Women Confronting the Boy’s Club in Rock’n’Roll

The #MeToo reverberations will continue for some time yet–as they should. There will also be many long overdue ripples through the world of music. This NPR article takes a look at how things are progressing.

Last summer I took my daughter to Vans Warped Tour for the first time. She’d been clamoring to go since the first time she’d walked into a Hot Topic store and bought a t-shirt emblazoned with the logo of the band Black Veil Brides; deeply devoted to that band and its sweetly philosophical, doe-eyed singer Andy Biersack, she’d even had their album cover painted on her eleventh birthday cake. By age 13 she’d become utterly versed in current pop-punk and grunge-indebted metal, shouting along to her playlists of Neck Deep and Attila songs in the car. “F*** this s***, you can find me in the mosh pit!” she’d yell, all five feet two inches of her electric with defiance. Rock mom that I am, I identified with her passion — the same green kind I’d directed, as a teen, toward local bands with New Wave names like The Heaters and The Frazz — and wanted to help her live it out, within the limits that my own mom, a Bing Crosby fan, didn’t know were necessary.

I got us tickets by volunteering to run a sign-up table for our local feminist rock and roll summer camp. Stationed across from the Reverse Day Care tent, where parents went to enjoy air conditioning and avoid their kids, I shared space with some social conservatives (“All Lives Matter,” their t-shirts read) and a few students trying to raise money for refugees. Not too many people stopped to talk with me. My kid took off with a friend, returning occasionally to share her adventures in the crowd. “I got kicked in the face twice,” she said, possibly exaggerating. “But I’m okay!”

I can’t explain the relief I felt when she said all she’d experienced was some standard pit jostling. I’d texted her frequently that afternoon to make sure she was safe. My mom nerves were based in personal experience. I’d covered Warped Tour for The New York Times in the late 1990s and watched a malignancy sprout inside its rock and roll shenanigans. At first it provided a louder alternative to Lollapalooza, celebrating punk’s history just as that subgenre became historical. But five years or so in, it became a wild boys’ paradise. Artists like Blink-182 and Kid Rock peppered their sets with jokes about women’s body parts; actual women hardly ever appeared onstage. I remember the hordes of young men at those shows, wearing painters’ masks to protect themselves from the dust they kicked up in front of the main stage. They were having fun. They were building identities and confronting demons. They were also learning the language of sexual harassment.

Keep reading. It’s important.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

3 thoughts on “Women Confronting the Boy’s Club in Rock’n’Roll

    • December 18, 2017 at 10:31 am
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      There’s credit. It’s identified as an NPR article and there’s a link to the full article at the end.

      Reply
  • December 22, 2017 at 10:01 pm
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    I did notice you credited the publisher and linked to the original article, but my issue was that you didn’t credit the author – Ann Powers. Creator’s deserve to be credited by name, even when only a part of their work is used.

    Many readers will never click through to the rest of the article, so would never see the author’s name. I initially thought this was an NPR article written by you. It’s only when she called herself a “Rock mom” that I realized there must be another author.

    Reply

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