What Are You Doing Here?: A Black Woman's Life and Liberation in Heavy Metal

What Are You Doing Here?: A Black Woman's Life and Liberation in Heavy Metal

by Laina Dawes
     
 

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Laina Dawes is not always the only black woman at metal shows, and she's not always the only headbanger among her black female friends. In her first book, the Canadian critic and music fan questions herself, her headbanging heroes, and dozens of black punk, metal, and hard rock fans to answer the knee-jerk question she's heard a hundred times in the small clubs

Overview


Laina Dawes is not always the only black woman at metal shows, and she's not always the only headbanger among her black female friends. In her first book, the Canadian critic and music fan questions herself, her headbanging heroes, and dozens of black punk, metal, and hard rock fans to answer the knee-jerk question she's heard a hundred times in the small clubs where her favorite bands play: "What are you doing here?"

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Growing up in Canada in the1980s, Dawes felt exponentially ostracized by her peers. Not only was she one of the few black students in her school, she was also into heavy metal music that was often wildly misunderstood by outsiders. In an effort to understand the exclusion and discrimination she felt (and that, she says, female punk and metal fans continue to experience), Dawes does an admirable job of studying the complex knot of gender, race, and rock. Drawing on discussions with musicians, sociologists, and fellow fans, Dawes identifies the misconceptions, misogyny, stigmatization, and outright racism that come into play when a woman of color "throws the horns" at a metal show. A black woman's appearance in a rock band, Dawes says, is perceived as an invasion of a man's space. And among blacks, metal was derided as "white" music. The good news, according to Dawes, is that attitudes are changing, as are the opportunities for aspiring black metal artists, not to mention the online communities that have made it easier for fans to communicate and commiserate. This is a thoughtful and inspiring study on a topic few outside the scene might have considered. 20 b&w photos.
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From the Publisher

"In her debut book, music journalist and hardcore metal devotee Laina Dawes uncovers black women’s voices and stories of participation in punk and metal."—Vice

"How exciting is this? The book tackles the good, the bad and the ugly sides of being a black woman in the metal and punk scenes."—Afropunk.com

"A fantastic book"—AOL Noisecreep

"Thoughtful and inspiring"—Publishers Weekly

"As journalist Laina Dawes has investigated in her 2012 book What Are You Doing Here?, women of colour have been especially marginalised by heavy metal's hyper-masculine, white-dude culture."—The Guardian

"Dawes uses her sociological smarts to remind us that metal isn't just disenfranchised white dudes' music... it's a way for all of us on the outside to feel the power."—Revolver [4/5 stars]

"Excellent"—About.com

"Essential reading for those who have never felt the blow of intolerance, and for those who have felt it far too often...its themes are universal"—PopMatters

"As the title suggests, Dawes has a compellingly idiosyncratic tale to tell about cultural identity and personal passion…[her] understandable difficulty is precisely what makes her struggle interesting."—The Atlantic

"Dawes has done the metal scene a great service...an important addition to every metal fan’s bookshelf"—MSN.com

"Laina Dawes’ What Are You Doing Here? is a strikingly more powerful, penetrating, and passionate look at metal than the one written by the guy [Tony Iommi] who arguably invented the genre...brave, engaging, and unique"—The Onion A/V Club

"While the book is extensively researched and brings in a broad array of opinions from musicians, fans and academics, the most resonant moments can be found within Dawes' own history."—Spinner

"Insightful and provocative."—NOW Toronto

"The book is half love letter to both black women who have paved the way and continue to pave the way, as well as the music that brought them there, and half unflinching real talk of the all unfortunate actualities of the casual to the not-so-casual racism that is embedded with the scene."—Persephone Magazine

"This book needs to be mandatory reading for every new metal head."—Metal Army America

"A wonderfully intimate memoir...critical insight abounds"—Philadelphia City Paper

“The women presented in What Are You Doing Here? are courageous, honest and without pretense—just like the best metal that ultimately unites them.”—Albert Mudrian, editor-in-chief, Decibel

"An intriguing reminder of how much we all want, need and deserve to belong to something that stimulates and validates us."—Terrorizer

"Dawes tells an important story well and gives voice to the many black girls and women who are brave enough to let themselves be different."—LEO Weekly

"She presents metal as a source of joy, an outlet for negative emotions, a physical release and catharsis. It is also an opportunity to embrace something that Dawes, and the women she interviews, love intensely, and therefore is also the narrative of the triumph of truth and happiness over the pressure of public perception."—Toronto Standard

"Dawes brings a lot of experience, clear and concise writing and good journalism, and while she doesn’t have any long-term solutions for bridging these deep and unfortunate valleys—through no fault of her own—she has still introduced the first step, which is opening our eyes and starting a dialogue."—SLUG

"Jimi Hendrix is a god of rock guitarists, Living Color’s Vernon Reid is considered the elder statesman of guitarship, and Laina Dawes is the cool-ass aunt of heavy metal."—Racialicious

The Onion A/V Club - Book Editor
Laina Dawes’ What Are You Doing Here? is a strikingly more powerful, penetrating, and passionate look at metal than the one written by the guy [Tony Iommi] who arguably invented the genre…brave, engaging, and unique.
Toronto Standard - Book Reviewer
She presents metal as a source of joy, an outlet for negative emotions, a physical release and catharsis. It is also an opportunity to embrace something that Dawes, and the women she interviews, love intensely, and therefore is also the narrative of the triumph of truth and happiness over the pressure of public perception.
Afropunk.com - A Journalist
How exciting is this? The book tackles the good, the bad and the ugly sides of being a black woman in the metal and punk scenes.
Decibel - Albert Mudrian
The women presented in What Are You Doing Here? are courageous, honest and without pretense—just like the best metal that ultimately unites them.
Publishers Weekly - Staff Reviewer
This is a thoughtful and inspiring study on a topic few outside the scene might have considered.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781935950059
Publisher:
Bazillion Points
Publication date:
01/08/2013
Edition description:
Original
Pages:
224
Sales rank:
557,185
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.80(d)

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
Courageous, honest, and without pretense”—Albert Mudrian, Decibel

"Laina Dawes’ What Are You Doing Here? is a strikingly more powerful, penetrating, and passionate look at metal than the one written by the guy [Tony Iommi] who arguably invented the genre...brave, engaging, and unique"—The Onion A/V Club

"What Are You Doing Here? is essential reading for those who have never felt the blow of intolerance, and for those who have felt it far too often."—PopMatters

“As the title suggests, Dawes has a compellingly idiosyncratic tale to tell about cultural identity and personal passion…[her] understandable difficulty is precisely what makes her struggle interesting.”—The Atlantic

"Dawes has done the metal scene a great service, showing everyone that there’s still a lot of work to do towards making metal truly welcoming to anyone who’s interested in the music. We’re not quite there yet, but What Are You Doing Here? is an excellent start, an important addition to every metal fan’s bookshelf."—MSN.com

“Thoughtful and inspiring”—Publishers Weekly

"Dawes uses her sociological smarts to remind us that metal isn't just disenfranchised white dudes' music—it's a way for all of us on the outside to feel the power."—Revolver (4/5 stars)

"Though focused on metal, these insights are relevant to anyone interested in how racism and sexism can impact any micro-community."—Philadelphia City Paper

"Has the force of a powerful, eloquent typhoon... What Are You Doing Here? is fearless."—Toronto Standard

“The good, the bad, and the ugly sides of being a black woman in the metal and punk scenes.”—Afro-Punk

"Excellent"—About.com

"In her debut book, music journalist and hardcore metal devotee Laina Dawes uncovers black women’s voices and stories of participation in punk and metal."—Vice

"A fantastic book."—AOL Noisecreep

Meet the Author


Laina Dawes is a music and cultural critic and opinion writer from Toronto, Canada. She is an active public speaker and contributor to CBC Radio, current affairs columnist for Afrotoronto.com, and contributing Editor (for race, ethnicity and culture) for Blogher.org.

Skin formed Skunk Anansie in 1994, releasing the albums Paranoid and Sunburnt, Stoosh, Post Orgasmic Chill, Wonderlustre, and Black Traffic. She has provided vocals for albums by Sevendust, Tony Iommi, and a number of soundtracks. Skin is also a DJ, and she currently resides in London.

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