Femme-liminale: corporeal performativity in death metal

Jasmine Hazel Shadrack

Research output: Contribution to ConferencePaperpeer-review


Given the research undertaken into notions of Dark Leisure (Spracklen, 2013), space becomes an engendered negotiated terrain not only in terms of performing masculine inscribed music such as Death Metal but occupying space within the scene itself. Claiming identity through mapping one's relationship to societal constructs of self and notions of belonging within peripheric and marginalised music forms such as Death Metal means that gender becomes foregrounded. Death Metal in its socio-musical constructs is male; the virtuosity and dexterity required to compose and perform it has its legacy in patriarchal cultural practices such as lead guitar solos and traditional band formations being occupied in the majority by men. There are of course exceptions to the rule but they do not occupy leading positions in the genre. There exists a preconceived notion that girls can’t play guitar, let alone Death Metal because its difficulty levels exceed a traditional three chord structure. Women’s involvement is restricted to either bass under the assumption that it is easier than guitar (White Zombie, Bolt Thrower) or in some instances vocals However this is dealt with as a novelty; Angela Gossow (Ex- Arch Enemy) providing a viable example. Whilst an anti-hegemonic, anti-establishment ideological position is maintained in Death Metal, for women who transgress the boundary between audience member or “girlfriend” of a band member, to performing Death Metal, the liminality of experience means occupying a patriarchal space at the same time as transgressing sexist and sexualised gender tropes. Whilst it can be noted that men within the Death Metal scene do not necessarily knowingly ascribe to societal gender constructs as an overt operational paradigm of behaviour, seeing as no single person can divorce themselves in totality away from contemporary cultural texts and practices, fundamental gender codes underpin interaction on and off stage. For women who perform Death Metal, the choice to either accept or deny constructs of femininity and ‘sexiness’ exists as polemics; to acknowledge the male gaze or to reject it can act as primary signification of manoeuvrability within the scene. This paper seeks to deconstruct notions of gender performativity, subversion and extreme metal in order to present a narrative on liminality, sexualisation and corporeality.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 11 Apr 2014
EventMetal and Marginalisation Conference: Gender, Race, Class and Other Implications for Hard Rock and Metal - The University of York
Duration: 11 Apr 2014 → …


ConferenceMetal and Marginalisation Conference: Gender, Race, Class and Other Implications for Hard Rock and Metal
Period11/04/14 → …
Internet address


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