I play drums in a metal band (I’m the only woman in the band) and on almost every concert men told me “you’re pretty good for a women” … thank you? I never stood up against it because we’re a small band that needs every fan. Now I know that I don’t have to stay quiet about this.
I went into a music shop to buy some new strings. I have been playing guitar for twenty years. I told the guy behind the desk what strings I needed, for an electric guitar. He quizzed me about it, then insisted that I don’t have an electric guitar, I have an acoustic guitar and need acoustic strings (this is without knowing me, seeing my guitar or knowing what make it was, presumably in his mind women only play acoustic!) I kick myself that I still bought a set of strings from him instead of just walking out, but this is the problem, so long as men dominate the market women have to tolerate sexism just to get what they need.
I’m writing to let you know of a recent situation I found myself in I am a recent jazz saxophone alumni of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and a woman. I was asked a few days ago by a fellow saxophonist from my year if I could dep a gig for him this Saturday. I say ‘yes of course’ and he hands my number over, but I hear nothing for a day or so. So I send my friend a message to chase this up only to find out that supposedly the client is ‘expecting an all male band’ but would ‘call me if he’s desperate’. From further investigation it turns out the band leader didn’t want a woman as their band promo shows all men so it might be obvious that they’re using a dep if there is a female in the band. I don’t feel like this reasoning holds up as anyone looking at the promo that closely will notice if there are different people in the gig to the photo by their faces, not just their gender. And this is not a very water-tight excuse to warrant me missing out on work. My friend trying to dep me the gig said this: “The funny thing about this is the fact that I could have asked about 50 guys to dep (the overwhelming majority in London) but asked Rachel cos I thought she could do the best job on this gig. Now it’s probably gonna end up being someone worse. Sad.” I thought I would post about this because unfortunately this is not the only scenario of this kind I’ve found myself in or heard about. I have also been offered opportunities where people have asked specifically for a female musician and felt uncomfortable about accepting because I am not sure of their motives for that. It really baffles me that gender is an issue or used as a motive when picking bands or musicians for events. I have heard this happen to male singers as well, when they aren’t able to get a gig because the clients have asked for a ‘pretty female’. There are too many situations to list! Hope this promotes a healthy discussion on the issue
I was just listening to the wonderful song Timber by and realized Pitbull says the line “She says she won’t, but I bet she will.” My attention had always just glazed over that, because it’s so endemic in so much music, but that line being there is truly awful. This is rape culture.
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