July 21, 2016
How old are you?
And where are you from originally?
I’m from Manchester-By-The-Sea, Massachusetts. There are hyphens in it and everything. It’s a ridiculous place. It’s a tiny beach town on the north coast of Massachusetts.
How long have you been in New Orleans?
Since August of 2011.
What brought you here?
I went to Tulane for undergrad.
Why are you still here?
Because I fell in love with the city very quickly. I knew I wanted to stay here. It’s so incredibly unique and it feels like no other place I know. I have a hard time imagining myself somewhere else because you can always find some sort of music to either listen to or be a part of. I love it. It’s a crazy place. I’ll be bored anywhere else.
In what capacity would you say you are a part of the music community of New Orleans?
I’m in a band. I joined my junior year and have been doing that now for two and half years. We play all over the city which has been really cool because we play at venues that super famous people have played at. That’s something about New Orleans that is so cool and unique. Venues are so welcoming and supportive of local music and young kids.
Can you define sexism as it presents itself to you?
Sexism to me is when people who identify as female are treated differently from people who identify as males in a way that undermines their strength, their intelligence, and their capacity to do the same task as a male. In my experience and in my life, it also means babying females. It’s thinking that we can’t do it, that it has to be toned down in whatever way for us. It’s treating women unfairly because they’re women.
How does being treated in a sexist way make you feel?
At this point it’s upsetting and makes me angry. It’s 2016, this shit shouldn’t be happening. Especially since people now talk about it like it’s a known thing, when I get treated in a sexist way or I see people around me get treated in a sexist way it makes me feel frustrated with our world.
Do you always notice when individuals are acting in a sexist way?
I’m pretty sensitive to it because I studied gender in college. What even is gender? Sometimes I say that out loud, sometimes I don’t depending on the audience.
Do you think gender is based in the biological definition or something else?
Gender is societal in that it is made up by society. I understand why it once was. I get it due to the biology. When you see two babies and they have different genitalia, there needs to be a biological way to differentiate. But the idea of gender is completely due to socialization and that is something we do as humans with our minds. It’s not real.
Do you think there are some forms of sexism that are so engrained in our upbringings that we sometimes can’t register it?
I’m so against sexist things and gender labels and all that but I still follow a lot of these rules that I learned because I was socialized as a girl. There are things that I don’t care to change really because, for instance, I like the way I dress but it’s definitely a thing.
Can you recall any specific occasions when you experienced sexist behavior against you?
I’ve been struggling with how to handle it as a performer in the music scene here because I’m all about owning my sexuality and feeling good about the way I look and am behaving and owning that and putting that out there. But at the same time, there’s a tension that I get because of it. I like to feel good when I’m up there but sometimes I worry that I’m sexualizing myself. I’m so back and forth. Something that always pops into my mind is when I was walking into a club our band was playing at on Frenchmen. I walked past the general manager that we had dealt with earlier and I walked up onto the stage and he was like, “Oh we got some eye candy tonight!” That’s not why I’m here and it made me think, am I too much? Am I doing too much?
Are there any particular stereotypes of men or of women that just drive you insane?
As someone who is trying to date right now, I feel frustrated by the idea that women have to be chill and take the less aggressive role. I don’t care about being the first one to call or text but I do also have this feeling when I’m texting someone that makes me ask myself, “Is it too much?” Why am I even asking myself that? If I want to see this person why am I afraid of saying so? That’s how a lot of women feel. We can’t be that crazy girl who’s texting them all the time and always hitting them up. But does it make us crazy that we want to hang out with someone? If they don’t want to hang out with us, then they can just say no. But if no one asks, then it’s not going to happen. I’m supposed to be this submissive person and it drives me crazy. I feel for males too and the fact that they’re not supposed to show any emotion. That must be fucking hard because emotions are real and something that you have to let out and if they let out their emotions and they get bullied because of it, that’s really sad. That can build up some serious shit so I feel for them.
What made you want to be a part of a project like this?
Talking about these issues and putting them out there on different mediums for people to hear about and read about is really important. Feminism and women’s rights are things I feel very strongly about and this is something that I’ve never done before. I’m sensitive to the fact that people can be ignorant to issues because they’re not exposed to them. It doesn’t make the ignorance any better but I understand why it’s there. So I’m a fan of any way to get it out there and get it in people’s faces so they can’t ignore it.
Do you have anything else to add?
Being a female in a male dominated band is something that has been a bit of a challenge and sexism has come up a little more recently than before. I didn’t notice as much when it started because I was on the high of being in a band. Me and the other woman in the band are vocalists and performers and also have good ideas when decisions are being made about the arrangements of songs. But I think because we don’t know the musical terminology because we don’t play instruments, our ideas get shut down. We’re shut down a little more because of our titles as the vocalists. I’m all about the full band collaboration. And they’re getting better at hearing that because we’ve spoken up about it.