Performative Wokeness: A Response to MetalSucks

You ever get so immediately enraged with something you see, that your throat dries out and in the words of comedian Tom Segura “you forget to, you know, speak English words”.

Well, an editorial from came out yesterday and landed in my lap today and honestly I had to get up from my office chair and start pacing, partially out of second hand embarassment and the cringe factor and partially out of blind rage.

Now, I’m a lady identifying person, and I exist somewhere in the alternative thrift store goblin and heavy metal horror fan realms, which I’m sure you may have gathered, if you’ve been around for a while.

I consider myself to be a reasonable feminist, sex worker inclusive and positive, trans inclusive, and identify as queer, disabled, a person of color, and neurodivergent. Before I created DIAG and began writing online, or podcasting, or sat down to film YouTube videos, I spent my time publishing zines, interviewing bands old school with a tape recorder, attending shows, doing college radio shows, and working in harm reduction. I got used to the vague ‘boys club’ mentality that came with the alternative scene, from drunk punx slamming into groups of women at church pew punk rock shows, to lecherous goth men with more makeup and pretension than their dates creepily quoting Byron to uninterested pigtailed lolita goths at Sisters of Mercy shows, to ‘woke’ hippie ravers with hemp and crystal necklaces preying on girls with dreadlocks so high on ketamine they couldn’t stand up.. the list is honestly never ending, and it’s echoed in all areas and walks of life. This universal experience is part of the driving force of the #MeToo movement which aimed to show the world that all women have faced some form of discrimination simply for existing in the identity of a woman (and yes, this includes trans women). It’s weird to type out that you get used to this behaviour.

And that’s where riot grrl came in, at least for me, that and kinderwhore – music by angry female identifying people, angry about being treated, like coat racks to hang the hopes and desires of toxic masculinity on. Riot Grrl brought me to zine making, button making, and radical punk rock, and it shaped so intensely my teenage identity within punk and later within goth circles. Even now, I still am unable to shake those punk rock roots. Riot Grrl was one of the driving forces behind creating Drunk In A Graveyard – the desire to see film and later music reviews from a perspective other than the standard white dude in v-neck t-shirt with glasses and a cold brew.

Part of what drove me away from review blogs in the first place is behaviour like I had previously mentioned – too many dudes, not enough ladies, not enough queerness, not enough of any viewpoint where I saw myself reflected. But I noticed something insidious begin to creep in, especially in the time of #MeToo, and it’s something I would like to refer to as ‘performative wokeness’.

Suddenly, it’s become quite in vogue for authors on twitter to put their pronouns in their twitter bios, work emails contain addendums about acknowledging First Nations territory, sites like MetalSucks write whole manifestos about refusing to work with or acknowledge the work of fascists, antifeminists, Nazis and other assholes within the metal scene or use their platform to cover the sexual assault allegations against Young and in the Way and yet, on June 6, 2019 they posted this article, which aside from being poorly written, not credited to any author and without the ability to leave any comments, is a horrifically misogynist comparison of various female stereotypes – aka the ‘goth gf’ to various subgenres of heavy metal.

In 2019, in the aftermath of #MeToo, in a time when everyone seems to cast a jaundiced eye on the phrase “female fronted”, is this really the time to be writing an article comparing your female dating fantasies to arguably shitty descriptions of music. Isn’t this ultimate objectification and dehumanization? Reducing women to stereotypes, while crowing about the need for diversity, writing articles about females in metal, and how important queer voices are… but oddly only rarely featuring queer voices, female voices, disabled voices.
I’ll tell you that I’ve pitched MetalSucks – a queer, disabled, female identifying person of color, and did not get a response, similarly so with two other female members of the DIAG staff.

No room for our voices, and yet, room for this article, which, while I’m assuming is a bad joke, is so tone deaf that I really wonder what the fuck is going on in this world. It’s come to my attention as well that this is likely a paid advertisement post for metalhead dating which is even more horrendous, and relates more to what I talk about a few paragraphs below, so keep reading.

Metal twitter lit up a few weeks ago when the Antifa Pope Richard was outed for having a twitter account alternate full of rape jokes, and he later went on to make tone deaf stickers that said “rape jokes aren’t funny” with the aim to donate this money to rape charities, again, something equally tone deaf.

Don’t get me twisted here – people have a right to be wrong, and this includes MetalSucks, and fuck, it includes me, because god knows I’ve made my share of mistakes. We all have a right to make our mistakes and learn from these mistakes, and do better, and sometimes, the best thing you can do when you’re wrong is to listen and it’s part of the reason I’m writing this post.

MetalSucks is no stranger to controversy – usually stirring up shit when they identify and lampoon (rightfully) the fascist prescence that exists within some aspects of the metal scene. Typically, I’m on their side whenever these seemingly endless facebook comment wars start up. However, I’m not on their side here. This behaviour is regressive, misogynistic and doesn’t exist within some elbow to the ribs hehe bro stuff vaccuum. This behaviour is harmful to the female identifying souls who exist or try to exist within alternative media, and within metal, because it normalizes the dehumanization and objectification of our bodies and our minds.

I am not a body, not your body, and I am not a sub genre of music, an album you get to dust off when you feel like playing it to impress your friends with how woke you are or with your awesome and obscure taste in music – with the truth being that you’d never listen to that record without an audience – and this is the ultimate metaphor for performative wokeness.

If you’re only woke when someone is watching, or it’s for clicks, to sell ad revenue, generate hype or hate, or sell something, then you aren’t really woke. You are wearing wokeness like a jacket, something to be taken off when you want to be comfortable, something to be shed.
And using female identifying people, and feminism as the coat rack on which to hang your wokeness is not acceptable. It was never acceptable and it isn’t acceptable now in 2019.

If your brand of feminism isn’t intersectional and doesn’t include queer, disabled, people of color, transwomen, and non binary people, and women you don’t wanna fuck or find attractive, then really, it ain’t shit.

I’m including some screenshots of the article in case it gets removed, which I’m hoping it does. Grant yourselves a mulligan and start over because you need to do better, and with the platform you have, there’s a lot of people listening.

A more humorous take on the MetalSucks advert/article/editorial exists over on Astral Noize and gender flips the original piece.

Following the publication of this article, on June 8, 2019, Vince Nielstein and the official twitter account took responsibility for the posting of the article and offered and apology with the promise that in the future, they would do better.
I’ve accepted this apology, and like many others, remain hesitant. The screenshots I took will remain on this site for reference.
But like I said in the article, we all have a right to be wrong, and MetalSucks has a big platform and should be prompted to use their microphone for good and I hope this is the case here.

Cover photo of Chelsea Wolfe taken by Robin @ Rickshaw Theatre in Vancouver, BC.
You can find Robin on twitter.

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2 responses to “Performative Wokeness: A Response to MetalSucks

  1. Pingback: If Men Were Metal Genres, This Is What They Would Be Like – Astral Noize·

  2. Pingback: If Men Were Metal Genres, This is what They Would Be Like – Richard Lowe's blog·

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