Women in music, seriously

January 29, 2018

Short of a month after the Golden Globes was dominated by women (and men) dressed in black and the second Women's march, it only seems logical to write about the role of women in another man’s world; the music business. Is it really a man’s world? It most certainly is for a number of reasons, but for the sake of keeping this blog readable and light I’ll stick to only a few examples. After a short brainstorm session, I decided to pick one thing that really bothers me most about being a female musician in a man’s world; not being taken seriously. Being taken less seriously than our male counterparts I mean by that of course.


                     [ Lis Bogaard ] 


Could you imagine a world where women would be considered the standard in music?! What a world that would be. Many consider there to be no gender gap or difference in the industry, but we -women- do seem to be less “skilled”, “talented” or “professional” than men - how is that no difference? When is the last time someone asked a guy that is the singer of a band: “Okay, cool that you sing, but do you actually play a real instrument?” I can go on with remarks like these, but I won’t. You get the point.


The funny thing is that these comments can be brought to you real nice, in the form of a compliment. For instance, for some reason, people don’t expect girls to play the double bass - I get that. It’s a weird, big, loggy instrument that just isn’t very popular, so anyone playing it is always sort of surprising. I remember traveling with a band and jamming at somebody’s house, when at some point I grabbed the bass; everyone was so surprised! They were in awe of the fact that a girl played this instrument. At the moment I felt pretty cool, because everyone was applauding me and giving me compliments. Which I love, don’t get me wrong.. But... In hindsight, not so cool when a second layer in the compliments show that the general thought was that a woman doesn’t play an instrument, and if they do they certainly don’t play it well!


“Well, Lis, I see what you’re trying to say, but there are so many professional artists that are female and are doing really well!”


When looking at the current Billboard top 100, there are three female artists in the top 10 - for the Dutch top 40 there are four female artists in the top 10. Not bad, right? But a quick scan of the full Billboard top 100 shows a total of 20 female artists, of which a couple have more than one song in the list. Or, they are not the only artist; it features a male artist. Do we need this to be taken more seriously?


So, in conclusion I want to leave you with this message: Girls, be proud! Play and sing your heart out. You are doing an awesome job. Guys, be mindful! Would what you’re going to say be something that you wouldn't say to a guy in the same situation? Don’t only compliment the kickass female guitar player on her pretty dress. Think about it.


[ Written by Amsterdam columnist, psychologist, musicologist, and friend Lis Bogaard ]


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