As feminist scholars, and heavy metal fans, it has been regularly pointed out that the two positions are inconsistent, ontologically and politically, given the linkages between misogyny and metal in public and scholarly discourse. Weinstein used sociology to inform public discussion of heavy metal; but given our own epistemology, we thought it would be interesting to analyse heavy metal through a postfeminist lens. Postfeminism contains a set of contradictions: on the one hand it contains claims that feminism is no longer necessary, the battles have been won; on the other, it argues the need for feminism is ever more urgent. These tensions can be explored with reference to postfeminist notions of ‘empowerment’ and we argue that there are similar contradictions in heavy metal. To make this argument, empirically we have explored what is happening on stage and in audiences at festivals and at the intersection between bands and audiences. We use postfeminist theorizing to inform our discussion, as a mechanism to unpack the ways in which heavy metal can be both empowering (sexy) and problematic for women (sexist). Understanding the tensions between and the duality of these positions also enables us to understand predominantly masculine cultures. We argue that where heavy metal is situated as marginal it may provide a site of empowerment where women are liberated from mainstream hegemonic patriarchal structures. In this sense, heavy metal provides a site where patriarchy may be destabilized. Paradoxically, we argue, this site of empowerment may also be limited by masculine definitions of the extent to which gender norms may be subverted.

Additional Metadata
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1386/mms.1.3.341_1, hdl.handle.net/1765/121010
Journal Metal Music Studies
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Citation
Savigny, H, & Sleight, S. (Sam). (2015). Postfeminism and heavy metal in the United Kingdom: Sexy or sexist?. Metal Music Studies, 1(3), 341–357. doi:10.1386/mms.1.3.341_1