WELCOME TO MY ZINE! As my holidays started a month ago, I felt like doing something different from studying and I came up with the idea, of making a riot grrrl like fanzine about music and feminism. This zine doesn't really have a concept, I just wrote about things that inspired, upset or interested me. I had help from a couple of amazing people who I want to thank dearly for taking part. Since English is not my native language, I'd like to apologize for any mistakes, even though I had two lovely people proofreading my texts. Finally I want to thank you for reading it, I’ve never done anything like this before and it means a lot to me, I hope you enjoy it. When I say I want to write about feminism, I want to define what that means to me at first. Many people don't know what feminism means, or have a wrong idea of it. Something like THE feminism does not exist. Feminism can mean different things to different people, but the main idea is, that women should be equal to men. And for the people who'd like to interrupt here with “But...”: There is no “but”, really. No, women aren't equal to men yet, open your eyes. And yes, there may be people with stupid views, who are hating men, or girls dressing feminine, and calling themselves feminists. This is a topic that can be discussed in books, but basically, these people just suck, because they don't respect people who are different and they generalize. But this is not what feminism is about and just because some people are stupid, it doesn't mean that a whole movement is stupid. This is a minority, and people who don't see this mostly just don't WANT to see this. Why is it so hard just to respect other people and not to attack them and just let them live their lives as long as they do not harm anyone? I wish more people would mind the golden rule: Do not treat others in ways that you would not like to be treated. Everybody can be a feminist and as there are many people who feel so threatened by feminism makes me want to write a lot more about it.
Brody Dalle is an awesome punk rock musician and one of two sentences about her is about whom she was married to... Well done XFM! Things like this are common and they shouldn't, because there is a lot more to say about musicians like Brody Dalle apart from who they date. This is why this zine is dedicated to female musicians. Nina x
Stereotypes in music On International Women's Day, I saw a metalcore band posting a youtube playlist on facebook called “Girls in Hardcore and Punk”. Since I've been working on this zine recently, I was curious if there were many female musicians in that playlist. It included 44 videos and out of these there were only five with bands that had women playing instruments. As I mentioned this in a comment, it turned into a discussion with the (female) singer of the band. However, her views shocked me a bit, because it made me realize again how established gender roles and sexist stereotypes in most people’s heads are, even if they actually support equality. Here is an example of what I'm talking about:
“I can't play an instrument either and “just” sing. I posted the playlist for girl power and I think that many girls in the playlist are shouting and not just playing an instrument is an important statement. Generally there are few bands with women in them and maybe it's because not many women want to play an instrument in that genre. Besides, the girls in this scene are mostly not wearing high heels and short skirts to not get associated with certain roles. [...] A female (bass) guitarist is way more accepted in the Hardcore-/Metalcore-scene than a girl that screams, in my opinion. Most of the people I know don't really care if it's a boy or a girl who plays the instrument, but when it comes to shouting and so on it's special and even controversial, because, in my view, it changes the usual “core sound”. I wouldn't like to play in a band with girls and I think many who are the only girl in a band would agree. Most girls just choose to sing, which means there are fewer girls on instruments. This is heavier music, so there are naturally more men than women. […] Like I said, whether it’s on an instrument or microphone, what matters is that there are more girls on stage!”
Before all else, I have to say that I'm not too familiar with the Core scene so I can't talk about how women are perceived there, I will just relate it to women in all kinds of heavier (Rock, Punk, Metal) music. First of all, I really dislike the theory that there aren't many female instrumentalists because they choose not to play. I think this is where the problem starts; it's kind of a vicious circle. Because as there aren't many women in bands, there is a lack of role models for young girls. We get influenced by everything we see, our perception of things is a learned one and we get conditioned from the day we're born. Our environment is an important factor, making us the people we are. As we grow up in a patriarchal society and getting taught certain gender roles, this is obviously what becomes natural to us, so when you never saw a girl playing guitar in a rock band, how should a young girl know that she could do it? Learning instruments is something that many people start as kids and it still isn't usual, that girls start electric guitar, bass or even drums. That's seen as a boys’ thing. So when there are already fewer girls playing instruments, even when they make it to the point to form or play in a band, they more likely won't get accepted and valued as men and will regularly encounter sexist reactions. It's just not true that women don't belong or don't want to be in bands, it's the strictness of our society’s gender roles that tell girls they should be nice and always in control. But of course heavy music includes emotions such as anger and aggression which are not compatible with the stereotypical female behaviour. However, the fact rock, punk and metal aren't “for boys only” should be obvious when you take a look into the crowd at a gig, containing often as many girls as boys. So girls care for heavier music, but they're just the audience, or if they want to be a part, they're mostly the singers. Through pop music, female singers are something common and the step in other music genres isn't that huge. However, singers are often “just singers” and not properly involved in the song writing process, because that's the job of the instrumentalists.
Even though the girl in the comment above tried to point out that female singer’s role in bands isn't just being an eye-candy, the “high heels and short skirts” sentence gave me a weird feeling too. Because what a woman is wearing on stage shouldn't matter. The respect and acceptance a girl receives on stage shouldn't depend from what she's wearing. For me, a good example here is Deap Vally, who usually wear really short outfits, being feminine and are amazing musicians. Men can play topless without being sexualised, but as soon as a girl is on stage wearing just shorts, she's just seen as “hot” by many men and even women, ignoring her musical qualities. Accepting that women have to change their behaviour or look to get accepted, is giving approval to the status quo, in my opinion. Same applies to the statement that female (shouting) vocals are controversial in the core scene. A scene being so used to male omnipresence in music, that the (audible) appearance of a girl feels weird isn't a good sign, even though there are some well-known bands with female singers, like Walls of Jericho. In my opinion, this is an issue of conditioning too, because if there were as many female as male singers, both would maybe sound different, but not strange to people. The last point that alienated me, was the “there should be more girls in music but I don't wanna be the one having a girl in the band” attitude. I can't really comment this, because I don't understand it. I'm a person who usually gets better along with boys too, but it still depends on the person and not the gender and I know so many amazing female musicians I would be honoured to play in a band with. To sum it up, I think as long as our attitude will be “there are just less girls that play instruments” and “it's a choice” nothing will change, because that means we accept the status quo. The most important step to get more girls on stages is to raise awareness of gender roles and to question them, to empower girls to go their own way. I'm sure, that as more female musicians will come to public attention, as more girls will be inspired by them and follow suit. It's time to raise girls out of the male shadow and to motivate them to break out of societies' gender roles.
Girl Power The term Girl Power got first used by the Band Bikini Kill for one of their fanzines. Girl power was meant to empower girls to not accept the shit they're confronted with by society and to stand up to fight against it. Coming from the Riot Grrrl movement and created as something “revolutionary”, the meaning of Girl Power changed since then. Girl Power is nowadays seen as a form of pro girl movement that embraces ideals of cultural femininity while claiming it as empowering. It is, in contrast to the Riot Grrrl movement, embedded in consumerism and works within the system. It became popular through pop music, by girl bands such as the Spice Girls and by female images on TV. Naomi Wolf coined the term Power Feminism in the 1990s and argues that one can embrace femininity, a sentiment which also applies to Girl Power. It seems to convey a positive message: that you can be interested in make- up and fashion and still be a feminist. The problem with Girl Power is the same with Power Feminism: it is undemanding. Wolf claims that women need to be fair in claiming equality. This sentiment can also be observed in the Girl Power concept, in which girls are expected to strive for equality, but to be nice and undemanding about it. This concept thus promotes the female gender role instead of breaking it. Girl Power is everywhere, embedded in culture and consumerism, but without a message behind it. It does not inspire change, demands nothing, but stays within the system, claiming that girls can have power if they want. The message does not threaten the status quo, but rather works as stabilization of it. So when I talk about Girl Power, I'm thinking of the original meaning. I'm thinking about girls, who are sick of accepting their role in society and work against it. And how you're looking whilst doing this – who cares? We won't make a change, letting our daughters wear pink shirts with “Girl Power” on it, making them feel powerful – as long as they stay within their role. We will make a change teaching them to question society rules instead of following them blindly. I'd like to bring up my favourite quote by Kifah Shah here: “We gotta start teaching our daughters to be somebodies instead of somebody’s”. Girl Power is not up for sale, Girl Power is in our minds.
By Nina V. and Nina R.
Gender roles and female sexuality in young adults literature It was already said that patriarchal ideology shapes every aspect of our lives and therefore also affects literature. “Portrayals of women and men based on the stereotypical notions of masculine strength and feminine weakness bombard us through the media.” (Lips 19) This is problematic, because stereotypes restrict both male and female to certain roles and behaviours. They prevent women and men from exploring roles outside these stereotypes by failing to show them alternative role models they could relate to. Instead, both are hunted by expectations, restrictions and idealizations. In particular, it can be found in the display of certain gender roles, which can be found both in patriarchal societies and its literature. The most common female stereotypes are the stereotypes of the “good” and the “bad” girl. Young Adult fiction is literature written for adolescents aged 11 to 18 (even though it appeals to older readers, too). It is often defined as being especially created and published for teenagers, addressing themes such as popularity, dating, social alienation and awkwardness. Young Adult literature is an important source of information for young readers, addressing topics that they can relate to and that might play a role in their lives. It therefore functions sometimes as guide and inspiration through a time that can be both challenging and frightening. Because of its function, it is vital to examine the underlying themes in Young Adult literature, in order to see how they present and construct gender roles and how they deal with important social and cultural themes such as homo- and heterosexuality, the development of sexuality, race, religion and feminism. A recurring theme in Young Adult novels is female sexuality. Because of its function as a guide and inspiration, Young Adult literature can offer an insight into the construction and representation of it. Even though many Young Adult books address female sexuality, most of them do this in a troubling way. Researching sexuality in Young Adult novels, Younger argues that they: “frequently depict female sexuality as a threatening force.”, reinforcing traditional gender roles and stereotypes such as the good girl, the bad girl and the strong male character. As an example I'd like to take a look at Marked from the popular House of Night series by P.C. and Kristin Cast. It is about the adventures of Zoey Redbird, a sixteen-year-old girl who has just become a "fledgling vampyre" and is required to attend the House of Night boarding school. The good and the bad girl often differ in how they treat sexuality. This is also the case in the House of Night. In the beginning of the series, Zoey is a virgin. The first time we see her confronted with sexuality, when she sees a girl who is about to give a guy a blowjob, she reacts with resentment: “Yes, I was aware of the whole oral sex thing. I doubt if there’s a teenager alive in America today who isn’t aware that most of the adult public think we’re giving guys blow jobs like they used to give guys gum (or maybe more appropriately suckers). Okay, that’s just bullshit, and it’s always made me mad. Of course there are girls who think it’s “cool” to give guys head. Uh, they’re wrong. Those of us with functioning brains know that it is not cool to be used like that.” ( Marked 59)
This statement shows how good girls “should” react by openly displayed sexuality- there is no mention of the fact that the girl might enjoy doing this, and has a right to enjoy it but it is made clear that every girl with a “functioning brain” would not do this and does not enjoy it. It reaffirms the stereotype of the good girl and cultural views on female sexuality that “Girls are expected to be desirable but are denied having sexual desire”. (McGeough 89) Zoey's negative attitude about female sexuality is also seen in her reactions when she is together with her love interest. She constantly chides herself for acting “like a slut” whenever she has desires. The negative depiction of girls sexuality and their desires is also shown in the depiction of the “bad girl” Aphrodite. She was the girl Zoey saw when she was about to give a blowjob. After this incident, Aphrodite is constantly referred to as ‘ho’ or as a bitch and her friends as the “hags from hell” (Marked 82). Also, she is constantly described as acting ‘slutty’, for example her laugh was “way to sexual to be appropriate”. (Marked 279) In the end, Aphrodite gets punished for her behaviour for not only losing the leadership of the sorority but also by losing her friends. In my chapter on femininity and gender in YA novels, I pointed out that YA literature offer adolescent’s ways to make sense of problems and changes they encounter while growing up, dealing with themes such as sexuality and first love. As seen in my analysis of Marked, those messages can sometimes been problematic, since they offer stereotypes and gender construction that enforce gender inequality and biological essentialism; making it vital to analyse the messages YA literature conveys. How far are we shaped by society? How far can we escape society? When we see this book as an example, then it appears to be nearly impossible not to be influenced by societies underlying influences and discourses. The gender roles in the House of Night offer a bleak interpretation: like girl power, they offer an empty message- something that is created to make you feel good about yourself, while strengthening the foundation of patriarchal society. It is therefore important to be aware of the social and cultural construction of gender, in order to be able to analyze the impact of those stereotypes on society.
This is an shortened excerpt from Nina Voigt's course work “Fangs, the good girl and the bad girl”. Literature: • Lips, Hilary. Women, Men and Power. California: Mayfield Publishing Company, 1991. Print • McGeough, Danielle Dick. “Twilight and Transformations of Flesh: Reading the Body in Contempoary Youth Culture. Bitten by Twilight: Youth Culture, Media, & the Vampire Franchise. New York: Peter Lang, 2010. Print. • Younger, Ann Elizabeth. How To Make A Girl: Female Sexuality In Young Adult Literature. Diss. Louisiana State University. 2003