Bandleader, Vocalist, Percussionist, Educator
October 19, 2016
How old are you?
Where are you from originally?
Do you remember being told or taught anything growing up regarding behavioral expectations for being a girl?
My mom is the breadwinner in the family so I’ve always thought I could do anything that I wanted. My mom has worked really hard to get where she is and now she has her dream job at a hospital on the North Shore. She paved the way for me to be what I want and she’s always been supportive of my music. I knew that I wanted to do music since I was a child and it’s been really cool to see her embrace that art world. My dad is a musician so I’ve always geared towards that field because of him and I would experiment with that world. I’ve always had a tough demeanor because I was raised to be whatever I want.
Can you define sexism as it presents itself to you?
Sexism to me is when a man can’t see a woman as being equal to him. I’m a musician and men will judge me for my musical education or what they know of my education. But then I’ll prove them wrong. I find that I compare myself to men a lot because I think that they’re immediately thinking, “Where did she go to school? How does she know this stuff?” That’s how I deal with it in my everyday life. Every time I meet a new person that is a man, my first thought is that I am not as educated as them. And why should that be my first thought?
How does being treated in a sexist way make you feel?
It makes me really angry that it even exists. In this industry, we are all friends. But I have to deal with venue people that will pass the money to my bandmates instead of me when I’m the one who deposits the money. That makes me so angry and that happens all the time. We had a residency at a particular venue in town and the same person would hand him the money instead of me even after I had talked to them about it. You’re doing this on purpose. I don’t like to burn bridges at all so I scope the situation out and if it happens again after that then they’re just a jerk. My initial reaction is anger but I make myself breathe and then react.
Do you always notice when individuals are acting in a sexist way?
I was kind of naive coming up in this city. I didn’t really even understand that it was happening. Sexism has always been a thing but now that I’m a little older I definitely see it right out the gate as it’s happening. Only in the last two years have I been really keen on it.
Do you think that because we don’t always notice it makes it harder to combat?
Yes because you’ve unknowingly allowed it to happen for so long and then all of a sudden you have a different view on it. Especially with friends. They go into a defensive mode because that’s what they’ve always done. Now that I’ve started noticing it and I’m paying attention to it more, I can see these people that I’ve known for seven or eight years making comments that shouldn’t be made. It’s not about me specifically but about women in general. It’s about a woman passing by on the street or a woman serving us drinks at a venue. I think now I also feel that I understand it enough to say something so it’s been interesting to see their reactions. And most of the time they admit that it was really fucked up.
Can you recall any specific occasions when you experienced sexism against you that may have stuck with you?
It’s going to be hard because I don’t want to name names but my two-piece recently we moved to a new venue for our weekly residency. The old venue called my co-leader, Sam, in for a meeting that he knew nothing about and when the person delivering the news told him they were no longer going to be running our residency, Sam said, “Whoa, shouldn’t Alexis be here? The band name is Alexis And The Samurai. She’s part of the band.” And he responded by telling him, “You’re cool-headed.” He intentionally left me out of the meeting because he knew I would be honest and lay down the law. He was intimidated by how I would react. I have always been very stern with what we need and want because we’ve been at this particular place for over three years and I think we can just talk frankly to each other. I feel like the way I handle business is fine and has always been professional. So when he figured out that we were being fired from our residency and that I was being left out of the meeting to tell us that, Sam literally got up and left because he saw that it was crazy. It’s fine if you make a decision to have someone new in a residency spot but the way it was handled was so unprofessional. I’m a woman and you’re afraid of how I was going to react because you knew what you were doing was wrong.
Does it feel like if a woman just speaks at all in any sort of honest or assertive manner that she is dramatic or hot-headed?
That’s exactly how I feel because anytime I would say anything at that venue I would get either a snide comment or a rolled eye or a dismissal. So when I was intentionally left out of a conversation that affects how we pay our rent, we were both appalled because we had been there for over three years. We brought them a totally different demographic than they would’ve ever had. It makes me so mad but I need to stay calm because otherwise I am giving into this idea that they have of me. It’s really unfair that I can’t voice how I really feel. The way they intentionally left me out of the conversation disgusts me and I hope they feel bad. But they probably don’t and that’s the worst part.
Are there any particular stereotypes of men or of women that just drive you insane?
I hate that I can’t speak my true opinions because I’m going to get stereotyped. Whatever thought you have of me is going to be escalated based on my true thoughts. But I think what truly bothers me is that automatically men are more respected because they are men.