Kathryn Rose Wood
Music Therapist, Guitarist, Vocalist, Songwriter
January 31, 2017
How old are you?
I am 27, almost 28.
Where are you from originally?
I am from York, Pennsylvania.
How long have you been in New Orleans?
It will be nine years this August.
How did you get down here?
I transferred to Loyola halfway through college to do the music therapy undergrad program. To practice as a music therapist you have to have the education as a music therapist. It was between New Orleans, San Antonio, California and New Orleans has the best music so I came here.
Why are you still here?
I have tried to leave. I did. I left twice and came back. The music community is great and beyond that, this is a city for activism. It’s hard to find this kind of mixing of ethnicity and status and social class in other major cities. It is a really unique place.
Do you remember being told or taught anything while you were growing up about the behavioral expectations that came with being a girl?
I am one of ten kids, I’m the second oldest, and I have six brothers. I feel very comfortable as one of the guys. My dad’s expectations of me were to be very goal-oriented, be very independent, to take care of myself. But at the same time, my mom was very much the homemaker and raised the kids and figured out where everyone needed to be and my dad ran the finances and made sure everyone was provided for. That really traditional balance of how a marital relationship functions as parents was definitely in place. But we all played music as a rule. I played the piano but my sister wanted to play the drums and my mom said, “No, you can’t do that. That’s not a girl’s instrument.” So she also took piano for a year and then quit. She didn’t stick with it because she really wanted to play drums. I bet if she had been able to play drums she might have stuck with it longer. She’s married now and has two kids and bought her daughter a drum kit. An instrument is not a gender specific thing. It’s ridiculous. The worst thing was when my brother wanted to play drums, they got him a kit. No questions asked.
Can you define sexism as it presents itself to you?
Sexism isn’t just towards a female. It goes all different ways towards male and towards gender amorphous individuals. Sexism is slighting someone or favoring them based on their gender.
How does being treated in a sexist way make you feel?
I go right to anger and frustration. Despite the traditional roles my parents played in raising a family, I think I was favored by my dad to take on the same roles he did so I don’t get upset or cry about it. But fuck you!
Do you always notice when individuals are acting in a sexist way?
I love that question. I know it happens a lot more than I’m aware of because it’s so engrained in our culture. And I do it too! So no, I don’t think I always notice.
Can you recall any specific occasions or moments when you experienced sexist behavior against you that may have stuck with you?
When I was booking gigs for both of my old bands, I was unable to book so many shows because I was the female calling the club and trying to negotiate. But when the guys in the band would call, they would get an immediate answer or email back. There is also definitely a difference in the way an audience reacts to females on a stage and the attention and consideration you’re given. I remember one instance when we were playing at this place in Key West. There was a guy that kept taking his shirt off and rubbing his nipples at me while I was on stage singing. He would point at me and then rub his nipples and I remember thinking, you would never do this to males on this stage.
How do you feel about the fact that words like sexism and feminism often sustain an eye-roll or a similar patronizing reaction?
It sucks, right? There’s this new movement where a lot of men are describing themselves as feminist which is a positive because for so long being a feminist was a bad thing. It’s good that men are taking on that role now for equality. Being equal doesn’t mean pussy power or whatever. I think the word sexism is always going to cause bad feelings because it’s very blatant. It’s a shame. New Orleans is like pretty liberal and a lot of e creatives in our community are pretty liberal. But maybe I’m just living in a bubble.
That’s a good bubble.
It is a good bubble. But where I grew up in rural Pennsylvania people—including my own brothers and my dad—would say, “She’s a feminist,” like it’s a bad word. You have four daughters!
Are there any particular stereotypes of men or of women that just drive you insane?
The most obvious one is that if you are assertive and you’re independent and you know what you want, then you’re demanding or you’re bossy or you’re difficult to work with. That’s really frustrating because I am very assertive. I know what I want and I go and do it. I’m open to critiques and feedback but if you know how to do something well, why wouldn’t you just go ahead and do the job right? The other one that bothers me the most is that men are not given room to be emotionally expressive. You hold your tongue and keep going. If you’re sad you don’t talk about it, if you’re hopeless you don’t talk about it, if you’re frustrated then you yell and maybe break something. I am hyper-sensitive because my brother committed suicide and he was definitely going through a lot of that. He fell into that typecast of the strong, silent type but grew up being really emotional and he’d get angry but he’d cry when and my brothers would say, “Stop crying you little baby!” But you can have angry tears too! It’s all fine. But he just drank to cope with it instead. How has the word emotional become so feminized?
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
No, I think you’re really thorough and these are great questions. I was reading them and thinking that there’s so much more than I’m even aware of. I’ve been asked to come to rehearsals and bring my guitar and then someone says to me, “So you’ll play rhythm guitar. You know C, G, and F, right?” Are you shitting me? I studied classical guitar! I can kick your ass at this!