Polimicks

Leftist commentary from a mouthy bitch

The Weight of Being a Female Frontman

Think about how many female musicians you can name versus male musicians.

I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned over here that the husband and I are in a punk band together.  Possibly not, but I think I did.  Anyway, we and two of our friends are a four-piece punk band called HoneyBadger.  We’ve got one entire and half of another original song, and we’re writing more.  We practice at least once a week, and we’re improving greatly every time we do.  But sometimes I get a little angsty about the fact that I’m going to be one of the few women in the region fronting a band, and the only fat one.

Part of the issue is, I’ve talked to various people at various times about women in local bands and why there are so few of them.  I mean, if I extend the region to cover Washington, Oregon and Northern California, we’re looking at about a dozen women in bands, maybe 20.  One of the local guys opined that women weren’t interested in rocking.  I sort of went all women’s studies on his ass and explained the cultural tendency of parents to push their daughters away from “rocking” instruments.  Guitars bought for teenaged daughters tend to be acoustic.  More parents want to have raised a Taylor Swift, rather than a Joan Jett or Doro Pesch.  When girls and women take singing lessons, more attention is paid to sweetness of tone than power.  In band classes in jr. highs and high schools, girls far outnumber boys on flute, piccolo, and clarinet.  Boys generally outnumber girls on brass and percussion, and saxophone.  I think my first high school had one female drummer/percussionist, my second had none, and neither did my third.  These are all large schools in urban areas (Ok, so Boise’s only urban-ish, but that’s where the one female drummer was).

The new punk rock scene here IS vastly more welcoming to women in genera,l and female musicians and singers in specific.  In the late 80s/early 90s I was told by so many bands not to even bother auditioning because they had no interest in chick singers.  “Women just complicate things,” one guy told me.  “Next thing I know you’re sleeping with someone in the band, and his wife or girlfriend gets pissed off.  Totally not worth it.  We only want men.”* At the time I was trying to audition, I had a long term boyfriend, and wasn’t interested in sleeping with anyone else.  But you know, if a woman is interested in rock music, she must be a slut.  It was the tendency to lump female musician/singers in with groupies that was so upsetting.

There is little of that nonsense in the punk rock crowd today, but still, a lot of them tend to assume that the reason more women don’t perform is because the women don’t want to, as opposed to that women have been conditioned not to.  That women are actively discouraged from being loud and drawing attention to themselves.

Particularly fat women.

Look at the advice fat women get on clothing:  No patterns, no bright colors, no ruffles…  We’re coached to take up as little space as possible.  But when you’re fronting a band,  you have to take up space,  you want people to notice you, you need to draw attention to yourself.

So, I’m going through some angst.

I’ve already picked out an outfit for when we perform.  It will include Gisela Ramirez’s “F*ck Flattering” crop shirt.  I’m looking for a good leopard print pencil skirt, too.  But if need be, I have a

Beth Ditto being fabulous!

couple of black ones that might work.  And full make up.  Not sure about the hair yet.  Possibly a purple wig, or I’ll just pre-emptively start out with a bandana on, because I am a sweaty, sweaty girl.

I really am worried that when I get up there, no one will be thinking, “Oh my God! She really belts it out!” and will instead be preoccupied with “Oh my God!  Look how huge her ass is!”  I’m worried about people pointing and laughing, or mooing, or making nasty comments.  If I do badly, I’m worried it will be because I’m fat or a woman in people’s minds, not that I’m learning and haven’t had any training to speak of, or stage fright.  I’m worried that if I fail, I make it that much harder for the next girl to get up there and grab the mike, or for the guys to give her a chance to do that.

Yeah, maybe I am over-stating my own importance, but sometimes that’s what it feels like.  It’s like going to the gym fat, where you feel like you have to stay on the treadmill or exercise bike longer than the thinner folk.  Or being a woman in nearly any field out there, where you feel you have to do twice as well to be thought half as good.

However, in spite of all the inner turmoil and angst, I’m still doing it.  I’ve got breathing and singing exercises, and I’m working to be really good at what we do.  I refuse to let the monsters of self doubt keep me from enjoying this, like they have so many other things in my life.  For once, I’m just going to do what makes me happy, and not give a shit what anyone else thinks.

Because HoneyBadger don’t give a shit.

 

*And why is it assumed to be the female singer’s fault, and not the horndog other band-member who couldn’t keep his dick in his pants?  Why is it the woman’s fault when someone who is in a relationship fails that relationship?  A post for another time.

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2 comments on “The Weight of Being a Female Frontman

  1. Kayla
    September 29, 2011

    Wow. I LOVE this article. I am going through the exact same thing down in New Mexico right now! Through opera and musical theatre I have developed a powerful voice of my own (mezzosoprano ftw!), but I have a few layaways in the pudge department.
    I have an awesome personality (which wins me over to people face to face) but I wonder if it’ll be enough to build a love with the audience in the gothic rock group I’m trying to get going with the guys I’ve got right now.
    I came to the same conclusion: so my ducks aren’t all in a row and things aren’t ideal. THAT’S METAL, BABY! Shit ain’t ever been ideal, or music wouldn’t exist like it does, and I won’t be chained down by wishing things were perfect ever again. 😀

    So anyway, just wanted to say you effing rock for being on the same page. If you ever want to chat, hit me up. 🙂

    Like

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This entry was posted on September 15, 2011 by in Age-ism, Fat, Featured Articles, Feminism, Media, Misogyny, Sexism.

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