When Adelaide residents say, ‘everyone knows everyone in Adelaide’, it’s not quite meant in a literal sense. It’s pretty easy to get around the city (so no one bothers travelling more than 15 minutes in any direction), people choose their universities according to convenience of location (so you end up clustered with your high school friends anyway), and yes, whoever you’ve been eyeing off at your watering hole of choice invariably used to date your sister’s best friend’s ex. But of course we don’t all know every one of 1.2 million people.
Having said that, anyone with a moderate level of involvement in Adelaide’s music scene has seen a dark figure lurking at gigs, with his Converse shoes and P&S camera. Bands bribe him for good reviews, others beg him not to include shots of their drunken moments on his blog, and as countless wannabes run off to the east coast, Adelaide’s infamous music blogger, Spoz, enjoys the glory of essentially being one of the city’s tourist attractions.
He’s been around for five years and has written hundreds of thousands of words in that time, so his music-related thoughts are hardly in short supply. Lip decided to pick his brain about female musicians instead, so without further ado, in all his ranting glory: Spoz!
Why aren’t there more female musicians?
OH WOW I’M SO GONNA BE ABLE TO ANSWER THAT WITHOUT MAKING GROSS GENERALISATIONS AND OFFENDING EVERYONE… WOOOO!!
But yes it is a complex issue, and I’m so gonna over simplify matters here, but I think it boils down to two issues: the confidence to do it and the motivation to actually WANT to do it.
Let’s face it, public performance takes a lot of courage and sure, you do see a lot of female pop singers out there, but they’ve already got that whole mass-marketing, air-brushing, auto-tuning machinery in place to support them (my eyes are rolling too) but I’m more talking fronting up to dinky little stages on your own, in a local live venue, with something you’ve just come up with, and starting out. It’s terrifying whether you’re a guy or a girl…but even more so for girls who have all that added societal pressure to kick ass. I suspect it’s the girls in the audience who judge them more for how they look, guys are just happy to see ANY girl up there (admittedly for the dumbest reasons), and there’s that added expectation to succeed. So that’s definitely a factor at play.
It also may explain why girls DO take on a lot of the “support roles” in a live band. You see them playing bass, or the drums, or the glockenspiel, hiding off in a dark corner where they’re most inconspicuous and least likely to cause trouble for themselves; as much as many are also happy to kick ass in doing that too, and not because they lack the same talent or the same ambition to take on the lead… but more because they’re scared stiff of being judged for it. Confidence, high self esteem…these are hard things to come by, and harder still when you’re a girl.
Which leads to the second issue: the actual motivation to do it. Rock ain’t exactly the loftiest of life goals, in fact it’s probably the worst: just a few shades short of being downright unemployable and living off the dole for the rest of your life. It doesn’t even guarantee the same success rate as other creative fields or the same accolades from your peers, like being a painter, or a photographer, an actor or a writer (where you’ll note there’s far more gender parity now); it’s a blind crapshoot. And if feminism has succeeded on one count here, it’s drilling in the concept that equality between the sexes must equal kill-or-be-killed career aspiration.
I mean, you’re out there being the doctor, the lawyer, the captain of industry CEO smashing every glass ceiling in sight, there’s every pressure to do all that now or you’re letting the whole team down…but good music, especially anything outside of classical music (where there’s probably a lot more gender balance), isn’t always about being that driven. A lot of it comes from sheer unabashed laziness. You need that down time, whether it be the luxury to spend it or simply the arrogance to not give a shit what anyone thinks regardless…to mooch on that couch for days, months on end, perfecting that ultimate chord progression. And guys ever since the 90s have been celebrated more and more for being slackers, and that leads to more of them being brilliant musicians by sheer time invested. Girls don’t have that same encouragement…and thus they don’t share that same lazy motivation. Why be a musician when you’d get so much more kudos working in medicine or politics?
It’s why you see so many more girls now excelling in higher education, getting better year 12 test scores, more uni degrees…while guys will happily drop out in droves (or at least have the luxury to do so). And perhaps that’s why you see less female musicians. They’re afraid of being seen as failures…and let’s face it, live music’s the most wondrous failure of all!
But no, it’s clearly more complex than that…and clearly I don’t know what I’m talking about.
How do you find that people respond to female musicians in general? Some of these women feel they’re not really accepted by male musicians…do you think they’re right?
Well as far as music goes commercially: oh they’re dead right, they’re judged mercilessly, but so are guys. Let’s not kid ourselves here, we’ve been celebrating sexuality more than talent, intelligence or creativity ever since Elvis Presley mastered the hip swagger…it’s what sells! Society in general is a LOT dumber than we give ourselves credit for and if it works, we’ll exploit the hell out of it and sell the box-set. But again, we’re talking crass commerciality here, it IS the devil incarnate…and these rules don’t necessarily apply to the ground floor.
Because for the local scene…we’re simply happy to have someone, ANYONE, coming up with something cool, something different, something new to inspire us; guy or girl, it really doesn’t matter. As long as we can relate to it, ALL are welcome and respected on merit. And I’m not just talking in lofty terms of “goodwill” and “acceptance” here…it’s not about that, it’s that we’re desperate for good music wherever we can find it. WE’LL TAKE ANYONE!!