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B-Sides: Teri Gender Bender, the Feminist-Not-Feminist

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"I consider myself a self-proclaimed feminist but not in the same way that other people would think of a feminist. I'm not a man-hater." Yes! Wait, what? Teri Gender Bender bites off a lot more than most people could chew with her roving gang of Butcherettes—including the drug wars in Mexico, being ostracized in both of her homes on either side of the Mexico-US border, and the stupidity of gender oppression. But she's totally not like all those other feminists, right?

While I'm not trying to label Gender Bender as anything she doesn't identify as, I want to take a look at some of her statements about feminism, because I think she might be happy to find out that we don't hate men, either. Especially if they like fudgsicles.

Between playing for our own editor Kjerstin Johnson and former intern Katie Presley (and intern applicant Ryan Gosling) at Fun Fun Fun Fest this weekend in Austin and recording an album with Omar Rodriguez Lopez of the At The Drive-In (and some other band), Le Butcherettes put together some righteous music. We're talking bag-of-bricks guitars, drums played by this dudette, and Gender Bender cutting through it all with her voice. (You oughtta check out KJ's review of the performance at FFFFest here.)

An interviewer at Clique notes that Gender Bender (known offstage as Teri Suaréz) finds her role in the band focuses on "her womanhood but [is] not taking a feminist movement approach," yet everything she does directly addresses the oppression she faces in Mexico and in the United States. She notes that the trademark blood-soaked apron she dons onstage "represents the housewife, chores, and the oppressed female type," and that "the blood represents the rebellion against it." Can't think of many feminists that would object to this BAMF artistic statement.

So, Teri Gender Bender says that people not only oppress other people because of gender, but that it's the "female type," not some supposed biological trait, being singled out for ridicule. She's keeping good company with some activists that shy away from outright feminism as well

Gender Bender even took her own name from her refusal to "care whether you're a man or a woman because it's stupid to think of or keep labeling people by sexes." She recognizes discrimination and oppression apply to men, too? Pretty spot on, I'd say.

She even draws connections between the drug war, her identity across multiple borders and alarming amounts of rapes in her home of Guadalajara. Just like a non-man-hater over here! Here, too!

But that's not to say we want you to change, Teri Gender Bender! We love your music and your ideas just how they are, and think that you obviously contribute a lot to the cause with your righteous music. I know it's hard to align yourself with feminists when some of them pull racist shit like this. I can understand the horror you might feel when you see feminists saying completely oppressive, horrible things. If that's why you don't identify as a feminist, that's understandable. But please, please don't let it be because of the "man-hating" myth. Don't let the straw feminist get to you! Don't hold back because you think feminists are man-haters! Let your feminist flag fly, Teri!

Update: Post updated to clarify that I do support Teri Gender Bender's music and work, regardless of how she chooses to identify.

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Comments

4 comments have been made. Post a comment.

drummer dude

When I saw Le Butcherettes at FFF Fest this weekend, drums were NOT done by a dude, they were done by a woman and she was AMAZING! I tried to find out who she was on the internet, but alas, I could not find her. I hope she's added to their official line-up.

in non-drummer news, I support women, and people who aren't women, and rockstars, who do feminist things but choose not to identify as feminists!

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Kjerstin Johnson, editor-in-chief
Did someone say "Comments Policy"?

Yes but

I think Mac's point here is that he wishes Teri Gender Bender felt that she could identify as a feminist without coming across as a man-hater—not that he doesn't support those who don't identify. It's one thing to do feminist things yet choose not to call yourself a feminist, but it's another to sort of identify as a feminist but hold back because you think feminism involves hating men (which it obviously doesn't).

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Kelsey Wallace, contributor

Ask me about our Comments Policy!

Exactly

I'm not trying to imply that Teri is identifying 'incorrectly' in any way, it's just a bummer that she feels like she has to qualify her feminism with saying she's not a 'man-hating' feminist. That doesn't mean that I should even be sounding like I'm criticizing her identity, which I sincerely hope I don't. And the fact that she's reacting to the straw feminist bra-burning stereotype means that there are still larger cultural concerns that produce that.

Hmmm...

Teri didn't say she personally feels feminists are man-hating, she said she identifies as one "but not in the same way that OTHER PEOPLE would think of a feminist. I’m not a man-hater." There's a difference. Acknowledging that others tend to identify feminists as man-hating and separating herself from that stereotype is not the same as saying she believes that as well or feels the need to qualify her own feminism.