The shenanigans of a certain Mr. Benjamin Weasel at this year's SXSW festival spurred quite a bit of discussion about sexism and misogyny in punk rock and its surrounding community. While the situation itself was clearly negative, the conversations it sparked were interesting; people took a discussion about a "punk rock celebrity" and went beyond their feelings about the music. For most, it was more a question of morals and societal standards. Bands cancelled shows, fans swore of the purchase of a recently released album, others said "Good! She shouldn't have been throwing them ice cubes!" And so on and so forth. Still, most fell somewhere in-between or weren't sure how to react. But there was a reaction of some sort. It got people talking and thinking. And after all, isn't that what this "scene" was supposed to be about? Quite frankly, I don't think any of us do enough on that front. Myself included.
With that in mind, I was pretty excited when subsequent to the Weasel debacle, I Live Sweat posted an essay written by Lauren of the Measure[SA] and another authored by Candy Hearts' Mariel. Both write-ups focus on the role of gender, sexism, and the like within the punk rock community. They both take on the topic from different angles, with a very personal spin to the subject matter. It makes for an interesting read. Check 'em out if you get a chance. I strongly recommend them, if only to see what impact your actions might have on those around you. Male or female, we're all capable of feeling uncomfortable in certain situations. Just sayin'. Anyway...
I'd also suggest giving this article a read. I remember reading it years ago when it was first published in the pages of Punk Planet and completely forgot it existed until a buddy of mine in the punk rock thread (AP_Punk) recently brought it to my attention again. For those too lazy to click and read, the article focuses on "emo" music and the role females tend to play in the lyrics of said-songs. The author--Jessica Hopper--goes on to explain how this can have a negative impact on girls looking to be a part of said-scene.
There's more to the article than I'm laying out here, and I'm hardly doing it justice by focusing on just one aspect of the piece, but this is the part that hit home for me. One point the write-up drives home is that "emo" songs tend to paint the women in question as two-dimensional objects to be won or lost, the protagonist of the scenario told by the male narrator. The girls are always evil, the boys always innocent. Re-reading this now? It got me thinking about my own actions.
I spent high school living on a healthy diet of Green Day, Blink-182, MxPx, the Ataris, New Found Glory, and so on and so forth. Later in the game, Brand New and Taking Back Sunday came into play. But still, I wasn't the "emo" poster boy that the article references. That being said? There were still elements of it.
I considered myself the penultimate nerd: Awkward and lanky, book smart and unfashionable, unfunny and zit-ridden. But none of this was my fault. It was their problem. I expected people to accept me for who I was. I didn't need to change, they did. They were superficial and shallow. They only cared about "Johnny Football Hero." And me? I was the sad, misunderstood underdog. At least, y'know...In my eyes that's how it was. I took Mike Herrera's cue, scribbling the acronym for "Girls Schmirls Foundation" on notebooks, I listened to countless songs about break-ups where the girl cheated or lied, and I paid very close attention to Kris Roe when he sang "Love is wrong and girls are fuckin' evil!" I took it all to heart and wore it on my knuckles in acronyms.
Fast-forward to college. The details aren't relevant and neither is the year. But I fell hard. The "L" word was used, daydreams of a future together were expressed, and at the end of it all? She broke up with me under a small fistful of questionable circumstances.
Now, in this situation? I was wronged. And my initial reaction was a tirade that went something like this in my head: "Fuck her! How dare she! What the fuck? Stupid. Why? Why me? Fuck. Wasn't I good enough? I treated her right, didn't I? I cared! I put myself out there! Motherfucker! FUCK!" That's not verbatim, of course. And it's certainly not what flew from my lips. But you get the idea.
The self-pitying thoughts continued to hang over my head until I found myself on a date with someone who turned out to be a college acquaintance of the girl in question. When it came out that we both knew her, it was pretty apparent that we both knew very different people. The girl she was describing lived a life of belligerence and co-dependency. Among other things that throughout our entire relationship she kept from me. Hidden. If she wasn't clean when we were together, she hid it well. In hindsight? There were little things that I should have noticed that foreshadowed the whole ordeal.
And when things started to crack toward the end? She pushed me away. Sure, she should have done it more honestly and potentially hurt me a whole lot less. But she dealt with it the best way she knew how.
At least that's what I tell myself. It might not be the truth, but I'd like to believe it is. She never struck me as an inherently evil person when we were together. If she had? I never would have dated her. But things changed, she made her decision, and she peaced out. And that's when she became evil in my eyes.
See where the flaw is in that logic?
I said some pretty awful things about her. And I'm not saying that my initial reaction was unjustified or that the actions she took were justified either. But the take home from all of this? There's usually a story behind the story. Guy, girl, whatever the gender. People are who they are for a reason. And there's usually a rationale for their actions. Or some sort of justification. It might not be the right one. But there's a reason for it. And in this case? After a bit of reflection? I fucking should have seen this shit coming. There were signs.
It doesn't justify cheating, lying, stealing, or anything like that. But if you take some time to try and figure out the big picture and sort out why it all went on? You might get some peace of mind and give up the ghost. She's more than a line in a song and he's more than the subject of a blog entry. They're living, breathing human beings.
Treat them as such.
And for all you know? You might be the one to blame.