King David, A Man After God’s Own Heart …But Really?
King David was a man after God’s own heart. He was musically inclined and supposedly a great leader. Leonard Cohen wrote a much-covered song about him.
Do you recall the story of how Bathsheba became his wife? Supposedly, David saw Bathsheba bathing, lusted after her, summoned her to him and impregnated her. She was married to a soldier at the time. So he schemed to have him return from war and have them get busy. He then had her husband, Uriah the Hittite, killed in battle so he could make his her wife and “protect” her from being accused of adultery. Probably cause he wanted to keep hittin’ it.
When a powerful man summons you. Really what choice did a woman have under those circumstances? We don’t really understand the full-context of their relationship but the woman is assumed to have been SO alluring that David – a man after God’s own heart couldn’t control himself. What does that say about God?
I’ve always felt that David’s behavior is used by the church to excuse men’s actions. Men are lustful and can’t control themselves. There is this whole other narrative that historically isn’t being told. There is also an insinuation that women are seductresses and will use their beauty to manipulate men. To quote Lakutis, “Just like, pretend you know what I’m talking about, you know.”
Guns N’ Roses Vs. Crowded House: A Feminist Awakening
MTV showed me somewhat that women could rock with videos from the Bangles and Go-Gos. The flip side was there were plenty of music videos in the 80s and 90s that objectified women from Robert Palmer’s Addicted to Love and a lot of hair metal bands.
The video that had the most negative effect on my psyche is Don’t Cry by Guns N’ Roses. There is a scene where Stephanie Seymore strikes Axl Rose’s blonde companion as she’s sitting next to him at the piano. The males all watch and don’t intervene. The message conveyed to my adolescent mind was that women are competing with each other for men. I resent the message in Don’t Cry that women have to have to fight over garbage men and men are excited and entertained by this. Fuck that.
MTV’s counterpart VH1 had a more adult contemporary vibe between the two channels, I discovered New Zealand’s Crowded House who openly denounced degrading women in music videos on those channels. Never heard men in bands speak about treating women like people. I KNOW!!! What a revelation. Women are people too, not just tits and ass with actual working brains.
Guns N’ Roses was a big deal and my sister’s boyfriend offered to take my buddy and the boy for whom I religiously recorded Headbanger’s Ball to witness one of the most epic rock shows of all time I could not decline.
I was thirteen at the time and I wore my uniform of Jane’s Addiction tee, leggings with shorts and chucks. GN’R had a reputation for showing up really late. As with most concerts, people were getting wasted and a few ladies in the audience decided it would be a good idea to take off their tops for the cameras for the jumbo screens to entertain the masses.
Yeah, it was what you’d expect. My teenage homies freakin’ lost their shit. All I could think in my little head, “Is that what’s expected to get attention from guys? Because that’s not me.”
It’s not so much that I cared about the women taking off their tops; it was the reaction by the guys. A comment made in passing after the night was over was that one of the women was a “slut.” What makes a woman a slut for being confident in their skin and owning their sexuality?
There was something about seeing Nirvana’s Smell Teen Like Spirit made me realize the cultural zeitgeist had shifted for the better because the women of the time seemed like they were not props but part of the music.
A Vision for Male-Dominated Industries
During the many bands, I’ve joined I’ve been the “girl in the band” that “of course” plays bass. What a cliché. Yeah, it’s tiresome for me too. I have this awful memory of playing bass with Astralis in L.A and getting heckled by some old douchey mod. He kept yelling, “Play the big butt song.” *Real talk: I’m Panjabi and Panjabi women have curves. M’kay.
Secondly, at that point in my life…my bass chops were solid as fuck and although I was no Jaco Pastorius, I could hold it down. The disappointing thing wasn’t being heckled by a random dumb fuck, it was that my band mates didn’t say anything or acknowledge it or shut. it. down.
If your female friends are getting bothered, heckled or harassed, speak up. It’s not that we need men to save us because we’re weak but it tends to shut down that sexist bullshit. We need allies simply because when we as women speak up for ourselves we tend to get harassed even more. See #Gamergate
At times, my anger and passion get the best of me at times and I tend to lose people along the way when I’m trying to make a point. As an example, in grad school. We were reading a book for Consumer Behavior class called Consumer Behavior: Buying, Having and Being. It had problematic language in that it was sexist, homophobic and transphobic but it was subtle.
I walked into class one day and announced to my professor, “Have you read this book? It’s fucked up.” The conversation went down hill from there. My tone was too aggressive. He thought I was personally attacking him. Rather than my professor listening to my point, he went on the defensive. My professor made the point that not everyone had a feminist point of view and that the book was based on researched psychological principles.
The expectation for the class was to read the material and bring discussions to class. I asked, “Is this not a safe space to discuss these things?” I further explained that he was teaching future business leaders and he was using a book that whose language had subtle underpinnings that were sexist, homophobic and transphobic.
One male classmate thanked me and said that he wouldn’t have recognized this if I hadn’t pointed it out. His comment made me tear up and I had to boo-hoo in the bathroom because at least one person acknowledged my point.
Moving from musician to breaking into music marketing and promoting has been challenging to say the least. It’s hard to find mentors, especially female mentors. It’s often a boy’s club. It’s not that guys are trying to intentionally create a hostile environment, but there is a certain amount of machismo that comes with the territory. More often than not, the men I’ve met have been my biggest champions. This is refreshing and provides hope
Sexist tropes are hard to break. I’d like to believe that we’re moving away from shit like that but every now and again misogyny raises its ugly head. I’d like to see us do better. It would be nice if criticisms about sexism or misogyny were heard and not reacted to. It doesn’t just diminish us as women but as a whole community. In the era of Tr*mp, we need allies. We need our male colleagues to take the initiative to speak out too.