Booker, Promoter, Artist Manager
October 19, 2016
How old are you?
I am 21 years old.
Where are you from originally?
Originally I am from Chicago but I have been living in New Orleans for three years.
Can you tell me a little bit about your role in the music community of New Orleans?
I am still a newbie. I am definitely learning from a lot of people but mostly everything I do is self-created. Right now I am managing an artist so I’ve been trying to work myself into the world of booking and gigging and meeting other musicians and promoters. I also have my own music project that is a music curation site and features all underground talent. Eventually I want to build it into a live event called Sound of Discovery where the point of the whole event or festival is to go to new stuff.
Growing up, do you remember being told or taught anything from your family or from outside sources about the behavioral expectations on you as a woman?
My mom was always very supportive of sticking it to the man and not letting men get in your way but I was definitely taught that as a woman you have to be extra careful about the way you phrase things to men so as not to offend the men and not to come off as aggressive. I feel like there’s a lot of things that are just engrained that I probably have not uncovered yet. I am just starting to unravel and realize all the ways that I’ve succumbed to these binary gender roles and these ideas. I was blessed to have—this sounds egotistical—a pretty outward aesthetic and that has gained me a lot of attention whether I like it or not. Either that’s what gets me in the door of having people actually hear my ideas that wouldn’t otherwise or that is the only reason I was invited. And you can feel that in somebody’s demeanor towards you. It sounds so bad to have a pretty girl problem but you have to overcome. You have to find a way to be noticed for more than what you didn’t even ask to have.
Can you define sexism as it presents itself to you?
There’s just an unequal playing field and women aren’t really treated as full human beings that are able to make their own choices according to what they’re actually best at.
Do you always notice when individuals are acting in a sexist way?
Not always. Actually sometimes I find myself participating. I was raised around boys, most of my friends are boys and I’ll find myself talking about a girl as a conquest with them. I’ll participate in the banter that they have but looking back on it, it’s not appropriate if we’re all women together. Sometimes when you walk into a room you can automatically understand that people are viewing you as subordinate. I have especially noticed that in the music production world. This goes back to things being a “man’s job”. Even if you want to learn you’re still placed on a lower pedestal in a way. I’m not really sure if I’ve always noticed whether or not people are acting in a sexist way. I’m also not sure how I feel about music that has degrading lyrics. I’ve had the argument that this is what we listen to and this is what is being engrained into our consciousness but other people argue that it’s just a form of art and its purpose is to entertainment and we don’t comprehend those messages. Whenever somebody starts playing something has degrading lyrics I struggle with myself to decide whether I should ask to change it or just let it be. You can’t really tell how much people are actually being affected or brainwashed by these lyrics and these messages.
What are your reactions to blatant and subtle sexism?
They vary. Sometimes I notice sexist things happening and I don’t say anything because I’m either conditioned to not say anything or I’m just not sure what I should even do to help. One time my roommate was in a fight with some guy and he called her a bitch and then our other roommate told him to watch his language. I probably would’ve kicked him out of the house if she hadn’t already addressed the situation. But I was quiet because I didn’t even realize what was happening. She reacted before I did. Maybe I wouldn’t have even done anything. I don’t know at what point I should step in or if I should let the woman handle it herself. I feel a lack of empowerment amongst women because we’re some competitive with each other for no reason. Sometimes I feel like I have to play along with it just to continue to be heard in the conversation. And even if I do defend myself, I’m not sure how effective it is because I’m still teetering between how aggressive I should be and how important it is to me to address it correctly and change people’s minds.
Can you recall any specific instances of sexist behavior against you that may have stuck with you?
Apart from just years of being hollered and whistled at out of car windows and getting yelled at while on my bike? I can’t even tell you how many people have said, “Oh if I was just 20 years younger,” or “How old are you? Oh you’re too young for me,” as if I was sexually interested in this person in the first place. There was a time I was at Gasa Gasa with a friend and all of her friends were guys and we were all just hanging out having what I thought was a good time. But when we left she turned to me and said, “I’m sorry you have to deal with that.” I asked what she was talking about and she said, “I just wish I could bring you around guys more because your tits are so...that’s all they see you for. I can tell by their subtleties because I know them. That’s why they were being so nice. That’s why they were paying attention to you, they act different around you.” I can’t really help what I look like and I didn’t even notice that it was happening or that I was being objectified like that. So now I am very conscious of what I wear even though I am a firm believer that we should all just be naked because we’re all just human bodies. We’re just eye candy and people are trained to look at how other people look aesthetically first and make a judgment upon that. It’s hard. It happens all the time.
How does being treated in a sexist way make you feel?
It lowers my self-esteem. I have to find a new way to combat this thing that I didn’t even know was happening. How do you address that? I feel like I have to work ten times harder to come up with something even more innovative or creative to get people’s attention that rises above what I look like. I start to put pressure on myself to try to stand out in a way that people will notice separate from my looks alone. I try to separate my ideas from what I look like. I don’t want support for my ideas to be that they initially thought I was hot and that’s why they’re listening to me.
Are there any particular stereotypes of women or of men that drive you insane?
That women can’t be aggressive or assertive and that males can’t be loving or talk about their feelings. Those are characterized as female qualities but we’re all human and we’re all manifestations of the same radiant source. It doesn’t make sense that we have diverged from each other and made it so rigid.
Is there anything else that you’d like to add?
I’ve struggled with trying to get along with many people and many personalities while still trying to be business oriented. I’ve been in situations where people have assumed I’m just the girlfriend of a band member and I’m thinking, “Actually, I’m in charge of this show,” or “I’m in charge of this band,” or “I’m more important than you assume.” I’m sure that’s happened a lot to you, too. It’s so frustrating. I wonder how many other women in this city expect that.
Do you have any thoughts on how and when it will start to change and become more equalized?
I am going to work that much harder to prove to you that I’m not as low or not as smart or not as capable as you think I am. But there is still a problem with the fact that the reason I am even motivated in this way is because of something negative. It stems out from sexism.