On Loving Metal

I was thinking, recently, about my undergraduate thesis, the conclusions I reached, and how long ago those seem. I was also thinking how to summarize most succintly, the question I asked myself at the beginning of my investigation into women’s participation in the metal scene in Rome: how do you reconcile being a self described feminist and participating in a subculture criticized by seemingly one and all for its misogynist tendencies.

Put more simply…why do I love metal so much?

I thought about it a lot last year, but I thought more about other women than me in the end, and came out with a fairly vague explanation of why, but a pretty decently concrete description of how women find there place in the subculture. Along the way I think I defended it pretty well. Sure, it has its misogynist tendencies, but the beauty of metal is that it refuses to hide them.

The patriarchy is perpetuated through the hiding of these sexist tendencies within institutions but metal exaggerates the very nature of masculinity and violence so much that it borders on parody, and through it’s glorification of violence brings this brutality to the forefront. Can this glorification be criticized? Certainly. But it shouldn’t be criticized at face value, nor should it be derided before it’s understood.

Anyways, I’m not here to defend metal again. Once I thought that the metal concert was a promised land for me, but with age I’ve seen its defects and downfalls. Overall though, it’s given me a sense of “home” that I’ll take with me wherever I go.

And so I come to my personal, non-academic conclusion. Why do I love metal so much? I love metal so much because when I went to my first metal concert I felt that I was praised and respected for the very aspects of my personality that I was derided for, embarrassed of, and scolded about on a daily basis.

I was a young girl much taken with swords and gore and violence and all things uncouth especially for a female. I remember being jealous that I was stuck with an EZ Bake oven that only made brownies but my friend Andrew had the same contraption that created edible bugs and eyeballs instead.

Now I’m not here to glorify violence or masculinity. But I do want to say that metal, with its set of norms glorifying just that, the violence, the gore, that which the average mortal cannot stomach, I found a place where I was no longer the weird girl. I no longer had to choose between pretending to be something others wanted or constantly defending what I felt.

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