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Featured Article: Sexist Scene, Everyone's Fault

Posted by: Kelly Doherty (06/17/14)
Whilst reading the comments from many of our lovely AP.net users on a recent article written on Wondering Sound regarding the lack of women on the Warped Tour, I became quite surprised by the reactions that our user base was having. Responses varied from statements suggesting that it's reasonable for Warped Tour to be lacking in women as there aren't many women in the scene all the way to users stating their outright hatred of all things feminist. It was not surprising to see debate about the issue - feminism and women's rights are certainly a particularly divisive topic on the internet at the moment. However, what I found difficult to accept was that folks were more willing to attack and complain about the Warped Tour for featuring a band such as Falling In Reverse than they were about the fact that, according to the article, only 6% of the tour is female. In a scene which feeds off experimentation, open-mindedness and more than a little bit of feeling like an outsider, it's hard to comprehend how so many people could not care less about ensuring that women feel like they are accepted within our world.

An excuse used for the lack of women involved in the Warped Tour and other festivals is that female heavy bands do not make the bucks. It was suggested by users that Kevin Lyman is a businessman and he has no obligation to carry out anything that may hinder him from boarding the capitalist train to heaven. Firstly, as was rightly pointed out by the original article, just because one female orientated festival failed to bring in the dollars, it does not mean that a Warped Tour which has a suitable portion of women will lead to it being relegated to playing local bars. There's a whole host of reasons for why that festival may have failed - possibly because, y'know, punk rock isn't exactly a money maker. But also, because it's not a great idea. The way the alternative music godmakers have moulded the scene is that female bands are largely less successful because festivals and music press aren't interested in seeking them out, hosting an all female festival out of nowhere is not going to change years of bias against women. The complaint about the lack of female representation at the Tour is not a request to replace all male bands with female bands, it's not even a suggestion that 50% of the tour should be female - that would only be representative of a perfect world that lacks the sexism and negative attitudes that are somehow still prevalent in 2014. It's a complaint that only 6% of the tour are female. This is not representative of the musical landscape in any way. I've been writing about music for a few years now, I've run my own blog and contributed to five websites, as well as AP.net, all of which are highly tied in with the alternative music scene. From the musical submissions I receive every single day, I know that women make up a much greater portion of the music world than than promoters would have you believe. Of course, it is certainly nowhere near equal, however, the idea that there just isn't enough talented female musicians to be figureheads in our scene in absolutely rubbish. For some reason, be it a fear of change, apathy or actual tangible sexism, our scene is a boys' club and festival organizers and music media have no interest in changing that.

Furthermore, the concept that the Warped Tour, and festivals of its ilk, have no responsibility towards trying to make the scene a more equal, inclusive place is one that sits uncomfortably with me. Of course, it depends on whether or not you believe that capitalist ventures have any form of social responsibility to the world around. If you believe that gaining the maximum amount of money at all times is always justifiable, regardless of the negative impact it may have on society, then fair enough, however this situation equates with many others. Do you believe that a factory has the responsibility to dispose of waste in a way that does not destroy the environment despite the extra cost of it? If you do, then how exactly does this differ when we're dealing with a music festival?

Yes, I accept that there are less women involved in music and, therefore, it is more difficult to source bands with female members. However, it is the fault of the leaders of the scene that this is the state of affairs. Day after day, Warped Tour and all the various organisations that set the trends and create who becomes popular in our world choose to give the limelight to all male bands, rather than cultivate young female talent. They do this solely for money - all male bands are more likely to supported by men and are seen to look good on posters for teenage girls (precisely why bands like Falling In Reverse & Black Veil Brides are stupidly popular while an excellent emo band wearing flannels will probably go under the radar, but that's a rant for another day).

When we do have a breakthrough and a woman is actually successful - Hayley Williams being the obvious example - we are bombarded with articles about her love life, her looks, her hairstyles. We are taught not to view Hayley Williams as a musician, but as a woman. Even worse, the scene has managed to turn 'female fronted' or 'female featuring' bands as a fucking sub-genre. Apparently, every band that plays vaguely rock-y music and has a female singer is a Paramore rip off. Let us forget the ridiculous amount of male bands who have similar sounds, if we have one female fronted band in the scene per decade, that's more than enough, apparently. And, of course, the handful of bands who have female members and actually make it to the Warped Tour must play the same stage, far away from the real male musicians. The ShiraGirl Stage is a way of the scene patting itself on the back and feeling super progressive when, really, it's yet another way of suggesting that women do not have a role to play in the important parts of the festival. The ShiraGirl Stage will never, ever change the opinion of a young individual who believes that the touring circuit is something women should not participate in, as they won't look twice at the stage. How you change opinions is by giving females the chance to be in the same position as a men and by showing people that they are just as capable, if not better.

So, to answer my own question (sorry if you spent time answering it, it was sort of rhetorical), the Warped Tour does not differ from a factory that should put in a little bit of effort to preserve the environment around it. As the Warped Tour and the big names in our scene have helped to create this narrative where women aren't respected as musicians because they are never witnessed as musicians, they have the responsibility to try to stop it, rather than make it worse. The vast amount of young girls who turn up to the Warped Tour are never going to translate their passion for music into creating a living out of it, if they are constantly shown by the biggest event on their calendar that they are to never be anything more than a groupie or a fangirl. There is simply no excuse for not having a greater amount of women on the tour. The Warped Tour is a chance for young bands to get to audiences that would be completely uninterested in them otherwise. Despite what Lyman seems to believe, nobody wants him to replace his headlining acts with local riotgrrrl bands that have six likes on Facebook. However, what we ask of him is when he picks promising, up and coming all male bands to play his stages, that he actually goes out of his way to also choose promising, up and coming bands with female members who just won't get a chance otherwise because they're not 'pretty enough' or because our scene dictates that women aren't good enough . We ask of him to help promote social change and equality and for him to do something that vaguely resembles what exactly it was that punk stood for in the first place.
    
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 700
10:15 AM on 06/17/14
#2
Lueda Alia
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Great article. Will respond with my thoughts later since I'm away from a computer at the moment.

Wanted to share this, however, since it's related: Neko Case responding to Playboy's comment --> http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/5380242
IM NOT A FUCKING "WOMAN IN MUSIC", IM A FUCKING MUSICIAN IN MUSIC!


Edit:

Since it's difficult to talk about this article (and the ones related to it, as well as the issue in general) without talking about feminism, I wanted to share this quote:

"A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men."

I don't think we need to to hurt or alienate males from this scene in order to accommodate females. But can we all, at the very least, agree that Warped Tour could be doing a better job than they are right now? I don't know Kevin Lyman personally, and thus I can't speak on his behalf, nor can I comment on his intentions/agenda, but I think we can all agree that more can be done to get women more involved, or make them feel more comfortable about getting involved.

I don't have a solution or answer for this situation, but having these discussions is a good place to start, because change is only possible when people's concerns and aspirations are heard, acknowledged and acted upon. And that's possible only via communicative or open dialogue.

I would love to have a respectful discussion about this, because I highly doubt that any of you hate women, and I would hope that you would want them to be more involved.
10:17 AM on 06/17/14
#3
Spencer Control
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That thread is a miserable turd of the terrible people of AP coming out of the woodworks.
10:20 AM on 06/17/14
#4
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Its funny playboy gives Neko Case a good review and she thanks them with hate. I don't understand our society today.
10:20 AM on 06/17/14
#5
RonStoppable
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Quote:
When we do have a breakthrough and a woman is actually successful - Hayley Williams being the obvious example - we are bombarded with articles about her love life, her looks, her hairstyles. We are taught not to view Hayley Williams as a musician, but as a woman. Even worse, the scene has managed to turn 'female fronted' or 'female featuring' bands as a fucking sub-genre. Apparently, every band that plays vaguely rock-y music and has a female singer is a Paramore rip off. Let us forget the ridiculous amount of male bands who have similar sounds, if we have one female fronted band in the scene per decade, that's more than enough, apparently. And, of course, the handful of bands who have female members and actually make it to the Warped Tour must play the same stage, far away from the real male musicians. The ShiraGirl Stage is a way of the scene patting itself on the back and feeling super progressive when, really, it's yet another way of suggesting that women do not have a role to play in the important parts of the festival. The ShiraGirl Stage will never, ever change the opinion of a young individual who believes that the touring circuit is something women should not participate in, as they won't look twice at the stage. How you change opinions is by giving females the chance to be in the same position as a men and by showing people that they are just as capable, if not better.

Fucking stellar piece of writing. Well done.

Quote:
Despite what Lyman seems to believe, nobody wants him to replace his headlining acts with local riotgrrrl bands that have six likes on Facebook. However, what we ask of him is, that when he picks promising, up and coming all male bands to pay his stages, that he actually goes out of his way to choose promising, up and coming bands with female members who just won't get a chance otherwise because they're not 'pretty enough' or because our scene dictates that women aren't good enough . We ask of him to help promote social change and equality and for him to do something that vaguely resembles what exactly it was that punk stood for in the first place.

Nailed it all around. I hope people from the other thread read this as well. Lyman and Warped Tour don't HAVE to make a statement and include more female artists, just like AP.net doesn't have to diversify itself or even call attention to these sorts of issues, but fuck, it means so much to do so anyway, even if it's not profitable or if it's something that most of their audience doesn't think about (particularly the men), I mean, that's one reason (amongst a million others) why it's so important to actually put the spotlight on these concepts. There's no excuse not to and it only benefits this scene to make people engage with these ideas of inequality and misrepresentation when they've never had to before. Great job.
10:21 AM on 06/17/14
#6
TheNastyTaco
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lol
10:23 AM on 06/17/14
#7
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Here we go again I will say one thing and one thing only. It is a music festival. Music festivals book bands based on talent. If there are talented girl bands, they are on the tour. If there are talented guy bands, they're also on the tour. As soon as festivals start becoming about something other than the music, they're going to go to pot.

Also- every celebrity is faced with the "love life" stories and such. It has nothing to do with people belittling her talent to her being a woman.
10:23 AM on 06/17/14
#8
SanePsychotic
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Nice article, thanks for taking the time to write it. Hopefully people will talk about this so that minds can be changed.
10:25 AM on 06/17/14
#9
Alex DiVincenzo
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Wonderful piece, Kelly. It's very interesting to get your perspective as a female and as an AP.net user.
10:25 AM on 06/17/14
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This might be a dumb comment, but I feel like sexism is like racism, it's just always gonna be there, so many people can try to stop it but it won't happen. I also think it's like racism because it might sometimes be brought up in a place where it was never an issue (not talking about this or the other thread).

As far as Warped Tour goes I really don't have an opinion, there's some really interesting points from both sides on that one.
10:26 AM on 06/17/14
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I think this entire issue has been blown so far out of proportion today. Is anyone actually accusing Kevin Lyman or anyone at the Warped Tour of being sexist? Is Kevin going out of his way to exclude bands with female members? Of course not. From my understanding of the article/interview, Kevin is simply choosing the BEST bands to include on his tour. In this case, the "best" is likely defined as a combination of bands that will pull crowds and sell tickets as well as talented younger artists that he believe have the potential to draw those crowds one day. Notice that none of those criteria involve gender in any way, shape, or form.

But that's the problem, right? Kelly, it seems that what you're really looking for is more in the vein of "affirmative action." The only actionable suggestion you provided in your write up is to include more up and comers with females in the group in lieu of similar-sized bands comprised solely of males. So, you're seriously suggesting that Kevin throw out the criteria mentioned above, where he is subjectively selecting artists based on merit/ability to contribute to the profitability of the festival and replace that with a quota based purely on the gender of the artists? Would female musicians even WANT to be included on a tour like this simply because they fulfill that quota?

This entire arguments seems moot to me as to your other point, there are simply LESS female musicians in this scene. Is it 50%? Hell no. I'd even venture to guess that if you gathered all the musicians from the last 25 shows I've been to, assumed 4 members in the band for a total of 100 people, there would be less than 10 in that group that are female. So how far off are we really from that 6%? If you're expecting anything close to 50% or even 30% for that matter I think it would be wise to stop arguing in vague ideologies and start looking at the real, specific demographics of this scene. I think I speak for many when I say that I don't want the quality of the Warped Tour to decline even further because Kevin is inviting bands with female members simply to reach some arbitrary quota and to exclude better male-only artists that deserve a fair and EQUAL shot at being successful.
10:27 AM on 06/17/14
cubsml34
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Great read
10:28 AM on 06/17/14
duritzfan13
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I think this entire issue has been blown so far out of proportion today. Is anyone actually accusing Kevin Lyman or anyone at the Warped Tour of being sexist? Is Kevin going out of his way to exclude bands with female members? Of course not. From my understanding of the article/interview, Kevin is simply choosing the BEST bands to include on his tour. In this case, the "best" is likely defined as a combination of bands that will pull crowds and sell tickets as well as talented younger artists that he believe have the potential to draw those crowds one day. Notice that none of those criteria involve gender in any way, shape, or form.

But that's the problem, right? Kelly, it seems that what you're really looking for is more in the vein of "affirmative action." The only actionable suggestion you provided in your write up is to include more up and comers with females in the group in lieu of similar-sized bands comprised solely of males. So, you're seriously suggesting that Kevin throw out the criteria mentioned above, where he is subjectively selecting artists based on merit/ability to contribute to the profitability of the festival and replace that with a quota based purely on the gender of the artists? Would female musicians even WANT to be included on a tour like this simply because they fulfill that quota?

This entire arguments seems moot to me as to your other point, there are simply LESS female musicians in this scene. Is it 50%? Hell no. I'd even venture to guess that if you crowded all the musicians from the last 25 shows I've been to (including unknown openers, assuming 4 members in the band for a total of 100 people), there would be less than 10 that are female. So how far off are we from that 6%? If you're expecting anything close to 50% or even 30% for that matter I think it would be wise to stop arguing in vague ideologies and start looking at the specific demographics of the scene because I don't want the quality of the Warped Tour to decline even further because Kevin is inviting bands with female members simply to reach some invisible target and to exclude better male-only artists that deserve a fair and EQUAL shot at being successful.
Nailed it.
10:29 AM on 06/17/14
Jason Tate
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Fucking stellar piece of writing. Well done.



Nailed it all around. I hope people from the other thread read this as well. Lyman and Warped Tour don't HAVE to make a statement and include more female artists, just like AP.net doesn't have to diversify itself or even call attention to these sorts of issues, but fuck, it means so much to do so anyway, even if it's not profitable or if it's something that most of their audience doesn't think about (particularly the men), I mean, that's one reason (amongst a million others) why it's so important to actually put the spotlight on these concepts. There's no excuse not to and it only benefits this scene to make people engage with these ideas of inequality and misrepresentation when they've never had to before. Great job.
I think I used this exact line on a previous podcast, but the amount of hate I get thrown my way for bringing these issues up is 1-1,000,000th of what women in the music scene (and world at large) deal with on a day to day basis, and yes, it's ugly and brings out a lot of bullshit in the comments -- but it's something that needs to be talked about. Needs to be discussed. And I got multiple messages last night from readers saying that because we've addressed issues like sexism or using the word "retard" or "bitch" publically -- that they have rethought how they were living their lives before and feel like better people for having learned/changed.
10:32 AM on 06/17/14
DrewsMannequin
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I think this entire issue has been blown so far out of proportion today. Is anyone actually accusing Kevin Lyman or anyone at the Warped Tour of being sexist? Is Kevin going out of his way to exclude bands with female members? Of course not. From my understanding of the article/interview, Kevin is simply choosing the BEST bands to include on his tour. In this case, the "best" is likely defined as a combination of bands that will pull crowds and sell tickets as well as talented younger artists that he believe have the potential to draw those crowds one day. Notice that none of those criteria involve gender in any way, shape, or form.

But that's the problem, right? Kelly, it seems that what you're really looking for is more in the vein of "affirmative action." The only actionable suggestion you provided in your write up is to include more up and comers with females in the group in lieu of similar-sized bands comprised solely of males. So, you're seriously suggesting that Kevin throw out the criteria mentioned above, where he is subjectively selecting artists based on merit/ability to contribute to the profitability of the festival and replace that with a quota based purely on the gender of the artists? Would female musicians even WANT to be included on a tour like this simply because they fulfill that quota?

This entire arguments seems moot to me as to your other point, there are simply LESS female musicians in this scene. Is it 50%? Hell no. I'd even venture to guess that if you gathered all the musicians from the last 25 shows I've been to, assumed 4 members in the band for a total of 100 people, there would be less than 10 in that group that are female. So how far off are we really from that 6%? If you're expecting anything close to 50% or even 30% for that matter I think it would be wise to stop arguing in vague ideologies and start looking at the real, specific demographics of this scene. I think I speak for many when I say that I don't want the quality of the Warped Tour to decline even further because Kevin is inviting bands with female members simply to reach some arbitrary quota and to exclude better male-only artists that deserve a fair and EQUAL shot at being successful.
This is exactly right. It's not that there are not female groups on the tour. There are.. maybe not many, but there are. Which proves that they are given an equal chance to be on the tour as men. If they're good and marketable, they're on, regardless of gender.
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