I’m coming off my high of seeing Sleater-Kinney completely blow away Terminal 5 in NYC last weekend and thinking a lot about this article I read earlier this week about the lack of female musicians booked for festivals in the UK. Definitely read it, even though it’s about UK festivals it completely carries over to festivals in the United States and is also very telling of the music business overall. It’s worth noting how the line-up images look when they only include acts that include a female musician in the band.
When was the last time a band led by a female (or even including a female musician) headlined a major music festival? Obviously there may be exceptions but I have found them to be very rare.
As a lover of music, I am beyond frustrated that others actually believe that female musicians are not as talented as their male counterparts. Obviously music preferences is all based on individual tastes but there is no argument to be had for talent.
There are a few common defences for this huge, gaping gender divide. The first, particularly when it comes to Reading and Leeds, is that it’s merely a question of genre. People who cite this would do well to bear in mind that “male” is not a genre. Neither, despite the depressing frequency of the phrase “all-female band” in music journalism, is “female.” We cannot continue to perpetuate the tired and tiresome stereotype that men make better rock music, and are better at playing instruments. It’s so incredibly dull, and so incredibly wrong…. Today in fact, one of the questions that women in music find the most frustrating to answer is: “What’s it like being a woman in music?” Because why should their gender even be relevant? The sad truth is though that as long as women are being so blatantly, malignantly ignored, fetishised or undermined by the music industry, their gender has to be relevant.
So what can we do about this problem?
Start listening to more female musicians, if you don’t already. Buy their albums, support their music. Spread the word about their music to anyone and everyone who likes music. And make it about more than just their gender. Make it about the music.
Here’s Sleater-Kinney proving that they are more than just a girl band: