Members Of Swearin’, Speedy Ortiz, Perfect Pussy, Joanna Gruesome Share What It’s Like Being The Only Girl In A Band

Michael Nelson | May 28, 2014 - 11:26 am

A couple weeks ago, Noisey posted an article by Mariel Loveland of the New Jersey band Candy Hearts titled “How To Survive Being The Only Girl In The Band.” Loveland’s advice on this matter consisted of suggestions like, “It’s OK to let the guys help you with your luggage and equipment as long as you help in other ways,” and “Master the squat and pee/Learn how to apply makeup in a moving vehicle” and “Offer to do the ‘man stuff’ you don’t want to do” (among other things). Allison Crutchfield of Swearin’ (pictured above; a band in which Crutchfield is the only woman alongside three men) read the article and found it problematic. Wrote Crutchfield:

What I found in this article was similar to what I found nine years ago [after witnessing acts of misogyny in Birmingham, Alabama’s punk scene]: my feelings and needs were obsolete or secondary to a man’s. And while this piece was problematic both as an example of blatant missing-the-point feminism that was cemented in a public forum, it sure did get a lot of people talking.

That quote come from a response piece that Crutchfield assembled, which ran today on Impose. The response, titled “Not All Women: A Reflection Of Being A Musician And Female,” collects opinions from other women who play in bands otherwise made up only of men, including Meredith Graves of Perfect Pussy, Alanna Mcardle of Joanna Gruesome, Sadie Dupuis of Speedy Ortiz, and a bunch of others. For the most part, the artists who contributed agreed with some points made by Loveland, disagreed with others, and on the whole felt the conversation started by Loveland was a great deal bigger and more complex than initially presented. I think Mcardle’s response is probably the most direct:

Reading Mariel Loveland’s article, two phrases really stick out to me: “Us ladies are a team” and “You are one of the guys on tour; you are an equal.” I’ve been ‘the only girl in a band’ for about two years now and the things that are the most apparent to me are that I am very much not one of the guys on tour, and believing that I am would not make me equal. Existing as a woman in a band is an incredibly difficult and brave thing to do, and not because I have to figure out how to put my makeup on in a moving van. I recently spoke about the sexism women in music face in an interview and it resulted in me receiving rape threats. I’ve been groped by guys at shows I’ve played and attended, countless times I’ve been patronised by men in other bands regarding my musical ability, and one time a sound guy at a venue patted me on the head after (needlessly) explaining to me what feedback is.

I agree with Mariel that ladies are a team, but she prefixes that statement with the instruction to “lighten up” if you’re a woman reading the article. But I just don’t think reducing the incredibly difficult struggle that women in music face every day to the stereotypes perpetuated in this article demonstrates being on the same team at all; telling us we shouldn’t take it so seriously invalidates our very real experiences. Surviving being a woman in a band is a lot bigger than figuring out where to shower on tour: it’s an active and very important fight for safety, equality, and respect.

Check out the full story on Impose, and the piece to which they are responding over at Noisey.