For decades there has always been the debate of man vs woman. Who can do the job better? Whether it be cooking, or parenting or even navigating, there is really no reason to discriminate just because one person has a penis, and the other has a vagina. So why do we place such emphasis on gender within music? We’ve all been guilty of it. Hell, i’ll admit I do it all the time. I often say “Yeah, she’s a good guitarist.. for a girl.” But what does that even mean? After talking with a good friend (Hi Ryan!) there certainly isn’t a reason for overcategorising a person just because they may be different.
I guess one way to approach this would be within a historical and lateral sense. Women have been consistently marginalised throughout history. Relegated to the kitchen, chained to follow behind a male, and more often than not, treated far beyond the realms of what is considered indecent human behaviour within certain cultures. Since women have generally been accepted within musical culture there has always been a part they would be considered appropriate for: and that’s the pretty songbird.
The iconic female singer at the forefront of the band has often become a coveted position for women wishing to make a break into music. Being in the line of attention, as well as keeping a position that requires a lot of talent, there certainly has been a breakthrough when it comes to ignoring the gender confines within an activity that can be social or not.
But what about the guitarists? The bassists? The drummers? Any other musical instrument that doesn’t necessarily require pushing air through your lungs, controlling pitch with your diaphragm and voice box? There are so many incredible female instrumentalists that often find themselves far behind the spotlight simply because there certainly is a stigma attached to your gender and how you play your instrument.
Is playing an instrument a male sport? Is there any less merit to a woman playing an instrument that is predominantely seen as a male thing? Naturally, there can be some considerations. With a different build, people can handle an instrument differently. Male fingers which tend to be broader or larger within genetic constraints will handle an instrument differently to female fingers which are generally slimmer. This implies that there’s going to be a variation in technique, but regardless of gender this is going to change as every single person is made up differently, and learns differently.
Is it a lifestyle option? While males are typically seen throughout the media as less monogamous entities; the stereotype has certainly become that of a promiscuous bed hopping man indulging in sex, drugs and rock’n’roll. But is this just further marginalising? Through the discussion of sexual gender power control, if a man is promiscuous he’s a champion. If a woman is the same, she’s a whore. Do we adapt this train of thought into the same way that we view musicians?
“She may be a sweet guitarist, but if she’s bed hopping, then she’s a whore, and clearly not enviable”
It’s certainly a case of power control at the very least. There will always be competition, as long as one person is different to the other (and more often than not, needs to prove something)
While discussing this with friends and family, it became evidently clear to me: It’s a trend. Perhaps the world of music is intimidating to some women, but there is obviously less women instrumentalists within bands. Perhaps it’s a diamond in the rough that brings around change, whenever a woman is seen wielding an axe and shredding it up hardcore it’s a sight to hold dear and appreciate it for its individuality.
I’ve been trying hard to look into this, and I myself can’t see any real reason why one gender is better than the other. I doubt that either is superior, and there’s no one that’s better because absolutely everyone is unique.
I am by no means educated within this realm. These are simple musings after discussing with friends and i’m definitely interested in your opinions on this topic. Why do you think there is a decline in female musicians? Is there a power struggle? Is there prejudice over the gender choice in musicians and why! I’m absolutely fascinated, but certainly can’t get my head around it by myself, so please lend me your opinions.