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Metal and sexism

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The broad genre of hard rock and metal is often depicted, both in media portrayals and academic accounts, as particularly sexist, its male dominance and hypermasculinity alienating for women. In this article I draw on my research which aims to understand women’s experiences as fans of the genre within the context of assumptions of sexism. I interviewed British women who were fans of bands across the broad genre of hard rock and metal. Here I pay particular attention to women’s experiences at hard rock and metal events and their encounters with sexism. My participants depicted hard rock and metal as less sexist than a generalized ‘mainstream’. I argue that the contradiction between academic accounts and fan accounts of sexism is due to the subtle ways in which sexism manifests and also down to a mythical sense of ‘equality’ that exists within metal culture. However, I posit that, in accordance with feminist methodological work, it is vital to take women’s words seriously and to acknowledge the broader significance of metal in their everyday lives. This means that we must contemplate that, in distinction to some academic accounts, metal might actually be a culture that is relatively free from sexism.
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Keywords: fans; feminist methodology; heavy metal; music; sexism; women

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Leeds

Publication date: 01 June 2018

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  • Metal Music Studies is the journal of the International Society for Metal Music Studies.

    The aims of the journal are:
    • To provide an intellectual hub for the International Society of Metal Music Studies and a vehicle to promote the development of metal music studies;
    • To be the focus for research and theory in metal music studies – a multidisciplinary (and interdisciplinary) subject field that engages with a range of parent disciplines, including (but not limited to) sociology, musicology, humanities, cultural studies, geography, philosophy, psychology, history, natural sciences;
    • To publish high-quality, world-class research, theory and shorter articles that cross over from the industry and the scene;
    • To be a world leader in interdisciplinary studies and be a unique resource for metal music studies.
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