I’m not ashamed to say I’m the type of girl who screams from the soul into a hairbrush, stumbling around her bedroom to an audience of disheveled childhood bears and jagged edged poster crushes. I’m not, honestly. I’m not even ashamed to say I’m the type of girl who dreams of fame, fortune (I’m flexible on this) and adoring, obsessive, borderline-neurotic fans. What I am ashamed to say is that I’m afraid. My heart lies in rock and roll, but it pains me to say I fear it has no place there. The heart of a 16 year old girl seeking nothing but acceptance has no place in the open palms of a thousand-strong crowd begging for an encore, no place beside those whose names emblazon lists of the greatest frontmen of all time. There is no place for women in rock and roll.
Growing up with a dad who enjoyed deafening my infant self (in the most paternally loving way possible) with a spectrum of sounds. These ranging from the poignant lyricisms of Bob Dylan, to the era defining punk anthems spat into my ears by the likes of The Sex Pistols and The Ramones, is what I can only call the main contributor to my developed adoration of rock music. Though I was offered on a silver platter, a route to every genre preference imaginable, it was rock and roll that stole me away, and led me to my knees before my parents uttering the dreaded plea for my first guitar.
Several years on and my love of music has driven my ambitions further than I thought possible. The most inspiring and breathtaking moments of my life have occurred whilst pressed against hundreds of like-minded sweaty teenagers, craning their necks for a better view of the band on stage before them, the true artistes behind the soundtrack to their adolescence. It’s in these moments that I am driven to someday rank amongst those who enchant an audience in such a way that all inhibitions are lost, and every spectator’s heart is filled with nothing but adrenaline fueled passion. It’s in the moments that follow that my own heart sinks, as I remember that the stage of a rock concert is ruled by men.
Women are not welcome here unless they’re the subject of the anthems these heroes chant to us with an indisputably charming arrogance. Those I idolize and boundlessly respect are sadly not those who illuminate my path, but inadvertently obstruct it. I struggle to identify an equally recognized and respected female role model amongst those who sit so highly by the good name of rock music, and isn’t regarded with a stagnant sense of sexual objectivity or treated as a superficial representative of more commendable musicianship behind the curtain. I attempt to combat this by throwing around names like Hayley Williams and Amy Lee, but how much are these women actually respected when placed beside those in the same role who happen to be men? Though these are examples of talented musicians and remarkable bandleaders, it still seems to me that they are viewed as little more than a selling point to the masses, valuing image over integrity. Even in these demeaning roles, women in modern day rock are few and far between.
This isn’t a dig at men. I’m not condemning male musicians for being good at what they do and being recognized for it, but the adversity to women trying to do the same. This adversity, for a 16 year old girl with a humble dream to be hailed as a god, is crushing, but I’ll be damned if it stops me. I don’t want to be a martyr for women. I don’t want to be a revolutionary. Is it too much to ask to just be equal? Not viewed as a mockery, as a gimmick, as an object, but as a musician, raw and naked (metaphorically, duh) before music fans no better or worse than myself. Why should the acceptance of the passion and sentiment I hold before them depend on my gender? Women are not a sub-genre. I will place in the palms of that thousand strong crowd my heart, and hell, I don’t trust them with it, but I trust myself to do more than mourn over the shards when they’re inevitably thrown back in my face. It’s a pledge to no one but myself that someday I’ll be seated between Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist and Julian Casablancas at the table of my own personal rock gods. Try and stop me, I dare you.