Celebrate International Women’s Day 2016: Rock and Metal Ladies We Love, and Why We Need Them
In celebration of International Women’s Day, we want to spotlight why feminism is important and show our appreciation to some of our favorite women in the music game. As much as I love the golden age of classic rock and the gods who reigned supreme in it, we (the women who get to make and write about and participate in rock ’n’ roll) have no one to thank more than the fierce ladies who came before us, those who cleared the path for women to get involved in an industry dominated by masculine ideals and attitudes.
In 2016, women are more powerful than we have ever been, especially with the current wave of feminism tackling the barriers that have long kept women of color and trans women from participating in the discussion. Their voices have always been more marginalized than those of white women like me, and it’s high time we recognize our own privilege from within the movement and work toward a more inclusive definition of what it means to call yourself a feminist.
It still holds true that today, women earn significantly less than their male counterparts. Using white males (society’s top earners) as the constant variable, the following is true according to The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (download the full report for free here):
-White women earn 80.8 cents on the dollar
-Black women earn 66.8 cents on the dollar
-Hispanic women earn 61.5 cents on the dollar
Add to this that women are more frequently than ever coming forward with stories of their sexual assault and harassment cases, and you see why it’s necessary that we talk about this issue. It’s still scary out there for women, so for those out there who have been and continue to be fearless in the face of adversity: thank you.
Now, onto some badass heroines even the most staunchly anti-SJW metal fans can appreciate. In no particular order:
Lita is fresh on my mind since I watched my dearest Grim Kim interview her live at St.Vitus a couple of weeks ago. She is an ultimate female warrior not only because she can shred the fucking face off most of her contemporaries, but because she speaks openly, shamelessly and with ease about her sexual liaisons with other rock gods and the abuse she’s suffered at the hands of idols.
Nashville’s Bleed the Pigs are radically explosive, and they owe that raw, unrestrained energy in large part to the force that is their incredible vocalist Kayla. Read more from her extremely valuable perspective here.
Nancy and Ann Wilson
The core members of the massively successful act Heart are powerhouses for the ages who rose to fame during the testosterone and cocaine-fueled days of the ’70s, then came back even stronger in the ’80s and left teeth-marks on the swinging dicks of hair metal copycat bands everywhere.
To quote another writer I admire deeply, Miss Leyla Ford:
There’s nothing new I can contribute to the conversation about Doro Pesch. Frontwoman for Warlock, prolific solo career, German… by this point if you’re a metal fan and haven’t heard about Ms. Pesch you’re the one in the wrong.
Read Leyla’s full interview with the famed Warlock front woman here.
Pamela Des Barres
Muse to countless legends, best-selling author, protegé of Frank Zappa, rock ’n’ roll journalist, and the most famous groupie of them all, Miss Pamela has stood for everything that attracted me to this world for decades. Her sex-positive attitude has remained intact throughout many years of criticism from more traditionally-minded feminists, and these days she travels the country teaching other women to use their voice to tell their stories in all-women workshops.
Known to the larger outside world as Maria from Orange is the New Black, there’s never a bad opportunity to mention the fact that Jessica Pimentel is also the vocal powerhouse fronting the NYC-based death metal band Alekhine’s Gun. Her impressive resumé doesn’t end there — she’s also a classically-trained violinist. View her bio in IMDB.
The original high priestess of Satanic rock, Dawson fronted the occult band Coven starting in 1968, a time when women were generally considered more of a rock accessory than forces to be taken seriously. Her sinister beauty and unearthly voice has been inspiring other wicked lovelies to put on their blackest velvet robes and sing the praises of our favorite fiery underlord ever since.
It was an amazing gesture on her part to pass the torch on to another woman, but Angela was the first female death metal vocalist I ever heard and I’ll never forget my jaw hitting the floor at the raw power of her ungodly voice.
OK, yeah, Grace Jones doesn’t make metal at all, but Grace Jones is also SO FUCKING METAL. You could also argue that the song and video below has a certain industrial lean to it, no? Who gives a shit about genres… it’s Grace Jones.
The legendary frontwoman of short-lived Seattle punk band The Gits, Zapata had a huge future in front of her when she was tragically raped and murdered in 1993. A true talent who suffered a violent end all too familiar for women, Zapata’s legacy lives on as a reminder that the fight isn’t even close to over.
Laura Jane Grace
Coming out as a trans woman in a community rooted in toxic levels of masculinity takes a level of courage few will ever truly understand. Grace’s vocal approach to transitioning will stand for decades (or longer) as an invaluable landmark in LGBTQ history.
I could go on for days about other women to whom we owe a great debt, but I’ll leave that to you—list some of your favorites in the comments!