I was on a bus on my way to another city to see one of my favorite bands (Animal Collective.) I sit alone and set my backpack on the seat next to me and listen to music. Many seats are available, but a boy around my age (teenager,) asks to sit next to me, requiring me to remove both my backpack and earbuds in the process. I put my earbuds back in, as it’s a long bus ride and I’ve no desire to carry on a conversation. Perhaps I’m wrong, but I thought it was fairly universal that wearing earbuds and staring out the window on a 6 am bus ride is read as being pretty antisocial. And so, this boy starts to talk to me. Why am I going to this city? Where am I from? What university do I go to? Fairly normal conversation, being that we are both students. We come to the subject of Lord of the Rings (his doing.) Attempting to maintain undeserved politeness, I decide to continue speaking about this subject that interests him, admitting that I have not read the books, because I couldn’t get through the Hobbit. He then proceeds to go on about how “it’s not for everyone” and he’s “always been a bookworm” and how much he loves reading!!!!!!!! Immediately, he took my opinion of his favorite books to mean that I am not well-read, when in reality I am, and simply do not care for Tolkein’s writing style or the fantasy genre as a whole. But of course he does not probe far enough to know that. He just assumes I don’t read!!!! Among some of the classic literature I have read outside of school is Camus, Faulkner, Ibsen, Bulgakov, Proust, Dostoevsky…. I have experienced several similar instances involving knowledge of film and music as well. For example, asking me about increasingly obscure bands or films until I don’t one. (“Have you heard of Death Grips?”) It seems the same men who want “real”, “artsy” girls cannot fathom that we may be more culturally literate than they are, or even equal in standing.
After finishing a gig with my band, my fellow bandmates are immediately approached offstage and surrounded with praise from the audience, and I am completely ignored, talked over, and treated like I am invisible. When I try speaking up, I am spoken over or elbowed aside. The only time I was approached after a gig was when two drunk creepy men tried to offer me a thong they’d found on the floor of a toilet. Other times, upon trying to enter various venues we were playing at, I’ve been stopped by door staff who don’t believe I’m a band member, or who ask if I’m ‘a girlfriend of the band’. I’ve had sound guys deliberately using overcomplicated terminology to try and confuse me (or imply I’m stupid), then when someone comes over to help me, they explain it dead simple to him. I’ve had one of my own band members ask me to wear something more ‘form fitting’ so we get more guys coming to gigs. I’ve been told that in the future, people might pay more attention to us because having a girl in the band is ‘interesting’. (It’s not.) Since I was in this band I’ve just been bombarded with constant sexism. People have told me it’s to be expected in such a male dominated scene. I try to dress androgynously, because actually looking like a woman has no place in our music scene. I write 80% of the material, organised our image, mix and master our tracks, create our artwork and designed our logo, and yet people never, ever assume I’ve contributed to anything, and it amazes them when they see I have.
A couple of years ago at college, I took a course in music technology to try and learn a little more about the career path I wanted to take. Here’s a few things that happened while I was there. By the way, this is all completely true, as unbelievable as it is. It still amazes me. I was the only female on a course of 32 guys. One of the only friends I made on my course was a guy called Jeff, who took a strong shine to me from the start, and looked after me. I fell head over heels for him and got with him, only to overhear that he’d won a bet by sleeping with me. I then overheard him go into crude detail of our night to his friends. We were put into groups of five or six, told to form a band together, and assign each person with a role (drummer, guitarist, producer, etc) so we could compose a song together, then write an essay on our roles. At the time, I only played keys, and my fellow group members wanted to make a heavy metal band. I was told by my group members that there was ‘no need for me’, as a keys player. They assigned me a role as a tea lady. Yes, a tea lady. I had to write an entire essay about making cups of tea for the band, and tidying up wires. The tutor took zero responsibility for the blatant shit I was experiencing. We had to do work experience at a local venue, micing up and setting equipment up, etc. I was repeatedly told by the staff working there that it’s ‘not a woman’s job’ (they actually said this to my face), and that it was ‘pointless me being here’ as everything was too heavy for me. At one point, while I was on my hands and knees setting a bass mic up, a band member approached me and asked if I was the ‘fluffer’, I ended up quitting the two year course after the first year. People treated it like I had wasted this amazing opportunity and heavily criticised me for it, even after I told them about the constant bullying and sexist abuse I was experiencing. To this day, I still hear about how I ‘dropped out of college, what a shame’ etc, even though it was five years ago. Oh and as for Jeff, well on my last day I entered the practice area on a break and emptied his entire bottle of lucozade all over his bag of coursework. I also took his ipod. Oh well
On BBC Breakfast a scheme for teaching times tables where kids get to become ‘Rockstars’ ‘Headliners’ and ‘Rock Legends’ today…all the pics are of male rockstars and guess what the girls can become fans!!! I work in music education and have often pulled up others advertising songwriting, rock schools and DJing workshops with pics of boys and men. We wonder why there are fewer women in music……….
Had been hoping for a decent 2017. But no. Less than 20 minutes into the year and there’s ALREADY objectification of women in a public family friendly situation. New Years: After fireworks on the BBC Robbie Williams performed in a concert hall, lots of fans. He starts with Angels. Then moves onto New York New York – with a ton of almost naked women around him dressed as playboy bunnies/porn stars??? Enough. It’s fine if they want to, but it shouldn’t be so widely broadcast as “innocent” music concert. And who really wants to work at New Years? grow up world. :((((
Guy DMed me on Twitter after I appeared on a podcast. Said I ‘gave him a few chuckles’ and he ‘enjoyed my music’…then went on to say it helped that I was ‘half pretty’. Not sure what to make of that to be honest mate. All else aside either compliment me or don’t…Wanker
Something I read mentioned a classical music piece, so I look up videos, of course. One of the first choices is a female pianist. Amazing stunning beautiful playing. Since I have no classical music knowledge I look at the comments. To see if it’s ‘technically’ as impressive as it sounds. Just curious. Apparently it was. It was commented on many times **after** how beautiful, sexy, charming, etc. she was. There are a lot of female pianist listed as as other ‘related’ choices. Yay! Spent some time listening to some wonderful music. And the comments are quite clear these women play beautifully And they’re sexy, sweet, charming, and look that little smile! too. Okay, I think to myself maybe I’m just being too critical. This is a visual medium. I’m looking at live performances. Maybe it’s the same for male pianists. So, fantastic, more time listening to lovely music. Sadly, though, while I listen I go through pages and pages of comments. Most discuss the performance or the piece of music played. A couple of comments about sweat dripping down one pianist’s nose. Of course, this is a compliment; a sign of the work required. *One* person pointed out a specific time where they thought someone’s hair looked odd. Once one person commented on how the pianist was ‘over-acting’. None of the male pianists had comments on how handsome or masculine looking they were. Which may be sad for them. Of course, they also don’t have to worry that if they’re not beautiful no one will care if they play beautifully.
After playing live on a radio show, in which I accompanied a middle aged male guitar player for a 30 minute segment, the radio host complimented us as we were leaving the studio. To my male musical partner, he offered praise for his musicianship and his ability to always assemble a great band and bring spectacular musicians onto the show. To me, he offered: “You really are a lovely girl, what a beautiful smile.”
When I was ten I decided that I wanted to learn to play the French horn. I had already been playing the flute for some time and was very advanced for my age so I figured that learning what is regarded to be one of the most difficult (and beautiful) orchestral instruments would be a fun challenge. The music staff were delighted. I attended an all girls school and out of two hundred musicians there was only one other brass player. The reaction I got from the other staff was one of incredulity. “Isn’t that a bit masculine?” or “You haven’t got the puff.” Physically the horn is challenging. It requires upper body strength; well controlled and powerful breathing; and dextrous lips to control the pitch. The latter feature often has men remarking that I must be “a great kisser” despite the fact that I would probably mash their lips to a bloody pulp with all the strength I have build up there. A few years down the line and I am an advanced musician who attends many orchestras of high standards all over the country. Yet I still get asked if I am “in the right place” when I sit in the horn section with my instrument out ready to play. Apparently I’m “not curvy enough” to play the horn. When it comes to parts being allocated I find myself being overlooked in favour of less advanced (and larger) boys. I rarely comment since I just get called “insolent” for trying to get my hard work recognised. On a related note, I sing in several choirs. I have a very low voice, so low that describing me as a low Tenor rather than a Contralto would be more accurate. I can sing high notes but they lack the strength which would be found in a Contralto and can be a bit screechy. Very few choirs allow me to audition as a Tenor because they do not consider it possible or natural for a girl to be able to sing over an octave below middle C. They also say that I would look out of place with the boys in the (compulsory) female uniform of a white dress as opposed to white tops and black bottoms. I would be far more comfortable in the latter.
At a major music festival there was a tent where it was clear I wasn’t allowed to enter because of my gender. I didn’t even try because they actively specified it wasn’t for us. As well as talks about things like power tools, they actually thought it’d be a good idea to discuss ‘diversity’ when they had excluded 50% of the attendees!