Tuesday, October 9, 2007

2) Do women in rock need their own showcases and venues to advance? Is creating a “safe space,” such as Ladyfest does, productive in raising women’s visibility in music, or does it only suceed in creating a sense of sisterhood and bonding for the band’s involved? Which is more important or is there a conflict?

3 comments:

Becca said...

This is a really good question. Although I think it is important for women to have a chance to showcase their music in a space that is affirming to them and allows them to play different roles than they might when performing in a venue with men. But then you think about how these things can go too far, like the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, where transpeople or people who don't identify with a certain way of being a woman can't perform or attend, and that is really messed up as well. I think that working with other women, "bonding" and creating woman-positive spaces in music is very important as long as its end is increased visibility and creative freedom, not "boxing in," as Maria says, or trying too hard to define what women's music is. When we start creating a feminist genre and it becomes somehow elite or exclusive to some women, it has defeated some of the purpose of creating that female space in the first place.

daphne said...

A really good friend of mine, Elizabeth Keenan, writes about Ladyfests so I am hoping she will comment on this too.

I worked at the Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls this summer and I have to tell you it was as close to perfect as a week of my life could be. One of the hardest parts about playing in a band is overcoming your fear that you're not good enough and won't know what to do, and I think this can be compounded by the way that young women are taught to socialize in the United States. Creating a space where creative group work is encouraged and criticism absent made it possible for these young women to take that scary step to do something new in public that they can't do well. It was so beautiful.

For adults, I think it's really important for women to get involved in the music industry and LadyFest type events help women not only get gigs but learn how to book clubs, promote bands, and organize large groups. These are valuable skills for anyone and especially for folks left out of the male dominated live venue world.

Mateo said...

I think the idea of showcases for female/female-fronted acts is very important, especially with music being so traditionally male, in every genre. I think this idea goes wrong on the opposite side of the spectrum from Ladyfest, like that collection of mostly artists that are generic/mainstream or already widely notable for being a "tough rocker girl." These showcases enable the practice selling strong women as a novelty but then get to play progressive. From what I know about and experienced at my only Ladyfest, as well as other likeminded shows like Girl Bad, the collection of performers is largely notable because they are interesting, strong performers, espousing positive messages and often ecclectic. Because of the strength of the lineup and the attendance of a target audience hungry for a place to be fully comfortable, these shows ideally provide proof to the music community that there is much - including a diverse chorus of female voices - that goes unheard. And when this falls on deaf outside ears, I imagine the experience is often enough for those involved and ready to rock.