Fight like a girl! (or, 4 examples of feminist negativity in music)

In my previous post I explored queer negativity in the industrial scene by presenting two examples, Pretty Addicted and Angelspit. Pretty Addicted’s anti-sociality and personal rage was contrasted with Angelspit’s turn to the political. Here I wanted to do something slightly different and, following Halberstam’s own examples, turn to feminist negativity proper. In contrast to the usual political correctness of liberal feminism, these songs do not take the compromising approach.

Misogyny in the industrial culture has not gone unrealized either by the fans of the genre or the artists of the scene. For instance, the misogynist thematics in Combichrist’s and Nachtmahr’s music videos and lyrics have sparked a bit of controversy. In 2012, during the Kinetik festival in Montreal, Ad·ver·sary’s Jairus Khan presented a video criticizing just the two above mentioned bands for their misogynist imagery. A lot of debate followed. In the aftermath Matt Pathogen interviewed some female artists of the scene, asking for their opinions and experiences regarding sexism in the industrial scene. A very common experience that the girls interviewed shared was being treated as a sexy prop on stage and consequently being judged by looks. The image of the female singer and male producer is also common, as Jennifer Parkin of Ayria describes:

“Sexism to me is the fact that I play a show, and someone in the audience goes up to my live keyboardist, or drummer to ask them about the music they’ve written. The response from my amazing live musicians (Mike, Eric, Joe, Jeff, and Kevin can back this up!) is, “No, ask her, it’s all her. I just play live, she wrote the songs.” The thought rarely occurs to some that a woman could write electronic music.”

In light of all this I don’t mind presenting a few feminist tracks from a scene that is incredibly male-dominated.

“Fight Like a Girl” by Emilie Autumn

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In spite of the fact that I was very disappointed with her latest album, I immediately fell in love with the title track, Fight Like a Girl (or FLAG in short). This feminist anthem might have Valerie Solanas written all over it with its militaristic tones but, nonetheless, I’m all for it. The lyrics are an angry and unashamed declaration of feminine power:

There is no such thing as justice
All the best that we can hope for is revenge
A hostile takeover
An absolute rebellion to the end
This is our battle cry
I’m giving you a head start
You’re going to need it
’Cause I fight like a girl
I’ll get my revenge on the world or a least 49% of the people in it
And if I end up with blood on my hands
well, I know that you’ll understand
’Cause I fight like a girl!

The music video, which you should also check out, does a good job visualizing the song. In line with Autumn’s victorian asylum aesthetics, the video goes back to the 19th century and depicts a particular kind of a freak show: female inmates of asylums being put on display for men. (Autumn has written another song of the same topic but in a much more humorous tone: Girls! Girls! Girls! Wait for the feminist twist in the end!) Of course, Emilie and her Bloody Crumpets rebel, kill some dudes in the process and are finally put back in their cells in the end. In spite of this hostility against men, in the end there’s a brief moment of male-female alliance.

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FLAG is only the most recent addition to Autumn’s archive of feminist songs. She has written a whole bunch of songs, which could be tagged feminist. The topics range from rape and child abuse to sexual objectification and marriage. All of these exemplify the anti-social negative stance with their anger and sarcasm.

“The Body” by Android Lust

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Shikhee’s lyrics are full of anger, resentment, frustration and despair, but occasionally she goes to obviously feminist waters. I decided to pick “The Body” for its remarkable stance of feminist body politics:

This body belongs to me
To fuck, to hurt, to kill
And if I choose to give it all up
It’s my deal in the end
Do you understand?

You think you have the right
‘Cuz you fucked me a couple of times
To tell me what to do
With this damned body of mine
You just don’t understand

You say you know it all
Trust or take the fall
And feed me all this shit about
What’s good for me and all
You just don’t understand

It’s unfortunate that she would take the “you just don’t understand” stance because it always felt to me like it’s an excuse for not being able to offer a convincing argument. But then again, I don’t subscribe to the ideal of solving everything through rational communicative exchange of arguments (associated with Habermas). Sometimes the correct thing to do is to refuse to speak, to account for one’s actions, in order not to get caught up in a discourse whose terms are set by the enemy.

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Shikhee in her video Stained

 

“Cursive Eve” by I:Scintilla

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Here I:Scintilla takes a look at misogynist mythology and explores the themes of female submission and shame:

You were born wrapped in the pages
The words bind your mind and body
A false comfort of thin paper
You’re claimed as unclean property

They say you need guilt to be good
Your brothers all remain blameless
Heart of snares and nets, hands as bands
Classified as a nameless mass

and later in the song:

They say “In you lives an Eve” and
“Thy desire rules over thee”
“Thou shall not let witches live”
The fiction binds your mind and body

Give you away to male angels
The leaders all remain shameless
Wash away rains ancient marking
Please beg yourself for forgiveness

Of course, one does not need to submit to the submissive position ascribed to women, or, as Brittany puts it in the bridge to the chorus:

Don’t look down on me
I don’t look up

“Delicious” by Diffuzion

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This one has no obvious feminist connections but I couldn’t resist adding it to my list (and it’s not just because it’s perhaps the hottest song written in the history of electronic industrial music). As opposed to the sexual objectification of women in male-dominated industrial aesthetics, Diffuzion posits women here as sexual subjects as opposed to objects:

Latest gadgets 
A brand-new car
Always look some kind of super star
Muscled body
Filled with desire
So delicious
It sets me on fire
No commitments
And no regrets
You’ll remember
I’ll never forget
You look so easy
You are so hard
Here’s my present
Poison in your blood

You’re my latest toy 
Soft and so delicious
Taste this cruel joy
Share my basic wishes
Toy – delicious
Joy – so vicious

Feminism’s engagement with sex and pornography is ambiguous. Some radicals condemn (heterosexual) sex altogether as patriarchal (and, consequently, pornography is seen to encourage rape of women). Others like to subjectivize feminine sexuality, treating women as sexual beings with their own desires as opposed to surrendering to sexual passivity. I tend to side with the latter camp.

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