Being a woman is awesome. Mosh pits are fucking sick. As a woman in the pit, I love seeing other women, femmes, and nonbinary people in the pit, too.
This article is an ode to you all, I stay amazed.
Participating in the pit is a powerful way to enforce your own boundaries. The mosh requires you to own the space your body inhabits – nobody can look out for you like your own self! At the same time, the community and support amidst the chaos is unmatched. The moment one goes down, there’s a flurry of helping hands in their face, reaching out to pull them back up on your feet.
Everyone gets thrown around differently. Supporting each other through it is one of the best parts.
At many shows I’ve been to, I’ve noticed that mosh pits reflect the energy that a band brings. When bands happen to be all-male or male-dominated, it’s more crucial that the band verbally creates an inclusive environment so that things don’t get too violent or dangerous. In my experience, the more brutal violence is usually male-driven. Though, for the thoughtful men out there, I see you — don’t stop!
We all come to the pit for a shared release of energy. When people don’t know the rules (and these do exist, ask any punk or metalhead), things can get scary. When the undercurrents that fuel social interactions go unacknowledged, it can lead to gender bias being acted upon or general disregard for the complexity of each other when we come face to face in the mosh pit.
I took a trip to see Frankie and the Witch Fingers at SLO Brew Rock, supported by Monsterwatch and local favorite Pancho and the Wizards,
I asked a few friends what their experience in the mosh pit is like.
“It definitely depends on who the crowd is or the show,” said Kennedy Barlow (she/her).
She adds, “…sometimes it’s intimidating, even though I don’t want to admit that it is. I wanna be totally fine with it, but it can be somewhat intense.”
I understand this. I’ve experienced it. I’ve held back on entering the pit many times because of reckless fists and elbows being thrown. It’s perfectly human urge to let it all out on the dance floor! Though, it shouldn’t be unnecessarily dangerous or intimidating. As show-goers and bands, we are all responsible for the environment we create.
I had the impromptu opportunity to talk to legendary Texas band Die Spitz at their merch table after they opened for Aussie punks Amyl and the Sniffers at the Vermont Hollywood in LA.
They’ve been labeled “a boy band with tits”, with many articles saying they self-describe this way —but, when I asked them about this, they denied the making the self-description. In my anxious haste I forgot to ask the four members, Kate Halter (bassist), Chloe Andrews, Ellie “the Boogeyman” Livingston, and Ava Schrobilgen — who all rotate on guitar, drums, and vocals — the pronouns they identify with. I’ll refer to the band with they/them/theirs pronouns.
Maile: “Do you feel like your gender identity influences your experience & the way people might treat you in the pit?”
Halter: Oh yeah.
Ava Schrobilgen: Wait, that depends. If I get in there and I start the pit with them, then they’ll be like ‘alright’. But, usually after they see that I’m a chick, they’ll be like ‘ooh’.
I like that even within the band, each member has varied experiences within the mosh pit. They’re in front of pits all the time! The pit during their set was sick because there were so many non-men. I felt super safe and free to romp around the circle with the other girls.
It’s empowering to be together in the mosh pit and share in feminine rage.
Back at the Frankie and the Witch Fingers show, I had some more interviewing to do.
Maile: Do you feel like your gender identity influences your experience & the way people might treat you in the pit?
Jessi Schroeder (she/her): Yes, 100%. I think that sometimes certain dudes take advantage of the fact that you’re a girl and think that you can’t handle it until you prove yourself. I also think that they tend to underestimate you sometimes which can be really annoying.
No one wants to be overlooked or objectified, we all wanna be here. We can exercise our agitation and practice compassion for one another, it’s a practice in holding opposite truths.
There’s a balance to be found: show the appropriate respect & carefulness, but don’t undermine the feminine grit.
I see the mosh pit dynamic as connecting to the greater scheme of systemic issues. Largely, people are aware that most professional arenas have historically been occupied by men. Consider the beginnings of Rolling Stone magazine, when articles on female artists were reduced to descriptions of their outfits or body rather than their music. Essentially, because these spaces have been male dominated in the past, we’re working to reset the balance now.
We can look to the past and the present and find many, many women/femme/nonbinary folx that have done as they pleased despite backlash. And yes, it’s hard to get yourself out there when you don’t see yourself represented, but that’s exactly what we have to do. It’s scary, but it’s rewarding. It’s growth-filled. By showing some consideration for others in the pit, we have the opportunity to change our community and our culture.
I spoke with San Luis Obispo local and show frequenter Kay (she/her) as well.
Kay: I’ve few emerging femme punk bands [that] have made pits exclusively female and nonbinary because of how aggressive these guys were doing their sets. It’s pretty badass if you ask me, no one seemed uncomfortable during those sets.
Some of the artists she was referring to are The Aquadolls, Bleached, Mannequin Pussy, and Nots (my favorite of these few). Check them out!
Kay: Bands of guys have done it too! I just think it’s notable that it’s the toxic masculinity a majority of the time that makes pits unsafe. Not just for girls, but for smaller people and for people with disabilities too.
In the pit, you get to stand up for yourself. It’s a chance to practice for other areas of your life. So stand up strong, brace yourself, and run into that pit ready to fuck shit up. Be kind, but show the appropriate aggression. Continue to shove aside the men that bump you a little too hard. But, be careful — what goes around comes around. Take this as you will and be safe out there.
If you’re searching for more woman-led or woman inclusive music, here’s a few playlists/ albums you can look to:
Maile Benumof writes for .WAV’s Content Team. She wrote the article. Abbott Swanson makes art for .WAV’s Arts Team. She made the graphic.