staff card pic_200x300A Lecturer in Popular Music at a British Higher Education institution, Denigrata Herself is undertaking her PhD in women in extreme metal. She is also the front woman/guitarist in Denigrata, an experimental black metal collective. Denigrata have coined the term noir concrête for their music, meaning the avant-garde dark noise initiated by Pierre Schaeffer and Karlheinz Stockhausen finds a different rhizomatic existence within their contemporary black metal performance space.

Denigrata Herself is a gender theorist whose research and publications to date focus on body performativity, reclamation of female space, tattooing, graphic novels, death metal and black metal. She is part of the International Society for the Study of Metal Music (ISMMS) and sits on various academic and equal rights boards in the UK.

For over a decade she was a lead guitarist in British death metal bands, she was signed to and worked for various independent record labels and now devotes her time to lecturing, researching and performing. She is choir master for her departmental chamber choir and presents annual post-modern renderings of canonical classical pieces with her choir, a string quartet, a contemporary band and Ableton performers.

The Problem With the Music Industry: Where Women Fear to Tread…

By Denigrata Herself, Senior Lecturer in Popular Music and Contributing Writer, HorizonVU Music

Anybody who has read the above link (if you haven’t, please do) will be as shocked as I was at the content. I AM shocked, but not at all surprised. Whilst this is a different genre than the one I’m involved with, there are glaringly frightening parallels…10 Hottest Women in Rock or Metal or Indie…what does it matter what the genre is?! Why is this even a thing?! There is a system in place that protects abusers whilst the women who have to deal with shitty behaviour are often too scared to speak out (Dr Luke, Bill Cosby, Jimmy Saville, that Saudi millionaire who said he tripped and fell into a girl’s vagina ). Will we lose our jobs, will we get punched in the face or worse, will we lose everything we have worked for?

Simply put, the music industry has a serious problem with sexism and misogyny, anyone who has been following the Kesha situation can see that. Our society is engineered to believe men, to listen to men and to protect and defer to them. There is a terrible and very damaging ethos to not listen to women or believe them. It is systemic, it is institutional and it’s a massive fucking problem. I was stunned that Sony chose to hide behind their ‘contractual obligations’, rather than realise they are protecting a rapist. How can they be ok with this?! Sony, if any of you happen to read this, WHAT THE FUCK?! Seriously, what on earth do you think you’re doing? A woman should be free to have creative control over her art, without having to deal with her abuser. And yes, the clatter of the keyboard warriors shouting ‘what if she’s lying?!’ Because that’s easier isn’t it? To blame the victim rather than open your eyes to the far greater problem of a systemic and very well protected masculinist structure.

Honestly, I’ve had enough. I’ve had enough of women being assaulted, of not being listened to, women not being believed and women having to prove themselves before anyone will take them seriously. We have to prove our musical worth, our academic worth and also be willing to play the sexualisation game. I just want to be me, play the music I love and not have to worry about being targeted at a gig or to worry for the women who come to the shows. At some point, men are going to need to step up. As Eve Ensler says. I’m tired of good men doing nothing.

It is far too easy to say ‘but I’m not like that, I don’t behave like that or treat women badly’ but when you look at the stats (97% of rapists receive no punishment, 1 in 3 women are murdered a week by a current or former spouse – here is a link to some more stats – ), then we have a very serious problem on our hands. In short, this is femicide and as provocative as this term is, we cannot shut our eyes to it anymore.

The following diagram demonstrates, in an echo Mazlow’s Hierarchy of Needs, how something as throw away as a joke contributes to the damaging culture we are forced to exist within.
The Pyramid of Misogyny
The moment you start to debase someone through language, you start to chip away at their humanity. The more you objectify women (yes, dear Media, this rests with you), the more you turn women into objects. And when that happens, you can treat those objects any way you like, because they are nothing, they are worthless.

The hegemony’s job is to reproduce its own structures and ideologies consistently, so it gives the impression of an institution in perpetuity, that ‘it’s always been like this’. No. It hasn’t. And it needs to stop. Women should not have to worry about their safety because they are musicians, or journalists or audience members, or WOMEN. We are reaching a crisis point that will mean there is either a revolution or there will be no women left. At a rate of 1 in 3 women murdered a week that is precisely the direction we are heading in.

I am done with patriarchy, I am done with men not willing to step up and I am done with women who internalise the misogyny. Wake the fuck up. The time is now.