What Are You Doing Here? A Black Woman’s Life and Liberation in Heavy Metal by Laina Dawes

LainaDawesI personally can’t know what it’s like to be a black woman going to metal shows in North America, because I’m not one and I don’t live there. However, I can get a good idea of the experiences of this group of women from Laina Dawes who writes with an academic air about her own experiences and those of other women who filled in her questionnaires or spoke to her. Dawes makes the point that in order to have a reasoned argument you need to do so calmly and in the right tone. Because of this there is nothing preachy or argumentative in this book, but there is a lot to think about and challenges to certain viewpoints. There is some interesting and non-sensationalist discussion of Phil Anselmo. If you like metal and Sociology/Women’s Studies then this book is for you. I had lots of moments of a feeling of metal community when she was writing about bands I love. It’s the sort of book that will stay with me long after I’ve closed its cover. It’s already made me think about my own (fictional heavy metal) writing and about the characters I include and omit.

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