About a year ago, I wrote an article on here announcing a boycott of all line-ups without gender diversity. It caused a stir: I received as many messages of support as I did angry texts and calls and ultimately, I took a huge step away from a scene that I loved very dearly, but from which I sorely needed a break.
There have been a lot of consequences - most of which lay somewhere between good and bad, and I thought I’d take the time to share some of them with you.
1. I’ve seen some kickass musicians.
The music industry clearly benefits from diversity, because every gig I’ve attended in the past 12 months has been absolutely wonderful. Many minds make light work - people say it because it’s true. And I know that the amazing things I’ve witnessed this past year have been a result of the many creative, incredible, diverse minds that have built them. In 2019, I have attended some AWESOME events. I'm keen on seeing many more in future.
2. People have joined me in taking a stand.
For this, I am so grateful. From the people who shared my post and announced their own boycott to those who have quietly taken part, thank you. Thank you to organisers who've stopped putting up imbalanced line ups and thank you to musicians who have been mindful about how/when they perform. While so many of these things are not at all influenced by my initial post, it's great to see a community so intent on change and it's even better to feel like I'm part of it. So thank you, despite the fact that I have no authority to do any thanking.
3. I have been groped less.
What was, at one point, a quite regular occurrence, has become less frequent. Unfortunately, it hasn't disappeared entirely, but I know for sure that it's been impacted by the boycott. Because when the band, the crew and the bar all make an effort to end sexism, the audience tend to as well.
4. I've missed my friends.
Is this a selfish thing to talk about? God, yes. It is petty for me to whine to you about this when we all have greater things with which we should concern ourselves. But it has hurt. It has. Taking a step back from the community wasn't something I wanted to do, and it certainly wasn't easy. Friends, I've missed you! So let's hang out!
Recently, I've started to "step back in", as it were, and I'm finding that there's been some great changes in my absence: people calling out sexism in casual conversation, line ups that really reflect the community we are and a whole lot more love out there. We're on the right track, I'm sure.
What I can tell you is, consequences aside, I am more committed than ever to fighting for equality - in all its forms. Frankly, the more pissed off people get about it, the more I stick to my guns.
Because here’s the crux of it:
There is no neutrality. When it comes to diversity in the music industry, you are either a feminist and an advocate or you’re inactive and complicit to the patriarchy. Pick your side.
And pick the right one.
On that note, “I’m trying but there aren’t enough women musicians” isn’t a side. It’s not even an excusable response. Stop being lazy and work harder. Be active. Go listen to diverse musicians, enjoy their music and then book them for your gig.
Diversity makes us better.
Let's be better.
Photo by Maxine Palmerson