Founded in 1974, the Women’s Center was established to:
Dismantle, from a feminist perspective, all forms of oppression, including but not limited to those based on ability, age, class, ethnicity, gender, race, and sexual orientation.
Advocate for an equitable environment free from violence and harassment based on gender, race, and sexual orientation.
Create an anti-racist, non-sexist, queer-affirmative space where all people can feel valued and safe.
Facilitate and strengthen connections among people across lines of difference through programming and educational campaigns.
Integrate an appreciation of Women's Gender and Multicultural Studies across the disciplines.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Violence and Punk Music

Via Feministing

Last week at the South by Southwest Music Festival (AKA SXSW) the lead singer of the band Screeching Weasel ended up punching not one but two female audience members during their show. The incident allegedly began after frontman Ben Weasel went on a misogynistic rant during the show and a female audience members spit an ice cube at him; he punched her in the face and then assaulted the owner of the venue when she tried to intervene. The end result of this altercation was the break-up of the band, with the other members condemning their singer's violent behavior.

This sort of incident is representative of a disturbing history of misogyny and violence in the punk scene that cannot be tolerated nor excused. Throughout the history of punk music, women have been categorically excluded or relegated to certain roles that keep them from fully participating as equals. The actions of Ben Weasel at SXSW are very reminiscent of the excessive violence, sexism, and traditional conceptions of masculinity of the late '80s hardcore scene, in which the genre had given way from a community of unique individuals bonding over the music to hordes of violent skinheads who would make shows difficult to enjoy.

During the early '90s, women in the punk scene tried to fight back through movements like Riot Grrrl to create a safe space for everyone to participate in punk shows, in particular the women being dissuaded from attending by the misogyny and violence present. The incident at SXSW shows that some people are still stuck in that mindset that helped to destroy the '80s hardcore scene and created the need for bands like Bratmobile and Bikini Kill to stand up for equality in punk music. The clear and instant backlash against Ben Weasel by his band mates is evidence that they understand the attitudes and actions that their singer was perpetuating have no place in music today (Nor should they have been tolerated in the first place, but the past history of violence in the punk scene cannot be changed and the only thing to do is move forward and make sure that no one else suffers simply for trying to get out to a show to enjoy music). One can only hope that this incident is used as a learning tool to remind people of the fact that everyone deserves to feel safe, especially when just trying to have fun at a concert.

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