Thursday, August 26, 2010

Linda Perry and "Hard Rocking Women"

In an interview for Spinner, songwriter Linda Perry laments the dearth of "women rockers." She says of auditioning musicians for Courtney Love's dream of an all-woman band:

"She did start finding all these people and I was going to rehearsals and they sucked," Perry tells Spinner. "It was this wimpy ass f---ing girls who didn't rock. But you know what they did? They had a good look. It's still hard to find a girl who straps on a f---ing guitar and rocks and isn't worried about her f---ing fingernails or what she looks like."

While I can certainly understand emphasizing substance over style, and granted, she was auditioning women for a hard rock band, something about it didn't sit right with me. Maybe it's the tired old trope that "good" rock music has to be raw, aggressive and teeming with masculine energy. It's a hard to argue without running around in circles: rock music is inherently raw and aggressive -- things that women are not. Ergo, women can't or shouldn't rock. (Believe me, I know a lot of men, and women for that matter, who actually believe this.) However, if the standards are set by men, isn't more subversive to ignore the stereotypes and redefine rock somehow? I like Amanda's quote about her choice to forgo "dude music:"

The day that you decide you are bored with Dude Rock and you’re not afraid to say it is very liberating for many women... I was reminded of the day I said to myself that I wasn’t going to another show when I knew damn well that the crowd was going to be a sausage fest, the music was going to bore me out of my skull, and the men I did speak to seemed surprised that a woman of some intelligence was opening her mouth in that space. Bless my good-hearted friends who like that shit for whatever reason, but I wasn’t going to torture myself just because I like my friends. Honestly, I think a lot of men are oblivious to how toxic that environment can feel for women.

I don't think it's enough to just to say you're bored with "dude" rock. The thing is, I still like a lot of women, and men, who play hard, aggressive music, but I know that the world of rock music is a tiny, exclusive club (just look at any "greatest" published by a mainstream magazine). Granted, it's pretty silly to argue about the value of something used merely as entertainment, but it's too engrained in out popular culture not to.

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