Music, Pop Culture

Just because I’m a woman doesn’t mean I can’t play the guitar, dude-bros

To these guys, my gender screams "I'm incompetent and need you to teach me."

I taught myself how to play guitar when I was in middle school, and the years that followed came with sore fingers, annoyed family members, and, eventually, skill. I graduated from playing famous riffs over and over for my sisters and dog to playing original music at gigs around Los Angeles.

[bctt tweet=”I found that I was shut out, again and again, by most male musicians I met. ” username=”wearethetempest”]

I was eager to develop relationships with other serious musicians, so I began frequenting venues and meetups, hoping that a few songs or even a band would come out of it.

Instead, I found that I was shut out, again and again, by most male musicians I met. Musicians share their instruments, usually as a form of inclusion and camaraderie.

[bctt tweet=”It’s hard to write music when you’re trying to convince bandmates to take you seriously.” username=”wearethetempest”]

Every time I asked a male musician if I could play his guitar or bass, he’d be sure to caution me “be careful, don’t break it” or ask me if I “even” knew how to play it. It’s usually the “even” that is the most insulting; it’s as if my ability to play is contingent on my gender.

And to these guys, my gender screams “I’m incompetent and need you to teach me.” The look on their faces when they see that I can play (and play well) is satisfying, but not enough to forgive their initial doubt.

Often, dudes will assume I’m either a singer or a keyboardist, boxing me into their expectations of what a lady musician ‘should’ be. I’ve been the guitarist for an otherwise all-male band— it was a whole lot of condescension and coddling, and not too much creativity. After all, it’s hard to write music and bounce ideas when you’re trying to convince your bandmates to take you seriously.

[bctt tweet=”Often, dudes will assume I’m either a singer or a keyboardist.” username=”wearethetempest”]

Music is supposed to be an open, welcoming environment, but the rampant condescension is enough to push anyone away.

It’s no wonder female musicians prefer forming girl bands; at least there’s no male arrogance obstructing the goal: making music.