I attended a panel of 4 incredible artists discussing representation and the state of the music industry this week called “(Re)Claiming Space and Music”. I’m so thankful I got to listen in and hear some of their ideas, stories, and music.
Something Madeleine Roger said really stuck with me.
She explained how frustrating it can be to try and perform your music while knowing that someone already doubts your ability before you’ve played a single note. Suddenly you have to prove your expertise twofold, while you’re still starting two steps behind, based on someone else’s perception.
Well now you can’t afford to screw up a single note. You’re being scrutinized before you’ve even had a chance.
And when virtually every female musician you talk to can name a time they’ve had to put up with sexist, ignorant nonsense while simply trying to do their job, it’s hard to deny that there’s a problem.
Maybe it’s not you who’s being sexist or ignorant–
But it’s that sound guy who assumes a musician has no idea how to set up her own gear.
It’s a promotor who seems to think booking female musicians is just a matter of fulfilling some kind of quota.
It’s Russell Peters walking on stage at the Junos and pointing to an audience of young females and talented musicians, and calling them “a felony waiting to happen”.
What I heard overwhelmingly at the panel is that every female musician has experienced this kind of thing at one point or another. Often more times than they care to count.
It’s happening now, and there’s no denying it.
So when I look at myself, I think (in the words of Finn the Human): Well, “I am just a simple dude”–but I know I have an important role to play in all this.
We all need to be better allies of female, diverse, and underrepresented musicians.
I will not tolerate hearing/seeing sexist bullshit at a show. I will address it and shut it down to the best of my ability, and so should you.
The more support we put forward, the more new, talented musicians will have the courage to say “Hey. If they can perform up there on stage, maybe I can too.”