I’m going to share a story with you.
I like punk music. I feel like it’s a genre that speaks to me at a human level. The general message and raw emotions expressed by many of the bands within this genre is difficult to find elsewhere. Like any relationship is bound to, I’ve had my ups and downs with it in the past few years, but if you’re not getting punched/kicked/angry, you’re not really experiencing things, right? Right. I’ve been elbowed in the mouth, kicked in the shins, punched in the lower back, tripped, dropped, you name it – but what really gets to me is when people say things or do things to me because I am a girl. That’s when I get angry (and you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry). What’s really frustrating? Two instances of this misogynistic bullshit happened within a month of each other, in a scene that I’ve always felt is more accepting than most. I’ll share the first of these with you today, since I like chronology.
This first incident happened at a show in late January. It was at a sports bar with an outdoor stage, featuring a few touring acts that I was very excited to see. I was standing up front with my friends, two guys visiting from out of state. Once the first of the touring acts began to play, an obviously intoxicated dude started nuzzle-moshing, for lack of a better term, everyone in the front of the crowd. It was definitely awkward, but mostly annoying. I tried to get the guy to stop several times by latching on to him and holding my ground, but he was pretty wasted, and managed to pull me around with him each time. At some point, his odd behavior started to anger a other few gentlemen in the crowd, who made it very clear to him he needed to stop immediately. He’d stop for maybe thirty seconds, and get right back to it. In this process, my feet were stepped on (it was not a crowded show) and I was punched in the ribs, which was kind of a bummer. The gentlemen that had asked him to stop previously were getting increasingly angry, and eventually, another guy began to defend his actions, which stirred things up even more. When the band was done with their set, a confrontation took place between the gentlemen that tried to intervene, the defender, and the drunk guy. I wasn’t paying particularly close attention, until I heard,
If girls don’t want to get hurt, they should stand in the back at punk shows.
I’m fairly certain I stopped in the middle of a sentence out of complete shock. I immediately went to confront the moron that spewed this dribble from his mouth – of course, it was the guy that defended the intoxicated dude. I asked him to tell me, to my face, that I should stand in back at shows because I am a girl. The guy couldn’t even look me in the eyes, because he could probably tell if he said the wrong thing, he was going to regret it. I should say that I have never been in a physical confrontation with someone before, and I don’t know if I would ever resort to violence, but I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to punch someone in the face as badly as I did in that moment. Fortunately, a few of my friends saw what was happening and the guy was dealt with in whatever manner, because I didn’t see him the rest of the show. The singer of the next band overheard what had happened and expressed his disgust to me, then again on stage. He reiterated the fact that sexism has no place in punk rock, and if you feel that it does, it’s time for you to get the fuck out of the scene. Pretty sad that he had to say anything at all.
Ultimately, this should never have been made an issue of gender. It was an issue of respect. This guy was the only person in a crowd of people being completely obnoxious, and had been asked several times to stop. The issue wasn’t that he was “hurting a girl.” This issue was that he was being a giant prick that no one wanted rubbing up/bumping into them repeatedly while they were trying to watch a band they paid to see. Unfortunately, comments like the “defender” made are all too common in punk rock. When I was elbowed in the face at a show a few years ago and confronted the guy, I was referred to as a “crazy bitch” by not only the guy that hit me, but by security (who, by the way, tried to kick me out – not the guy that busted my lip), when I just wanted him to acknowledge that he hit me and apologize. We live in a world that views women as not only controlled by their emotions, but too fragile to be able to hold their own. I think it’s time for us to take a step back and adjust as a society to the fact that not only should women be treated equally, but we need to be taken seriously. I do not want or need special treatment because of my gender, I just want the same courtesy and respect that anyone deserves.
By the way, I ended up having a pretty lengthy conversation with the intoxicated dude regarding his behavior, and he made it clear that he didn’t understand that he was causing such a problem. Ultimately, he didn’t end up being the issue; the bro that attempted to come to his defense was.