February 27, 2019

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All-Female/Girl Groups - Why is it so hard for them to be taken seriously?

April 28, 2017

(Check out the playlist below!)

 

Today, I am looking at all-female bands and girl groups. All-female bands are musical groups in music across all genres, rock, blues, jazz etc. A girl group typically means the members are solely vocalists.

 

All-male bands dominate rock and pop. All-female bands/girl groups less so.

 

Less than a few years after the passage of the 19th Amendment (giving women the right to vote and ratified on August 18, 1920), US popular music had a large number of “all-female” bands going back to the roaring ‘20’s. Early sound motion pictures also prominently featured all-girl groups – one of the most well-known film performances was the all-girl band featured in Billy Wilder’s Some Like It Hot – Marilyn Monroe played the ukulele and sang (Wilder’s film also brought transgenders to the screen – Jack Lemmon made a fetching blonde). Academia also added their two cents in books like “All Girl Bands of the 1940’s” by Sherrie Tucker.

 

Wait stop the writing – dear reader, if you want a history lesson go visit the Wikipedia page https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All-female_band or visit Facebook https://www.facebook.com/AllGirlBands

 

But lets fast-forward to today. Can anyone easily name a current, popular all-girl band? Face it, it’s not that easy without relying on Google. Yes we have Adele, Beyoncé, Taylor but these are solo artists. Then there is Janice, Grace, Tori, Fiona, Björk, Sheryl, Courtney, Alanis, Patti, Lucinda, Stevie, Veronica, Florence and that’s just to name a few. But all-girl bands these days simply do not have the popularity of male bands.

 

Here’s a question. I want to know why all-female or girl groups never get the traction male bands receive? Why? Is the answer simple? I think it is.

 

We live in a world of gender bias, prejudice, and stereotypes. American audiences will never let talent get in the way of gender bias – both go together like peanut butter and jelly.

 

A white male performer has always been paid more, been given more accolades and is going to be more popular than his female counterparts.

 

Here is my proof.  First lets accept talent is talent – men and women today have equal talent in the arts – each can write, produce, engineer and perform.

 

For proof, I turn to the musical genre Classical Symphony. It is well established that for the last 100 years, classical orchestras have been dominated by male musicians.  Women who auditioned were not hired.  

 

Then something changed in the 70’s. Auditions were now gender blind – in other words, the musicians played behind a curtain with their identity hidden from the panel auditioning the artists. To no surprise, women started getting hired not based on gender, but on their musicianship.

 

The audition juries picked the best artists, their embedded gender bias being negated by the blind audition. Each decade following gender neutral auditions, women picked up additional chairs in the orchestras with current figures at over 30% women to men.


I assert if we agree that female musicians will be more fairly judged because of a screen, then we should make sure to block gender bias and build a screen wide enough, and tall enough to keep the concert audience in the dark as to the gender of the rock and roll band’s musicians! Gender bias will be ameliorated and concert goers can make their judgments and evaluations based on what they hear and not on the gender of who’s playing. But until then, we will have to look inward and deal with our bias and choose those bands and artists we support based on our subjective likes and dislikes.

 

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