Hollywood Theater’s Everything Is Festival was in full swing by Saturday afternoon, when four panelists and a respectable crowd gathered to talk about punk and feminism. The event was guided and hosted by She Shreds founder and editor Fabi Reyna, joined by Tacocat bassist Bree Mckenna, Girl Gang TV founder and musician Kate Nash, and Bitch Media editor Sarah Mirk. The panel started off with a broad question: “What is a woman?” with each of the panelists offering insight into their experiences in the music industry as women and riffing on pertinent topics in the intersection of sexual politics and music.
Each panelist contributed their own style and perception to the questions posed. Fabi Reyna was a thoughtful and careful moderator, taking the time to word each question in a way that would garner open and personal experiences and stories. Some of the most personal information came from Kate Nash, who more than once referenced experiences gathered while being a touring musician with a fair amount of critical success. Sarah Mirk added an air of academic and cultural knowledge, her answers always containing apt references and poignant insight. It was also interesting to note the points that she kept coming back to, namely the differences in perception between men and women’s production/work. Bree Mckenna was a bit less wordy but contributed important insights as well.
Indeed, one of the best sections of the panel was an exploration of Mckenna’s hilarious “Men Who Rock” feature for The Stranger. As a music journalist myself, I was extremely interested in the panel discussion on topics such as when it is tacky or offensive to refer to a musician’s gender specifically (not “female drummer,” just drummer, thanks) and when it is acceptable (Sarah Mirk provided an excellent example of context here). Eventually the discussion opened up to questions on the floor, with some questions about the line between being objectified as a sex object and harnessing ones sexuality, the role of men in music scenes which consider themselves feminist, and the navigation between difference and equality politics. Leaving the panel, I felt like I had learned some things and been witness to a worthwhile conversation. Honestly, the experience was enough to make me wish that She Shreds held monthly or quarterly panels of this nature. Portland and the Northwest certain have enough women musicians, journalists, and contributors to sustain the practice.