2015: A Year’s Worth of Memories (Miranda Fisher)
by Steven Spoerl
Photograph by Ángel Delgado-Reyes
Miranda Fisher was instrumental in developing my taste in music and introducing me to what can be accomplished on a DIY level. She played in one of the first bands I can ever remember seeing, Nobody’s Housewife, and her parents’ garage was where I wound up playing my first show. In the 10+ years that have followed, she’s remained a constant voice of reason as she’s moved across the country, written and edited for several excellent zines, and played in a number of great bands. She’s currently spearheading the Casting Couch zine, playing bass in The Zoltars, and helps shape some of the younger minds in her community. It’s a very distinct privilege to have her both as a returning contributor to the A Year’s Worth of Memories series and as a part of my life. Here, she focuses on Casting Couch, implementing a more overtly feminist approach to her writing while maintaining its balance, and being moved by the efforts of a student who shares some of her interests. Read it below and remember to do what you can to ensure equal platforms.
2015 was the year I really took a long, hard look at what it means to be a feminist in relation to rock music. I don’t mean, of course, that it was the first time I’d considered this: women involved in music are constantly forced to confront the ways that their experiences are much different from those of men. And I have identified as a feminist for as long as I can remember, for reasons I hope don’t need explaining. So it’s not like I had a sudden epiphany that hey, it sucks to be a woman in music.
I get a reminder of that every time somebody reposts a review I’ve written in my zine, Casting Couch, along with a caption saying “this guy’s review…” even though my name is ALL OVER my zine. I get a reminder of that every time a blogger (a female blogger!) uses the needlessly gendered phrase “these boys” to talk about my band, even though I’m right there on the album cover with everybody else. And you can be goddamn sure I get a reminder of that every time I walk into a show and see the guy who sexually assaulted me a few years ago, who many people know sexually assaulted me, but not many people seem to care sexually assaulted me.
So yes, these are things that I have to think about pretty much constantly, and I’ve always been aware of them and tried to be conscious of how I can combat these things. But I guess this was the year that I started to think more about what I can do for other women.
Part 1 of what I’m trying to do is to stand as a visible example for other women. That feels HORRIBLY self-important to type out. I’m not trying to imply that anyone looks up to me at all; that seems absurd. I don’t even feel comfortable saying that other people listen to what I have to say. (That is a strange attitude to have for someone who regularly publishes a zine full of her opinions, but there it is.) Anyway, I eventually decided that visibility in itself is just really important.
Maybe some woman will read my zine and get mad and think “This is a piece of shit! If this lady can do it, then literally anyone can!” That’s a heartening thought, to me, so I’m trying to be a little louder about my womanhood — not interjecting it into the writing that I do where it wouldn’t be appropriate or relevant, but making it clear that the person who writes this zine is a woman, which was something I’d kind of actively tried to avoid before.
Part 2 is that I want to bring attention to more female musicians. To be clear, I don’t want to highlight women in music just because they’re women. I think most bands with women in them are not good. Because I think that most bands in general are not good. But I want to make more of an effort to talk about bands that I think are good that have women in them. Interviewing Frau, the fantastic all-female British hardcore band, was a big deal to me. The way that they talked about making a conscious effort to play music with other women was something I hadn’t really considered before.
That was still echoing in my mind when I interviewed Negative Scanner. The interview itself was a normal, fun interview, but afterwards, I had a more intense, I guess, conversation with Rebecca. I’ve known her for a fairly long time, but not well enough to have this type of conversation. Listening to her ideas about how to make sure that we’re not just promoting more and more white guys and ignoring the people who are constantly ignored was eye-opening in a sense, especially put into the context of the scene in Chicago, a place that was once my home.
Part 3 of my renewed efforts to be more conscious about the way I relate to other women in music is about the actual young women in my life. I work with teenagers. While they know I play music, and once a year or so someone looks up a Zoltars song and plays it for the class during a break, most teenagers just are not interested in rock music. But this year I had a student who’s trying to get a band together, and who works on a community radio show run by teenagers.
Talking to her (even briefly) about music (even though her taste differs wildly from mine) was really exciting for me. But that couldn’t compare to how great it was to play and be interviewed on the radio show she does with other teenagers. My former student kept telling me how excited and how nervous she was to have us on, and I could see her hands shaking as she asked us questions. That was, by far, the coolest thing I did this year. I want to continue to do as much as I can for other women in music on an individual level.
I don’t generally feel comfortable aligning myself with movements of any sort, but as an individual, as a woman, as a musician, as a feminist, and as a writer, these are things I can do, and I’m going to try my best to do them going forward.