Sunday, 11 May 2014

re: how to survive being the only girl in a band

I racked my brain in the shower after reading Mariel's piece for Noisey. Why does this make me feel so strongly? How do I respond without being reactionary and snarky (aka how do I not title my response "How To Survive Being in a Band of Misogynists"?) How do I fix this? 

This is the best I could do. It's not perfect. It might make you mad. You might love it. All of those feelings are OK, because we are opening up much needed discussion on a topic that needs to be considered and analyzed and talked about passionately.

This article was brought to my attention by a close, female friend in a band. I made a note to self to read it later. It was actually my boyfriend who started reading it aloud in disbelief and called me over to see what was written in that article. We were dumbfounded. When I saw more and more of my friends and peers crying foul, I felt it was necessary to respond.

I like the Candy Hearts. I have their EP on my iPod. I've never met Mariel, but we have a casual online discourse and she's friends with many of my friends. Maybe that's why this article was so shocking. It made me feel a range of emotions...

Disbelief: Who the fuck would send someone from Candy Hearts a nude?
Anger: Not all women are tiny and not all men are large!
Sadness: I thought we had moved past these stereotypes.
Confusion: Why don't you ever have time to change or shower?
Second-hand embarrassment: see: driving being considered 'man stuff'.

What is most baffling is how this article opens. Loveland is a proud feminist. Score! She prides herself on her sense of humor, as do I. She then instructs her female readers to "lighten up" and that the article is "all in good fun" as if she knows the rest of the words she is about to write are potentially offensive and controversial. That's fine. Not everyone has a similar sense of humor. Lord knows I've pissed off people with things I thought were funny.

What I don't think Mariel realized is that her words are potentially damaging and dangerous. If I read this as a young, female fan of Candy Hearts, I'm not sure I would have ever started a band, and THAT is a problem. We need to make our little world as big and inviting for young women as possible.

I'm here to say coexisting with men in music is not all undressing in public, showering in sinks, and taking the literal and figurative backseat. (the thought of Mariel cramming into the smallest space in the van because she's a girl and girls are tiny will be the source of jokes in our house for months)

These are my truths and my experiences, and I hope they paint a better picture of being a woman in music than Mariel's article did for me.

I started my first band with my friend Ryan when I was 15 years old. It was just the two of us. He was my best friend's boyfriend and he played guitar and I played drums. He had been in one of my favorite local punk bands. When he asked if I'd like to drum for him, I was honored.

We taught his girlfriend how to play bass when we decided we needed a bassist. My other best friend Megan grew up taking piano lessons. We added her to our lineup. 

When I got into Bikini Kill after seeing 10 Things I hate About You, my mohawked friend Ray urged me to also check out Bratmobile. They covered the Misfits, which is how he got into them. Ryan and Ray were encouraging and inclusive. Not in a patronizing way, just in a "we are kids and we love music" type of way. It never occurred to me that these traits in my male friends would be considered exceptions to the rule.

Maybe I'm lucky to have had little experience with this bro mentality that Mariel seems to be surrounded by. Maybe I'm just inherently more attracted to people who don't make me feel like an outsider. I want girls to know never to expect anything less of men, boys, males etc. Decent human beings are capable of treating others with respect and equality, regardless of gender. Period.

My advice to girls: Don't base your pride in "being one of the guys." Make friends with other girls. Stick to getting your online advice from Rookie. And if you don't want your bandmates to resent you: load your gear.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

you are unbearable memories when I sleep

edit: this video has been removed due to some legal troubles, but the song is called Luna and is by a band called Fear of Men. You can listen to it here: Fear of Men - Luna

I am obsessed with this video/song. You will be too.