The Pink Collar Ghetto
I guess part of it has been inspired by going to shoegazing clubs, and being slightly disappointed to see band after band of 4 boys with haircuts. Not that I've got anything against boys with haircuts, I mean, I appreciate a good hunk of manflesh as much as the next lady. But it just seems a bit... weird. It's always seemed odd to me to see only one gender on the stage.
One of the reasons that I think I was so attracted to the original, first wave of shoegazing was how free it was of that bullshit. I mean, not the only or even the main reason - that was the music, maaaan, the orgasmic, blissed-out, crystaline, sonic cathedral sea of sound. But still a reason. It was nice to look at the bands onstage and see some kind of equality. There were as many women onstage as men, and it was never a big deal.
I mean, look at My Bloody Valentine - half male, half female, part gay, part breeder couple. There was such a range of great female role models, not just your etherial girls like Rachel Goswell, but cool chicks you could imagine going down the pub with, like Miki and Emma from Lush, slightly dangerous and mysterious women like Toni Halliday, intellectual women like Laetitia Sadier, slightly scary bruisers like Leslie from Silverfish. And it wasn't treated as a novelty, or some kind of schtick, they just WERE. No fuss made about it.
And now I go down Shoegaze revival clubs, and what has happened? The occasional token girl keyboard player aside (I blame Zia McCabe) - it's bloke after bloke. With haircuts. And sometimes beards.
Is it me, or has music got *more* gender segregated in the past ten, fifteen years? Or am I just nostalgic for some golden age of my youth?
What do I blame? Britpop, Dadrock, Loaded Magazine? The Backlash and all that?
Is this what Riot Grrl fought for?
Well, therein lies some of the problem. I was a bit too old for Riot Grrl by the time it happened; I'd already been fighting my battles for a few years, been playing in bands and getting dismissed by soundmen and guitar salesmen (until they found out my dad was a major soundman in the folk scene) and trying to carve out my own band's place. I played with a lot of women, but I played with a lot of men, too. I played with anyone that would have me.
But somewhere along the way, I stopped believing in Riot Grrl. Or maybe I found it simplistic in the first place. Here's the thing - separate is NEVER equal. I understand *why* they had girls only gigs in the early days. But the problem is, that kind of thing sticks. Even once the gigs stop being women only, it's much harder to get men to go to a thing they perceive as being "for women". Even the open-minded ones, there's still that perception that "oh, it's for girls only, I won't be welcome."
And if you exclude men, you don't have equality, you have ghettoisation. And I absolutely refuse to be ghettoised - it's just another form of inequality.
But there's me, back at the shoegazer clubs, looking up at these boys with haircuts, and wondering why my band doesn't ever get to play. Feeling excluded, feeling like you can watch, but you will NEVER be allowed to participate. Because you're not a skinny boy with a haircut, you play GIRLS music.
I mean, this is always a problem with genre music. Anything that's a revival will be, by its very nature, conservative. (Trust me, I spent so much of my early 20s in the psych/garage scene, wondering why the boys were such troglodytes.) But the shoegazing revival... for fucks sake! It just feels like missing the point of what made it so GOOD the first time round.