The April 2012 American skinhead ‘zine Dance Crasher Byrdzine has that weird American take on skinheads; where the envelope of style becomes the regimentation of brands. The zine is full of pictures harvested from the interweb and from across the decades, there are 4 of my ex-girlfriends, which is worrying. The zine follows the usual septic style of a Jenny Woo interview, pics of pony tattoos, and an uncredited Steve Friel cartoon which appeared in Zoot! in the 80s.
Despite that there is some passion to the zine and an interesting look at women in subcultures.
This Is A Man’s World
By: Joanna W
With subcultures mainly being a boy’s game, I’ve always looked closely to the few females involved as a support group. You would think that with females being about one to every twenty men (if not less) in these subcultures, they would be tight and appreciative to their sisters in the game.
Sadly, this is not a reality…
It seems that in the years I’ve been involved in this subculture, I’ve seen women become more or so “frienemies” rather than a stable support system to each other. This deeply saddens me, as I too have seen this first hand. I guess I am perpetually naïve to this, or just hopelessly optimistic to find nice women who are looking for sisterhood through music. I am not saying all females are like this, but there are quite a few out there who are.
What causes this? Why does it happen? Who are these females? I’m going to go forward and explain my views and opinions on this subject. These are strictly my opinions based on my own personal experiences so you are more than welcome to disagree.
Although a lot of teens come into a subculture looking to rebel and be non-conformist, they are just joining another conformity and rules. These ‘tribes’ have their own sets of rules and dress within themselves. There are usually unspoken rules of how to act, and who holds what seniority. This does vary from subculture to subculture, but they all have the basic skeleton from subculture to subculture.
Those who have been ‘in’ for the longest usually have the utmost respect., and typically, they feel they have the right to put those younger and less senior ‘members’ in their place. Women have a similar yet very different set of rules. Women cut each other down almost endlessly.
Womens rules in these youth cults are those in the same to men, however I feel that they are much more harsh. Typically, it starts out with how you got in. Usually, it’s one of the two – you got in on your own will or from your boyfriend. If you got in from your boyfriend, the rest of the local scene usually knows, as you showed up on the arm of Johnny Subculture at a random gig. If this is the case, respect for you is typically next to nothing – even if you truly do become part of the subculture in the long run – guy or not. You’ll almost always be known as so-n-so’s girlfriend or ex-girtlfriend. Men do not have this problem. They do not have to deal with derogatory names such as ‘oi toy’, ‘scene whore’, or something similar to that. This sexism runs rampant from both males and females. This in itself starts a vicious cycle of women’s roles in youth cults.
Youth cult or not, women tend to run in cliques and groups of friends in which they trust those few friends and hardly anyone else. I often hear young women from every cultural, social, and ethnic background say, “women are such bitches, I can’t stand them!”
Although they’ve made a few friends, what prevents their clique from being ‘bitches’ to each other? Again, youth cult or not – women tear each other down and can be harshly judgemental to each other to their faces or behind their backs, The sport of tearing down other females isn’t a pretty one, but it is often played. In my personal opinion, I honestly think women who tear down others for no apparent reason iss just a verbal venting of their own short comings and insecurities. To me, those who bash on other people who have not done anything to them are just insecure cowards trying to build themselves up by tearing others down. In the subcultural view, I often think that this happens because some women are not 100% comfortable with themselves and the role they play within a subculture. They often come off as they have the world to prove to others. The ‘pros’ of the bashing game for one who plays is typically to brag about how many girls they’ve driven away. This, I think, is a result of the need to be an alpha female.
Socially speaking, a woman with lots of male attention is considered highly desirable – appearance aside. If a female in a niche culture is surrounded mainly by men, logically, she should have plenty of potential mates and attention – boosting her ego, esteem, and popularity amongst males. This makes her an alpha female. Competition gets ripped down without a second thought. Typically, she will do just about anything to keep this status.
This is highly detrimental to the female side of a subculture. Hazing and driving new kids out leaves the scene stagnant and does not allow it to grow or evolve. With the same girls constantly around, this leaves slim options for the males who want to date within the scene. If these girls are single, they will be surrounded mostly by men, and probably have their internal feelings of alpha females pumped up, and will not want new females coming around. Another reason why this can be extremely harmful is that if people within a local scene date amongst each other. With only a few females around dating the men in the subculture, this will typically cause drama. Say, if there were only 6 males and 2 females in a local scene, this would definitely cause trouble. Also, if a female dates amongst the local scene quite often, this can lead her back to being accused of being an ‘oi toy’ or a ‘scene whore.’ Even if she didn’t get in because of a boyfriend, she can be accused of these things, and her intentions within a subculture can be questioned just because of her dating habits. Most women outside of subcultures don’t get called such names when dating around. The dating world for females within subcultural boundaries can be dangerous, dramatic, and disheartening. The need to prove that she is genuine and an individual while dating a man in a subculture can cause many issues within herself and her relationship.
I have honestly never understood the ‘hazing’ into a subculture. When I think ‘hazing’, I think of some dumb frat guys putting a new house member through humiliation. What’s the point? Isn’t that the sort of mentality we wanted to get away from when we chose to stray from the norms of mainstream society? Why do you want to scare away potential new members of a band, future DJs, or life-long friends? Shame on anyone who participates in these pointless and degrading tactics – male or female. Having a healthy, thriving subculture relies on having new blood coming in, and often. Driving new people away, believe it or not, has a domino effect within your local town.
First off, driving people away by not accepting them in the local scene or stating that they need to be hazed in makes you come off like a total jerk. Where ever they’re from, they’ll tell their friend back home (or non subculture friends that are local), “Yeah, I came here and they expected me to do this, that, and the other to hang out with them. Yeah, I know, ridiculous.” Honestly, these games make participants look like total childish buffoons and make said person ashamed to be involved in a subculture. Also, this makes you look like an awful example of a subculture. If you’re playing these sorts of childish games, you should honestly do some questioning of your personality and how you treat others in general. As harsh as it may sound, I believe it’s true. This could also spread around to other places and give your town a poor reputation.
Second, the less people you have in your town, the less often bands will come around. Say a fantastic band comes through your town once, but no one shows up. The impression your town will lay on them is that your town is not a money maker. Most bands don’t even get guarantees on the road and solely rely on merch sales to keep their tour afloat and stomachs filled with food. If your town has no one going to shows, they’ll skip over your town in future tours, Make sense? So, driving fresh blood out of your scene may also eventually drive out touring bands you want to see.
Another thing I’ve never understood is why older members within a subculture are so demeaning to younger kids. They, too, were once that age. I’m sure they didn’t pop outta mama’s womb in full subcultural attire with a stellar record collection. They, too had to go through the ins and outs of growing up and discovering who they are, and I’m sure they had some embarrassing records in their collection at one point. Being condescending to these kids is downright hypocritical. If they were treated like that when they were younger, they should be empathetic. Treating new kids like they were treated is wrong, and those two wrongs definitely do not make a right. If you truly love a subculture and music, you want it to grow, evolve, and last against the tests of time. Sharing your love of all these things with younger kids who really don’t know where to look helps the subculture grow and forms a brotherly and sisterly bond that is so highly idealized. What is the point of hoarding information?
Rarely do you see younger kids coming around these days who are taken in by older members of a subculture with open arms. If just that were to happen, if people could just get off their mighty high horses…they’d see that most slowly dying subcultures would gain new life. Sure, you may think that these kids are dumb and hopeless, but SO WERE YOU! Don’t haze them, don’t demean them – just be a positive influence. Being an older “brother” or “sister” can be very rewarding!
Younger girls especially need this positive influence to help prevent them falling into all the sexism and gender roles that subcultures dole out. They need to know that it IS okay to be in a subculture and not be sleeping with someone, or constantly causing drama. They need to know that you can be yourself with outside interests from a subculture. Girls in their teens especially need guidance to help their self-esteem, identity, and peer pressure issues. I would assume that most of these girls’ parents don’t quite understand why they are expressing their femininity in a boy’s game. My mother thought I was mental. If I had a female to look up to at that age, those years would’ve been a lot easier.
I hope things change in the future. I would love to see more women reaching out and cultivating a sense of sisterhood amongst themselves instead of breeding jealousy, cattiness, competition, and two-faced behaviour. Negative behaviour such as the types I’ve discussed (from males or females) is detrimental to any subculture. Period. It prevents the cultures and scenes from evolving. Why act in such a manner? No one will benefit from it. Acting with class, dignity and grace will never go out of style and will never be looked down upon. Be secure with your place in the sun and don’t concern yourself with anyone else’s. Honesty, no one has the authority or right to drive someone out of a subculture – seniority or not.
To those whom have a sense of entitlement – think twice first. Your actions will speak louder than your words.