There's 50/50 ratio of women to men on earth. When we look for evidence of that ratio reflected in entertainment, high-level corporate jobs and politics that ratio is not reflected back.
To compensate for that lack of representation in these very visible jobs, women end up working 10x harder to try to make it into the boys clubs around the world. Along the way they are sexualized and discriminated against based on their gender and if they happen to be a woman of color or queer the race starts 1,000 yards farther back.
Truefire.com one of the more popular online guitar learning spaces, has 228 guitar teachers under contract. Of those 228 teachers only 20 of them are women and 0 of them are women of color. This isn't a trend exclusive to this online learning community. I searched other popular online guitar and bass learning spaces like guitartricks.com and got the same results.
That same percentage comes up again when you look at their master lists of songs and see songs by men dominating the lists. Even the bands with women in them are often made up by members of the opposite sex that out number them.
Do a quick YouTube search of a popular song and add "guitar tutorial" or "guitar chords" look at the top 3 people teaching it. Odds are it's a white guy.
So what does all this mean?
Well, duh. We've been here all along. Plugging away, learning guitar and bass for the joy of it, often keeping it our secret thing that we like to do. Why? Because why would we go out into the world and think we can play on stage or on tour when we do not see ourselves adequately reflected in the music that we love?
It wasn't until I started proactively becoming aware of social justice issues that I realized I didn't listen to a lot of music with women in it. The same ratio of 92/8 would definitely be reflected my music collection until I expanded my efforts to include badass women... My heroes were all men.
So what does that say to someone that's already awkward AF in her own body, someone trying to figure out who she is, a teen who wants to seem only a little smart but not so smart that she seems like a know-it-all. A girl that wants to be seen so she tries to be hot but not too slutty or too boring... The girl that is constantly trying to not be too much this or too less of that because she might just make others feel uncomfortable.
As a person who was that girl, I can say you just choose to hide. You can be
fanatically in love with music and pretend you live in that world, but when it comes to performing in front of others, without a supportive network of friends and/or family, you freeze. You gravitate toward the boys who are unabashedly playing music and if they step away, you pick up their instrument and mess around then act like nothing was happening if someone came along because God forbid you be too much or too little of something.
This idea of the perfect girl comes from a society that places value on the exploration and adventurer personality of boys while telling girls they need to be careful because they could get hurt.
We are breaking this notion with Girls Rock Camps popping up around the world. Girls, we give you PERMISSION to be loud AF! We create space for you to be comfortable to figure out what the hell YOU want. And in this space, women volunteers and closet musicians start to figure it out too... that even though we lived in a shell for years, there is always time to come out of it and do the things that have been calling to us our whole lives.
A shift is occurring where women and non-binary people are starting to demand to see ourselves reflected. We are pushing ourselves to be in spaces that we are supported and in that space we are start to feel more comfortable calling people out on their patriarchal bullshit. Pull attention to the lack of representation. Use your voice to make the change and then take action to support the people and organizations that are making the world an equal space.
This can start small. You can tweet at people where you see they are perpetuating this cycle like the kick ass twitter account @bookmorewomen who have made gifs of concert and festival flyers that show how many bands on the lineup are women, trans or non-binary folks (or just retweet theres).
You can make a point to pay for music and movies that are created by women.
I have an online guitar and bass class now that is accessible and is breaking down these barriers. I promise you I will offer you all the femme-focused songs we have been missing and will push you to connect with other women who are part of this awakening in music and beyond.
Support businesses (like mine) who recognize the problem and are proactively taking steps to create a world that girls see themselves as equals in.
The shift has already started, do your part by choosing people that are helping shift the current paradigm.
To learn guitar and bass from a badass queer woman and join a community of other feminist folks who are on a similar journey go here:
Thanks for taking the time to read!