This post is a guest contribution by Maria Griffiths.
Recently, I was able to make it to a G.L.O.S.S. show down in the Five College area, and it gave me some thoughts about G.L.O.S.S. and cis punks and other related shit. But before I get to any of the stuff I really want to say first, let me gush a tiny bit about G.L.O.S.S.
G.L.O.S.S. is wicked fucking rad and if you haven’t checked them out you totally should. Also the members of G.L.O.S.S. are really cool and all in some other sick bands too.
OK, gushing over.
I mostly want to talk about how folks who aren’t trans women (and especially dudes) interact with G.L.O.S.S.
Some of this is, like, really straightforward shit. As a simple example: for me, it was really jarring to have a bunch of folks that weren’t trans women singing lines like “they told us we weren’t girls,” which are drawing straight from an experience with transmisogyny with which they have never dealt.
I think that maybe this hits on a deeper issue with folks listening to these songs and knowing the words without really reflecting on how the lyrics relate to the lived experiences of trans women. Or how they as listeners can perpetuate some of the fucked up shit that the songs are about. As someone who has walked around Northampton and experienced street harassment, I can’t think of another way to explain why some of the same folks who would give me shit on the street would sing their hearts out to “Targets of Men”:
ON THE STREET/YOU FOLLOW ME AROUND/CATCALL FROM BEHIND SEE MY FACE AND CUT ME DOWN/”TRANNY”/”SHEMALE”/”FAGGOT”/”WHORE”
Another place this lack of self-reflection crops up is when cis people feel so fucking comfortable mentioning G.L.O.S.S. and Bikini Kill in the same breath, as examples of ‘feminist punk bands.’ I’ve seen this a lot, and in particular I have noticed the Facebook meme page “Berned in D.C.” do this on multiple occasions. Like, I’m not gonna say you are a bad person or a transmisogynist or anything if you like Bikini Kill (hell, at one point in time I liked them a lot). But in 2015, with the wide array of insightful shit trans women have said about riot grrrl/Bikini Kill/Kathleen Hanna and transmisogyny available right at your fucking fingertips via the Internet, there isn’t really an excuse for using them as your example of a ‘feminist punk band.’ Unless you don’t give a shit about trans women.
Focusing specifically on men in the crowd: they acted as if by showing up they had ‘done their part’ to be ‘feminist allies’ in a misogynist scene, but then went ahead and did a lot of the same shit that can make punk shows bad environments. For example, big dudes didn’t think about how maybe they shouldn’t be right up front, blocking everyone else’s view (I mean, I’m a pretty tall girl and I had trouble finding a place where I could see more than just dudes’ backs). And just because the band you are moshing to is wicked cool and shit doesn’t mean that those actions are magically no longer tied up in keeping shows inaccessible. To be honest, I don’t really want to have a discussion about whether or not it’s possible to mosh at a show in a way that isn’t fucked up, but I just wanna point out that IF it is, then it definitely isn’t going to look exactly like the same bullshit macho moshing we’ve seen a billion times before.
I guess the point of this is really simple, but it’s probably worth repeating anyway. Enjoying/listening to/consuming a cool band with trans ladies and other cool femmes in it isn’t some magic ticket to being a ‘feminist’ or ‘trans ally’ or whatever the fuck you are hoping to symbolize with your fan status. Which isn’t to say it is bad to like G.L.O.S.S. as a cis person or a dude or whatever. Just that it isn’t some radical act and should probably be paired with a lot of reflection on transmisogyny and other systems of oppression, and how you might benefit from them and perpetuate them—and what you can do to be better to the trans women around you.
Art by Jun Joestar.