Firstly, I want to echo the sentiments of quite a few previous posters about how good it is to see a thread like this, especially one that is constructive and hasn’t devolved into personal insults and gatekeeping [I’ve been on the receiving end of that elsewhere, not pleasant!].
I’m also jumping onto this thread rather late, but here are a few quick thoughts [and apologies if I am repeating any points previously raised]…
a) Specifically for here - I’m mainly on Lines for the Disquiet Junto, I don’t do much modular stuff - I’m mainly a psycho-geographer / performer / artist researcher type who uses Ableton and MaxMSP.
b) Despite the positive moves forward, music is still a very gendered place. Then there’s the men who practice gatekeeping on anyone who’s not masculine into these spaces.
As a woman, I constantly feel like I have to prove my competency in music circles, whereas men are just seen as competent by default. For instance, I remember having a discussion elsewhere about gender bias in the music industry, and a few men were like, “If you can’t handle it, then you should find another career instead of dabbling in music”. So I had to give these a quick run-through of my artist CV [which includes awards, artist residencies, conference talks, journal articles, national and international performances…] in order to make the point to them that:
- I was talking about gender issues as a professional artist, not a “dabbler” so please engage with me on that level;
- Fuck you, patronising assholes [them, not you guys here!].
Of course, none of the men had to justify their CV to me, and when asked to provide their CV, no-one responded.
Also, I’m in my 30s and I remember when I first started being in music, it was seen as normal to be praised on my appearance rather than my playing. “You look so hot”, “You are sexy”, “You play really well for a girl” were commonplace sayings. Also, being pigeon-holed as either just the “vocalist” [which many men used as shorthand for “stage decoration”] or being seen as a strictly acoustic guitarist strumming pretty chords [nope, women can do more than that!] were, again, commonplace. I didn’t like them, but since no-one else said anything to the contrary, I just sucked it up.
Or, I was the freak - not only was I a woman playing lead guitar in a band, but I was an Asian woman! Wow! Those two aspects of my appearance are clearly more important than my musicianship
It took me a long time before I actually met women who would basically go, “fuck you” when getting these comments to realise that these sentiments were unacceptable, and then even longer before I also worked up the courage to say the same.
I know there were lots of times when I felt discouraged and belittled as a musician. I can completely understand why so many just stopped. It’s draining to have to constantly prove yourself, and to fight back against being seen as lesser simply due to appearance.