Part V of Wolverette#1′ print issue: “Practicing equality”

Posted: April 18, 2009 in Past issues

Practicing equality

They say „Stop whining“, „Nobody holds you gals back from anything“, „That’s just you and your ridiculous victim complex“, „We’re not in the fifties anymore – women can do whatever they want!“.
And anytime I hear that, I tend to shut up. Because I’m afraid of the dicussions that may follow, because I’m not as eloquent as I wish I was and because I don’t have 500 spontaneous arguments at hand. Sometimes I even tend to believe them. But as soon as I am alone again I think of it again, as I have time and peace and nobody is there who interrupts me and my thoughts. The fear of looking silly in a discussion is gone because there is no one there whom I have to prove that I am not dumb, paranoid or uninformed – nobody but me.
And when I reflect all the things people point out how fucking equal we all are and look at these things without any pressure, I reaize that I am NOT wrong. Sure, I am not perfect. I do say idiotic things here and then, and maybe even spreading some incorrect facts without knowing. Everyone makes mistakes in details here and then – so do I. But despite this, I never changed my opinion in principle.
The fact that I do feel discriminated because of being a gal is a fact that nobody has the right to deny. I do feel somewhat attacked when some guys says things like „Oh this *name of an all female band * – they just wanna get attention by shaking their tits, not by making good music, I bet“. That’s a fact. It makes me feel uncomfortable when I get touched inappropriately by random strangers on a regular basis at punk and hardcore shows, that’s a fact. Male friends pointing out „But I have been grabbed by females at shows, too and I’m not making a big fuss about it, so calm down“ – yeah, speak for yourself, being touched once or twice is not comparable to having to expect that at almost every fucking show, and by you talking like this, I feel being treated with less respect for my wellbeing than I wish – and that’s a fact. Guys yelling „Pussy, get out of the moshpit!“ at me is making me feel angry, desperate and unwanted – another fact. Fact over fact that might mean nothing to you, but to me. Because if I made a pro/con list of things that encourage me to go see some music and what discourages me of attending a show – the latter would get more points. And practically all points have to do with how other people (especially guys) behave towards me.
You guys say I’m whiny, paranoid and tell me I’m just feeling nice in my position as a victim? Fuck you, it is not your place to judge. What I feel is real and I just so wish it was just my chicken-hearted imagination. But what can I do? I tricked myself long enough by telling me I’m just imagining that me being a girl is even an issue at all, that I’m treated differently because of it. I loved going to see bands so much, it used to be this freeing, somewhat glamorous and exciting place because music was played that I liked, oh loved, because I thought nothing but loving music and dancing and singing along mattered. And when something unpleasant occured, I just ignored it as being an unimportant incident. I didn’t want my positive picture of this great scene be destroyed, cause I loved it so much!
But ignoring didn’t help. And once I realized that not I am the problem but that others were, that I am just the poor sod who happens to be their target. That don’t feel nice. You don’t want it to be real. Because when you accept the fact that people’s reason for behaving strangely or unfriendly or bad towards you is because you are a gal – heck, it made me feel guilty. For being one, for being there with my tits and no penis and not behaving like a typical man, for disturbing their peace, for irritating them, for provoking by me just being there and wanting to hear some music in public. It made me feel like I had to apologize to them for being female and being there, like I had crashed a private party without an invitation. This is so stupid, I know it makes no sense, but that’s the way I felt and the way I still feel sometimes, even though I know it is rubbish.
I know most guys don’t even know what they are doing might feel unpleasant for gals. For they, when they easily approach a gal at a show and flirt and put your arm around you they think they give you a compliment, that they are just making conversation, that they are trying to be nice and involving her and everything. But think – the gal might think that this is rude, cause maybe you are the 4th guy approaching her and maybe she is just there to listen to the music and not interested in making new friends or finding a new boyfriend. Or maybe she is even a lesbian and you have no chance whatsoever in a hundred years.
I know I cannot speak for every gal there is, cause maybe there are really gals who just go to shows in order to meet guys, I don’t know. But you also don’t know. So why not just ask before, ask if she is into talking to you at all! And if she says no, don’t get angry, it’s nothing personal cause she don’t even know you! You have no right to talk to her or to touch her unless she agrees to that. But there is no absolute rule that gives you a right, that guarantees you to be welcomed.
I learned about Riot Grrl only a few months ago, so I am sorry if I interpret something wrong, but I am so interested in it. It speaks from my heart. I am much too young to feel like a part of this scene, but I wish I could and somehow I do anyway? I don’t know, this is weird, but I feel good. Riot Grrl seems to allow me that I am angry and not just desperate with what I experience.
I read that back then they had women only conventions and shows and it makes me so sentimental, I wish I could have that, too. Not because I hate men and don’t want them to be around me. I am not a man-hater! Most of my friends are guys and although I feel sometimes they act like jerks, they are okay and there is always a few guys in general who act nice and don’t make me feel excluded and just treat me like a human being instead of just someone they can hit on. But they don’t completely understand why I feel the way I described above cause they never experienced it themselves. And my gal friends are not into shows.
I wish I could just have one single year of regular shows to which only gals came, to have a pause of the hassle, to meet some fellow gals like Kathleen Hanna did and Courtney and Molly Neuman, just to know that someone would listen and understand. Then, after that year, I’d have hopefully gained enough self esteem and courage to go to „normal“ shows again and be less shy but speak up without the fear of being ridiculed. And everyoe who came up to me telling me that this „is not a place for gals“ would get a smile from me and the answer „Oh I do think so, because we are all equal now, you know“. I would just not let them exclude me.
I mean they say we are already equal, so why not just act like we really were and show the guys what happens when we don’t shut up anymore out of politeness, the fear of being called bitchy, if we don’t hide anymore or try to be invisible but very well visible, if we don’t tolerate touching anymore. Maybe they’ll notice the difference then?
I can’t do that yet. I know i have a big mouth and no one who knows me would actually imagine that I am as vulnerable as I present myself in this text here. But I am. I wish I wasn’t, but I am. Sucks to be me. But I’m working on it. I don’t have a big revolutionary Riot Grrl scene behind me, so this might take a while till I am really confident. But I’ll try, I’ll be my own Kathleen Hanna and maybe things will work out. I don’t know, but it gives me hope. Because hiding, shutting up, tolerating are no more options for me.
Written by Jenna

  1. Anna says:

    Hi Jenna,

    this is exactly what a lot of us feel, you are not the only one, on the contrary! And if we just started talking about it and admitting it to each other, it would make everything so much easier. For example explaining it to the guys. They might not listen if it’s just you, but if all of us start talking about how it feels to be female in a male world, then they can’t ignore us anymore.

    Good luck,

  2. frl.zucker says:

    hej jenna,

    wow, this is a great text!! thanks so much for writing it. i was always feeling sentimental about the fact that i’m too young to be a part of riot grrrl. i don’t think there even was a big riot grrrl scene in germany at all. but you writing that you want to be yr own kathleen hanna is so so so inspiring! that’s what i’m trying, too.

    do you write somewhere else? like on a blog?

  3. anja says:

    thanks for writting this text! i really feel the same and the worst is, that even women tell me, that they dont feel discriminated at all! i hate that!

  4. wolverette says:

    wow, thanks for the many comments!
    this article appeared in wolverette’s 1st print issue (which is sold out and thats why i decided to put most texts online) and jenna was one of the contributors.
    i wrote her an e-mail that her article got so many comments but unfortunately no response so far.

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