I'm going to start this article declaring that I come in peace. I'm not here to bash on the male gender by tarring all men working in the music industry with the same brush. There have been incidents in which I have faced isolation and mistreatment simply because I am a woman which do need addressing. However, I think there are issues of how we treat PEOPLE in this industry which need addressing regardless of their gender.
There are some people in the industry who try to manipulate women and market them as more of a product than a person. There are situations where pressures coming from higher places arise and image becomes a discussion - your personality becomes mouldable and it's easy to fall into a trap of saying yes to everyone and changing yourself to fit an outside ideal. Never feel like you have to change yourself. Know that if you're surrounding yourself with the right people, they will take you as you are.
Over the time I have been working as a musician in the industry, there have been a number of notable occasions that need calling out. I have had men ask to have a picture with me and aim from the tits down. I have had to be escorted out of a venue by my band and crew because a guy thought it was appropriate to leer towards me whilst I was playing and simultaneously mime oral sex. Security guards have belittled me publicly for standing up to their authority and trying to stop them manhandling fans. When I shop for gear in guitar shops, guys talk to you like you are stupid and don't have an understanding of how gear works; this also applies to sound engineers. On both my personal and the band's social media accounts, guys have asked inappropriate sexual questions, stated what they want to do to me sexually in graphic detail and had the nerve to call me an ignorant bitch if I don't respond to their attacks.
What's even worse is that this objectifying doesn't only apply to strangers. I've had people tell me I'm only attractive to them now that I'm in Milk Teeth, as if in choosing to do this my flaws magically got fixed and I suddenly became palatable and am able to now be found attractive.
I think in some ways these things are to blame for why there are less women doing what I do and why we still face an inequality crisis around the world. Why would women want to put themselves into a scenario where, if they do what they love in a male-dominated industry, they just get treated as an object?
Choosing to follow a career path (sadly) less commonly walked by women, personally, gives me a sense of empowerment. Where people may only pay attention to me initially because I'm a girl holding a guitar, I'd like to think that - once the magpie syndrome wears off - the fact they're paying attention at all means people are listening to what I have to say. That in itself is progressive.
So, whoever you are, step up and own what you are most passionate about. No PERSON can take away your desire or drive to do what you love - a lot of the time the only thing stopping us from making what we love a reality is ourselves. Hopefully it won't be too long before the world catches up to the real definition of feminism and we do start to see gender equality across the board - music industry or otherwise. Until then, don't let the minority of assholes hold you back.