A Personal History of Substratal Misogyny Through Underground Music

11/30 ADDENDUM: The text below has been substantially edited since it was first published last week, in response to complaints made by the second member of the musical project in question and numerous other women who came out in support of her. In short, the piece was read as a public, personal attack on the second member, a woman, by the author, a man. Obviously men attacking women is problematic and since personal attacks on women by anyone, male or female, are not part of our agenda here, and since no one involved in the production of this website aims to cut down women or hurt women’s feelings, we worked together to revise the piece out of respect for the second member and the concerns she and others raised. We take allegations of anti-woman action seriously, and since both p.m. and I are invested in dissolving the stigmatization and feminization of mental illness, we were particularly horrified by the interpretation of the piece as discrediting a woman by means of reference to mental instability. We hold ourselves responsible for these misinterpretations and have endeavored to remedy them through reflection, scrutiny, revision & expurgation. We’re very sorry for any pain we have caused through the release of this article.

We do not, however, withdraw any of the p.m.’s analyses as presented in the current iteration of the text.

In explanation I would first like to acknowledge one of the accusations leveled at the piece, that of “mansplaining,” to be defined as “a man condescendingly speaking to a woman about something of which he has incomplete knowledge.” The danger of mansplaining lurks eternal whenever men become involved in the work of feminism, because, being men, they naturally lack experiential knowledge of what it feels like to be a woman in a man’s world. For this reason – in supplement to the primary reason being that most men don’t care too much about women and consider the struggles against men’s rape, abuses, bodily and psychological colonization, commodification and exploitation of women on a global scale to be “women’s issues” thus not their problem – men shy away from engagement in feminist thinking and action, as if out of fear of trespassing. But as asserted by the title of bell hooks’ terrific, must-read introduction to feminist theory: “FEMINISM IS FOR EVERYBODY.” Feminism, or radical feminism in this case – since “feminism” alone means less and less all the time – is a movement, with a perspective, a praxis, a politics, a purpose (social transformation), a body of literature, which men can and must enter into with as much passion as women if we are going to realize the unmaking of the heinous complex of male supremacy and the remaking of a kinder reality (for all beings) in its place. Men can speak about their relation to feminism without becoming mansplainers, but such requires care, humility, and a willingness to admit one’s own deficits and limitations. Clearly we were careless with this piece. We’re learning. It is a difficult and delicate process to become a person who doesn’t suck, reared in American-Masculinist-Capitalist culture, because I think we’re all socialized toward being unbearably awful. But one thing I’ve learned for sure is that I do want pro-feminist men because the larger our movement, the greater our strength, the more we can accomplish. Men can read radical feminist literature, and they should. Men can take radical feminist action, and they should. Men can model their lives after radical feminist principles, and they should. But most men don’t, because 1) they don’t care, and//or 2) because feminism has become a theoretical ghetto with a “girls only” sign nailed to the door. This doesn’t help our cause, as women. Therefore a secondary but requisite course of feminist action is demanding that men care, rather than excluding them from the exigent effort of anti-patriarchal social overhaul because they do not have the disadvantage of being female in a woman-hating society. I will always challenge males to cease being Men, to disaffiliate from Manhood, and contribute as they can to the work of feminism.

Moreover we have edited rather than rescinded the piece because, while we apologize for the hurt it caused on a personal level, we do not apologize for our views on the widespread social phenomena – in which p.m. was a participant – addressed in the text. We do not apologize for being critical of whatever fuels masculinist institutionalized violence or complacency to the violent paradigm men have created, meaning: we do not apologize for criticisms of the toxic hyper-normative sexual practice of sadomasochism//BDSM, or of narcotic escapism to dull the ache of living in a despairing world rather than taking action against it, or of nihilistic paralysis within privileged niches, or of the exploitation of any and all marginalized and objectified beings, including animals. Therefore we’re critical of the practice of eating animals’ dead bodies and the body-products of female animals reduced to commodities for human use. Yes, we’re critical of pizza—and we will not apologize. We do not apologize for being critical of self-involvement at the expense of vital social conscience + consciousness. We recognize that people – yes, even female people! – may choose to participate in these behaviors and activities, but just because someone – yes, even a female someone! – chose something does not make that thing by default a good choice. We are critical of the choices we, as cultural agents continually involved in the production of the society in which we exist, are making, in our art & in our lives, because we recognize that our choices have real consequences. If these criticisms annoy you or offend you, we are not sorry.


(BY: P.M.) 

Please note! These critiques can also apply to many active (and inactive) music projects in the ‘underground’, so this essay is intended not as self-damnation or self-absolution, but as a case study. Critical analysis and reflection to encourage rigourous thought + careful action. The essay is about me and my relationship to the project. It is not an attack on the other person who was in the project, but it is necessary to look at the project as a whole.

“Oh, that stings good, piekpieeek piek pieeek…!” – Die Dominas – Die Wespendomina

Creating a cover version of Die Dominas “Die Wespendomina” proved to be the final straw for an underground electronic music group created by myself and M, called VVAQRT. Released in 1981, everything about Die Dominas’ sole recording is playful paean to BDSM; the name, the song titles + lyrics, the cover sleeve. The music itself is a kitschy exotica-lounge song which has been pummeled + stretched into a surreal cartoon-dungeon soundtrack. In early 2013, a European record label (“NO LABEL”) proposed to release a VVAQRT EP, as long as it included a cover of “Die Wespendomina”. I was already familiar with + enjoyed the Die Dominas record and enthusiastically agreed. I set to work creating a suite of songs to appear with the cover, and had them finished in a couple months.

However, in late 2014, when the vocals were scheduled to be recorded, I refused to have any part of the release if it were to use the lyrics from the Die Dominas song, because I did not want to espouse any positive message regarding BDSM. It was decided to record vocals with different lyrics for the ‘cover’; the music, which had been recorded over a year previously, bore almost no resemblance to the original. But the incident was a stark illustration of my changing political (personal) thinking, as well as my attitudes regarding artistic motivations and purpose. Continue reading “A Personal History of Substratal Misogyny Through Underground Music”