As an aspiring musician, it is easy to admire the living daylights out of Jack White. The man is a genius.
His recent proclamations about sexism in the music industry, however, have given my enraptured heart new reasons to sing his praises. During an interview with Pearl Jam’s, Mike McCready, White talks about the massive gender disparity in rock `n’ roll music and the blaring lack of respect given to female musicians. He talks about how women have to work twice as hard as their male counterparts to be successful (sound familiar?) and how he believes it makes them better musicians:
“The ultimate shame of it … is that almost girls have to try twice as hard to really prove themselves, they don’t have a free ticket or something like that,” he said. “But in the end you almost get something better than any other sort of everyday, run-of-the-mill male musician … ’cause they’re sort of put in a position that they have to.”
Listen to a preview of the interview here:
The fact that someone of White’s influence in the music world is speaking up about the widespread perception of women in the industry is a HUGE win. (#HeforShe, anyone??) It’s even more impactful that not one, but TWO rock heroes sat down to discuss it. A lot of consciousness-raising going on here. White goes on to explain, “It’s a real shame that if a woman goes onstage with an instrument, it’s almost a novelty. Like, ‘Oh, isn’t that cute.’ It’s a shame that in 2014 that’s a little bit of what’s going on in the perception in the room.”
And it is. It is a shame. And, it absolutely has become a novelty when some female musicians are relegated to “twerking” their way to the top. It is a massive disservice to the women who have real talent. Even when an established female artist reaches for a guitar or piano, people overwhelmingly react as though it’s a “cute gimmick.” I find it astonishing that even though extreme societal measures have taken to confront sexism in numerous areas of our culture, the strict gender binary between men and women in the music industry has remained pervasive for decades.
Later in the interview, White recounts how during a rehearsal with his all-female back-up band, someone walked into the studio and asked why there was, “So many girls in the room,” to which the female drummer of White’s band responded, “”That’s funny, because no one ever says, when there’s all guys in the room, ‘What’s the deal with all the guys?’”
White brings attention to the idea that sex plays way too big a role in the way musicians are perceived. Instead of focusing on the person’s sexual genitalia hidden beneath a musician’s tight leather pants, let’s remember who that person really is: a talented musician (gasp!) playing an instrument.
You can catch the rest of the interview TONIGHT at 9PM: http://www.siriusxm.com/pearljamradio