Don’t Tell Women That This Doesn’t Actually Happen

careers, Culture, Music Business, Performance

Do you ever see something that prompts an idea for writing, then it fades…then you see something else along the same lines and you think, well, I guess I have to write something now!

Well, that is what this is.

First, I saw Adam-12, director and host of RadioBDC if you don’t know (listen up!), post this on Twitter.

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So, two points here. One, the fact that female drummers are still displayed as some sort of oddity. Sure, there are less female than male drummers. I firmly believe that the more we treat this as an oddity, the more it will be perpetuated as such. Two, the response by Lisa Mokaba, which is just so sad, and something I don’t doubt. I applaud Adam-12 for bringing this to our attention.

My mom bought me my first drum set. At the time, at 15, I was either practicing in the jazz band room at school, or one some tupperware containers set up in my room with chopsticks. Oh, yes, so advanced. Needless to say, walking downstairs on Christmas and seeing a blue drum set in the living room was the last thing I expected!

I’ve heard multiple women my mom’s age, and herself, say that they wanted to play the drums but were denied the option.

Then, I came across this video from fellow Emerson alum, Gaby Dunn.

And, not only that, the fact that a guy challenges her on the fact that this sexism exists.

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Here’s the thing. I know that some people can be too sensitive. I know that not all guys are like this (or girls…have you seen the trend of girls declaring why they don’t need feminism? Or Michelle Bachmann’s anti-feminism rant, despite the fact that she would not have her job if it were not for feminists.) The guys I know are awesome!

I don’t like getting all up in arms about stuff like this. And I will admit I have seen people get offended at stuff in the name of feminism when I don’t think their argument has anything to do with feminism at all. That’s a different matter.

It does bother me when men say that this stuff doesn’t really happen, like what that guy up there is saying to Gaby. And, based on the Twitter feed posted above that from what we saw about females and drumming, this stuff does happen.

Here are a few gems I’ve experienced myself.

Going to present an extra credit project in my honors chem class (We wrote a chemistry song to Carol of the Bells. Nerdy. Not sorry.), and a girl in my class just decides to shout, “I HATE girl bands”. She being a girl who followed all the male musicians around but never displayed an interest in music aside from that. Thank you for that support, classmate.

Booking a show at a decent venue (again in high school, when I was performing with all females in one band) and then being told by the venue manager that he picked us because a Comedy Central house band was playing the lineup, and they were girls, too. Hooray! Our musical styles were not at all alike, but we all had enough estrogen, so it was ok! That’s what makes a good lineup, right? Hormone levels?

Being approached by someone after said show about the fact that our songs were ‘actually complex’, and that we didn’t write songs about boys. Wait…I’ve been doing it wrong! I didn’t write songs about boyfriends! Oh, right, this was high school. I didn’t have a boyfriend. Well, shucks.

Going to Guitar Center with my dad once for my birthday and picking out a pair of sticks. After my dad purchased them and handed them to me, the man at the counter couldn’t believe they were not for my dad. 

Applying to countless jobs at said store and being told I didn’t have enough experience with the products. Going in to the drum center and the employee openly tells me he doesn’t know much about drums.

Going to buy a bag for my sticks and having to repeat myself over the fact that I would like the black Vic Firth case, not the pink cheetah print one. No. I don’t want a stick bag that looks like a Lisa Frank school folder leaked all over it. Would you tell an 18 year old boy he needs to buy the stick bag with monster trucks and dinosaurs on it?

(Side note, if they actually make that, please send it to me.)

Carrying a drum set down the street for a gig and having a man ask me if I actually play them. No. Carrying drum sets down Mass Ave is just plain ol’ fashioned fun! 

So, did you date a drummer? Yes, because this is the only plausible reason I would play the drums.

I’m so sorry, I thought you just played the snare drum. 

I appreciate the guy’s honesty, but I had just done a presentation in class about drummers and my professor followed it with Metallica. And yet they STILL thought I didn’t venture past a snare drum. He was a really nice guy, though, in all honesty. Let’s blame society, shall we? Huzzah.

Hmm. What about the boys who stood at the front of the stage during one of our high school performances and pretty much just mocked us the entire time?

Was once introduced as, ‘If you like the Go-Gos or the Donnas, you’ll like…”. This is like saying, “If you like the Beatles and Dimmu Borgir, you’ll loooove Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young!”. Because they’re all man bands. They’re mands.

It was just so cute to see a tiny girl at the drum set!”

That’s it. I’m not shaving my beard next time.

What are you doing wearing a drum key?

To stick it up my nose! Clearly.

And the most recent one I received, when inquiring about purchasing a new Ludwig set.

Maybe you’d like this beginner kit I have instead?

 

I will finish with this. For all the wonderful, normal people out there who are not sexist and don’t treat comic book girls or musicians/composers or journalists like pieces of meat or airheads, there are unfortunately people who are still ignorant and rude.

SIDENOTE: Guys. Does this stuff happen to you? Am I being too touchy?

My sister is one of the best guitarists I know. I’m not saying that because she is my sister, either, because we don’t toot our horns that much really. But I remember when she used to get the Guitar Magazines at the library, and they had a top guitarists special. Someone mentioned female guitarists, and an angry man reader wrote a letter to the editor. In the letter the man said that, for lack of better wording, you can’t be a great guitarist without having balls. Eloquent, isn’t it?

Now, go watch some Rosetta Tharpe.

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2 thoughts on “Don’t Tell Women That This Doesn’t Actually Happen

  1. Yup.
    During my first week of music school, in 1978 (not 1878), I walked into guitar seminar and one of the guy guitar majors sneered, “How many girls ARE there?” There were two of us, and we were the first female guitar majors at our college.
    That guy lasted a few months. I played professionally and taught private lessons for a few decades.
    And my daughter has ability as a percussionist as well as playing clarinet and a few other instruments.
    Keep up the great work, and if I see that stick case with the trucks and/or dinosaurs, I’ll let you know.

    1. Thank you for reading, Elene! Most importantly, the arts should be for everyone. I know men who have felt ostracized for ballet as well. I felt so discouraged when my sister found that horrible comment in the guitar magazine, but I know that this is a small percentage of people out there…or at least I have met more open minded and on-the-same-page guys than jerks. I don’t like getting caught up in being angry at this stuff, but even when applying to a jobs in a man’s field, I found out that all the roles had eventually gone to men, and can’t help but to feel slighted. In short, this is hopefully not the usual, but we shouldn’t pretend it doesn’t occur.

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