Monday 25 July 2016

Why should women have to put up with crap like this

A friend of mine posted the following on Facebook on Sunday.

"Last night, whilst out with friends, a friend of a friend was having a conversation about lead singers. He was saying that lead singers hold the power because most people are looking at them. This guy who I'd only met a couple of hours earlier then turned to me and said "you're a drummer...what's it like being a 'female' drummer?" He then asked "how much attention do you get as a female drummer!" He then said "because nobody would give a shit about you if you didn't have a pair of tits" and finishing with "you're just going to have to accept that your looks are always going to be more important than anything else you do".
I don't know what it's like being a 'female drummer'. I've never had to buy polystyrene drum sticks because the real ones are too heavy, or had to use mini cymbals because normal ones are just too big for me to carry. I've never messed up at a gig because my mind wandered off thinking about shopping or what my next pair of shoes should be and I've never missed a rehearsal because I had to clean a home and make my breadwinning husband dinner by 6pm.
What I do know is that at every gig I am reminded that I am a girl by well intentioned people.
You're probably wondering why that bothers me. Well, I am self taught. When we first started the band, I started gigging 3 or 4 months after picking up two wooden spoons and trying to coordinate my arms to "I am the Walrus" (Ringo was so simple ❤️)
I knew I wasn't very good but I was ok with that, because why would I be good? I'd never had any help and I was fumbling my way through it. But even then, I had people come over and tell me what an "amazing" drummer I was. I was grateful but I always felt stupid, because I knew I wasn't and I really felt that the only reason people said this to me was because I was a girl.
These comments don't really bother me so much now, I've worked really hard, I've got my own style and I know what I play compliments our music. The only time I get annoyed is when me not being a man becomes the focal point of some people's attention, when the music we're playing washes over people because they're too consumed with "a female playing drums" I know this because I have experienced it.
I couldn't really answer the question last night, I was too angry. I don't even think the term "female drummer" should be used. I appreciate that it may be a compliment, but it's degrading to men and women.
But what do I know, I'm just a whiny hysterical bitch who should be grateful for what biology gave her."

Sometimes I read something and just have to say something, and say it in a way that leaves no room for misinterpretation.  This is one of those cases. It is pretty clear to me that some people are completely ignorant. In the rock and roll industry, being good looking, be it male or female is a definate commercial advantage in getting a bit of attention, but the only music that endures is good music. The band the author of this comment plays in is a great band. In my judgement, they have what it takes to make it. This is nothing to do with the sex of the drummer. It is because the band has a sound and image that works.  She could be venus incarnate, but if she wasn't a great drummer with a  unique style, it would be totally irrelevant. Her style reminds me of Tommy Ramone. Whilst the Ramones had better drummers, Tommy set the style for the Ramones sound. He was solid, tight and right for the band. Charlie Watts in the Rolling Stones is also an "economical" drummer. There are better drummers, but I believe none are better for the Stones. When a band works it is magical. The author of this tweet is in just such a set up.

That is the musical aspect. I really felt I had to set the context for what I will say next. Some people (and the man who said the comment that sparked the post is one) are dangerous, agressive bullies, who get sadistic pleasure out of undermining people and planting seeds of doubt in their minds. Long time readers of this blog will know just how much bullies revolt me. I am 100% sure the author of the comments will deal with this, but such comments are never acceptable and always hurtful. I fully accept that anyone in a band has put their head above the parapet, but there are limits. To define every single female drummer as  "tits with a pair of sticks" is to me the most revolting act imaginable.

When it comes down to it. Sexism should be treated in the same way as racism and anti semitism. It should be illegal and if you seek to destroy someone because of their race, sex or creed, you should feel the full force of the law. If the author was a bad drummer (she's not), technical criticism is fine by me. To simply demean a great drummer in such a way is destructive and undermining. Any woman in any line of work deserves the dignity of judgement by her talents and performance.

And then there is the man who said it. What sort of man is he? To me a very sexually insecure man. A man who clearly feels inadequate and unable to appreciate the fact that there is no earthly reason why females can't rock it out in just the same way as a man. The rock and roll industry is in many ways the most sexist industry on the planet. When we employed a female chief engineer at Mill Hill Music Complex, one of the most frequently asked questions by bands when they met her was "where is the engineer". Many were truly surprised by the fact we employed a girl in a technical role. One side effect was we developed a large and loyal customer base of not only women customers, who preferred a less testosterone fuelled studio, but we also developed a strong LGBT customer base as well. That was never a consideration, but it worked for us. Ina short time we developed a profitable business.

I really don't think women should take this nonsense in this day and age. I think they should stand up to such bullies and put them in their place and men who have a brain should support them. It isn't big, it isn't funny and it isn't clever.

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