To be honest, I could not think of a better title for this post. Yesterday, I have found this group named Clitrock at last.fm, and I got very interested in the idea and the word itself. Before I move onto this clitrock thing, let me try to give some rough information about women and feminist activism music in general, which is not necessarily correct as I am a man and was never part of it (why am I writing about this anyway?).

The movement riot grrl starts within punk (anarcho-punk) and DIY subculture (fanzines, self-financed demo tapes, etc) in late ’80s when women started to make music with lyrics about women’s power, individualism (and all the other opposites of what the male culture exposed onto women) as well as reactions to sexual abuse, etc. You can find better and more organized information at Wikipedia entries on riot grrl and girl power.

Barb WireHowever, this radical movement had to be neutralized (or neutered?) and it also had to be commercialized. Barbie is probably the best example to this though it was release in early ’70s. Barbie represents the new post-babyboom generation and asserts them to consume (think of all the toys you need to buy in order to complete your set) to become individuals (i.e. free). This is similar in Turkish pop singer Nil Karaibrahimgil’s song titled “Pirlanta” (Diamond). She says “tek asimi kendim aldim” (~ “I bought my diamond all by myself/with my own money”) where freedom of women is associated with consumerism. You can watch/listen the song here. Also notice the military march-like bits in the music, which is not arbitrary of course but it’s linked to the power and freedom associated with military (military and freedom make an oxymoron when used together, but you get the idea).

Lara CroftWe can extend the list to this: G.I. Jane, Wonder Woman, Lara Croft, Heavy Metal, Witchblade, Spice Girls (I remember feeling this very notion of female independence as an early teenager when they first appared) or the movie Barb Wire featuring an oversexualized Pamela Anderson.

What the title of this post, which I have postponed until now, connotes is beyond this commercialized and neutered representation of women. Clitrock, as you might already notice is a mixture of the words clitoris and rock. I used the word neutered on purpose to suggest the removal of feminine identity epitomized in women’s genitals in popular culture. Feminist theoreticians such as Kristeva, Irigaray, Cixous said a lot on this from the point of view of psychoanalysis, which I am not going to repeat in detail. But to give an idea; according to them (which makes sense and I believe in this as well), the female body has been represented in writings (Plato’s Cave), and all those visual/filmic representations omit the female genitals because female sexuality is repressed and female genitals disturb the very idea of patriarchy (related to Kristeva’s notion of abjection).

Moving back to this clitrock word: The word reasserts the women genitalia without any further negotiation with mainstream ideology. It is related to what these feminist theoreticians wanted to establish: A way of feminine expression from the female body herself – both a sexual and a textual (textual because they were writing in relation to literature/writing) expression – a sextual one in Cixous’ words. Expression from the female body – with vaginal liquids, menstrual blood, the milk – and everything else the symbolic order -which is male- would feel disturbed.

But as with anything else, as I said concerning post-commercialization/neutering of grrl power era, the word clitrock had to be represented from the male perspective again. As I first saw this on a last.fm group as I said, I googled the word to see if it is commonly used. Apart from a few places it was used (which are mostly blog comments or forum posts) all Google search results linked to this last.fm group.

Two entries from urbandictionary.com is “music for lesbians that like to rawk. See Melissa Etheridge” and “A rock band with a female lead singer.” It’s not hard to notice the aggression in the first entry, and the other is simply naive.

Or check out this comment to a Myspace blog post:

The Black Cat has a downstairs bar with pool table where the performers can mix with the patrons; upstairs is an open room with two bars flanking the floor. The stage is (perhaps) three feet off the ground. When I saw a clitrock band there, the sweat from the crazy-ass bassist exhibited a sheen reminiscent of an autumnal fog. The steam rising from her breasts as she bent back under the limelight, corded hands and arms thrumming…

YES.

Play the Black Cat!

Not hard to notice how what the word clitrock connotes is eroticized: “some hot chicks playing on the stage.”


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