Trigger warnings: subject matter includes church, predatory dudes
Strig and I share an alarming number of things in common, only beginning with the fact that we favor Adrienne Rich's politics of location, and both locate ourselves as pro-liberation tall white city-based feminist veganarchist queers in our late 20s, riding bikes and suffering from acute dude fatigue. Unlike my magnificent colleague here at Industrial Anti-Oppression, my record as a rivetkid is less pure. Strig's been jamming out to Skuppy since age 13, but though I've long tended toward a darker aesthetic, my spooky teenage ass was stuck in church and I listened to what the stupid church boys told me was cool, which regrettably consisted of WalMart metal I had to pretend I liked. At 17, a different dumb church boy gave me different required listening for coolness, which mercifully introduced me to goth/industrial. The genre/s resonated with me and I felt a stronger connection to music than I had thought possible. So I bloomed late, but made it out of church into the city before my teens ran out. Further detracting from my purity is the fact that I have a tendency to be gothier than rivetier, also that I peaced from my local scene some time in 2006 to dedicate myself more wholly to anarchy (talk about subculture shock-- so many punks!) and have only recently started listening to industrial again, largely inspired by Strig. Plus I don't know nearly as much about the entirety of industria as I do about my top 2 gothy bands, so all I got are my experiences. But my experiences are valid as fuck, so I'm gonna keep typing.
Strig articulated one of the things I love so well about the scene, viz. the range of gender exploration and expression, particularly for men, who are permitted and even encouraged to access and create forms of feminine androgyny (a concept so rare in the U.S. post-WWII!). My caliginous heart swells with admiration for the vivid and demonstrative, idiosyncratic and vibrant dancing that scene kids offer (hilariously, I've since figured out how to adapt my body's ambrosial vocabulary of movement to the likes of Rihanna and Robyn at queer nights). Furthermore, I will forever value and cherish how goth/industrial kids (at least in the 4+ eastern U.S. cities I've gothed in, if not everywhere) negotiate and navigate personal space at shows and on dance floors. I didn't have occasion to realize how truly special it is until my 2nd unit crew took me to some queer indie show in Strig's city two years ago; the dumb indie kids in attendance just kept running their bodies and properties and drinks into me and everyone else, oblivious to the idea that maybe I didn't want their feathered hair on my face, their arms in my ribs, their purses in my ass, or their drinks down my sleeve. My local scene was a great place for me for four full years, but since absenting myself from the scene, the scales have fallen from my eyes and I recognize the full ickiness of some of my experiences. That I maintain any enduring positive associations with industrial music may be wholly credited to Strig.
I had suffered much at the hands and appendages of church dudes before I hit the scene in my own right. For years I did like a cybergoth, viz. came alone, danced alone, left alone. Certain nights let me in at age 18, certain nights would let me in at age 19, but I was still gothing in a big way when my 21st birthday granted me full access to my local scene and I actually started (get this) talking to people at the clubs. By this point, blooming late again, I was finally out to myself and my metropolis as a lady-lovin-lady. In my earliest experiment with social interaction during gothy-times, one young man in particular was very kind and introduced me to everyone else. Exquisitely coiffed, clad, and groomed, he worked a pink-collar job and exhibited all the social and linguistic cues that our culture associates with gay men, including ribald flirtations with men in my presence. One night he offered to buy me a drink. Months after my 21st birthday, I had never imbibed and told him as much. He chose a Long Island Iced Tea for the occasion. Actually 4 of them. Once I was sloshed beyond any shadow of a clout, finally unable to dance or do anything involving more motor skills than staring heavy-lidded at the lights with a dumb grin, he started making out with my face. I was shocked, given that I was gay and that he had given me no reason to believe that he was not. He told me he loved pussy. I giggled and said I did too and then I collapsed. Blessed providence, menstruation consecrated my box to myself so that I managed to go to sleep that night with my virtue in tact.
There were some fellas in this crew whom I recall as wholly decent human beings, and I met and hooked up with a number of lovely women I never saw again. It didn't ring any warning bells how approval of my gayness among the regulars was largely contingent on its hotness value to the dudes. My affection for women was like a party trick, and it is no coincidence that a substantial percentage of the gothy women I had sexytimes with were intentionally introduced to me by mutual dude acquaintances who wanted to see us make out and then wank over their vision of what went on when these ladies went home with me.
Simply put, and this will be the recurring theme of my contributions to this blog, my complaint is that while this subculture exists, its values don't seem to deviate from the values of our parent culture, which is oppressive and misogynist and rapey as fuck. A bro dude in eyeliner and a skirt is still a bro dude. He may be stomping imaginatively to Sister Machine Gun instead of stalely humping someone to Dave Guetta with a Miller Lite in the other hand, but if he subscribes to all the values that preserve the current inequitable distribution of social and economic power, I'm unimpressed.
A number of components factored in my decision to abandon the scene, nearly all hinging on my developing political awareness which ultimately led me to shift my energies to the more principled local anarchist community/scene, even if they were mostly punks. Once we figured out we can all get down to vapid pop music, though, shit's been real.