Saturday, August 19, 2006

I'm back, conflict between one's personal preferences and one's political commitments rears it's head again, and some follow-up on an earlier post.
(I REALLY need to think of snappier titles)
Hello again to all and sorry for the prolonged absence. I've been in a crappy mood (suffering from a severe case of the work-related blues). However, my mood is now much improved, not least because I'm going to see my favourite band tomorrow. I honestly thought that I would never get the chance to see these guys live, which sucks since they're a notoriously great live band, so to say that I'm happy about this would be an understatement (but then I am a Brit and understatement is one of the things we do best). This is the band that I didn't get to see back in March, as a result of which my friends had to listen to me whining for months. So, I'm a happy girl, right? Just one problem. This means I have to spend the whole day with a bunch of American metal dudes.
See what I mean about the conflict? This seems to be an ongoing issue with me, and I can't help but wonder how many other people are in the same position. See, I love a lot of really loud, obnoxious music. When this means punk it's not too much of a problem, as other than the ever-present danger of getting crushed in the mosh pit most punk crowds are actually quite politically savvy and female friendly, or at least smart enought to know that being openly misogynistic is not kosher. Metal crowds are another matter entirely. The show I'm going to tomorrow is headlined by Korn. Oh dear.
I hate most American metal fans. I'm sorry, but I do. I once nearly punched someone at a Metallica show in Biloxi because he thought that it was cute to grab my breasts from behind me and squeeze in the middle of the show. I was barely 15 at the time, he was probably mid-twenties. The only reason I didn't hit him was because it occured to me that there was a very good chance he might actually punch me back. Little, 5ft2, 15 year old me. Aren't metal guys great?
So, tomorrow I get to see what is in my opinion the best band in the world right now, but the payoff is that I have to spend the day with a bunch of guys so unevolved that one often wonders if many of them were repeatedly dropped on their heads as infants. I've already seen footage of the earlier part of this tour taken by one of the minor bands, and it's a metal crowd alright - big fat hairy dudes in ancient tour shirts, drunk frat boys galore, and slutty-looking girls flashing their boobs at the bands. See how aggravated this makes me? I am normally the last person to ever use a word like "slutty", but in this case how else do you put it? I have never understood why women feel the need to flash at concerts. I can honestly say that I have never felt the slightest urge to show my breasts to either the band I'm watching or the crowd of random drunk dudes around me. Why do people do this, exactly? To me, watching them do it, it looks like an obeiscence, as if rather than waiting to be put in their place they're actually doing it to themselves. Why would anyone do that?
Then there's the CD signing, meet and greet part. I'd love to get some of my stuff signed, particularly given how rarely these guys (the band is Dir En Grey, in case anyone wonders what the hell I'm talking about. I'll put links at the bottom of the post) are in the US. However, because of the ever-present groupie phenomenon at metal shows, the atmosphere at meet and greets tends to be a bit wierd for a woman, particularly an attractive woman. In this case it's even wierder than usual as this is a very pretty band, with a huge female following back in Japan, so take the usual wierdness and add the fact that most women there are going to instinctively respond to the guys in the band in a flirtatious way, not because they're groupies, but because these are guys who you'd be flirting with if they were serving you coffee or fixing your car. I'm not quite sure how the metal dudes who're there to see Korn etc are going to respond to that, but I'm willing to bet it will be nasty. I'm almost tempted to wear the unsexiest thing I can find just to minimise the wierdness, but the show's in Sacramento, outdoors, and it's August - it's going to be hot as hell. So, either I have to just live with the wierdness and go to the meet and greet anyway, or I have to miss out on what is after all a fairly significant part of the whole going-to-see-a-band experience just because metal people in general are sexist idiots. This is something that has always annoyed me about going to shows, and I know I'm not the only one. Any other women come up with a good way to deal with this? Because I usually just end up quietly seething. Good thing there's going to be some loud, aggressive music there to get all that frustration out of my system!
It's wierd how often I run into this. All the things I love in a cultural sense (music, fashion, sports etc) seem to bring me into direct contact with people whom, in a political sense, I disagree with on almost every level. My love for these things also puts me in conflict with my natural political allies - seriously, can you imagine what would be said if I proclaimed my adoration for some loud, aggressive, creepy video-making, formerly cross-dressing Japanese metal band over at IBTP? It would make the BSDM debacle seem like a friendly conversation between dear friends. And I get this feeling all the time.
I guess I'm just musing/venting because this really is an ongoing thing where I feel like I'm constantly torn between the things that I naturally gravitate towards and what my political allies seem to expect of me. I'm not torn on a personal level - as far as I'm concerned I just like what I like, I'm wired to be drawn towards dark, disturbing things (talk to me about horror movies some time), and that's just the way I am. The conflict is between what I'm "supposed" to enjoy versus what I actually enjoy. I'm just not an Indigo Girls listening, baggy hemp clothes wearing kind of person, you know? The stuff I'm "supposed" to like bores me to death. Anyone else running into the same phenomenon? How are you dealing with it?

Dir En Grey Links follow...
Pics of show in Denver, Family Values Tour with Korn, Deftones etc (these pics are DEG only)
First page is the singer only for some reason, rest of the band are on the other pages

Umbrella mp3

Hydra mp3
file password is hydra - just enter "hydra" in space prompted and hit Enter key

R to the Core mp3


Increase Blue

Akuro No Oka


Arwen said...

I'm sorry to hear that you were having work blues. I hear ya, sister. I hope things are shaking themselves straight, and send bravery waves your way. *g*

Cassandra Says said...

Hi Arwen. Unfortunately the work blues are ongoing and will probably only be solved by my moving back home, but thanks for the bravery waves!
Out of interest, after you've had some time to think about it, how are you feeling now about the whole thing that went down at Pandagon? Still feeling Twisty's pain? I've been musing a lot about the whole issues of how our various identity components interact with each other, and how we all interact with our supposed political allies, so I guess I'm kind of trying to test the waters to see how everyone else feels.

FoolishOwl said...

Well, I found the arguments helped to clarify a number of issues for me. In particular, I'd been entirely too soft about a number of arguments. People who've committed themselves to destroying you and everything you stand for are not allies.

Also, I found a couple of new blogs to follow, particularly B|Lab and Fetch me my axe.

FoolishOwl said...

Oops, that should have been B|Lab.

Arwen said...

Mmmm. How I'm feeling.

Well, on one hand, I think it was instructive for me to meet the assholes who both Twisty and I would choose to scorn. On the other hand, I am becoming weary of the wars we launch at one another.

It seems utterly counter-productive. I can take Twisty's basic point that we all are influenced by the patriarchy in every action - including in our bedrooms - but I'm not sure that my enjoyment of blowing my husband causes women everywhere to collectively knuckle a little farther.

On top of that, there's the more flies with honey than vinegar. Is it really the best way to help someone out of true abuse by questioning the very things she's doing to live or survive? Does "You're a bloody sexbot, you powerless fool" empower ANYONE enough to make a change in her life? I don't think it does. I think that telling women they're powerless is a damn good way of keeping them from making the radical choice to listen to themselves and find something better. If I were told I was "powerless" against the patriarchy, and that I couldn't ever find sexual equality and non-power-dynamic laced intercourse, would I have had the gumption to leave my first, problematic, relationship? Or would I have figured it all sucked, and I should try to fix the devil I knew? Would I have given up on my own orgasm? Twisty sees that as not really mattering, which in someways I utterly agree: but sexual satisfaction does mean something big to me on a personal level, because it is the ultimate ownership of my BODY. And I once didn't feel my body was my own.

'Cuz I'll tell you, Patriarchy or No, I went from Twisty's Sexbot to someone who calls her own shots.

Anyway, all this round about and up and down seems senseless.

The other thing that our big feminist bloggers forget (and perhaps feminists generally), is that of the in- and out- grouping dynamics.

It matters more to women who would-be feminists what Dr. B or Twisty or Amanda or Lauren say, because they are our stars. They are cool. They are visible. It matters what Twisty thinks, regardless of the fact that she's powerless to stop her government from overturning Roe vs. Wade, to all the women who might try to ingroup with her. It matters what we say to one another. As I said in a comment at Pandagon, feminists are a little like Trekkies: yes, greater society may say it's dorky wear Spock ears or worry about women's rights, but to the groups concerned with exactly those things, the hegemony of the GROUP matters more than greater society.

So I am a choice feminist. And they can come at me if they want to .

FoolishOwl said...

It's a long story, but part of what's happened is that the Democratic Party had a campaign of co-opting blogs, and has succeeded.

Part of the reason this was possible is that, by and large, feminist bloggers have no connection to actual activism or social movements. They were never doing any more than discussing ideas in the abstract. It was quite easy to co-opt them with a few pats on their heads and some invitations to conference calls with Democratic Party apparatchiks.

I was particularly frustrated because I'd spent the better part of two years arguing with one blogger in particular about the nature of the Democratic Party. When discussing how upset I was when it became obvious she'd decided to be another DP shill, my friends pointed out that, obviously, if someone's got no practical experience with organizing a living political movement, then they wouldn't understand how the DP consistently stabs movements in the back.

More broadly, the reason that debates in the feminist blogosphere seem bitter and irresolvable is that there is scarcely any actual living movement for women's rights, so to most of the participants in the debates, feminism means nothing more than debating abstract concepts.