One of my male musician friends recently listed reasons he thought there might be fewer women in jazz and rock bands. Reasons other than sexism, that is. One of the reasons he listed was that sometimes women might not be as dedicated to the band.
This stuck with me. My intuition was that the same behavior he overlooked from a man he’d see as a black mark on all womanhood. But who knows, right? That’s why this topic is so infuriating. All we can do is suggest that they might have a biased view, and then they say “That’s not true,” and you have no way to prove it.
What I can do is tell you about my weekend.
The last few days have brought record-breaking heat to the Bay Area. A few days before yesterday’s gig, I messaged my band leader and said, “This gig is indoors, right?”
“Indeed,” he responded.
But the day before the gig, the band member who set up the gig mentioned that we’d have “shade.”
I don’t do well in the heat. Three hours in a parking lot in 103 degrees and a smoky sky sounded pretty unbearable. I thought about backing out. The worst part was that I’d bailed on our last gig because I got rear ended a couple hours before it and wanted to stay home and make sure my daughter didn’t develop any problems. I found myself not only thinking “I don’t want to seem like I’m not dedicated,” but “I don’t want women to seem like they’re not dedicated.” This is a well-documented problem. Basically if you’re not a white man, you’re saddled with this ridiculous notion that you represent the whole group, whatever your group may be.
Anyway, I showed up. It was unpleasant. Most of the people who came to the event crowded into the small air conditioned tasting room, and the few who sat outside were too weak from heat to raise their wet-noodle arms to applaud. We joked about putting recordings of applause through the speakers. I said some delirious things and probably played some delirious notes. We sold one CD and got one five dollar tip. One woman told us we were troopers. I had a headache the rest of the day. Thank God the band leader set up a mist fan in front of me and the guy subbing in the band brought a giant bottle of water to share.
Subbing? Why did we need a sub, you ask? Oh. One of the guys backed out of the gig.