We arrived to the Fillmore in Detroit almost five hours before doors opened for Marina and the Diamonds, waiting in anticipation to witness the spectacle of a true pop goddess. Her music embodies fierce femininity; with songs like “Primadonna Girl” and “Bubblegum Bitch,” it’s pretty hard not to.
As an avid fan of music and concert-going, I’ve never bothered to pay attention to my own appearance at shows or what others could possibly think of my own music preferences. I donned my finest pop-punk kid attire for the summer show: black Vans, khaki shorts, Knuckle Puck shirt and my classic black nose ring — an outfit I could have easily worn to Warped Tour (and probably did). In retrospect, a punk kid singing lyrics like “I’m gonna pop your bubblegum hard” at a Marina show must have been an abnormal sight. But who actually gives a shit?
Music transcends things as trivial as aesthetics, masculinity and femininity. It resounds in the soul. In today’s world, gender expectations for music should be about as dead as the binary gender system. It’s an outdated, limiting ideology to execute on a daily basis.
Unfortunately, this isn’t quite the case. I still shamelessly jam to Pierce The Veil, whose flawless blend of incredible guitar melodies, post-hardcore breakdowns and poetic lyrics are egregiously underappreciated by masses of male adults. To this day, I receive comments like “His voice is too girly” or “They’re for 13-year-old girls” in response to my love of the band (don’t get me wrong, this is definitely a shot at all of my friends from high school). It’s an isolated incident of frankly ridiculous standards for music taste that spread throughout the spectrum of genres.
It’s also disgustingly common to see the belittling of women in the punk scene. Girls aren’t “strong enough” to protect themselves in a punk crowd, or they’re just being “fangirls.” I take it as a damn compliment when someone likens me to a fangirl — if the best you can do is compare my passions to a stereotype, at the very least it’s getting noticed.
I guess the whole point of this discussion is to dismantle the reasons people tend to view music through such a limiting lens. There’s a number of possibilities ranging from fragile masculinity to an overall lack of appreciation for music as something more than background noise. This is at no blame to the person, but I think it would be pretty hard for someone who’s had “Closer” by the Chainsmokers on repeat for the past few months to dig anything from Pierce The Veil. Still, I think it’s important to critique music by how it hits you, not whether you perceive it as masculine or feminine. It’s unnecessary to gender music and unnecessary to cut your scope of interest short in response to socially constructed ideas.
It’s about time we destroy these expectations, not only in music but also in the continual destruction of barriers around human existence: listen to what you want, wear what you want and be exactly who you want. Nothing is stopping you other than your own insecurities.