I have been in the metal scene pretty much my entire life. My parents are metalheads, my brothers and cousins were in metal bands growing up, and when I turned 16, I started going to shows with my friends. Metal music is something that will always be there for me and I will always love going to shows. I am often asked if, as a female, I have had negative experiences at shows. There have been some instances that are frustrating. These unpleasant interactions do not happen at every show, but I do think it is something that I should share with all of you.
When I attend shows, I am there to jam. I want to sing along to my favorite songs, mosh, dance and headbang. I do not want to be questioned about what I am wearing, who I am there with, and I am especially not at a show to be interrogated by some concert-goers to see if I fit their standards of a “true” metalhead.
Here are a few of the encounters I have been a part of, which puzzle and perplex:
“Are you here with your boyfriend?”
Here are the only two conclusions I can draw based on this statement: Either, this is the best line that he can come up with, or he really thinks that I wouldn’t be here to enjoy the music and the bands on my own.
A club owner talking to a promoter about me, “Are you going to tap that?”
Oh, where to begin?! First, why would you think that this is an acceptable question while I am standing right there?! Is this some form of passive aggression? Was he projecting? Secondly, it’s not professional. It’s rude, ignorant, and it’s chauvinistic. And finally, the promoter’s response was just as obnoxious, “Not yet.” For me, while there may be people who are impressed with these titles and positions, I am not. Where I come from, this calls for an ass whoopin’!
“Ladies, don’t wear shorts to a metal show.”
I went to a death metal show, and my friend was the only girl to crowd surf. After the song, the singer of the band commented on what she was wearing. The guitarists concurred with “Thanks for the show.” One: You will not tell me (or anyone) what we can and cannot wear. Period. Two: I am here to watch you perform, shut up and play. For these particular individuals, when I turn the crank, you dance, monkey!
“What do I get out of this?”
This is called “Quid Pro Quo,” and it’s Latin for something for something. I wanted to interview a band, and this was their band manager/merch guy’s response.
Do I really need to say something about this? This is like a crime of opportunity. Because I’m there, you think it’s okay? Why the objectivity? Is there some kind of sick pleasure? At a show one time, a girl tried to get in front of me (because I was at the barricade). When she couldn’t move me, she enlisted her boyfriend to make me uncomfortable. So, I headbutted him. Why is it okay for your boyfriend to treat a woman like this?
“Are you a groupie?”
This is an (over) generalization. I go to shows to enjoy the music, the performance, and the community, etc. While there are groupies, it doesn’t necessarily follow that all women at shows are groupies (or someone’s girlfriend).
What I mean is, some think that I should have to answer basic questions to prove that I like metal (and not just wearing the merch as some kind of fashion statement). Because someone doesn’t share your opinion on a band, song, or singer, etc., it doesn’t make that one any less of a metalhead. The real question being asked is, “Why are you here?”
Again, more often than not, I have a great time at shows. I love seeing/meeting the bands, making new friends, hanging with old friends, and just having a good time. Although there have been some undesirable moments, it does not reflect on the metal experience for me. I will continue to go to shows and jam.