Good Girls, Bad Guys: Our scene has a serious misogyny problem, and it’s time to address it

Good Girls Bad Guys
photo: Jennifer Moo via Flickr

I admit it: not long ago, I was a bad feminist. I listened to misogynistic music and didn’t bat an eye when I would see these bands’ photos in all of my favorite magazines. I’m a totally different soul now and cringe at the names of some of the bands I used to listen to, but it doesn’t stop others from buying tickets to their shows. Our scene has a problem with misogyny and it’s time we do something about it.

From all-female festivals to bands speaking out against misogyny in pop-punk/punk/metal, the scene is alive and well in the thread of progression. But, it’s hard to say where we cross the line between just talking and actually doing. Recently, a blog post about misogyny in pop-punk got my attention for its comparison to rap music and the treatment of women (also, Parker Cannon kicking a girl onstage). What should be done is knowing when to separate the artist from the art. Hayley Williams has said she regrets writing the lyrics in “Misery Business” and Milo Aukerman of Descendents has said the band are fathers, husbands and are “reformed” now. Even bands like Whitechapel have turned new leaves while their counterparts are stuck in the past. These artists have made some iffy choices, lyric-wise, but comparing it those who who are unapologetic is where I draw the line. Their personal experiences shouldn’t be construed or taken out of context and placed into the box where hurtful, misogynistic bands live. In these cases where the digging is greater than the find, we usually leave these things on the backburner.

What about the bands that are actively misogynistic and are huge influences in the scene right now? What about the bands who are terrible people?

After attending Warped Tour in 2014, I realized something: Some bands out there in the scene right now are full of straight-up horrible human beings. Unfortunately, the mind of a 12-to-17-year-old is incredibly vulnerable and willing to do anything to be considered cool, like listen and hang on every word of Attila, Asking Alexandria, Falling In Reverse, the Story So Far, Front Porch Step; the list goes on. Almost a split divide, the young men listening to these bands are given the wrong message and then young ladies are more prone to accepting mistreatment as a result of these musicians message. The lyrics alone don’t need to be dissected in order to know the people behind the songs sure seem like garbage humans:

“With your back against the wall!
With your face buried in the pillow!
I see you cold!
I feel you heartless!
You stupid fucking bitch!”
Not The American Average” – Asking Alexandria

This party’s overboard,
and all these whores are fucking sick.
I’m cringing in disgust,
I need more substance.”
One Night Stand” – Attila

“Ooh la la, what lovely curves
Baby I get off by getting you off first
Sorry girl if this is quick
So please just take it in the ass, and suck my dick”
Good Girls Bad Guys” – Falling In Reverse

“My dick like the Mississippi river
My dick ask your bitch, what’s for dinner?
Every time I look at my dick, I’m like “Holy shit, that’s a big dick””
My Dick” – 3OH!3

“Everything changes when all the lights in the room are as low as you,
But don’t trip you’ll sober up soon
Regain an honest perspective as you puke on the floor
Can’t remember why your knees are so cut up and sore.”
Daughters” – The Story So Far

“I know I couldn’t give you much, but I know I gave my best,
You were always my princess, and now he’s sliding up your dress;
You are cancer. You are plague.
You are regret. You are disease.”
Drown” – Front Porch Step

Yep, real lyrics from bands who each have an extremely young fanbase. This is what is hot, this is what sells tickets and we still support these bands. Why? What are we teaching kids by saying these bands are okay to be popular and these bands are going to be the voice for the scene? More so, all of these bands have been on Warped Tour in the past two years, and many will return to the tour this summer. Even worse, some of these band members have criminal charges or allegations directed toward them for gang rape, assault, sexual misconduct with underage girls and other cases. Standing in a crowd of more than 200 teenagers, many of whom were underage, Chris Fronzak of Attila once introduced a song by saying, “If you like it, then you should’ve put your mouth on it.” Just as he finished his sentence, hundreds of teenagers cheered him on like a moral martyr of their metalcore dreams.

This year, there are less than 15 women on tour with all of these men. Men who have either committed crimes against women or have allegedly committed crimes against women. The same year Jake McElfresh was kicked off Warped and off Pure Noise Records due to sexual misconduct allegations, Warped Tour founder Kevin Lyman brought him back that same summer to get “a second chance.” Seriously? This is what we’re telling our scene? That it’s okay to mistreat women, people, fans? “Hey, we know this guy is a huge dirtbag and most definitely uses his powers for evil, but get comfortable because we’re letting him stay on tour! Love, Warped.” All of these offenders have been given countless chances, headlining tour spots, magazine covers and numerous publicity slots on various media outlets. These bands didn’t ask to be role models, but their influence on people is enormous and it’s up to them to be the good guys or the bad guys.

It’s unfair to think that any woman touring with shitty bands should have to ever worry about her fellow musicians putting her down, much less laying a finger on her without her permission. It’s a scary thought and it’s a very real thing that women face everyday in this community from not just musicians, but from fans who take these lyrics and actions to heart. Be a positive influence instead of a negative one. There’s nothing more punk than standing up for what’s right, do not encourage these bands to keep this behavior alive. Don’t see these bands live, don’t listen to these bands and don’t encourage people to think this behavior is funny; there is nothing funny about having to be afraid in a community you love. Write a letter, post on Facebook, unlike their pages; tell these bands they’re not welcome in a scene like ours.

It sucks knowing I’m going to a festival full of my favorite bands while people who have been in prison for crimes against women are only one stage away with hundreds of female fans. I want to shake these young girls and say, “Is this what you really want? To be shouted at to suck a guy’s dick? This is the band you respect?” Unfortunately, it’s a phenomenon that keeps repeating itself and until we actively try to stop it, it will keep happening over and over again. Let’s break this cycle.