metal + hardcore
pop punk + alt-rock
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Pop Punk Loves the Ladies, Right?

Screen Shot 2015-12-23 at 22.47.29
Photo credit: Thomas Falcone

How can the pop punk industry possibly be sexist when all that bands write about are girls? You know what I’m talking about; the lyrics usually include any or all of the following:

  • how you’re still not over your ex
  • an unrequited love spiel
  • how she’s out of your league
  • being bitter about your relationship status
  • how badly your breakup went
  • how she broke your heart/how you broke her heart

If anything, they worship us for it. Without us, what else would they write about? Smoking pot? Snapbacks? Skinny khakis? Exactly. Maybe we ought to be called pop punk goddesses for the amount of worshipping we get.

Hell, there’s even an entire sub-genre called “female-fronted,” because obviously the gender of the lead singer matters a lot, not because the industry ostracizes bands led by women or anything…wait…what? We’ve (and by “we’ve,” I mean those of us who’ve scrambled our brains from headbanging too hard) all heard bands like Paramore, PVRIS, Tonight Alive, and We Are The In Crowd say things like: We’re not just regular pop punk! We’re female-fronted pop punk, because obviously you can hear our lack of y-chromosomes in our vocals through your headphones! Clearly, biology is a very important aspect of the genre. I mean, what else would be the reason behind it? Sure, we might live in a society where the difference between genders can mean the difference between being treated with respect or not, but hey, we’re not like society; it’s too mainstream! We’re pop punk, we’re alternative, and in saying that, we’re saying that we’re an alternative to boring cookie-cutter culture we hate, that we’re breaking all of those norms by all becoming biologists. Yep, we’ve got all the facts: mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell, and having a y-chromosome is more pop punk than having two x-chromosomes. People with y-chromosomes in pop punk tend to be the ones in bands, writing songs, managing tours, etc. But don’t worry, it’s just the totally valid science talking, not internalized sexist norms we’ve been taught our whole lives. Which is exactly why we have to give women in bands their own sub-genre, just to emphasize our amazing proficiency at separating the different sets of chromosomes.

And it’s the same thing when it comes to fans. People who use the term “fangirl” don’t mean an entire gender is nothing more than a bitter aftertaste, tainting a word that’s supposed to represent support and community. Again, it’s obviously a worshipping thing. (Though the more correct term would be “fangoddesses.”) And when we go to shows and people say things like…

  • “Are you here because of your boyfriend?”
  • “What’s your favorite song by them?”
  • “No, everyone knows that song. Try again.”
  • “I bet you don’t know what the name of their first EP is.”
  • “If you were a real fan, you’d know which amp their guitarist uses.”

…it’s not because we have to prove ourselves to them, or that they’re implying we’re inferior to them, or even because they’re questioning our motives…right? It’s because women who are in the scene are rare enough that others would do what any other biologist would do when encountering a new species: make quick judgements observations based on first impressions, and ask a bunch of questions. Who cares if the audience is fairly evenly split between women and men? We’re not freaking statisticians. Anyways, that kind of representation isn’t seen among the people in bands or working behind the scenes, so why does it matter?

Though it’s intriguing as to why there aren’t very many women in the pop punk industry in the first place, whether it be on stage or off, especially considering how much of the audience is made up of women. Who wouldn’t want a job in an industry they love, especially in one that feels the need to point out gender differences either implicitly or explicitly at every given chance? It’s a mystery to us all, because it’s not like pop punk isn’t anything but respectful and welcoming to everyone, regardless of gender or race. So respectful and welcoming, in fact, that we as a culture feel the need to create labels specifically for women such as “female-fronted band,” “fangirl,” or worse misogynistic slurs while men are able to get away for the exact same behavior with hardly any scrutiny.

Maybe it says something about pop punk and just how “accepting” we are when we single out and limit women like this. Or maybe, it’s not very pop punk at all.

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