She Shreds Magazine
On May 30th, I attended a panel presentation hosted by She Shreds Magazine titled “What Is A Woman: Feminism, Punk, and the In Between”. The panel consisted of moderator Fabi Reyna, founder of She Shreds Magazine; Bree McKenna, bass player for Tacocat and writer for The Stranger Magazine; Kate Nash, solo recording music artist and founder of Girl Gang TV; and Sarah Mirk, online editor for Bitch Media.
On the “About Us” section of the She Shreds’ website, it states:
She Shreds Magazine is dedicated to educating, inspiring, and encouraging future and current musicians by highlighting female guitarists and bassists from all over the world. We strive to raise awareness for under represented female guitarists and to cultivate the presence of women in the music industry. Although She Shreds is inspired by and created for women, it is our hope that our impact reaches far beyond boundaries of gender to encourage radicalism, respect and revolution.
I went to the panel because I was hoping the tone of the discussion would match the last part of their mission statement - a radical and boundary-pushing talk on women in music and feminism. What I got more of was a discussion that skirted around the issues of feminism. Instead, the panel focused more on the first part of their mission statement, by providing personal insights and encouragement to young women wanting to pursue music.
For the 90-minute discussion, answers and questions started out cautious and slow-paced. What worked well at the event was Kate Nash, the loudest and most polished voice on the panel. She had an authority when she spoke that was convincing and more assertive than the others, even when her responses focused more on a Spice Girls’ form of feminism (girl power) rather than a more modern and equality based approach. Sarah Mirk proved knowledgeable, opinionated, and well-rounded in her responses, and in particular she was adept at integrating earlier comments into her own responses. She made it feel like more of a live conversation as opposed to a simple Q&A. Mirk’s comments gave the panel more structure, focus, and control, and at times had the presence of a moderator as opposed to a panelist.
Bree McKenna of Tacocat contributed to the panel in two ways, by both representing more of the indie rock spectrum and by writing two articles spoofing Rolling Stone’s annual “Women Who Rock” list with her own “Men Who Rock” both in 2013 and again in 2015. Both articles were discussed amongst the panelists at length. Beyond that she remained mostly tight-lipped.
In a past interview with Bomb Magazine, Fabi Reyna answered a question on music, “describing music is literally one of the hardest things you can ask me to do. I'd rather just show you.” In my opinion, she proved this to be true: she leads better by example, such as her work with She Shreds Magazine, than with hosting a panel discussion on feminism and music.
Each of these women rock separately, and are creating change in new and interesting ways - creating music, writing about it, and giving it a platform to be shared - but the topic of the panel, “What Is A Woman: Feminism, Punk, and the In Between” just didn’t come through loud and clear in person. It came off more as an outreach program to encourage youth to pursue music. In researching each panelist independently I’ve gained a better understanding on each of them, and a greater understanding of the panel itself. The great thing about an event like this is that it gets people talking, even if they didn’t stay on topic.