A lot of times, people putting together bands are looking for a female or male player specifically. This is problematic, but it doesn't make me terribly antsy on a day-to-day, looking-for-work sort of basis. Frankly, if a band is looking for a male guitar player, I'm not going to get that gig any time soon. More troubling to me is the barrage of questions I endure when I am considered for a gig that doesn't have a gender ‘requirement,' a barrage inevitably beginning with, "Can you really play?"
First of all, I can play. I'm not a virtuoso but I do my job well. If you are asking me to play music that is beyond the scope of my ability, I will not take the gig and recommend a friend who can play the music. I don't put myself into situations where I won't perform well. Having to explain that to someone without sounding cocky is complex. I usually take the route of identifying mutual friends and offering recommendations from them, or if we're emailing I'll send some Youtube links.
The problem is this: men are not asked if they can "really" play. Men presenting an equally professional appearance as I present (website, references, etc.) are not required to take that extra step to prove themselves. I am actively discriminated against in my work on a near-daily basis, and it's not just because I'm masculine-of-center, although that probably doesn't help. Rather it's because I am a woman.
I could talk all day about my experiences with audio engineers not trusting my knowledge of equipment, or band managers asking me to "consider dresses" instead of my preferred stage wear, but that's not what I want to get at. My fellow musicians perpetuate sexism among each other and it does no one any favors. Gender-diverse business units perform better than gender-exclusive ones, and the music business is — spoiler alert — a business. Check this out for background. Or this.
It's tiring to feel like I have to knock every gig out of the park in hopes the guy who hired me never says something about female instrumentalists again. I'd much rather knock the gig out of the park solely because I want to do my job well. We can get to that ideal by educating ourselves. Learn about the history of female instrumentalists; Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Carol Kaye are great places to start. We have to be aware of the way we talk about female players, because "good for a chick" is not okay. Recognize that the women in our bands have to do more to be taken seriously, because sexism is a system hundreds of years old and ingrained in every part of modern society.
We all need to take steps to disconnect gender from musical ability. If we hear another person saying, "I've just never been impressed by a chick bass player," there so many ways to shut that down and keep the conversation civil. That's a priority for me, because most of the time I'm just trying to hang on to a gig.
Tal Wilkenfeld Set to Play Tokyo and Los Angeles (VIDEO)
Ernie Ball Introduces the Pick Buddy and the Polylock Strap
Metallica Bassist Robert Trujillo Premieres Jaco with a Screening and All-Star Concert in Los Angeles
Little Labs Previews Three New Products
Green Day to Release Limited Black Friday Vinyl Edition of American Idiot
Lamb of God Tours With Anthrax, Deafheaven and Power Trip
The Martin Garrix Studio Masterpiece
Music Review: Mercury Prize Winner Benjamin Clementine
Enter the Korg Electribe Video Contest
Slash Performs Guns N’ Roses Hit with Polish Pop Singer Doda
Hear Eddie Van Halen Play Guitar on Instrumental “Big Fat Money”
Jimmy Page to Record New Solo Album in 2016
Viral Video: Adele’s “Hello” Done in 25 Different Styles
Megadeth Premiere New Song, “The Threat Is Real”
Interview: The Sword’s JD Cronise and Bryan Richie Talk Fights, Fan Art, and More [Video]
The Acoustic Guitar Artistry of The Beatles' George Harrison — Video
George Harrison, Eric Clapton and Ringo Starr Reunite to Play The Beatles' "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" in 1987 — Video
Best Holiday Rock Song Poll: "Father Christmas" (The Kinks) Vs. "Merry Christmas (I Don't Want to Fight Tonight)" (Ramones)
Copyright ©2015 by NewBay Media, LLC. All Rights Reserved. 28 East 28th Street, 12th floor, New York, NY 10016 T (212) 378-0400 F (212) 378-0470