Metal’s #MeToo

There’s a nice thought piece over at the Atom Smasher Music blog titled, Women in Metal: I Salute You,  written up by Serena Cherry about the continued marginalization and sexism towards women in the Metal scene. I’m glad to see that folks are still having a dialogue about this and realizing that the rampant sexism emerging from Hollywood isn’t the only place where misogyny and abuse are thriving.

Not surprisingly, many of the comments that Serena listed in her post aren’t unlike the ones I encountered back when I was doing my research on Women in NYC’s extreme metal music scene. The constant testing of authenticity happens in almost all genres of music, and, as many folks can agree is just tiresome. While great strides have been and are continuing to be made by women, there’s still a long road. One aspect to keep in mind for these authors writing about women in metal are the intersectionalities – let’s not forget about race and sexuality – still challenging areas within metal to navigate and full of political polarizations. Having been woke by colleagues of mine about racism in the metal genre, it’s hard not to see the many problems that still exist in metal on a daily basis.

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Jo Bench – I added this pic simply because I love her.

In addition, we can’t forget the “girl on girl” maliciousness which does exist. From my own experience, I’ve met women who were insular and ostracizing in their fandom as they were already the token woman in that scene. I’m sure one might think this odd, but it’s happened more than often for me to notice.

Finally – while I agree it’s important to not tokenize women, we need to find new ways to show representation (it still matters!) without categorizing ourselves into areas like “female-fronted”. How best to do that? –  I’m not sure.

 

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Zine Workshop @ Lehman College

Some great news – I got my idea of having a Zine Workshop at the library approved. Below is the wonderful flier I created in all it’s glory! As this will be the pilot for our new zine collection, I’m hoping this event does well. Crossing fingers!

The workshop will be held at the Leonard Lief Library – Lehman College on Tuesday, April 17, 2018. OPEN to CUNY students with ID. Register @ https://lehman.libcal.com/event/4037074

Spread the News!

Zine Workshop Flyer

Zines, Metal, POC, and Librarianship

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Selection of British and American punk zines, 1994-2004 From Wikipedia author Burn_the_asylum (uploaded on 25 March 2005)

So I haven’t posted here in awhile, mostly because my thesis work was completed and I had my second baby! Yay!

Life as usual took root and carried me away. Now that I’m back at work and thinking about my research leave projects, I decided to make an effort to be creative again. This was in part because I felt like I’ve been going through writer’s block. And for quite some time, my creativeness came out through my thesis writing – which being academic, didn’t strike me as all that creative in it’s use of language. I think I’m craving something more visual and hands-on this time around.

I was talking to a friend the other day about how many years I actually spent researching women and extreme metal and how now, I feel a bit lost. So what to do….

Well, I’ve got some research in library land in the works but it’s feeling a bit stagnant. So I’m attempting to try something creative to get the brain flowing. One of my research projects is starting a Zine collection at our college library. I’ve volunteered once or twice at local Zinefests and have been a fan of zines for some time. About two years ago, I had a back burner idea to start one of my own. So that’s what this is. It’s my attempt to start my very own perzine (personal zine) for those who might not know the term. I had a name and even a blog site figured out a long time ago – ObZine. I thought I’d start the first issue off with the theme of “feminism and metal bodies“. I figured I’d have content I could take from my thesis and showcase it in a visual way. For text, I’m going to try apply quotes from women academics that I admire who are doing work in metal studies.

But first, like any good librarian, I started digging and doing some research. To my wonderment, I found a beautiful POC zine over at https://blkgrlswurld.com/. What’s great about it, is not only the fact that the creators are people of color, but they’re metalheads too – who live in nyc as well! Finding stuff like this helps to validate the research work I’ve done, and makes me extremely happy. It reminds me of when I got a copy of my colleague Laina Dawes’ book, “What Are You Doing Here? A Black Woman’s Life and Liberation in Heavy Metal“. While I’m not black, this book resonated in so many ways with me. It cemented the various ways in which the metal music scene can be deterring for a woman and a woman of color. And it confirmed my own experiences of “outsiderness” when participating in the scene. Laina’s book opens a dialogue for discussions on racism, sexism, bigotry and discrimination in metal and really gets to  heart of what many POC’s feel when taking part in any subculture – exclusion.

With zines ruminating in my head, I’m hoping it will give me more ideas on how to organize and conduct the future workshop I want to hold this March at my college. Part of the plan is to have a local zinester come in and co-teach a brief workshop for students and faculty. The final products being zines that the students and faculty make to jumpstart a new zine collection at the college. I’ve gotta do more research on what’s worked and what’s failed for other zine librarians but I’ve already got a collection proposal drafted for my chief to review and a few meetings set up for planning. So there’s that!

Wish me luck.

 

 

 

Individual Thought Patterns: Women in NY’s Extreme Metal Music Scene (DONE)

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It’s DONE!

Just wanted to report that my long road to finishing up my second Masters in Anthropology is done. I actually finished up last Spring but due to paperwork and general CUNY slowness, it only posted to our online repository yesterday.

Here it is in all it’s glory – Individual Thought Patterns: Women in NY’s Extreme Metal Music Scene

And in case you’re unfamiliar with my work or have only started reading this blog, my back story is that I started this blog when I went back to school to get my second masters. My hopes was that this blog would serve as a place where I could post my papers and thoughts about my program. Here are all the posts related to my research.

Somewhat early into my program, I became interested in ethnomusicology due to my main reader’s influence – Dr. Jonathan Shannon. He taught my first ethnology class and spoke about his own work in the Middle East on musical performance. This led me to look into musical subcultures. Pair that with my 2nd reader’s influence – Dr. Aminata Maraesa – and her work  with women and health in Belize and I was hooked. Hence the birth of my thesis subject on women and extreme metal music.

At the time that I started writing, I was working at Columbia University with hopes to one day get a tenure position elsewhere (side note: Columbia doesn’t have tenure positions for their librarians!)  Most librarian positions at colleges require you to have a second masters to be on the faculty tenure line. Columbia and the Metropolitan Museum of Art (my previous employers) didn’t have a faculty structure for their librarians.

After 4 years at Columbia, I luckily landed the job that I have now at Lehman college – which is a tenured position.

So what can I report? And would I do it all over again? To this, I have a plethora of insights to impart, in no particular order.

First among them:

  1. DON’T LOSE FAITH

That’s mainly because throughout, you will constantly doubt your self worth and ability to keep going. On top of that, if you’re like me and approaching your mid-thirties and a woman, you question how graduate work fits in with your career and family planning choices. As some of you may know, I had my daughter in the midst of grad school and was lucky enough to bounce right back into the thick of things, but to say it was easy would be the biggest understatement of the century. Not to mention – impostor syndrome (that’s a whole other post!)

2. FIND A NETWORK OF SUPPORT

You learn pretty quickly about the reliability of people in your program and school. For me, that was learning that Hunter’s graduate Anthropology program was very much a sink or swim environment with little funding. It fell victim to the general apathy and bureaucracy  of the CUNY system. While that was an enlightening and challenging experience for me, I didn’t fault my instructors and professors, most of whom always seemed to be both encouraging and passionate about their own work. The issues lay with the lack of communication, the bureaucratic processes and multiple systems for self registering. In addition, for a grad program that caters exclusively to night students and older adults, administrative offices were never open during the night (i.e. Bursar, Degree Audit, Department Office, etc.)!

It wasn’t until the end of my program that I finally met other students as lost as I was with regard to the systems we needed to be checking (I kid you not: CUNY has several online systems – (Blackboard, CUNYFirst, the CUNY Portal, MyHunter, DegreeWorks, and MyHunter365 to name a few) or the timelines we needed to be adhering to. And just like that, I had a network of students, who, like me, could exchange and share information that wasn’t being shared widely throughout our program.

3. REACH OUT TO YOUR LIBRARIANS

I’m not just saying this because I am librarian. I’m saying this because college librarians are often the most informed folks out there. Think about it – their purpose in a college is to help you, the student, get the information you need. So look for them, take a basic research instruction class and ask for help. Most times, students and faculty aren’t even aware of the free resources available to them through their school.

4. READ & WRITE

It sounds simple but I think a lot of students who think about pursuing a Masters don’t really think about the implications of how much reading and writing you’ll be doing, especially in the humanities and social sciences. I’ve found the more you read and write, the better you’ll become in processing, digesting and articulating your thoughts on any given reading. This will eventually hone your research and thesis work.

5. TALK IT OUT

This might go along with point # 2 but use social media and informal gatherings to talk to others about your ideas. Present at conferences! I think back to how lucky I was to submit my draft thesis as a topic for my first Metal conference. Getting accepted to present was one of the best things to ever happen to me. I gained a network of academics who empowered me to keep continuing. In addition, because my topic was on Women and Extreme metal, finding folks in my own Anthropology department to support my interests was hard, so looking outside and talking with other metal academics was paramount. I presented at metal conferences, joined a professional metal academic organization and talked at popular culture conferences.

Another benefit was in 2014 when I attended the Popular Culture Association  Conference and was exposed to the idea of ‘Vigilante Feminism” which I wrote about in my thesis!

Now that it’s over, I’ve already been asked the dreaded – “Now what?” question. To answer that is simple – I’m going to take a much-needed break to focus on my current librarian work.

In my new position as Head of Technical Services there’s much to learn about and I doubt even a full year on the job will enable me to know everything. It takes time, but I’m glad to have some new free time to devote to my career. Even better, my work allows me, or in some cases requires me, to continue pursuing my research interests. That’s because part of being on the tenure track is taking Research Leave to work on projects and ideas I have that can be published and presented on. I’ll have 7 years until I’m eligible for consideration for tenure.

My current interests are manifold. I want to tie in my love of metal music to librarianship and so starting a special collection has always been a back burner idea. Moreover, the physical and artful nature of zines and programming is another interest I’ve had ever since volunteering at my very first Zinefest in 2016. I’m a comic-book and graphic novel lover, so liking zines is probably no surprise.

I’m also interested in gaming and literacy and how that might work in library instruction This pulls me back full circle to a project I presented back in my library school days on MMOG’s and instruction. I was completely influenced by Constance Steinkuehler. You’ll love her work!

And lastly, let’s not forget a new love of mine that came about because of my thesis work – Women’s Studies. When asked if I’d pursue a PHD, this was the only subject that I thought would ever bring me back to school. As you can tell, for now, I’m tired out. My plan is to see how my current tenure track position works out. If it looks like an opportunity presents itself (i.e.- an affordable part time PHD program) then I’ll reconsider, but for now, I’m pretty happy to just be writing and talking at conferences.

2016 Metal in Strange Places Conference

Hi folks, I don’t think I ever summarized the last conference I presented at but it was this past October – The Metal in Strange Places Conference. My husband did a great job of talking about it at his blog so instead of reinventing the wheel, I’ve re-posted his review of it here. Thanks Vish!

Mortal Equality

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Last week, I flew to Ohio with the wife to attend the MISP (Metal in Strange Places) conference at University of Dayton. It was held in the same space as the 2014 MACI (Metal and Cultural Impact) conference and was coordinated by Bryan Bardine, who put together the previous one. Coming from a library slant, wifey presented on using social media as a resource for research and introduced the concept of the netnography to the group, which is essentially ethnographic research conducted using online resources, especially social media.

During her presentation, she used examples from her thesis work on women in New York’s extreme metal scene to illustrate steps of the research process. She also spoke about, and gave examples from, the Metal Music Librarians group on Facebook, which she created and is geared towards academic metal discussion. It includes CFP’s (call for…

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Heavy Music Artwork Magazine

Nice blog post over at Heavy Metal Overload. If you’re a librarian looking to add to your metal music titles – add this new serial to your “must buy” list. It’s a visually appealing magazine that highlights visual artists working under the umbrella of heavy metal music. It’s also way overdue.

HEAVY METAL OVERLOAD

Issue 1 - Dark Nouveau Issue 1 – Dark Nouveau

You can usually rely on metal albums to have stunning, provocative artwork and, even in the age of iTunes and Spotify, this doesn’t seem to be changing. And now, thanks to Alex Milazzo, the world of metal has its first and only art magazine dedicated to its artwork and artists. It’s called Heavy Music Artwork and its first two issues are available to buy at the magazine’s Indiegogo page.

I received my issues last week and they are beautiful things. Each issue is themed. The first issue Dark Nouveau covers artists and performers such as Ghost, John Dyer Baizley, Matt Vickerstaff and Zbigniew M. Bielak that have embraced the Art Nouveau style. And the second issue Folklore covers themes of cultural identity and heritage: featuring relevant artists and acts such as Adam Burke, Enslaved, Costin Chioreanu and Primordial. This second issue also introduces more…

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