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You Don’t Have To Listen To The Band To Wear The Shirt

PSA to all boys, everywhere: If I’m wearing a Queen shirt, you don’t have permission to interrogate me on my way to class and ask me to name three songs. In case you’re wondering, yes, I do listen to Queen, and I can name way more than three songs. Listening to classic rock artists like Journey, Bon Jovi, and Fleetwood Mac isn’t out of the ordinary for Gen Z women, so why is it such a big deal if I’m wearing a band shirt? Nowadays, it feels like men are constantly challenging women for the sake of feeling good about themselves. Ladies, I’ll let you in on a little secret: You can wear whatever you want, and don’t have to listen to the band to wear the shirt. 

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve received a DM, been stopped on my way to class, or approached while I’m shopping by some dude with something to say about a band tee I’m wearing. Recently, this happened when a guy saw that I was wearing an AC/DC shirt, proceeded to ask my age, and immediately after, told me that AC/DC is “for the guys.” I was not in the mood for sexist comments bright and early on a Monday morning; however, much to my demise, he continued with, “well, you’re allowed to wear the shirt if you can name five AC/DC songs.” My jaw dropped. Alas, I finally had permission from a 5’2”, khaki-wearing business major to wear a “Back in Black” shirt! Thank God. 

I didn’t want to give any ammunition by answering him, but the feminist in me felt like I had to stand up for myself, my oversized band tee, and my fellow band shirt-loving girls out there. I looked him dead in the eye and said, “‘Highway to Hell,’ ‘T.N.T’, ‘Thunderstruck,’ ‘High Voltage,’ and ‘Shoot to Thrill.’ Shall I go on?” As he stood there looking dumbfounded, I wished him a good day and happily strutted in my band tee all the way to class. 

Whenever I hear comments like this, I tend to respond with a snarky answer while sneakily showing my knowledge. Sometimes, I’ll list not only three songs, but key details like the names of the band members and where they’re from, which usually stops frat boys in their tracks. Admittedly, I’m a classic rock junkie who grew up in a family of musicians, so this is kind of my thing. But why should that matter, anyway? Is there some unspoken rule created by Chad, Brad, and Thad stating that young, Gen Z women aren’t allowed to wear band tees, regardless of whether or not they listen to the band? Sounds like a whole lot of sexism, if you ask me. 

Apparently, according to men, women have something to justify if they dare wear a shirt with a cool band on it. We’re forced to “prove” that we know the songs or have some extensive knowledge of the band in question. But why? Are we only allowed to wear tees with the Spice Girls and Ariana Grande on them? Is it totally outlandish to like a different type of artist or genre? Don’t get me wrong — I’m obsessed with Ariana Grande as much as every other Gen Z woman — but loving “7 rings” doesn’t make me unqualified to listen to bands like Guns N’ Roses and The Rolling Stones. 

In my experience, there are usually one of two ways the “band shirt” conversation can go. One: A guy can think it’s attractive that I, a Gen Z woman, listen to classic bands — or, he can go the more popular route of immediately criticizing and judging my prior knowledge of it. Even if a guy thinks your choice to wear a band tee is hot or says you’re “not like other girls” (insert Bella Swan tucking her hair behind ear face here), their comments usually still ooze with sexism. 

During my many infuriating conversations with men — let’s be real, boys — about my band shirts, I’ve noticed how they assume I only know rock music because of my dad. First, you’re telling me that only men can influence women to enjoy classic rock — or any music genre, for that matter? Try again, bro. (Also, sexist). Also, so what if your dad introduced you to bands like Boston and Foreigner?! That’s what my dad did, and not only was it a bonding experience listening to music together, but it also allowed me to realize that classic rock is my favorite genre to sing. In fact, back in 2015, that love allowed me to sing “Wanted: Dead or Alive” by Bon Jovi at Madison Square Garden in front of the late Eagles’ guitarist, Glenn Frey. Brad, have you performed at a New York Knicks halftime show? Didn’t think so.

At the end of the day, music is music. As women, we should feel empowered to enjoy it however we want, whether it’s attending a concert to wearing a band tee — whether we listen to the band every single day or not. If one more guy approaches me and asks me to name three Aerosmith songs, I swear I’m going to start singing “Dream On” right there in front of him. A message for all my classic rock-loving ladies out there: throw on your favorite band tee and blast “Pour Some Sugar On Me” so Chad can hear it all the way down the hallway. You’ll be glad you did.

Meguire Hennes is a Her Campus Editorial Intern and a senior at Montclair State University. She is majoring in Fashion Studies. Meguire is excited to share her knowledge of pop culture, music, today's fashion and beauty trends, self love/mental health, astrology, and musical theatre. When not writing or in class, Meguire can be found living her best Carrie Bradshaw life in NYC, singing 70s/80s classic rock a little too loud in the shower, or watching her favorite rom-coms over and over again. Coming from a small town in Wisconsin, she's excited to see what adventures await her in the big city!
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