Allie Porter 

Singer, Songwriter

May 24, 2016


How old are you? 

I’m 25.

And where are you from originally?

I am from Crofton, Maryland.

How long have you been in New Orleans?

For about six months now.

What brought you down here?

Music. Really just the whole spirit of the city itself.

Had you been before?

Yes, I came for Jazz Fest last year and really fell in love and felt like there were a lot of celestial signs while I was visiting. So I thought, why not?

Is there anything you’ve experienced since getting here that you didn’t experience in that initial trip that has made you want to stay?

Yeah. I think, it’s just getting to know the city better, actually seeking out, meeting a really nice family of musicians that are super tight together and it helps that they’re young. Because back home I only gigged with men thirty years old and up because that’s who gets gigs over there. There’s just a magic about it.

In what capacity are you a part of the music community of New Orleans?

I think I’m just a little tiny dot right now. And that’s cool with me. I’m just happy to be here and sing with whoever I can sing with. I’m still kind of getting my bearings, it’s really nice to know the few people that I do know because they’ve been helping me build up a little bit. I’ve been working a lot which has made it harder to make anything for myself but I’m getting there. I think part of being in the south is slowing down a little bit and trying to get into the groove of things.

Do you remember what your first gig in the city was?

The first thing I did was sit in with Steamboat Willie’s band on Bourbon Street and WOW. It was cool, there are a lot of tourists there, but he’s not very nice.

Can you define sexism as it presents itself to you and how do you define sexism?

I think it’s about power. I think it’s about exuding power. That’s what men do when they’re treating us badly, when they’re being sexist towards us, they’re just basically saying “Hey, I have this power over you because I’m a man,” and I think we can turn it around if we wanted to it. And I think we do. I think it’s a double edged sword and I don’t want to say it’s necessary, but it’s definitely there. You can use it for good or evil.

How does being treated in a sexist way make you feel?

It depends. If someone’s intention is to look out for me, then maybe I need to take a step back and evaluate the situation that I’m in if they are genuinely trying to be chivalrous. If it’s a violation of my body or my mind then it doesn’t make me feel very good at all.

Do you think there is a difference between sexism and chivalry or is chivalry just a nice way of saying sexist?

I think there’s definitely a difference, absolutely. I think that there are good people in the world. They might be few and far between these days but it also depends on how long you’ve known someone and how deeply you can trust them. I think you can feel that about somebody when you first meet them but it’s hard to tell. But yes, I think there’s a difference.

Do you always notice when individuals are acting in a sexist way? Do you think some forms of sexism are engrained in our experiences so much that we can’t or don’t mentally register it?

I tend to notice but yes. It depends on what you’re comfortable with, I guess. You can be sitting around with a bunch of guys friends and they can make some joke or you can make a joke. I personally will make some pretty offensive jokes to men sometimes but maybe it’s only because it’s been done to me that I think it’s ok to do so.

Can you recall any specific occasions when you experienced sexist behavior against you?

Here? Yeah. It was a club owner on Frenchman. I was just walking down the street and happened to look great that day—(laughing) there was lots of lace happening. And he looked at me, did a double take, and was just like “Hey! Who are you?! Hi!” And I was like, “I’ve met you twice before.” I know that you know who I am. Because I look different today, now you want to be my friend and you’re interested in me just for my sex. That’s the first thing you’re thinking about and you definitely let me know that.

Do you think he understood the repercussions of what he was saying?

I don’t think he cares.

Have you met any other people who just don’t care about their words and what it could mean towards members of the opposite sex?

Yeah, absolutely. You can meet them everywhere. Personally, I just choose not to meet them ever again.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

It’s going to be there, it’s always going to be there, but we can try and all change it together. Being aware of your own prowess and your own power is really important.