HOWEVER, there are many things I have experienced as a female-shaped artist in the music industry that are not courteous, not gentlemanly, and downright rude - and no amount of heavy lifting and door opening can make this right. Some have occurred during my time as a musician on the lovely 'goff' (industrial/EBM/synthpop) scene, but not many - mostly these incidents have happened when I've been in rock bands on the pub circuit. Feel free to share, disagree, whatever you like - I'm hoping to open a few eyes and minds with this, not make people uncomfortable and like they're 'walking through a minefield', which is something that always gets said when someone questions 'etiquette'. Of course, everybody is different and there's no set rules and I'm not speaking for all female-shapes. But this is a list of the experiences that I feel have happened because there is a lot of assumption due to how I present as female, and some notes on how I feel about them.
- Many times when I've been sitting at a soundcheck, sometimes sitting among gear or setting up, guys have come in and greeted all other band members, and completely blanked me. I may have my hair tied back, glasses on, no make-up, etc. Later on, when I'm done up in my stage clobber, people have apologised for not talking to me because they hadn't known who I was earlier. I get the feeling it's because it's assumed I am a wife/girlfriend, a fan who's blagged her way in early, or a member of venue staff. In either case - it's pretty appalling that I get blanked, musician or not. If I'm not a musician I'm going to be there to assist or support you, so I deserve the same welcome you give your bros in bands!
- On that assumption, I've had people ask me how I got in, I've had people ask me for a beer, I've had people ask me who I'm driving for. 'Whose girlfriend are you, then?' is never a polite question in ANY walk of life - I'm a person, not a relationship status. If you don't know who I am just ask me which band I'm with; it's pretty damn easy.
- I've been refused entry to backstage areas and dressing rooms, even on presentation of my 'artist' wristband. They tugged it to check I hadn't nicked it.
- I was told to mind my language when I swore (mildly) at my laptop at a soundcheck.
- Sound engineers ask male bandmates how I want my vocals to sound. I'm standing right there.
- Please never tell a female-shaped musician that she's a 'great gimmick', that she is something other than the 'brains of the operation', and for god's sake 'you're more than a pretty face' is never - in any context - a compliment.
- Was given free entry to a show so long as I helped the band ship out afterwards. Awesome. Myself and three guys stood waiting for instructions. Tour manager says, 'I thought you said you'd bring four people.' I'm standing right there.
- Was denied a show because 'there's already a female-fronted band on the bill'.
- Been told quite a few times actually, 'This is boring production/music/guitar/artwork talk, sorry about this.' You do realise I stand behind the laptop and synths in an electronic band, right? What in the entire OMNIVERSE makes you think I would find any talk of electronic production 'boring'?! Oh right! Perceived vagina.
So yeah, that about sums it up. Then there's just the whole 'oops, ladies present' vibe that sometimes pops up when bands are hanging out before shows - unless you were born in 1930, it's redundant. You can be yourself. I want to be here, I'm playing music with you, I'm buying rounds of beer. I'm one of you. Don't assume that this female-shaped body has delicate ears. Hell I don't even identify as female, but I'd have a tough time asking people not to assume that.
In summary: Assume less.
Oh, while I'm asking for things - please be aware when you're in a shared dressing room with 4 other bands, and STOP HOGGING THE MIRROR. Ta!
(Hey this comes quite nicely after Dave's 'don't marginalize people's causes' post. Dreams Divide - social justice warriors!)