The Grrrrls Manifesto

By Seba Dolimont [01.2013]

(inspired from his discussions with many of the female singers featured on this compilation…)

While the world we are living in is often seen as a world made by men, for men, we could obviously say that the alternative music scene (from Hard Rock to Industrial / Electronic Body Music) has been mostly dominated by men until more recently. The "Absolute Grrrls Manifesto" compilation attests though, that things have been changing and that many doors have been starting to open on all fronts. Like Brittany Bindrim (I:SCINTILLA) puts it: "We, female artists have everything to offer the music scene that our fellow male musicians do: a unique expression of our identity, knowledge, and experience through music. Unfortunately because past and present social, societal and economic issues have prevented more women from becoming involved, we are underrepresented in the scene.

Luckily, more women are receiving praise and recognition for their musical talents and the fact that a drummer or sound engineer has lady parts is becoming less of a focus…". Klaryssa Korolenkov (CHAMBER OF ECHOES) also points out that underrepresentation and links it to some kind of preconceived ideas: "Generally most people may think that most women aren't musically inclined, and that women aren't associated with music because it is a very technical and male-dominated subject and industry. In today's scene, not enough exposure or attention is given to multi-talented woman artists when in fact there are many woman producers, composers, engineers, DJ's and multi-instrumentalists, just to name a few of musical subjects women are immersed in. With the advancements and availability in music technology, more and more women are starting to flood the goth/industrial and electronic genres, and are bringing new subject matters to attention through balanced and diversified lyrics, expressive and creative composition and a heightened focus on visuals, makeup artistry, and fashion, which only further complements the music itself".

I fully agree with Kari Berg when she tells me that she does not believe that gender makes you bring anything different to the table in the music industry: "Why should it be any different from what men can do? I don't believe women should be treated with any special care compared to men, although on the contrary I do believe that all people should be treated equally. Of course the question is not so easily addressed since it all has to do with what perspective you choose...". After all Benedikte W. (guest vocalist - ESSENCE OF MIND) perfectly sums it up: "Music is not about gender, it goes deeper than that and speaks to us on a level where we are equals. It is not about the artist on the stage but the people listening and what the music gives them. I think diversity in music is necessary, we all have stories to tell…".

This said, I must personally admit that the female voice has always been an essential source of inspiration to me and doing this new "Absolute Grrrls Manifesto" compilation series was for me a very unique experience, like preparing the music collection I'd want to take with me on a lost island. There is always been that special little thing that has been fascinating me… Maybe Sanja Aveic (ALKEMIC GENERATOR) describes that special thing better than myself: "Either through words expressed or through the sound of their instruments, female artists can touch the finest strings of feelings hidden in each and everyone of us. There must be something in the woman nature that, in a mystic way, permits her to touch untouchable and see invisible, and then transfer this experience through the melody". Valerie Renay (NOBLESSE OBLIGE) also expresses it nicely: "Female artists offer the same as male artists: talent, creativity, power, beauty etc., plus a little something extra to do with female intuition and sensitivity, it is subtle and invisible but has a great impact. This is how female artists can literally put their public under a spell!". Gwenny Cooman (GNY) nicely illustrates it too I find when she says: "Have you ever hurt your knee when you were a kid? And wasn’t it so much better when your mom gave a little kiss on the sore spot than when your dad did so? That’s the difference, hard to tell exactly what it is, there’s just a different touch to it".

Today, we cannot deny that we have so many brilliant female composers, writers, singers, poets, artists, who all contribute so many gifts to the music scene: "their sensibility, their femininity, their sexiness, their power, their wit and their passion", says Antje Dieckmann (guest vocalist - PATENBRIGADE: WOLFF). While Mina Harker adds "emotion and sex appeal!", Patrice Synthea (REGENERATOR/AIBOFORCEN) talks about "emotions and sensuality". Krysta Veronica Button (00TZ 00TZ) reminds us that female artists also bring a different perspective on life to the music scene, this is reflected in their lyrics and music: "We hold places in life that no man can fill. We are mothers, sisters and daughters. We have faced challenges in our life that are unique to women only, and have had a different experience throughout history. It is important as a complete society, to always inspect both sides of the coin so to speak, and female artists bring half of the coin into full view".

Although one can have a preference for female vocals, talent is above all based on the individual, not the gender, and it's absolutely talent that I have gathered across these 101 songs featured on this compilation box. What counts for me is what the artist offers. Music itself still stands front and center, and you will actually also find many male artists in these selected bands. It's that variety that is important! Each artist has something special to offer, something they have created and that is valid and important and worth sharing...I therefore particularly like it when Katrin X. (AWEN) tells me that the specification of 'female' artist seems irrelevant: "To me, an artist is an artist, regardless of their sex. They achieve this status simply by being a "person" with a unique, interesting, or personal view of the world and the ability to translate this view into something physical, tangible, audible. The greatest distinction of female artists in this particular field of art, music, is the distinctive sound of the female voice. Other than this sound, women offer the music scene the same thing as any other human".After all, 50% of the Earth population is females, isn't it? From these individuals, some are artists and from these some are male, others female… Natural diversity that is! Jane Lau (COSMIC ARMCHAIR) adds this: "Half of the world population is female, and female artists give voice to their thoughts, feelings, dreams and fears. Both male and female perspectives need to be equally represented so that they can complement and enrich each other and the music scene as a whole".

I personally hate discriminations of all kinds! It sounds so logical and obvious to me that whatever your sex, color or size can be, we're all equal and as valuable. Unfortunately, it's not how things always work in this world… So I can only be happy when the AAIMON singer tells me that she also generally doesn't believe in reinforcing gender discrepancies in music: "I think all artists offer unique styles of songwriting and performance that are influenced by our individual experiences and what we wish to express. That being said, I admire female musicians who have used their art as a platform to draw attention to gender discrimination and encourage political action". And like Bonnie (KRYSTAL SYSTEM) timely reminds us about it: "In some countries and in some cultures, women are viewed as inferior to men". This is also why March 8 has become a symbolic day for women: the international women's day. I chatted about this topic with the bands, wondering how important such a day can be. The primary goals of such international day is according to me to remind us all that despite all efforts that have been made so far, inequality between male and female still do persist. It is also an opportunity to remember and show respect to the courageous women from our past who have proved that things could change and managed opening doors for the women from our present and future!

But the fight must go on! Now my questioning with such celebrations remains that people should be treated as equals every single day of the year and not only on March 8! Ilima Considine (THE SEXBOTS) follows me: "The very existence of International Women's Day proves that there is still a need for it. Women are not treated as equal entities and this requires ongoing awareness, vigilance, and struggle". Now this commemoration day should not be reduced to another business opportunity day, what it sometimes tends to become when we see for example so many flowers bought and offered to women on that very day of the year. It's much more than buying flowers to heal your consciousness and feel better the rest of the day… I therefore fully agree with Hatria (BEATA BEATRIX) who thinks: "International Women's Day is a day of mourning for me, although in recent years it has become a celebration of consumerism! Basically, the woman always suffers discrimination both socially and at work. International Women's Day is there to remind the world that there are still strong discriminations against women. And we all need to raise public awareness to eliminate them". Tying Tiffany is even more virulent about the topic: "Gender shouldn't be an issue, but unfortunately "The International Women’s Day", has become part of capitalism. Many people for this occasion congratulate me because I'm a woman; should that mean that I'm special just because I was born with female reproductive organs? If this day is meant to celebrate our "femininity” and to be grateful for the roles that we play in our lives, what are "we" women then on the other 364 days? Is this really the point of the International Women’s Day? The goal should be to find a solution to change gender relation, to bring awareness of crucial issues of women struggles: the struggle against religions which deny our prochoice rights to decide over our own body... The economic struggles that we have to face because we earn less money than men... The struggle over violence against women.We have to fight-stop that, and not only on the International Women Day. ..But every single day!". "To me, International Woman’s Day is a time to appreciate how far women have come in society and also to reflect on how much more we still must overcome to achieve equal rights in our current patriarchal social systems. Although women make up more than half the population, we are often times treated as less than second-class citizens all over the world, including here in the United States. I think the holiday is a day for both women and men to think about what they can do to promote equality. As women we do not deserve special treatment, just equal" adds Brittany Bindrim (I:SCINTILLA). Chibi (THE BIRTHDAY MASSACRE) confirms: "It means that we all live with patriarchy, both men and women, and that despite popular beliefs - women are not equal in our world and do face discrimination, objectification and harassment constantly. We need to celebrate the achievements of women to remind the world that we are worth more than being judged on our looks, our life choices, our sexual proclivities, and being the punchline of endless jokes. We need to celebrate good role models for children so they know we can be more than just models, dancers, porn actors, or the supportive partner of someone who is doing something interesting while we are not".

The fight definitely still continues: let it be with politicians and religious organizations, but it also needs to influence cultures and subcultures in places where women are still denied basic human rights. And we should not think that the problem is no longer something we experience in Europe or North America. Absolutely not! Just like Dominique Bova (NEIKKA RPM) sums it up: "International Women's Day was started at the turn of the century to raise awareness, and to confront head on, oppression and inequality... 100 years later, we can point to progress, some victories are radiant, some are mere glimmers, yet the hope and determination is strong and the struggle continues. Such injustices rage across the globe, hurting women, hurting humanity. Let’s move forward". Emélie Nicolaï (PSY'AVIAH) illustrates well how much things still need to be done simply here in Europe… "I think it's very positive to create awareness, because there is still a very long road ahead when it comes to equality between men and women. Only recently and only in some parts of the world do women have rights, but even that does not mean that these societies, just like ours, accept the fact that men and women are the same. For example, in my line of work I get paid less than my male colleagues, even though they do the same job. But the worst part is that we still find this normal, which is far from logical, when you believe in human rights... As the famous American feminist, journalist and social and political activist Gloria Steinem once said; ''The story of women's struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization, but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights''. The singer of THE DREAMSIDE adds: ""Women’s day" to me is actually a sad day..., for it still needed! I mean there is no" men’s day" since everyday is a "men's day". I was raised with the idea that I am first and foremost a person. I did not experience much segregation as a child. However reality checked in when I grew up. Even here (Europe) it's a fact for instance that it's not so long ago that women were not allowed to vote or needed their husbands' official approval to work outside the house. At this day and age women are still paid less for the same work as men. When you learn about women and girls all over the world, sadly enough you will find out that generally many are in very poor situations due to their gender and they are seen and treated as a burden. This is such injustice for females, who are also extra vulnerable because of motherhood is a universal pain and on "Women’s day" the focus is on liberation!". Val Gwyther (THE DEVICES) concludes: "It's the day we can look back upon the achievements of the Suffragettes, the women's vote and empowerment in the workplace, huge steps forward culturally as well as property & power. But it is also a day to look forward and support women around the world who are still unable to do all the things that we take for granted, including education, jobs, economic freedom, voting, driving, sports, walking down the street unaccompanied, holding you own passport, living a life of freedom and possibility. Right down to being in a band! This is what the ultimate goal is. And you only need to look at the best places in the world to live for happiness & wealth to realize that female emancipation benefits the whole world, men & women alike". I believe that we can all agree at the unanimity that it's more of an everyday life cause rather than a one-day celebration that we immediately forget the day after… Marion Küchenmeister (MARI CHROME) is even totally against these "special days" celebrations, let them be for women, children or whatever other group: "I am not a friend of these "special days". Do we really need a day to think of that? Women and children are abused every day, the world is full of wars, every day and night. We have to keep this in our consciousness 365 days a year. We have to be alert in order to have an opinion and to do whatever we can do to solve bad living conditions. Always!".

There has been great progress and we can only be proud of that. Kristy Venrick (THE AZOIC and label manager of Nilaihah Records) positively acknowledges "that in a world that once did not see women as an equal to men, change, respect and equality have occurred. With anything in life, where there is a will, there is a way...". "Actually I ‘d like to see people stand up against discrimination and inhumanity every day", says DATASUSHI's singer. It's an ongoing struggle for due rights that promises to ensure a brightest future and equality for all human beings and let's hope that our daughters get to see a better world and even more progress... Respect to all female heroes whose day-to-day's fight made and make it possible.

Now let's move forward and let us all listen to this impressive collection of female voices while we each continue reflecting on the topic in our little comfortable corner... Let these female voicesshine through their diversity and rule your ears for the next few hours… and how SIMI NAH best puts it: "Power to the girls!".