“Fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating. If there is one thing I know for certain, it’s that this. Has. To. Stop.”
– Emma Watson (Goodwill Ambassador for UN Women, self-proclaimed ‘Harry Potter’ Girl)
Let there be no mistake: pretty much every aspect of the creative process of producing and booking an event like Girl Germs is a freaking blast and a half! Really, if ever in some bizarro, Snowden-esque scenario the contents of Dana’s and my texts and 5 platforms of chats were leaked to the masses, what you would find seasoned amongst crude humor and shameless gossip are two women who are both extremely passionate and driven in the pursuit of their goals, as well as two women who are terribly grateful to have received even a shred of support from such a vibrant music community. It is a labor of love, but it’s important to note that it is in fact a labor: a TON of work and planning goes into coordinating a show of this nature and while, yes, it’s wholly fun and rewarding, it’s not without road bumps (or mild anxiety attacks). That said, the delivery from the artists who put time into learning these covers and—from the people who sponsor us to the people who pay their own money to bear witness to what happens on the stage the night of the show—we are continually humbled and invigorated by the magic that’s been instilled with each live event.
YET—despite the overwhelmingly positive response—there’s a proverbial bee in our bonnet because, like clockwork, with each new show cycle the emails, messages and skepticism quietly roll in: How can you book MALE bands for your event that celebrates WOMEN in music? The first time we encountered this bristly question it seemed so legit erroneous that we just brushed it off in our own way, placating the larger issue at hand by talking shit amongst ourselves about such Philistine reasoning. But then it kept happening (always from both men and women) and, despite explaining to people individually, it kept being annoying. Well, it’s still happening and it’s still annoying so we decided it’s nigh time to take our complaining out of a gchat box and end this lunacy once and for all by explaining why it’s not hypocritical or wrong for us to include men in this, yes, feminist project.Feminism by definition is “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.” And “organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests.” Naturally, the full meaning of a word wrought in such ideology far-expounds such a boiled down definition. And that’s because feminism is shaped by palpable experiences: the battles of our fore-sisters who toiled for the right to vote and own property, the battles they still fight for reproductive rights and autonomy of their own bodies, the barriers broken by thinkers in realms of science, art and politics, the ferocious indignation of a Bikini Kill set, a Nancy Wilson guitar solo, so on and so forth. You get the picture. But while the scope of its definition is far-reaching, the sentiments are all centered most intrinsically upon achieving gender equality.
Equality—just so it’s on paper—is aptly defined as “the quality or state of being equal.”
The Manifesto Dana and I penned upon the creation of this site and series reads as such:
“Girl Germs is a standing ovation for women in rock. And If you really have to ask the question “why,” it’s simply because they deserve it. We created this website and consequent live events mainly to obsess over the girls with guitars who have made a lasting impact. While this impact is only sort of archived in “rock history” we find it to be more accurately presented through conversations and experience. As a website we transmit through a lens of those interactions. As a live event, our aim is to honor the brilliance of these women through reinterpretations that are shaped by them. In this sense Girl Germs is ultimately an archive of our own, collective design, and we like that. So oblige us, and bow down to the Queens Of Noise.”
We wrote this thinking it would address our conscious choice to include and seek out male musicians to perform in this series. Just as the definition of feminism in the earlier paragraphs states “organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests” our manifesto mirrors that sentiment in saying that “As a live event, our aim is to honor the brilliance of these women through reinterpretations that are shaped by them.” What’s important to note here is that neither definition uses language that presupposes only women organizing on behalf of women’s rights, or only women being shaped by other women in music. Why? Well, mainly because that would be absurd! To infer that only women can advocate for women’s rights or that only women can influence other women musically is as much gross inaccuracy as it is completely counterproductive to the definition of feminism. The plight of feminism needs every color, faith, gender identity and sexual orientation to perpetuate its cause and so, in our book, those variables will never affect our decision to book a band.
Equality isn’t achieved through exclusion, nor is it achieved by a partial effort. By suggesting we exclude men from Girl Germs it projects the same sort of inequity that feminism labors to overcome. And, that, friends, is not what we aimed to radiate into the universe and so…
THE DUDES SHALL STAY!!
They shall stay because, ultimately, it’s our project, not yours, and if you truly can’t deal with men celebrating the influence of women then I would advise—in addition to taking an intro to logic Philosophy course— to start your own concert series (really, it’s super fun)!! I would also ask if you raise the same questions about why female bands are included on the Replacements Tribute lineup, (even though I already know the answer). But mostly the dudes shall stay because including men is integral to the progression of modern day feminism, because including everyone is integral to the progression of modern day feminism, which goes way beyond music and this small-scale covers show in Minnesota. The Godmother of second-wave feminism Gloria Steinem always advocated: “A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men.” Isn’t this what we are trying to achieve? We’re far from there yet, and of course as a woman I’m painfully aware that not all men, governments or institutions are there yet either, I even understand the trepidation by women to let men into this delicate, personal arena. Yet it is progress when women’s issues become human issues, and the fastest path to that is by allowing men (and anyone) to fight (or, you know, play a guitar) for equality alongside us.
But to those who still remain in denial that Kurt Cobain was hugely inspired by The Raincoats and are convinced that Dana and I are closeted, hypocritical misogynists, I can only invoke the unflappable Roxane Gay in saying: “I would rather be a bad feminist than no feminist at all.”
*I credit all of my quoted definitions to the Merriam Webster Online dictionary/thesaurus website. I generally prefer the Oxford New American Dictionary that I own but, alas, I am in my pajamas watching The Simpsons and walking across my bedroom to get it is out. of. the. question.
Come to the show and see for yourself.