My band, Patti Cake, is making a zine for our show this Thursday at the Silver Dollar in Toronto. Since our lead singer Kritty Uranowski is a counsellor at Girls Rock Camp and I am mostly always thinking about feminism (ALL THE DAMNED TIME), I decided to submit a collection of crowdsourced “things people say to women musicians” for the zine. I tweeted this:
Here’s a sampling of the responses I got. Note the frequency with which the word “girls/girl” appears. Also, music store employees? DO BETTER.
“Girls can’t play bass because they’re not technical.”
“You girls must be singers.” – music store employee to women customers looking at mixers
“Do your parents know you’re out with old guys?”
“Let me explain to you how soundchecks work.” – sound tech, who went on to patronizingly explain Soundchecks 101 to a musician with years of experience
“WOW, a girl drummer!”
“So you’re a solo acoustic act, right?”
“Are you the singer?” “No.” “…Are you the keyboard player?” “No.”
“Girl bassists are hot.”
“……..” – the sound of a woman musician being ignored a million times by music store employees
“They make you carry that?!?!” – onlooker to woman musician lugging gear
“You know about amps?! Whoa, you just blew my mind. I love a chick that knows about gear.”
“Oh, you’re IN the band!”
“There’s a girl’s voice on this recording but no girl in the band.” – reviewer about a band in which there is, in fact, a “girl”
“I almost had a show for you with [female artist], but decided against a woman opening.” – booker
“I bet you’re buying the blue tambourine because blue is your favourite colour.” – music store employee
“This headshot won’t work for your poster… You need a body shot!” – agent
“It’s pretty hard to know what this stuff does unless you really study it.” – male music store employee to a trained audio engineer who is also a woman
“I didn’t know girls liked Iron Maiden.”
“Oh, so you’re in the jazz program. Singer, right?”
“You were actually good; I was surprised!”
“You play this?!” – male music repair shop employee re: a woman musician’s guitar
“You must’ve dated at least half your band.”
“We always thought you were waiting for your boyfriend.” – male music store employee when a woman musician asked why she never got any service from them
“Ha! Like YOU could ever sing Zeppelin.”
“Want a Betty Boop strap to go with that new guitar?”
“I didn’t know girls played saxophone.”
“There are no female music producers because women can’t understand the technicalities involved.” “[Names a female music producer]” “She must have had a guy helping her out.”
“I can no longer book you because you want to tour with your baby.”
“Girls don’t play jazz.” – man, to a woman who auditioned and beat a tonne of guys for a spot in the ensemble
“Just shut up, smile and sing, honey.”
“You should specialize. People don’t like girls who do too much.” – man, to a woman who sings and plays a variety of instruments
“I hope you girls know what you’re doing with those covers, the bass parts are hard! I know because I have the tabs book.”
“Are you shopping for your boyfriend?” – male music store employee
If you groaned at least once while reading these, please consider making a donation or spreading the word about Girls Rock Camp or the Resampled music production workshops for women and trans folks (there’s one at the Tranzac this Sunday).
3 thoughts on “Things people say to women musicians”
I made my living as a drummer for over 30 years, (Was always the ONLY girl musician in the bands) and nobody ever said anything to me. The only funny thing I did notice is that when I wore a dress, the guys would all gather on one side and stare. (LOL!) They never got much of a show nevertheless as I was pretty modest. After women’s “liberation” the world got MUCH more sexist. I played with some of the best musicians, and they all respected me and treated me as just one of the guys. I made sure I was good, and practiced every single day. And I was in quite a few bands.
I fell for the “feminist” stuff, and then one day, I thought” WHY am I insisting on haling around the big PA cabinets when I do NOT have the muscles?
LOL! From that moment on, I carried only what I could.. As a singer, I had to sing Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Michael Jackson, and whatever was on the Top 40 charts. Nobody ever complained.
The ONLY trouble I ever encountered was from gay women, who thought, because I was a drummer, I must be gay. They would get rather “mad” because they simply assumed that I was gay.
I wasn’t. Not even close. Love the guys. Still do.
Gee…after reading the other comments, I’m certainly glad I retired!
“Hey! Can I hire you to push my gear around!”- asshole as I pushed my amp outside
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