It's easy to say that guys sometimes don't understand the struggle inherent in the female experience. They haven't had to endure the hardship, live in the carefully negotiated bodies we women occupy, or deal with the unfair boundaries society sets for us. And then I read something that suggests men might not be the only ones who are deluded.
Mariel Loveland, a musician in the band Candy Hearts, recently wrote a piece for Noisey called "How to Survive Being the Only Girl in a Band." The headline is eminently clickable, and I was practically slobbering over the inside tips that I fantasized might be found there. Instead what I was met with was a load of codswallop.
The piece reads more like the author's trying to prove to herself that she has a right to own a vagina and play music with people who have penises. She starts off with a defensive disclaimer that she is a feminist, loves Kathleen Hanna, and has "frequently questionable underarm hair." Wow, she's practically a dude! Tell me more! What's that? She has a degree from a liberal arts college? Maybe that explains why Loveland thinks she knows everything.
She struggles trying to drop truth: "Usually this group of best friends and friends-to-be consists of 30 men and maybe one other women. You are automatically the other, and it's always difficult entering a new situation this way." True, and totally accurate. "It's unfortunate to say, but there's basically no winning this situation." Huh?
She makes some valid points, like if you're not as physically strong as your male bandmates, it's OK to let them help you with your stuff. And since you may be smaller than the other band members you can fit into tight van spaces more easily. What's not valid is assuming women's weakness right from the jump. I've always been able to replace water jugs on top of coolers and hoist my own amps without help, rolling my eyes at the pained expressions on men's faces as they ask, "Are you suuuuuure you don't need help with that?" If women were constantly demanding help with their musical/physical tasks, I'd accept this as fact. But I don't think men need to be encouraged to assume they're stronger than I am.
There are hackneyed bits of advice like "Don't give a f***!" and "Peeing is harder when you're a girl!" and "Relationships with people you work with are a bad idea!" But then there's plain-old corny suggestions, like "Learn how to apply makeup in a moving vehicle" and "The woman's [sp] bathroom is your sanctuary"! She says she "hasn't met a single guy who tours who hasn't used the ladies [sic] bathroom to 'drop the kids off at the pool.' I'm still not sure why that is a thing." Um, because we all poop? Regardless of whether the stick figure on the door is wearing a skirt? Also, I've prepped for my fair share of shows in women's bathrooms, and they weren't anything I'd term a "sanctuary."
Then there are the classics: women can't drive! "Odds are that they probably won't let you drive because the thought of a tiny lady in charge of a giant vehicle with a trailer careening through the mountains on the west coast is a bit frightening." According to her, such things are "man stuff." Gee, so we should just fold ourselves into the backseat with the snare drums? Tell 'em you got your license fair and square just like they did, girl.
According to the author, "You don't always get to shower on tour, and, as a girl, it's much harder to pull off that unkempt, greasy look that makes guys seem so dangerous and rugged"!
As a lady woman, I personally shower dozens of times a day, practically around-the-clock, to rid myself of unfeminine grime. Don't forget to ask your male bandmates if you "look fat" before a performance either! You wouldn't "want to get on stage wearing something that looks terrible." Heaven forbid I worry more about what my music sounds like rather than whether my muffin top is poking out from under my 2002 Ani DiFranco tour tee as I'm shredding.
But this, this section. This is the one I think a lot of angry comments are gonna be aimed at:
"HANG WITH THE BOYS
Think of all the things you hate in your best friends’ girlfriends—they whine, they make your friend leave early because they’re tired, they are bossy, judgmental, and cause drama. This may sound like it’s coming from the mouth of some frat guy being like, 'Bros over hoes, dude brah' but he’s kind of right. Those girls can’t hang, and you need to be able to hang if you’re going to make it in what is essentially a fraternity for boys who didn’t care much about college."
No, it sounds like it's coming out of your mouth. So much wrong.
Loveland says, "My motto on tour is 'just be cool' and 'don't be an asshole.'" Those sound like great rules for life. Maybe Loveland could start following them and keep her opinions on female musicianhood to herself.
Is Joan Jett right about how little things have improved for women in the world of rock? Tell us what you think below.