First Blood 

Made in Collaboration

with Negative Scanner

Rebecca Valeriano-Flores is a punk rocker and a Philosophy PhD candidate at Loyola University Chicago. She has a strong stage presence as an artist matched by her powerful work in social justice off stage. The song "First Blood" came out in 2018 in her album Nose Picker. It expresses fear and hatred towards her body and the depression imposed by misogynistic standards of female beauty and how those are tied to self-esteem and perceived value. 

 

I found a foothold in her work through her exploration of body horror. My perspective is highly influenced by my background in classical ballet which purports written and clear definitions of a "perfect body" and ties the body in no uncertain terms to career success and a dancer's value. Some of those are necessary and tied to athleticism, but others are misogynistic and racist. Though the ballet world is predominantly female, choreographers and artistic directors are majority male, highlighting a tradition of male dance leaders defining perfection for their female employees. Rebecca experiences an entirely different world, in which punk artists and audiences are majority white male. Throughout her career she has been treated as something of an anomaly.

 

Despite the contrast between our art forms, western concert dance demanding conformity and punk rock purporting rebellion, Rebecca and I found the threads of anti-feminist cultures expressed uniquely in both. Through our collaboration, I began to question my own relationship to my body and it's perceived value. I began to question the line between excellence through discipline and internalized misogyny.