It’s probably because I’ve spent most of my life writing that it’s only now, as I’m in a band, that I’m feeling the effects of reception. When you write 90-page screenplays, it is both fortunate and unfortunate, that few, if any, people end up reading them. I’ve never had to worry about authenticity or selling myself. I’m more or less anonymous.
With my band, Littler, however, I perform. I can read about myself on the internet. Nearly half of questions directed towards me (by people at a show or interviewers) have to do with my gender. As someone, by and large, raised by a single father, my female self is something I’ve struggled to own. This process felt normal until I started to feel as if I needed to have solidified my identity in order to fit into this grander, musical narrative put on me. These types of narratives, whether they relate to a person’s gender, race, sexuality, or as any other foothold into an artist’s story, are everywhere, all the more so because of the internet.
In some ways, it would seem that being in a band now is easier than ever. Record a demo on GarageBand, put it on the internet. Voila. But, while it’s true that it’s easier to get your stuff out there, the collective attention span is shorter. This means there’s a larger emphasis on having a story that can make you distinct from the masses. On a less cynical note, this also means, if you want to, you can craft your own narrative. You can sell yourself any way you want, provided you’re not working with people who want to do that for you. Particularly for people of marginalized communities, this is really important, because often the opportunity to write your own story is not given to you. Much of the time, some journalist, superficially acquainted with you, will write it for you.
For one reason or another, the narratives that are being woven are uncomfortable to talk about, whether for their benefits or their shortcomings. However, to neglect to do so would be a mistake.
Here are some narratives that I encounter and am uncomfortable with. I’ve listed below the reasons why.
I wish I had started playing music earlier but I didn’t. Now I worry that I fit into a stereotype of a lady who is not as experienced at her instrument, and bring all other really, talented ladies down by being a reason for dudes to not take us seriously.
This is dumb and I shouldn’t have to feel personally responsible for the fact that ignorant dudes don’t take women seriously. I am not emblematic of 50% of the population and if you are the kind of person who thinks this sort of thing anyway, whether this manifests in literal comments like, “Girls don’t know how to play their instruments,” or patronizing gestures like adjusting my amp, you are the problem. Not me.
A variation on this theme is feeling like I always have to be tough, that my band, by virtue of three-quarters of its members identifying as female, will have to be political, and that I can’t ask for help when I need it. All of these things only seem really unfair in comparison to bands with dudes. They exist, they pave their own way and no one is asking them about feeling out of place, how to fix inequalities within the punk scene, or asking them why they chose to play with other dudes.
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