8-Bit ‘Friends’ by Antonia Heslop
(via awesomealtart)Source: adagioformaves
Isn’t it sad that, before you even think of criticising something “on the internet”, you have to make sure you have the time and energy to deal with the inevitable backlash? Isn’t it especially sad that this is almost always the case when the subject of criticism is a scene that claims over and over again to be “inclusive”?
This is something that has been going on almost every week lately in regards to DIY. I guess that means more people are now willing to call out things they feel are unfair, which is great, but the inevitable battle that ensues can also be incredibly upsetting and disheartening. For some reason, whenever anybody voices their concern over something – whether it’s artwork, merchandise or behaviour at shows – it is met with immediate backlash. It happened when Alanna from Joanna Gruesome called out the Nai Harvest artwork, it happened when Joyce Manor called out certain behaviour at their shows, and it happened today after I said this Avida Dollars shirt was crap.
I didn’t get anywhere near the amount of shit others have had to deal with, but this is an issue I feel really strongly about and can’t really respond to within a designated character space. So here it is:
“Bro mentality” is a real concern of mine. It is, by its very nature, ostracising to women and young girls who often end up being the collateral damage for some arsehole’s freedom to stage dive feet first. It’s also inherently dominant, which means that whatever those people choose to do dictates the atmosphere of the show. As it stands, the general mood is that if you’re not comfortable with it, you should leave. Don’t go to the shows anymore. Stop supporting the bands you enjoy because the minority aren’t willing to put their own needs aside for one second to consider the personal comfort of everybody else. I appreciate that some of the bands associated with these kinds of shows don’t consider themselves to be a part of “bro culture”, but that doesn’t mean they don’t support it inadvertently.
The reason I called out the shirt is because I felt like it was a kick in the face to everyone who has ever felt uncomfortable at a show where the front-middle of the venue is a pile of sweaty, topless (mostly) men rolling over one another. The Art Is Hard birthday party at the Shacklewell was a prime example of that happening. Yes, it was a super great event and those who run Art Is Hard are wonderful human beings, but there was a point in the evening when literally everyone around me was rolling their eyes or laughing at the absurdity of some of the things that were going on – and all of those people rolling their eyes with me were men. Similarly, some of the people disagreeing with my stance on “toplessness” were women.
This isn’t a binary gender issue. This isn’t about treading lightly around women or treating them like “delicate flowers”, it’s about having some fucking respect for the people who buy your records, tour with you, put you on a bill, do your PR, your artwork and/or come to support you at shows that might not appreciate being faced with dialogue like “anybody who still has their shirt on is not my friend”. In fact, the only reason I saw the Avida Dollars shirt in the first place is because a male friend of mine flagged it up as rubbish. The band did point out that the shirt was meant to be a joke, a parody of “masochism” (I think they meant misogyny) – but if the “shirts off” attitude is something you accept, promote and enjoy at your shows then it can’t possibly be classed as parody, that’s just your thing. And that’s cool if that’s their thing, but the joke doesn’t work…unless their whole existence as a band is a parody of that culture. Maybe the joke would be funny if it weren’t for the connotations. Maybe the joke would be funny if the punchline wasn’t the expense of everybody who has ever retreated slowly to the back or side of the room to make way for a brawl of humans who simply must be topless.
Don’t get me wrong, nudity is fucking brilliant. If you want to take your top off, go for it. My nipples are all over the bloody internet so this argument is purely contextual. I go to queer nights a lot, which, for anybody who hasn’t experienced them, are literally entire rooms full of butt naked sweaty men slut-dropping to Nicki Minaj. Do you know why I go to these club nights? Because I always feel safe there. Do I always feel safe at punk shows? No, because the environment is totally different and everybody should be mindful of that.
When the majority of people on stage or in the audience are (white, cis) male then that can have an effect on people. And though I understand that’s not anybody’s fault or responsibility to fix, I do believe that large numbers tend to take that for granted and have trouble appreciating the concerns that lie outside of their own privilege. To a certain extent, that’s nobody’s fault, but it does require some extra thought. We live in a culture of perpetual arse-kissing, back slapping and “liking”, so perhaps the immediate reaction to negativity being defence is a generational thing. Or maybe it’s just laziness. Either way, nobody should be made to feel unwelcome in the space they should rightly associate with security, and they certainly shouldn’t be told to quietly leave the space if they disagree with certain elements of it. For some people, music is their home, it’s where they feel safe, so telling someone to fuck off out of a venue if they don’t like what’s going on is like kicking someone out of their own house so you can shit on their carpet.
No, you can’t please everyone and it’s difficult in this case to make compromises without ending up policing, which would obviously suck, but do you know what would be a massive leap towards making things better? Actually taking a second out of your life to consider that something you do might make somebody else uncomfortable before immediately jumping on the defence every time you’re faced with criticism. Being at the receiving end of torrents of aggression and vehement disagreement isn’t something people willingly seek out, so when something is said, it isn’t done so flippantly – it is with full knowledge that the scene will gang up immediately to defend itself, and, above all the questionable merchandise, artwork or shirt-removing, that’s what needs to stop.
To anybody – young women in particular – who has ever felt put off by this typical reaction to something as simple as having an opinion, I’ll leave you with these words from Alanna McArdle that came in the wake of “Nai-gate 2k14”: you are important, and you deserve to be listened to.
this is important. get yr shit together, DIY.Source: sdgrlsclb