by megan

You're on your way to a show, thrilled because your favorite band is playing. Maybe you go with a few friends or meet people there, maybe you go by yourself, for the love of the music. The first band goes on, you like them or you don't but it doesn't really matter. You're just waiting for your favorites to appear.

Finally, there's your band, playing away. You're dancing, having a great time. Then, two, maybe three songs into their set, they start insulting you. Not you personally (they don't know you from anyone else in the crowd), but people who look like you, maybe talk like you. Suddenly the show doesn't seem so great anymore. The music's still wonderful, but how can you dance along when the lyrics are insulting your people? You're torn, what do you do? Welcome to one of the problems with being a woman in today's scene.

There are a lot of people who would consider this whole article a load of bull, but everyone has different experiences. I went to shows and listened to ska for 3 years before I started encountering any kind of misogyny. A friend of mine met up with anti-female sentiment within a month. Some people will be fortunate and avoid it altogether. It's a personal issue.

So here's my personal experience: For all it's talk of respect and solidarity, the rising sentiment in ska is becoming, if not anti-woman, then certainly exclusionary. More than one band uses the terms "bitch" and "whore" like candy, sprinkling them throughout their lyrics for "color", and I've heard more songs lately that portray women as whores who ought to be beaten down then I can stomach. How can women be expected to participate in a scene that only offers them the role of whore?

Some people may argue that I'm a prude who can't deal with a little fun, but that's bull. I have no problem with crudity or crass sexuality, but this lack of respect is a totally different issue. It has nothing to do with sex - it has to do with people not taking girls seriously, and thinking that the only thing women are good for is a quick lay.

I don't know what the solution is to stop the ska scene from turning into something analogous to hard rock (do the Pietasters get to be Aerosmith?), and I don't want to change the NY Scene into some Disney Land version of itself where everything's warm and fuzzy and ridiculously meaningless. But I'd like people to start treating each other with a bit more respect, and to start valuing different voices and what they have to say.

So if you're a girl who wants to form a band, for god's sake do it. Concentrate first of all on making your music good, (we definitely need more of that) but also try to say something original about what it means to be you. If you can't play an instrument, write for a zine, or put on shows yourself, or just don't go see bands who offend you. But most of all, support the other women and rude girls and girls that you see at shows - they're not your enemies, they're not out for your "man", they don't think they're better than you (most of them anyway). As soon as everyone, women and men, rude boys and girls, realize that we're all in the same boat together, the better things will be.