A few days ago, Neko Case sparked an excellent dialog regarding a regular facet of female musicianhood with this simple Twitter statement: "To answer your question, no, ladies in bands don't get ANY action. Actresses have a lean on all the 'pussy' we were supposed to get." Her subtle but intelligent gripe was echoed by many women, and like so many off-the-cuff tweets, it was a surface gripe about a very routine part of being a woman in a band, especially on the road.
Reviewing Ke$ha this past weekend, it was obvious to anyone who drove by the venue that her audience was overwhelmingly made up of teenage girls and gay dudes. So, my guess is, after her hour-plus long performance where she regaled us with songs about hitting on dudes, dudes putting out and sex with dudes, nary a dude knocked down Ke$ha's door after the show.
I can't speak for Ke$ha, but I can very much relate with Case; It has been my own experience that being a woman in a band can often mean you are hard to approach. Last year on tour, my band played to a bunch of mostly high school-age boys at a record store in Nowhere, Illinois. Looking out at the crowd felt like looking at a room full of men who had just witnessed a murder -- the audience stood silent, unblinking, hands in pockets. For the whole set. After the show -- and this happens a lot of the time -- it was like we had the plague; not a soul wanted to come near us. Eventually, one kid came up to us and sputtered out something like, "Uh, you guys reminded me of, like, Flipper." Then he backed away as fast as he could.
In the case that I am approached after a show, it is generally by gentlemen desiring to "offer lessons" on things I could do better. After a show in Boulder recently, for instance, a man came up to me after a set and asked if I had ever thought about playing closer to the pick-ups on my bass guitar, "explaining" that it would give my guitar a better tone. I wanted to ask him if he was interested in pulling his penis out so I could show him how to give himself a better hand job, but instead I stood there and stared. Why, instead of saying "Hey, like your band" or not saying anything at all because they think we suck, a person would assume that me being a bass player for the last sixteen years means that I need their advice is confusing to me.
But back to Case's point about the sexual life of a woman on tour, when it comes to dudes wanting to groupie-out for us, well, that seems otherworldly. Once a woman puts a guitar in her hand, she is polarized: She is either too sexy, or too much like one of the dudes, or -- as it has also been in my own experience -- my female bandmate and I (for the record, I play in a band with another woman and a man) are perceived as lesbians. Why, when the power seemingly shifts so far in a woman's direction that she becomes only interested in other women, I'm not sure. It is frustrating and annoying, but a lesson we have had to learn as we continue make music.
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