In the instant classic epic comic series Preacher, Garth Ennis perfectly encapsulates the struggle of women everywhere in the unlikeliest fashion: “Put down the female terrorists first. They’ve had to work ten times harder to gain half the position of their male counterparts.” Yeah, OK, it’s a bit uncouth, but god damn is that ever a great summary of the shit women are put through in every realm in order to achieve even a fraction of the success enjoyed by men in every area. It’s something that’s been in the public eye quite a bit recently, and those struggles can be fucking ugly as hell sometimes, particularly in rock and roll.
First, let’s get something clear. I’m not a fan of “girl bands”. Don’t get me wrong, I think women have a central place in rock music, but the actual concept of a band as a “girl band” first, and not as people who happen to be women who came together to make music, just like every other damn band out there, kinda sucks. These bands are usually brought together by a manager -typically a creepy dude that’s actually just looking to get in their pants- and paraded in front of a bunch of equally creepy dudes –their target audience- who aren’t so much watching a display of musicianship and creativity as wondering what it’s going to take to get one of these girls home. Or maybe just to use as masturbatory fodder later on. I fucking hate these bands. They’re not real. They’re The Monkeys trying to sell sex disguised as art.
I don’t blame the members, though; I blame the model. See, rock and roll as a product is first and foremost about entertainment. It’s not about art. Jazz is about art. Who’s got the better stage show, who can pack their shitty music videos with the
hottest girls, and who can get the most goddamn press off the backs of this sensationalism. Sensationalism pretty much entirely established by exploiting the female image for the gratification of the male ego and libido.
Take, for example, the story of Jackie Fuchs (AKA Jackie Fox) of The Runaways, who, after 40 years of silence, finally spoke out about her rape at the hands of creepy fuckhead/manager Kim Fowley. Support for Fuchs, for what she’s gone through, and what she continues to go through, is nearly universal, and that’s great.
But widen your perspective. She was set up by the system that is rock and roll (and it is just that), but at least had the sense to get out before she was completely obliterated (though, by all accounts, it was a close one). Perhaps that’s why two of her bandmates are still in denial about the attack, and Fowley’s character.
That system has been exported wholesale to all forms of popular music. If you want to do well, speak to the basest instincts of your audience. Because, shit, we’re not evolved enough to look away. We’re not smart enough as a collective to sort art from trash, and we still want to convince ourselves that we’re empowering half of our population by the very act of exploitation! Wrap your heads around that one.
While everyone’s fighting over inclusion in a system that bases itself on selling women, I’ll just opt out. Call rock and roll over for me. I’ll be over on the fringe listening to ambient noise recordings, because not even sex can sell those. – JP