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The presence of women in music - is it just a boy's club?


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I was thinking about this the other day; on a local level there is a minority of women involved in the music scene, be it in bands, putting shows or even attending gigs. For instance, I don't think I've ever been to a gig where there has been a 50/50 split in gender. Why do people think it is? Obviously, with the men out, the ladies have to stay home and make the dinner etc... am i right ladz? Is it down to the difference in motivation between men and women to form bands perhaps? Do women feel that the scene is a bit of a boy's club? I doubt that there is a definitive answer, but I do think it is interesting that there is such a disparity. I know plenty of girls who are just as big obsessives over music as guys, so I do wonder if it's a based on social pressures in teenage years to conform to certain gender stereotypes.

 

Thoughts? How many active bands are there in Aberdeen with female members?

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I reckon you're not far from the mark when you mention gender stereotypes during teenage years. The boys got the guitars and the girls sulked about shopping center entrances. That's how it was done. 

I know quite a few active female musicians but they are very much the minority when you compare them to the amount of men doing the same thing. Most of them aren't really in bands either.

Now that you've mentioned it not a single woman has been in the line up of a Plain Tiger night so far. Hope I'm not unconsciously sexist!

 

Cielo Rosso had a 50/50 split which was pretty unique. Of all the bands we played with none had more than one female in their ranks. We should get a medal. 

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It was the same at my school. Boys all wanted guitars, and girls just didn't. Guitars lessons at our school were all in groups if 8 boys. There was never any girls. It was mostly those boys who then got into "alternative" music, and hung out together, sitting on the school fields, sharing an earphone to listen to a Korn tape or something. I know some girls who are very much into music, both the listening to and the playing of it, just not all that many. It seems like girls aren't as interested in learning to play guitar/bass/drums as boys are at that age. The girls at my school who did play instruments, it was all stuff like the clarinet or the flute. Instruments that don't really act as a gateway for getting involved in alternative music. Perhaps it's a parental thing. Buying your young daughter an electric guitar isn't stereotypically 'girly'. 

 

I don't think it's intentionally a boys club, compared to something like football (the playing and supporting of) which is very much a 'waaaaaaay lads' sort of environment. I don't think any music scene is like that, and is certainly more welcoming and open to girls attending shows and being in bands.

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I would say that over the years going to gigs in Aberdeen there has always been a pretty healthy female presence for the most part but then my gig going for local things has dwindled significantly in recent years. Your Cellar gigs always seem to have a pretty healthy split.

I would say that females into truly alternative type music tend to be a minority group really, when taken as part of the greater female cross-section. But then I would suggest that the same rings true for blokes generally, I rarely come across many blokes in my day to day life who are into any of the shit I like. I am well out of the loop when it comes to socialising with any local scene types not having been in any bands for a fair while.

I can't think of any really good reasons for a female not to be in band other than possibly lack of confidence in trying to get something going...one of the aceist bands I saw in recent times had 2 females in the ranks, His Name is Codeine.

Maybe lasses find their way here to try and judge whether its worth pursuing and get put off by the LADZ banter.

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But it's the fetishisation of "wanting a girl drummer" that's part of the problem

 

I think this is the comment that strikes closest to the mark, I don't think there's a definitive answer to the debate, but I think the perpetuation of gender stereotyping is probably one of the biggest factors.  As innocent as the comments about wanting a female drummer and "girls sulking around shopping centre entrances, that's how it was done" may be, reading this sort of thing just makes me cringe.  I'd say I'm pretty active in the scene, I play in two bands, am involved in promotion and go to gigs on almost a weekly basis.  With regard to the female drummer statement above, my opinion is that I just want to play in a band with like-minded people who I feel at ease with and who want to work to improve the band, whether that's males or females doesn't really make much of a difference to me.

 

It can't be ignored that there is definitely a skew though, I quite often notice at local gigs that I'm one of very few females in attendance, and whilst it doesn't bother me and I just enjoy the bands, I can see why other girls might find it quite daunting.  As far as playing in the local scene goes, I definitely feel comfortable, however I've had experiences with playing in slightly larger and unfamiliar venues where there's maybe been a more boorish crowd, and that's made me feel a little uneasy. 

 

On the flipside though, looking at the wider musical community and industry in general, there are a lot of larger gigs that have closer to a 50/50 split, or where girls outnumber boys, it just doesn't seem to happen at the smaller, "alternative" scene level.  Interstingly, I first took up guitar at an early age and had group lessons in which there were three girls and one guy and the majority of people in my standard grade music class and the school bands were girls.  I spent most of my lunchtimes in the music room, playing music with my friends, again, mostly girls.  However, I did notice that as time went on, those girls became less interested in playing and I soon found myself in bands with guys.  I guess I was lucky in that I was so into music and keen to be in a band that I found it easy to approach guys about jamming and felt I could keep up with conversations and actually contribute something to shape the direction of a band, rather than being viewed as a gimmick, perhaps it's not so easy for other girls and most of the girls I played music with during and after school years now either don't play at all or play in wedding bands.

 

I think Martin's post above is very sensible and definitely makes a lot of sense- particularly the second paragraph.  It's definitely true that it's rare for me to come across anyone, male or female, who like the same sort of music I like, certainly not on a day-to-day basis anyway.  

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Three out of the five bands I've been in (one currently) have included a female member, either singing or sax.  Perhaps I'm an anomaly.  I think it's fair enough to "discriminate" when it comes to singing voices - it's a fact that the female voice is different to the male voice due to physiology.  But in all other roles I don't think it matters, ability to play an instrument is dictated by skill, not gender.

 

I think the worst thing to do is make a special case of mentioning the gender, like it's something weird or something.  Again, special dispensation for vocals.  Ooh, we've got a lassie drummer.  Big whoop, so you've got a drummer.

 

At primary school I had the opposite problem - I was in a recorder group but it was the male membership which dwindled until it was down to the last two boys (me and another).  I begged him not to leave, but he did, so I had to because, you know, girls are yukky and annoying at that age.  If I knew then what I know now!  This decision took me out of active participation in music when I should have been embracing it, so instead of doing this stuff when I should have in life it took me until I was in my early thirties to pick up an instrument and get involved in bands and stuff.  Oh well, making up for lost time now :)

 

Locally/unscientifically it does seem to be a bit of a sausagefest, but I don't know why.

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Guest Young Adolesent

I reckon you're not far from the mark when you mention gender stereotypes during teenage years. The boys got the guitars and the girls sulked about shopping center entrances. That's how it was done.

I know quite a few active female musicians but they are very much the minority when you compare them to the amount of men doing the same thing. Most of them aren't really in bands either.

Now that you've mentioned it not a single woman has been in the line up of a Plain Tiger night so far. Hope I'm not unconsciously sexist!

Cielo Rosso had a 50/50 split which was pretty unique. Of all the bands we played with none had more than one female in their ranks. We should get a medal.

flights. Out of curiousity, were their relation ship rules in cielo rosso? I meen am i the only one to admit nadia was fit? But anyone else is there rules when a female is in the band?
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flights. Out of curiousity, were their relation ship rules in cielo rosso? I meen am i the only one to admit nadia was fit? But anyone else is there rules when a female is in the band?

There are definitely rules when there's a girl in the band, because it's a completely different situation and totally different chemistry to when there isn't a girl in the band. For example, I massively crush on all the men in the bands that I'm in, because they're all dreamy rock studs and as a girl, I have no concept of self control.

We've set out the rule that if we play well, I get to pick one of them to go home with for the night. But only if we all play really well. It's important to establish boundaries and to have an incentive to actually practice.

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Guest Young Adolesent

Don't try and apply special rules because there is a girl in the band?

im more on about relationship rules. Because our bassist admited shed go with any of us but i was wondering if there was any rules behind it all but unfortunately our singer is a male model so i think we all know who shes choosing
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This type of gender stereotyping runs though all kinds of things.  My missis is really into Equine sports, which at the local level is pretty much all done by women but at the higher levels its more of a 50/50 split if not more biased towards the male competitors.  For me I find it highly boring attending events when its all full of horsey wifies talking about horses and bitching and moaning about all the he said/she said bullshit.  The events themselves can be quite boring as it just full of noobs trying to pull off stuff that's above their ability.

 

I'd rather be at a local gig talking about guitars and bitching and moaning about local bands while some dodgy band blasts out some bad song that sounds a bit like something I like but not done quite so well, while they stand perfectly still onstage. 

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Our bassist is the same in two of my bands she is literally one off the ladz i think most off females who play in indie, rock and punk bands are one of the ladz apart from girl anachorism she just sounds like a groupie or hovever its spelt. And can someone tell me the definition of a groupie?

 

Girl Anachorism is definitely NOT "one off the ladz". The last time I saw Seas, Starry play, she made Jan go completely nude to the sound of pounding techno. Be careful.

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