite of misogynistic?) because I have seen those attitudes in action and it seems counterproductive in so many ways.
54
@53 Misandrist is the opposite of misogynistic, but I'm not sure where that word fits into your comment....
@52 I'm also a female musician and I get compared to Joan Jett a lot. The first few times, I was insanely flattered--who isn't in love with Joan Jett?--but also a bit confused, because my style isn't much like hers. Then I figured it out: I'm a girl and I sing rock music, so I MUST be like Joan Jett. If your style is like Bikini Kill, it's awesome to be compared to them. If it's not, it's just people assuming that all girl bands are the same.
55
@4 Are you familiar with Girlie Feminism? It was a strain of 90s third-wave that insisted there was nothing wrong with being girls or with femininity. That's part of why "Riot Grrrl" used the term girl almost exclusively.

Also keep in mind that these days "man" and "woman" sound super-adult to most of us under-30s. I'm 29 already and I have trouble calling myself a woman, or calling my guy friends men. The real problem is that there's no good equivalent to "guy." Sometimes I say "ladies" or "chicks," which is tongue-in-cheek and probably lame but at least it avoids the girl/woman binary.
56
Good article. Trenchant and perky.
57
@44 "And hey, go and call yourselves whatever you want—sluts, girls, whatever. But then don't complain when you're not given the respect you deserve."

Myself, I'll complain about whatever I damn please, thanks. Don't really feel the need to kowtow to outdated mores in order to get 'respect' from people too simple-minded to deserve mine.
58
i play in a heavy metal duo, its me and my wife. i'm happy to call ourselves a girl band, and if anyone has a problem with that they can play after us, i dare ya.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bINraDJtY…
59
Bree rules. Tacocat rules. And this article and band just got co-signed by the wonderful Kathleen Hanna (http://www.kathleenhanna.com/category/bl…)

enough said.
60
@4 - being someone who is from australia and basically knowing nothing about Tacocat (who i now think are amazing) i think its important to note that there are females in the band so it gives the write up reference and context. I didnt know if the members were male or female but it definitely needed to be noted for the review purposes.

- I have been in a band with a similar dynamic and its disheartening to be lumped into a box, people dont bother referencing the music at all, they see gender and make the closest (also gender based) reference.
They dont even bother engaging with whats been written musically.

This is a great write up, Im stoked that other people feel that their 'hobby' doesnt have to be politically based. That you can write and do whatever you want with your own music.

- and in reference to the band being called out for not being political enough??!!
I know alot of people who are in bands that are not political but personally have amazing politics.
Should be concentrating on the people outside of our circles who have horrific politics and need to be pulled up instead of people in your own scene, who have common goals.
not to say that people in the scene don't need to be held accountable for things they say and do, but i do believe that there are alot of bigger fish to fry so to speak, otherwise what good are our politics if were only bothering to self regulate a small punk DIY scene.
61
@4 - being someone who is from australia and basically knowing nothing about Tacocat (who i now think are amazing) i think its important to note that there are females in the band so it gives the write up reference and context. I didnt know if the members were male or female but it definitely needed to be noted for the review purposes.

- I have been in a band with a similar dynamic and its disheartening to be lumped into a box, people dont bother referencing the music at all, they see gender and make the closest (also gender based) reference.
They dont even bother engaging with whats been written musically.

This is a great write up, Im stoked that other people feel that their 'hobby' doesnt have to be politically based. That you can write and do whatever you want with your own music.

- and in reference to the band being called out for not being political enough??!!
I know alot of people who are in bands that are not political but personally have amazing politics.
Should be concentrating on the people outside of our circles who have horrific politics and need to be pulled up instead of people in your own scene, who have common goals.
not to say that people in the scene don't need to be held accountable for things they say and do, but i do believe that there are alot of bigger fish to fry so to speak, otherwise what good are our politics if were only bothering to self regulate a small punk DIY scene.
62
Why is TacocaT a girl band? Why aren't they just a 'band'?
63
Having only ever been in all female bands since the early 90's I couldn't agree with this article more.
I remember a friend, who was also a musician, in college saying once "Well, you guys have gimmick."
I actually had to ask what said gimmick was and he said that because we were all female people were going to like us better and more people were going to come see us play.
True as it may be that we were well liked at our pretty liberal college it pissed me off that this guy would say we had a gimmick and totally diminish our music and talent.
In other settings we were treated like shit, people didn't listen to us play or they just stared at us like they'd never seen a bunch of punky chicks play music before.
I'm sad to know it hasn't changed much in the past twenty years.

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