From enslavement to obliteration: extreme metal's problem with women

Jasmine Hazel Shadrack, Rhian E Jones (Editor), Eli Davies (Editor)

Research output: Contribution to Book/ReportChapterpeer-review


What happens when you love a music form that doesn’t love you back? (Dawes, L. 2013). As a fan and performer of extreme metal for the last twenty years, I and many other women who love metal have observed a problematic paradigm concerning extreme metal and women –more specifically, the obliterated female body, which exists as artwork, lyrical content and in band names. Even though the musical structure, technical and virtuosic playing and production qualities of these songs are undeniably brilliant, the content and ideological packaging can be deeply sexist. From Cannibal Corpse’ ‘Fucked with a Knife’ (The Bleeding, 1994) to Prostitute Disfigurement’s ‘On Her Guts I Cum’ (Embalmed Madness, 2001), it is important to analyse why violence against women exists as aesthetic and lyrical content when this form of ‘extremity’ is a reality for too many women. There is no denying that extreme metal offers its listeners a lot – solidarity, escape, a sense of empowerment – but there has to come a point when we must examine the content to demonstrate what exactly is being said given the socio-cultural reality of violence against women. When reality reflects art, a response is necessary. I love extreme metal. I have been a fan and performer of this music form for the best part of the last twenty years, and it has not escaped my notice that there are some artists that seem to have a problem with women. Extreme metal includes, but is not limited to, death metal, grindcore and black metal and it is within these categories that I have found some problematic engagements. I could approach this as a musicologist, as a cultural theorist or as a psychoanalyst, but for the sake of presenting the analysis in the most open way possible, I am approaching it first and foremost as a woman who appreciates extreme music as well as composing and performing it. As such, identifying how the category of ‘woman’ is hailed, referenced and represented, and how extreme metal demonstrates and manifests hegemonic responses to women, is important to me.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUnder My Thumb: Songs that Hate Women and the Women who Love Them
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherRepeater Books
Number of pages326
ISBN (Print)9781910924617
Publication statusPublished - 19 Oct 2017

Publication series



  • Sexism
  • music
  • politics
  • gender


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