Things not to say to a female musician
I’ve been in bands for almost sixteen years now. I’ve probably played thousands of shows and as a woman in the music scene I am far from alone in hearing some pretty sexist things. In the year 2016 one might hope we’d be further down the equality road than we actually are.
I’m not one to immediately assume the person was intending to be insulting however this world is full of sexism, hyper-sexualization of female musicians and the people (men and women) who see a female musician should be aware of how their comments or reactions come off.
Here’s a collection of things this female musician is tired of hearing.
1. “It must be hard having a boyfriend when you scream like that on stage.”
This usually gets said after I step off stage by a guy who is either intimidated by me or is testing the waters to see if I am single. Just because I can belt out some metal screams on stage doesn’t mean my significant other has to deal with me screaming at them at home. In fact, I believe this exposes some insecurities by the person asking. Also I’m wondering if their balls got sucked up into their scrotus when I screamed and that’s why they said this. Screaming into a microphone is much like therapy. It’s a release and helps when I have aggravations.
2. “You’d probably get more people to your show if you showed off your body.”
This one is the worst really. I’m not in a band to show off my body. I’m in a band because I love music and I love playing my music for people. This opens up a whole other can of misogynistic worms. My guy band-mates don’t get told to show off their bodies, even though they’re more likely to. I wonder how many times Rob Flynn from Machine Head gets told he should dress skimpier to draw more fans?
3. “You’re just like Otep/In This Moment/Butcher Babies or fill in one of only a dozen other current hard female singers here ____________. “
If there is a female metal singer popular right now I’ve been compared to her, even if I sound nothing like her. After sixteen years it gets old. We’re in bands and we are female. That’s about all we have in common. Its not really an insult but more of a backhanded compliment.
4. “I usually don’t like Female singers but I like you.”
This one is also a backhanded compliment. Being pigeonholed or not respected due to my gender sucks. It happens a lot. My band recently was trying out guitar players and an interested guitarist seriously emailed me back after finding out who the band was with “Oh I’ve heard of your band, but I haven’t seen you yet. I don’t like female vocalists.” Good thing I don’t like misogynist guitar players either. Being a musician that has worked my ass off to get to where I am I’d rather be complimented as being a great singer, not a great female singer.
5. “From a door person when I tell them I’m in the band playing their club that night; “Are you WITH the band?”
No, I said IN THE BAND. I’ve had females do this to me as well as males. There’s a better way to ask if someone is on a guest list rather than questioning my statement. Like “Are you in the band or a guest?” That is way less insulting.
6. “Would you be down for a three way with my girlfriend and I?”
This guy seriously started a conversation with this question as I was walking to the restroom. I appreciate the flirt and that they possibly think I am attractive but just because I’m in a band doesn’t mean I would say yes. Honestly opening a conversation to any female with that question is creepy and insulting.
7. “Will you sign my penis?”
Again, NO and a poor excuse to have your junk touched.
8. “It must be really difficult being the only chick in the band.”
It’s difficult being a female musician in a world where sexism still exists. I often come across a sexist promoter, door guy, sound guy, musician from another band or a random guy that feel Metal or music in general is a boys-club. It’s difficult being in a band. Its hard work, lots of practice, writing, playing shows, dedication and sacrifice regardless of my gender. It’s not difficult being the only female in my band. Mostly because I’m in a band with a group of guys that respect me. They trust that I can handle my shit, but step in when I ask them to.
Again, I’m not alone in feeling the sting of sexism so check yourself when you’re around a female musician whether you’re in the band, at the show, working the club or just in general. We deal with everyday sexism enough as it is.