HannahMcStar (hannastar) wrote in riotgrrluk,


I need some help with a zine project and decembre mentioned this community (thanks!)

I'm currently editing a fanzine to accompany my local Ladyfest (www.ladyfestcambridge.co.uk). Many of the articles are turning out kinda gloomy, more on the side of the bad aspects of the music industry and local music scenes; so I wanted to try and bring a bit more joy into the situation, cos, afterall, these things are meant to be fun.

SO, here is an open question to all you riot grrls, and I'd be really grateful if some of you would like to share your thoughts on the topic:

What's the best thing about being a girl in a music scene?

All and any replies would be appreciated! Whether you're in a band, or a promoter, or a zine editor, or a writer, or anything remotely involved with a music/arts scene. You can give more than one suggestion :)

Sorry to anyone who sees a message very similar to this in some other communities. That's probably your fault for being too riot grrl ;)

Thanks for your time!

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I can honestly say there are no particular benefits to being a woman in a music scene. In fact, I don't quite understand the question.

I do a label, a band and put on gigs (<a href="http://www.myspace.com/armleyofdarkness)www.myspace.com/armleyofdarkenss</a>), but my gender doesn't come into it. Why would it?
Gender comes into it for all sorts of reasons, the most important right now being that the fanzine is being written because of LADYFEST. Ladyfest exists in order to support women in art and music, because a lot of women felt that they were under-represented or patronised or denied opportunities because of their gender (this is something that I, as a woman who also puts on gigs, and runs a clubnight, and DJs, and has played in bands; have also experienced) and wanted a safe space where their art would be more fully appreciated.

When I started editing the fanzine and asking people for their input I received a lot of negative comments - women had a lot of issues with their local arts & music scenes and the sexism they'd seen. I didn't want the zine to be entirely filled with anger at scene sexism (though IMO it's a very valid anger) as Ladyfest is also supposed to be a celebration of creative women. Thus I decided to ask women and girls for suggestions of good things about being involved with independent music etc. So far I've had comments like:

- dancing
- dressing up
- making friends with other girls in the toilets at gigs!
- "you can buy a really expensive guitar without everyone assuming it's just because you've got a really small dick"
- seeing and meeting other inspiring women

none of these things are necessarily exclusive to women. That wasn't the point.And yeah, it'd be lovely if everyone could just have equal opportunities to get involved with everything, and events like ladyfest would become politically unecessary, but it doesn't work like that.
P.S. Apologies for the poor typing/spelling. Cross babies, nearly cooked-dinner... you know how it is!
I don't really, thankfully; I get paid to look after other people's kids for 37 hours a week and that's quite enough for me! That said, I had a quick look at your journal and your babies are making me disgracefully broody with their cuteness ;)
Nanny? Teacher? I am a teacher in a High School, as well as being a very proud parent.
nursery nurse (private daycare) I mostly work with babies up to 2 years, sometimes with pre-schoolers.
I just can't empathise with what you are saying. My experience has been completely different.
When I first became involved with DIY I did feel I was being denied opportunities because of my gender, but I realise now I was being totally uptight and stand-offish. I walked around with a bad attitude, feeling insecure and like I couldn't ever possibly get involved.
I finally realised that the only thing holding me back was my own worries and self-doubts. I was so used to reading literature that tells women to expect to be treated differently, to expect to be heckled at gigs and for my contributions to be over-looked that it took me a long time to stop and look around me and question if this was likely to actually happen!
And when I finally got off my arse and starting getting active I realised my doubts were pretty much unfounded. Why presume that the men in the scene are going to respond negitively? I make sure I do a good job of whatever I commit to and consequently find I have few problems and the ones I do encounter are nothing at all to do with my gender.
I fully agree that women are under-represented and this needs to be rectified, but it is only ever going to come about by people putting themselves forward and taking risks?
I'd like to know more about the negative experiences that people have had, because while I appreciate that sexism and prejudice still exisits I don't see it as being as pertinant as is claimed in the DIY scene.
I am becomig more and more convinced that the main problems most women face when considering becoming involved in DIY music/art stem from their own insecuries, all of which cannot be blamed on men.
I also firmly believe that this cycle of women putting on other 'girl' bands simply for the sake of their gender is causing more problems that it is solving. Quite simply, a lot of the bands I see at all-girl gigs are appalling, cliched rubbish with no concept of DIY thics, who make a bigger deal of their gender than the rest of the supposedly sexist scene and perpetrate this myth that women can't write/play music.
I adore riot grrrl, have a huge amount of respect for talented, brave , motivated and innoventive women, but I am not going to use my gender as a smoke-screen any more.

I'd really like to print this comment (or most of it) in the zine, if that's ok. It needs more differing opinions & experiences.

I am becomig more and more convinced that the main problems most women face when considering becoming involved in DIY music/art stem from their own insecuries

This makes a lot of sense. From my own experience, I can be hesitant to get involved with anything that requires much technical knowledge - I'd fuckin LOVE to learn more about the tech-y side of DJing (beatmatching? what's that...) and I'd LOVE to learn how to work a mixing desk & lighting rig etc - but I've been patronised by sexist scene boys on a few occasions and that plus selfdoubt & not a vast amount of confidence has led to me keeping quiet & sticking to things I already know - I'm scared that if I admit I don't know how to do something I'll get a reaction of "cuh, stupid girls, shouldn't get involved with our music scene if they don't know how to do x..." As a result I don't ask, so I don't learn, so I feel ignorant, and oooh, I'm turning this into an article. :D
Thanks for your response. To be honest I was expecting to get shot down for 'speaking out'!

I know exactly what you're saying about being frightened to admit that you want to get involved but don't know where to start. I really think this is a symptom of DIY in general though and not really a gender issue - people worry that their contributions are not worthy, or valid - like the god of DIY is going to come down and mock them for thinking they could be part of something so cool!
It's pretty ridiculous.

I've never felt like I couldn't get involved with something, simply because of my gender. I've posted countless bulletins and hassled numerous people over the years asking for advice and help with my various projects. The vast majorioty of replies have been from men and not one of them has had a harsh word, or patronising comment to make. I used to imagine that there were all these cool 'scene boys', who took charge and decided how things worked, but the more I put myself out there and got involved, the more I realised that this just isn't true. People don't 'own' anything - you can make DIY/punk rock whatever you want.

The only group of people who have made me doubt my ability to contribute something worthwhile (and doubt that I would be accepted for myself) were the writers of the negative zine articles that constantly insinuated that I would be somehow treated badly by the mythical male scene leaders, simply because I am a woman. Please don't think I am in denial about the existance of sexism, I just don't think the majority of people think that deeply about things. If a band's good then they get gigs; if a promotor does a decent job then people ask them to put their band on... I'm pretty certain that most people (men) can see beyond the gender of the person involved.

I think it's a great idea to turn it into an article and of course you can use my comments. Let me know if there is anything else I can do to help.