The antithesis of Riot Grrl
November 17, 2017 6:12 PM   Subscribe

How mid-2000s emo groomed underage girls and poisoned teen boys (TW). Emo, the alternative/punk offshoot dealing with (male, mostly negative) feelings has had a problem with misogyny for a long time, having dominated the alternative-music culture of the 00s with an exclusively male worldview whose attitude to women, ranging from objectification to contempt, permeated the formative experiences of a generation of music enthusiasts (the writer Jessica Hopper described it as the antithesis of the Riot Grrl experience). And now, it now turns out, that sexually predatory behaviour is endemic in the scene, with musicians and promoters preying on fans, many of them underage.
posted by acb (63 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
 
Sounds like we need to give those emo boys something to cry about.
posted by leotrotsky at 6:29 PM on November 17, 2017 [17 favorites]


How much of this influenced the web tech and content creators of today?
posted by infini at 6:33 PM on November 17, 2017 [4 favorites]


I mean, who could have predicted that a genre of music which was mostly dudes whining about girls not putting out would turn out to be a wretched hive of misogyny and sexual predation?

The original point of emo was that it was a form of hardcore punk by guys who weren't afraid to drop the tough-guy stoicism and have a cry about what's doing them a sad. The problem is that these emotions were largely shitty, toxic emotions of guys with no self-reflection and no incentive to reflect on why, from another fellow human being's perspective, their complaints may seem entirely unreasonable. It was the /r/incel of music genres.
posted by acb at 6:34 PM on November 17, 2017 [82 favorites]


On a similar note: "Unraveling the Sexism of Emo’s Third Wave", by Jenn Pelly.
posted by sagc at 6:35 PM on November 17, 2017 [2 favorites]


How much of this is influenced by the sex, drugs and rocknroll ethos of rock? This kind of stuff has been happening for many, many, many decades; mythicized, glamourized, celebrated. It's all predatory behaviour brought on by the trappings of fame, celebrity and wealth. Sadly, while fame, celebrity and wealth continue to exist, I fear that predatory behaviour will continue. Why wouldn't it?

On a different but related note, check out this cover of the misogynist song by the Beastie Boys: Girls.
posted by ashbury at 6:43 PM on November 17, 2017 [6 favorites]


How much of this is influenced by the sex, drugs and rocknroll ethos of rock?


Ironically, a lot of emo dudes were straight edge.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:46 PM on November 17, 2017 [21 favorites]


Even the emo sound of whiny self-entitled shitty dudes harkens back to Descendents. I used to LOVE them, but I can't listen to a majority of their music these days without realizing how toxic and shitty and just all around... "nice guy" crappy they are. Sour Grapes? Clean Sheets? Ugh.

At least Yauch and the rest of the Beasties grew up and Yauch knew precisely how shitty he was (and he was a real evil fuck back then, if this info wasn't out then, and he were alive, I can guarantee the stories would be filling out now). Thank god he got his karma right and worked to promote a healthier culture towards women.

I only wish so many who listened to his music (post or pre) would continue in that understanding.
posted by symbioid at 6:54 PM on November 17, 2017 [21 favorites]


If anyone's looking for some queer/girl emo/punk that addresses this-Camp Cope, just today, released a new single titled The Opener. The name comes from their former manager telling them that, as a female band, they'll never be a headliner.

You could also listen to one of my favorite albums, Adult Mom's Momentary Lapse of Happily. 2012* is the most direct response about women's destruction by sad boys. But my personal favorite on the album is Be Your Own 3 a.m.

*coercive rape cw
posted by FirstMateKate at 6:58 PM on November 17, 2017 [6 favorites]


Rivers Cuomo messes you up forever, by Sady Doyle.
posted by ohkay at 7:12 PM on November 17, 2017 [24 favorites]


Obligatory in this day and age.
posted by Jpfed at 7:27 PM on November 17, 2017 [3 favorites]


Veruca Salt are touring Australia!

I will be wearing this shirt, I hope to see a lot of kids wearing them:

Veruca Salt for boys
posted by adept256 at 7:47 PM on November 17, 2017 [5 favorites]


The problem is that these emotions were largely shitty, toxic emotions of guys with no self-reflection and no incentive to reflect on why, from another fellow human being's perspective,

The stuff most people came to call "emo" in the time period described was a secondhand knockoff of the underground emo of the late 80s and early 90s pioneered by hardcore bands like Dagnasty who mostly wrote emotional songs about being disappointed in their fellow white male friends over petty intrascene squabbling. This stuff most people identify as "emo" now came years later and was made by kids who seemed self indulgent and derivative even by bargain basement punk/underground standards, so it feels good to see mine and my fellow oldster's suspicion and distrust for that culture vindicated. That third or fourth wave emo or whatever you want to call it always sucked. I always preferred to call it nu rock, but maybe there's some subtle genre distinction I'm not hip to there.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:56 PM on November 17, 2017 [32 favorites]


Bad music, bad gender politics.
posted by Saxon Kane at 8:03 PM on November 17, 2017 [1 favorite]


I wore the hell out of the Veruca Salt for Boys tshirt back in the day.
posted by k8t at 8:12 PM on November 17, 2017


Low [WikiPedia] fan here, a shoe-gazer.
posted by lazycomputerkids at 8:25 PM on November 17, 2017 [1 favorite]


Wait--what? Low isn't emo.
posted by umbú at 9:00 PM on November 17, 2017 [15 favorites]




I think some really fucking annoying / superficial prefab lifestyle fetishists hijacked the term "emo" sometime in the period described, i.e. the mid-2000's. I think of Weezer* and Death Cab for Cutie as emo, and while they both have a very Sorrows of Young Werther vibe to them, it's a bit of a stretch (or so it seems) to say that that sort of music has a misogyny problem or poisoned teenage boys.

*Especially if we agree that Weezer stopped making albums after Pinkerton
posted by clockzero at 9:27 PM on November 17, 2017 [1 favorite]


If you want to say it's a stretch that Weezer has a misogyny problem, you have be willing to agree that they stopped making albums after Blue.
posted by valrus at 10:10 PM on November 17, 2017 [26 favorites]


this was a great read. corporate rock always sucks. Why can't I read my own history, free of suggestion?
posted by eustatic at 10:16 PM on November 17, 2017 [3 favorites]


I'm still annoyed that there is a form of Emo that has nothing to do with like Embrace and Rites of Spring, but I'm old and get off my lawn and so forth.

I think that the Jessi Slaughter experience was a prologue to a lot of what is going on tbh.
posted by bootlegpop at 10:21 PM on November 17, 2017 [10 favorites]


Wait--what? Low isn't emo.

I don't always agree with saulgoodman, but affirm just who categorizes emo as emo does so arbitrarily. Emo, ttBomK, was a shortening of emotive and a broader designation than musical genre. I met Low when they first toured. Observing how then critics strained to classify them was exciting. All I knew was how relieved I was my recent band-booster hobby could, occasionally, go on without ad hoc hearing protection solutions. (A communal house provided a rest stop for bands [many straightedge] out of NY and DC wanting to promote in the southeast, e.g., Half-Japanese, SuperChunk, UnRest, Velocity Girl)

But a derail because the OP addresses a designation sufficient to a majority and I'm off on an issue of taxonomy?
posted by lazycomputerkids at 10:40 PM on November 17, 2017


Camp Cope! That new song is rad.

That "Girls" cover is also wonderful. I laughed in a few spots. That should probably go after the original on the "Girls" mix my husband happens to have been working on.

And yeah, I have Weezer thoughts. That's a Twitter thread I started after reading Sady Doyle's piece originally, then followed up on this fall when I finally saw Weezer for the first time live. Oh so many thoughts.

Anyway, for me, it wasn't the attitudes of emo that did the most damage to my ability to imagine myself being in a band. It was the slickness of it, the vast overproduction of so many of those songs, these grand symphonies of sound (but with simple chords) devoted to heartache. It was overwrought enough lyrically to be dumb, but overdone enough musically to still seem entirely out of reach.

One of the best things that ever happened to remind me that I can make stuff just fine was getting into exquisite lo-fi like Guided by Voices. Even if my husband has some of the standard biases of a one-time cool Gen-X rocker boy, he did introduce me to that.

Anyway, I digress.
posted by limeonaire at 10:56 PM on November 17, 2017 [8 favorites]


Relevant Hard Times: Pop-Punk Frontman Reunited with Girlfriend After Performing at 18+ Show

I've seen pop-punk in particular called out for this more than once. Cynically, though, I have a suspicion it's most any music scene that attracts teenage girls.
posted by atoxyl at 12:09 AM on November 18, 2017 [3 favorites]


This is my totally surprised expression. -_-

I mean, if this was six months ago, I'd be really pissed, but now? I'm "whatevs". But just because of this post, I am going to listen to 7 hours straight of my "Grrrrrl Rrrrrrk" Pandora station. 7 Year Bitch, Garbage, L7, Elastica, Go Betty Go. The Regrettes. All night.

Boys are smelly, throw rocks at them.
posted by happyroach at 12:22 AM on November 18, 2017 [13 favorites]


Only semi-related, Jawbreaker is doing a benefit for my local food bank.
posted by deadaluspark at 1:04 AM on November 18, 2017 [4 favorites]


I'm glad I took the Heavenly Option
posted by fleacircus at 1:43 AM on November 18, 2017 [8 favorites]


*high-fives fleacircus but in a really twee way*
posted by tobascodagama at 4:29 AM on November 18, 2017 [2 favorites]


In the liner notes of the Lawrence Arms b-sides album Brendan Kelly wrote: "I wrote this song about a girl but it's actually about me." That's the kind of self awareness emo never got.
posted by East14thTaco at 6:27 AM on November 18, 2017 [1 favorite]


I know Connor Oberst wasn't properly emo, except in the sense of the word where it means "shit that mopey dudes with angular haircuts listened to in 2003," but Lover I Don't Have to Love is the song that sums up that cultural moment for me. Like, I adored that song, loved the shit out of it, felt like the dude who sang it really got what it was like to be a teenage girl too full of self-loathing to follow a guy home except when she was blackout drunk.

And then at some point I realized that I was identifying with the ambiguously-troubled "you" in the song, and most of the dudes who were into it were identifying with the blatantly-heartless "I" and fetishizing that troubled "you," and that made it feel a lot less cool and insightful and a lot more scary.
posted by nebulawindphone at 6:38 AM on November 18, 2017 [12 favorites]


The thin line between "this sad boy truly sees my pain" and "this sad boy is memorizing my pain for his spank bank," you know?
posted by nebulawindphone at 6:42 AM on November 18, 2017 [35 favorites]


Most of my non-club friends were more punkish than anything else, but I was "goth"ish in my teens and very early 20's. I wonder how that whole thing would appear to have aged when looked at through the eyes of one of these authors. There was definitely a lot of moping on everyone's part and I'm sure that a decent portion of it was self-indulgent and excessive, but it seemed like a far more female-driven scene, at least where I came from.
posted by bootlegpop at 6:58 AM on November 18, 2017 [1 favorite]


Emo did not invent angsty teenagers and sleazy musicians trying to pick up teen girls. Disco, Glam Rock, early Rock and Roll and pretty much all popular music since the "invention of the teenager" as some have characterized the post-American Bandstand marketing of popular music to "youth culture" created that.

Remember Brittney Spears, whose marketing deliberately flirted with pedophiliac fascinations? Remember the Children of God and things like The Scorpions controversial "lady killer" album cover or whatever?

This brand of "emo" may have been foul, but remember, even St. Bowie reputedly fell into the fetishization of teen sexuality and allegedly had sex with an underage girl. The roots of the ugliest aspects of contemporary American musical culture go a lot deeper and farther back than the 2000s. If anything, this scene was probably more a symptom of the social damage done by the sexual abuses, drug abuse, and misogyny of the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Lots of badly damaged kids expected to raise and educate themselves by self absorbed absentee parents with narcissistic tendencies (who were themselves often physically and psychologically abused by the previous generation in childhood, when beating kids and spouses was seen as virtuous according to the logic of "spare the rod and spoil the child," which was an idea still very much in currency through at least the mid-eighties.)
posted by saulgoodman at 8:32 AM on November 18, 2017 [7 favorites]


Emo is the “nice guy” of rock, though.
posted by pxe2000 at 8:39 AM on November 18, 2017 [9 favorites]


At least Yauch and the rest of the Beasties grew up and Yauch knew precisely how shitty he was (and he was a real evil fuck back then, if this info wasn't out then, and he were alive, I can guarantee the stories would be filling out now). Thank god he got his karma right and worked to promote a healthier culture towards women.

"The New Style" on the Beasties' License to Ill has the lyric, "If I played guitar/I'd be Jimmy Page/And the girlies I like are underage." Grooming underage girls for sex did not originate with emo & men will still try to get away with it long after emo gets dumped in the ashcan of musical history.
posted by jonp72 at 8:45 AM on November 18, 2017 [1 favorite]


I still keep fantasizing we'll have a popular culture that doesn't fetishize teenagers and their interests, tastes, and experiences again one day in some far flung furture after we've survived the Trumpapocalypse, assuming we do, but then, dreams are for dreamers and everybody's too woke and/or busy trying to scrape by to dream very big right now, it seems.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:19 AM on November 18, 2017 [3 favorites]


"Emo did not invent angsty teenagers and sleazy musicians trying to pick up teen girls..."
"Grooming underage girls for sex did not originate with emo"


Literally no one is saying that emo invented men's predatory behavior (trust me, the women in this thread fucking know that). And the whole "everyone else does it too" is not helpful. What are we supposed to do with that? Throw our hands up and not talk about it, because it's everywhere?
posted by FirstMateKate at 9:20 AM on November 18, 2017 [23 favorites]


Literally no one is saying that emo invented men's predatory behavior (trust me, the women in this thread fucking know that). And the whole "everyone else does it too" is not helpful. What are we supposed to do with that? Throw our hands up and not talk about it, because it's everywhere?

If you think I'm excusing that kind of conduct, you are completely misreading what I wrote.
posted by jonp72 at 9:29 AM on November 18, 2017 [2 favorites]


The 5th comment in this thread specifically talks about the misogynist and creepy pedophile themes in music that pre-dated emo, and it's not the only one. I get that you're really defensive about the genre, but that's no reason to just make up arguments that no one put out there and then act all hurt that anyone would dare say such a thing. Not the least because it's the exact same passive-aggressive shit that emo dudes like the ones discussed just love to do in their songs.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:32 AM on November 18, 2017 [5 favorites]


Zombieflanders it's not really clear who you're talking to, especially because I haven't seen anyone dead set on defending emo
posted by FirstMateKate at 9:37 AM on November 18, 2017 [2 favorites]


The 5th comment in this thread specifically talks about the misogynist and creepy pedophile themes in music that pre-dated emo, and it's not the only one. I get that you're really defensive about the genre, but that's no reason to just make up arguments that no one put out there and then act all hurt that anyone would dare say such a thing. Not the least because it's the exact same passive-aggressive shit that emo dudes like the ones discussed just love to do in their songs.

I'm defensive about "emo"? Can you even read? I said the genre would be on the ashheap of musical history. You need stop Twitter callout culture from infecting MeFi & stop assuming that everybody has bad faith & bad intentions.
posted by jonp72 at 9:38 AM on November 18, 2017 [2 favorites]


[I don't even know what you guys are fighting about, but maybe take a step back and just make your own points rather than going after other people over the point you imagine they're making?]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:41 AM on November 18, 2017 [2 favorites]


Zombieflanders it's not really clear who you're talking to, especially because I haven't seen anyone dead set on defending emo

FirstMateKate, I think you were also a little unfair attacking me. I quoted a Beastie Boys lyrics, which alluded to Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, to argue that many male rock stars basically view access to underage women as an entitlement, a perk that goes with the job. That is what needs to be criticized, not any one musical genre.
posted by jonp72 at 9:42 AM on November 18, 2017


You can't solve a problem by attacking its symptoms. My point isn't "everybody does it," it's stop playing musical chairs with the blame and recognize and acknowledge how far back and deep it goes and the extent to which 60s counterculture and activism and its aftermath contributed to planting the seeds for what the cancer grew into.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:44 AM on November 18, 2017 [2 favorites]


FirstMateKate clearly quoted saulgoodman, and I was building off that comment. I can see how that the timing of my comment may have confused you, but feel free to redirect your "callout culture" anger at the structure of unthreaded conversations, jonp72.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:45 AM on November 18, 2017 [3 favorites]


You can't solve a problem by attacking its symptoms. My point isn't "everybody does it," it's stop playing musical chairs with the blame and recognize and acknowledge how far back and deep it goes and the extent to which 60s counterculture and activism and its aftermath contributed to planting the seeds for what the cancer grew into.

Which, as I said, happened from almost the very beginning of the thread. It may be relevant elsewhere, but here in this thread it's a strawman.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:47 AM on November 18, 2017 [2 favorites]


FirstMateKate clearly quoted saulgoodman, and I was building off that comment. I can see how that the timing of my comment may have confused you, but feel free to redirect your "callout culture" anger at the structure of unthreaded conversations, jonp72.

Fair enough. saulgoodman & I used some similar wording. He said emo "did not invent" bad behavior, and I said the genre "did not originate" bad behavior. I guess I mistakenly assumed I saw my own writing quoted back at me.
posted by jonp72 at 9:47 AM on November 18, 2017 [1 favorite]


If I'm wrong in my belief the invention of youth culture as a deliberate marketing ploy helped create these problems, then fine, maybe I'm off point, but I honestly believe the root cause is the privileging and romanticizing of youthfulness and youth culture in the broader mainstream pop culture.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:48 AM on November 18, 2017 [2 favorites]


jonp72 I did not attack you? And I don't see how my question asking zombieflanders for clarification is relevant. I feel like you're getting really defensive and fighty, and I'm not about it. Disengaging now.

60s counterculture and activism and its aftermath contributed to planting the seeds for what the cancer grew into.
I will agree with you that those things helped To cause the mess that is emo. But it's not %100 the root cause, and I think it's good to have specific conversations about what the article addresses. I don't think we'll solve the problem by coming at it all the same way
posted by FirstMateKate at 9:49 AM on November 18, 2017 [4 favorites]


I don't know why, but I am really treasuring witnessing Jesse Lacey's (and by proxy of course, Brand New's) downfall, despite being a huge fan of their first two albums, which contain some of my favorite songs ever. But fucking hell, even I knew some of those songs were creepy. I remember an old acquaintance of mine from when we were younger telling me that Me vs Maradona vs Elvis was his favorite Brand New song. I immediately considered him creepy, because it's a song about getting a woman drunk, lying to her, and getting her back to a house in order to sleep with her. Even from a narrative standpoint, it's a creepy fucking song.

I mean, seriously, this is my shocked face that the guy who wrote the lyrics

I will lie awaken and lie for fun
And fake the way I hold you
Let you fall for every empty word I say.

Barely conscious in the door where you stand.
Your eyes are fighting sleep while your mouth makes your demands
You laugh at every word trying too hard to be cute
I almost feel sorry for what I'm gonna do


is now outed as a serial sexual abuser. Like, no shit.

When I was 14-years-old, I wasn't thinking about this stuff, and I had never seen or heard any allegations about Jesse Lacey, and honestly I probably wouldn't have believed them because boys are brought up being told not to believe girls, and that girls are crazy.

Emo and a lot of hardcore were the starting places for a lot of boys' fascistic and male-entitlement attitudes, I know because I was in those scenes, and my friends wrote misogynistic and grotesque lyrics. There were a lot of creepy guys in the hardcore scene who were rumored to have been drugging and raping girls. One of the most famous ones in Phoenix even got arrested and thrown in prison for it.

I'm not sure where I went differently in my growing up that I became slightly aware of this stuff as I got older, and most nobody else did. I guess maybe I'm just inherently self-aware and self-reflective and spend too much time analyzing things. There is a multi-generational cultural meme happening throughout the history of boys and men, in which girls/women are inferior and boys/men are entitled to them, and if girls/women possess even a hint of derision toward these boys/men then they are met with incomprehensible violence and psychological torment. I don't have the intelligence or insight, however, to expound on how these scenes create habitual mental states that are already inherent in their design. Emo is about male entitlement to girls and the feelings of rejection that inevitably happen when they get denied what they believe they are entitled to. When you combine that with fascistic militancy and toxic masculinity that was endemic in hardcore scenes, you get something much bigger. These things are all linked. People are attracted to things either because they identify with it, or because they want to. A bunch of boys raised to believe they're entitled to girls are going to join a scene (a group of people) who all have a similar ideology, and the music is pulpit for that ideology. I don't doubt that there are bigger emotions there, but the overlying ideological concept and the memetic transference of these constructs to other people is the bigger issue in my mind.

I'm not the best critical theorist, so maybe somebody more steeped in that can help me out, but what I am trying to say is that there is a concept, or a belief, or something, that boys are told throughout their lives, and then that concept is given validity when they see it within music that, for whatever reason, they enjoy. They then meet people who are also into that music, and they all continually reinforce the concept to themselves. It is so apparent to me that a lot of emo and hardcore scenes were basically breeding grounds for MRA and fascist ideologies.

For what it's worth, my favorite band is Saves The Day, and most all of their lyrics are less "I'm going to drug and rape this girl" and more "I'm an awkward guy living in New Jersey who has acne and may be attracted to a guy and we're on tour which is fun but I can't wait to get home". If Chris Conley is outted as a serial sexual abuser then I'm going to be really torn up.
posted by gucci mane at 9:57 AM on November 18, 2017 [18 favorites]


Saturday 11/18/2017: The day I woke up hungover and attempted to write critical theory about one of my favorite music genres that I've spent literally 20 years trying to figure out how to put into words why there are issues with it yet at the same time understand why people feel the way they do about the music but also there's an inherent issue with those feelings and UGH WHY ISN'T THIS EASIER TO PUT INTO WORDS?!
posted by gucci mane at 10:02 AM on November 18, 2017 [9 favorites]


Alternatively, and as witnessed by the links in the OP, there are probably plenty more women who can put together my thoughts on this a lot better than I.
posted by gucci mane at 10:06 AM on November 18, 2017


there is a concept, or a belief, or something, that boys are told throughout their lives, and then that concept is given validity when they see it within music that, for whatever reason, they enjoy.

You're absolutely right about that. Everything about the scene reinforces, validates, and celebrates narcissism and objectification.
posted by onecircleaday at 10:17 AM on November 18, 2017 [8 favorites]


I know because I was in those scenes, and my friends wrote misogynistic and grotesque lyrics.

Yeah, tbh, I realized recently my own label put out at least one song that I wish I'd paid closer attention to because the lyrics seem problematic to me now. My aim for the label was to use it to focus on acts that paid special care to songwriting and connecting form and content in interesting ways, so I feel a little embarrassed I didn't catch that one and ask the guys in the band to consider nixing it. I don't think these guys were predators, just young college aged guys writing from the experiences of being young, college age guys, but even when it's not outright predatory, that culture can promote some pretty ugly attitudes toward sexuality and women. These guys weren't writing angsty songs about not getting laid, though, because--well, they didn't seem to have that particular problem, but then I was older and not really immersed in the same social milieu as the artists I worked with and at the time, we tried to run things cooperatively with all the bands having complete artistic freedom, but I still don't feel great about how that one particular song has aged...

I guess my point is there's a lot of blame to go around and even from outside the emo world, I think a lot of us in music at different levels could and should have tried harder to be self-aware about the messages we were actively encouraging or implicitly endorsing.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:19 AM on November 18, 2017 [1 favorite]


@saulgoodman, most of my friends who wrote the lyrics they did when they were teenagers look back and are deeply ashamed of them now. That is what is so conflicting about all of this. Being a teenager and writing stupid shit is fine, that's what being a teenager is about, but why is it that a lot of boys in these scenes were writing heavily misogynistic lyrics? It's because there's a structural, societal meme built into boys that makes them believe that they are entitled to girls, and gives credence to overt violence. If I posted some of the lyrics my friends wrote when they were 14 people here (especially women) would be disgusted, even though when those lyrics were written they were partially tongue-in-cheek and coming from pubescent angst, but the content of them, and then the overlying construct, that people could relate to those lyrics at a figurative, emotional level is troublesome. I understand a lot of the emotional content that is portrayed in those songs despite the fact that I am able to distance myself from them, but even the fact that I understand and am capable of relating to that emotional content is problematic, because the lyrics are problematic in a bigger, structural picture.
posted by gucci mane at 10:46 AM on November 18, 2017 [11 favorites]


That is what needs to be criticized, not any one musical genre.

Per my other comment in the thread I agree that the predatory behavior is not exactly unique to this scene, but the angle that's being discussed in these articles goes beyond that, getting into how that behavior relates to themes and attitudes that are distinctive of the scene.
posted by atoxyl at 10:52 AM on November 18, 2017 [7 favorites]


This has been an intense few weeks for girls who spent their formative years following stupid indie rock bands all over god's creation. My friends and I have a host of paint-peeling stories about a spectrum of behaviors visited upon us by men who were and are prolific and widely beloved in their respective creative and cultural circles and we have never known what to do with what we know, other than tell other girls about it. Now it looks like there are so many more of us, more than we could have ever imagined. We were mostly teenagers, they were mostly in their 30s.

I've written so many unsent letters to the men after aging out of their target market, in and outside the context of the wider "emo" scene. Now that I'm as old as most of them were when my friends and I were interacting with them, more than anything else I find myself writing: We were just children. I was just a child. Why would you do this to a child, a child who only looks up to you, left trembling in the shadow of your presence, moved to tears by your words? Why would you treat such a brand-new person this way? Because she was so reverent, and didn't cry while you were in earshot? Because you saw yourself looking like a god in her eyes and felt entitled to the unspoken offer of her body?

As a girl I tried to ignore the underlying radioactivity of power dynamics for as long as I could, and focused instead on building a cargo cult religion around the receipt of tiny breadcrumbs of attention from a specific stripe of misogynists whose lyrics inspired a True Belief that They Really Got Me. In reality, it was nothing more consequential than "You love me? I love me, too!" But it can be a deeply complicated thing, when someone comes down off the TV screen, out of the radio, and invites themselves into your bed. If you say "no" they don't always hear you, not only because they're not thinking of you as an individual human being whose wishes can be overruled but also because they don't even really know or care what "no" sounds like anymore. And then you start to doubt if you meant "no" in the first place, because you are in the company of someone you truly believe understands you better than you understand your own self, someone who has blessed you just by plucking you out of the crowd, and he doesn't seem to think you meant it at all.

So as time goes on and heads continue to roll I am feeling less and less horrified by the prospect of talking about the horrors more openly, but for now, all I have is the quiet knowledge and this incredible new sense of solidarity. I am enormously, unspeakably grateful for my brethren (sistren?) who are speaking out en masse. I'm the polar opposite of brave, but this is probably the least alone I've ever felt. Thanks so much to OP for posting this and to everyone who has left a link to a similar piece in the comments.
posted by obstinate harpy at 11:50 AM on November 18, 2017 [46 favorites]


obstinate harpy: By "child" do you mean "person under the age of consent" or "naive, but able to consent"? Both interpretations are possible, and I'm not clear on which one you intend.
posted by Leon at 1:10 PM on November 18, 2017


I hesitate to weigh in after such a thoughtful post (thank you, Obstinate Harpy), and really hope that I'm not derailing by serving up my own reflections. Like everyone here I'm appalled at the way these men abused, betrayed and exploited young women and girls who looked up to them.

I was a little too old for commercial emo during its heyday, but underground rock fandom was basically my religion in high school and college, and "sensitive outsider" (cue eye-rolls) was a critical part of my self-presentation as a teenage boy. Part of what drew me to the music was the template it seemed to provide for a different kind of masculinity that was maybe more reflective and self-aware and critical than the crappy sexist metal of my pre-teen years.

Now, at 40, I am more conscious than ever of the blurry line between "sensitive outsider" and "self-pitying narcissist." As a once-and-former fan, I am hopeful that this moment of reckoning will not only give voices to women and girls who were victimized, but also expose some of the exploitative dynamics at the heart of fandom and maybe convince some boys and young men to look beyond pop-cultural roll play for clues about how to grow the fuck up.
posted by ducky l'orange at 1:31 PM on November 18, 2017 [2 favorites]


obstinate harpy: By "child" do you mean "person under the age of consent" or "naive, but able to consent"? Both interpretations are possible, and I'm not clear on which one you intend.

Both.
posted by obstinate harpy at 2:31 PM on November 18, 2017 [1 favorite]


Part of what drove me to the music was the template it seemed to provide for a different kind of masculinity that was maybe more reflective and self-aware and critical than the crappy sexist metal of my pre-teen years

See, and it's awesome that it did, right? I hear you on that, ducky l'orange. And maybe that's another reason why all of these revelations are so painful, because it feels like lately we just keep realizing the well all this toxicity comes from is way deeper than we all would even let ourselves realize, and it's poisoned even the wells we thought (or just very much wanted to believe) were OK. And all of us women it's affected keep wondering, "What if I'd said something?" because we're responsible people who care how our actions affect others, when really the question should probably be more like "What if people believed women?" or "What if all men really and truly gave a shit on a deep level about what women think and feel and believe, what would that even be like?" Heh.

Maybe it's because I was just going through this process this week, but it's reminding me of the rabbit hole it's easy to go down reading about chemicals I'm allergic to and what products they're in and what manufacturers add them to their stuff. After a while, it starts to feel like everything is shit and there isn't any escaping the toxicity.

Agggggh. But at least we're finally talking about it.
posted by limeonaire at 3:59 PM on November 18, 2017 [3 favorites]


Yeah, dismissing critiques of a particular genre with "it's everywhere" can be so frustrating because those of us who are familiar with the genre want to talk about the problem within that context. If you don't, fine, but don't try to tell us we can't discuss the specific nature of the misogyny, and how the defining features of the genre facilitated it.

I was (what I snobbily think of as) a "real" emo fan - meaning the emo of the 90s like Sunny Day Real Estate, whose lyrics are existential gibberish, so I'm hoping none of my faves are hiding misogyny in there. The 2000s stuff didn't appeal to me, at all. But also as a former Weezer fan - like um please read the lyrics of practially every song on Pinkerton and half the ones on the blue album... It's not good. I can't listen to it anymore.
posted by misskaz at 7:13 AM on November 19, 2017 [7 favorites]


If you want to say it's a stretch that Weezer has a misogyny problem, you have be willing to agree that they stopped making albums after Blue.

That's fine too, Pinkerton is mostly interesting to me in contrast to the blue album rather than as a laudable work in its own right. And I can understand where people who say that Weezer has a misogyny problem are coming from. To be completely honest, I mostly feel nostalgic affection for them; I don't even listen to the blue album anymore, let alone anything else. I was listening to "For No-One Else" recently and my instinctive reaction was "Ew, Rivers, seriously?" so I guess I've grown past the blindness to creepiness and unfocused, casual misogyny that enabled me to love them so much.
posted by clockzero at 10:33 AM on November 19, 2017


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