May 31, 2016
How old are you?
I’m 23, almost 24.
Where are you from originally?
I’m from New Hampshire.
How did you get to New Orleans?
My dad grew up here so I’ve always visited and so I decided to go to Loyola. I’ve been here about five years now.
What has made you stay here?
I think there’s such a vibrant culture here that I’m very unused to being from New Hampshire. I feel like I’ve found my people and found my place. It’s hard to leave.
In what capacity would you describe yourself as a part of the music community in New Orleans?
I am definitely a heavy consumer of music. I just try to go out to as many shows as possible. And then, of course, I was in a rock band for four years and now I’m starting over as more of a pop musician. I’m writing more and trying to be a part of it.
Are you finding that there’s a market for that here?
No, I don’t actually. I think there’s a market for it elsewhere if you say you’re from New Orleans. But I think there’s a lot of competition here and there’s a lot of other fun things to do that makes it really hard to get people to show up and get people to care. But it’s still a fun place to be from and it works.
Do you remember being taught anything while you were growing up about behavioral expectations that were not told to your male peers?
I grew up in a very conservative church community so we definitely had that whole talk. The boys in the youth group went and played ping-pong and the girls had to sit down and talk about to not have our bra straps showing and kind of the whole “what you wear causes boys to stumble” thing and I’ve always had a problem with that. “You need to be lady-like” while “boys will be boys.” There’s no expectation of boys’ behavior but we’re told to mold ourselves completely.
Can you define sexism as it presents itself to you?
Sexism to me is anytime you assume something about someone just based on what genitalia they have. I think that some assumptions are more harmful than others. Sexism can obviously be against men as well but it just so happens that most of those are not quite as detrimental in terms of having a career. Sexism against women can be more destructive when it comes to trying to make it, especially in music.
How does being treated in a sexist way make you feel?
I might be a special circumstance because I find myself fitting a lot of the stereotypes against women. Like I’m really terrible at driving and I wear makeup because I like it. I think some of those assumptions about me as a women might be true so it’s hard to say. In regards to being a musician, there are a lot of things that do actually hurt my chances of doing what I want to do. It makes me feel like the world is unfair and that sucks.
Do you always notice when individuals are acting in a sexist way?
No, I think sometimes you don’t really realize it until later or maybe not at all. For example, I just wrote this opinion piece about when people say things like “Only 13 year old girl like that band.” Like somehow that takes away their credibility. I think that’s something that is engrained from a very young age. I knew as a teenage girl that the music I liked was “cheesy” or that it took away some of my credibility just because I liked it . That’s just something that’s so normal in this culture. I don’t think that’s something that people really realize is sexist but it totally is.
If you’re telling a 13 year old girl that her music choices are invalid, what is she going to grow up thinking?
That her opinion doesn’t matter.
If you tell them that at 13, they’re going to remember that. I find that I’ve become more and more frustrated as I get older that sexism is so engrained in people’s lives. Males don’t necessarily realize they’re making a sexist comment and females don’t necessarily hear it until later. How do you feel about that?
That it’s so engrained? That is the most harmful part about it. It’s hard to just go about your life and just kind of know that this is the reality and that there’s not much you can really do about it. The best you can do is try to be knowledgeable and try to educate people around you. But at the same time, if people don’t know that that’s not how it’s supposed to be, it’s hard to make a change. Doing this project is something that probably would not have happened ten years ago.
Can you recall any specific occasions when you experienced sexist behavior against you?
Being the only girl in a rock band with all male musicians, there would be a lot of times after a show when we were shaking peoples’ hands and to the boys they would say, “Oh you’re a great guitar player, you’re such a great drummer, y’all are such amazing musicians.” But then they would get to me and proposition me like I was this object that really wasn’t even a part of it except to look cute. We had a manager and somebody said something to him like “Good for you. Is that that band with the hot lead singer?” That is your comment about us as a band? Nothing about the music? That’s the most important thing to you? People assume that I don’t have any talent and the only reason people care is because I’m pretty.
Do you remember what your manager’s reaction to that comment was?
He told me about it later and he said “Why are you congratulating me? Do I have anything to do with the way that she looks? And by the way, they’re also a really great band.” He didn’t address the issue head on but made a comment about how that wasn’t the most important thing, so congrats to him. Another thing is that since going solo, I don’t have a manager anymore and one of the biggest things that I can see is that when you don’t have a male advocating for you in this industry, people don’t take you seriously at all. “Do you even write your own songs?” Yes I do. Because I know how to do that. You need a male person to stick up for you in order to get things done and that sucks.
It’s like we need men on our side to really truly get it across but at the same time that just perpetuates the idea that women need men.
Exactly! We can’t win.
I find myself increasingly frustrated with comments like “It’s just a joke” or “Don’t be so sensitive” or “That’s not sexist”. How do you feel about that?
’m constantly struggling with picking my battles. There are some advantages to being a women. Someone might want to work with me because they think I’m pretty and on the one hand, that makes me want to punch them but on the other hand, if I don’t use that then what do I have? And then am I perpetuating it? Am I letting it happen because it’s the only way to get where I want to be? And every time someone says something, do I really want to spend the next half hour having a conversation with someone where they’re going to be totally denying that it was sexist? Will this even accomplish anything? How badly do I want to do this right now this second? Every day it’s just that choice you make with yourself: do I want to stand up for this right now or is today not the day?
I feel like combatting sexism has become so much more about playing the defensive than teaching the offensive.
Right? Can’t we just talk about this like adults without you getting super defensive?