Sunday, 20 September 2009

The Girls Are.... Wanted?!

Dee James, 21 Septmber 2009

I was scouring the web for a beautiful new band to be a part of, when I spotted The Girls Are…

I was suddenly aware of my aggravated inner chatter, but this site had now given me a clue how to put my mind at ease. Moments ago, my afternoon lull had been rudely interrupted, when I discovered the shocking news that a girl I know ‘Jill’ had just bought a shiny new guitar, and she was beaming about it.

Why did this irk me so much? A post-purchase glow is well expected under these circumstances, but I couldn’t even pretend to be on side to celebrate this event. Was it a classic case of the green eyed monster?

Ha, no.

The fact was, this pretty, cherry red acoustic was now in the hands of my friend who… doesn't like female musicians! (Why are you not more shocked?)

In previous conversation, Jill has stated without shame, that when it comes to women (in guitar based music especially) she is NOT a fan. She dislikes their songs; their sound, their lyrics and she will not acknowledge any of the time, energy, passion or skill that go into being a muso.

When I question her about this she back peddles, (only about a millimetre), to account for the fact that she likes Kate Perry, because, “She dresses nice and has nice hair”. (Oh good, glad to see we cleared that up then). “So, why have you bought a guitar?”

It would be ignorant of course, for me to pretend that Jill is the first and only (would-be) girl guitarist to discriminate against her own kind. Chrissy Hynde and Juliana Hatfield, are two great artists both guilty of this. At some stage in their careers these women have publicly aired their disdain for girls’ guitar playing/credibility. (Juliana apparently changed her mind when she saw Veruca Salt play).

It seems strange to me then, why anyone who felt like that would pick up their axe in the first place?

Here are these creative people, who spend valuable time developing their craft, reaching a level of skill and achievement, success and popularity. Then at some peak, they announce, that their entire half of the human race is incapable of reaching the same mastery of artistic expression.

Why do members of our own gender tell the world that they can’t play music? And how does your sex dictate your ability to be musical?

Courtney Love has said, “Nobody wants my job” and I completely understand why. Being a girl in rock and metal music is like being in the army. We are standing in the front line for harsh criticism, and being that the kind of music we make is ‘hard’, we are just supposed to take it.

Rock is a male dominated genre. Yet there are NO guys out there saying, “Guys can’t play guitar.” Why would they?

Despite our rock playing grrl-neighbours saying girls can’t play guitar (on behalf of us all), I really don’t think that this is an issue based on girls’ guitar virtuosity at all. So how do we account for this girl-specific gender discrimination?

If there are SO MANY women in the world, (we account for more than half the population), of course we may feel in competition with one another. We are ALL creative people with a desire to speak and to be ourselves, and sometimes who we are is not widely accepted or appreciated, even by our own families. Men can be astronauts or postmen or musicians or whatever they want. We get to be female musicians, post-women, female astronauts.

But therein lays the beauty of it. Biologically, emotionally, intellectually, women are different to men. But we are also individuals. We all have varying views and we all want to live our lives in whichever way feels right for us which may be very different to one another.

A Chinese proverb goes ‘Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are’. Being yourself is effortless. Being yourself only happens when pretences die.

There should be NO competition when we realise that we are unique. And that we all have something to give to the world. Our diversity brings us joy in creative expression, including when we work together. No one wants to hear a band play the same part of the same song, over and over again, (or we’d just go to their rehearsals instead of to gigs) Where would the excitement be in that?

The people that inspire us most, are usually the ones who are just being themselves.
The world would be missing something special without those contributions from women like Anne Frank. Joni Mitchell. Nina Simone. (...please continue the list according to your own personal taste)

So in spite of the cattiness I have encountered from my fellow female musicians over the years, I continue to support women in music. I make an effort to find out who the girl behind the make-up is. It makes me happy if we can exchange our views and stories, and keep each other entertained while the rest of the world tires of trying to drag us down.

It is important to me, to us, that there is a place we can go, where The Girls Are wanted.

To read more articles by Dee James, click below:

Amy Studt

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