How Not to Interact With Female Musicians
[Ed note: Robin Edwards is a frequent contributor to our sister paper in Denver, Westword. She has played in several bands. Her solo project is called Lisa Prank.]
Dear Josie & the Pussycats -- Do you write your own songs?
Sometimes I wonder what it was like before bands had Internet presences. Did creepy dudes just send their vaguely threatening messages to female musicians through the mail with locks of their hair? I've been thinking that might not have been out of the question ever since I received a Facebook message from a guy who went to one of my band's shows. He asked if he could be my stalker and added a goofy emoticon and a few "jk"s. I assume that was a way to hedge so that when I responded, he could pull the old, "I was joking! Don't be crazy!" card. Unfortunately, violence against women, which can certainly start with stalking, is a very real concern. So it's not something you should joke about, especially with a complete stranger over the Internet.
I thought that threatening someone's personal safety was a commonsense no-no, but apparently that's not the case. So here's a handy guide of ways not to interact with female musicians. This is good advice for dealing with any human being, actually, but it seems these things happen at an alarmingly high rate to those of us who have the audacity to get on stage with instruments but no penis.
And no, your good intent does not give you a pass. Just because you're a self-proclaimed feminist, you have a Kathleen Hanna tattoo or you were "just joking" does not mean your actions don't have harmful consequences. Prove you are a good guy by accepting criticism, apologizing and stepping back if you've said something offensive or creepy.
Don't assume she's a roadie/girlfriend/groupie
If a woman is carrying a heavy amp inside a venue, don't immediately assume she's there as support for the band. Use this assumption-less attitude in informing your interaction with her; don't immediately tell her she's not allowed backstage.
Don't offer music lessons
This has happened to a surprising number of women I know. Here's how it usually goes: A dude comes up after a performance and says, "You know, I could give you [insert instrument here] lessons if you want."
How rude. Also in this category is giving pointers or advice on how your guitar should sound, as well as offering suggestions for improvement. If you want to help out, buy some merch.