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