Not In It To Get Boys
Let me give you a contradiction, something that’s never made any sense to me. Something that’s been bothering me for almost as long as I’ve been into music.
If you’re male and you’re into music, if you have favourite bands whose songs you love, whose records you collect, whose pictures you have on your wall (first stuck up there with tape and later on framed, treasured, kept out of direct sunlight), then that’s instantly respected. All right, some people will think you’re a geek, but what the hell. High Fidelity, right? Music geeks are cool! If you’re male, nobody questions your love of music, nobody assumes it’s about anything other than the songwriting, the musicianship, the camaraderie - except, sometimes, when the musicians in question are attractive and female.
If you’re female and you’re into music, if you have favourite bands whose songs you love, whose records you collect, whose pictures you have on your wall…everyone instantly assumes that you’re only doing it because you’re sexually attracted to one or more of the band members - including, depressingly, some other female fans who are only into it because they want to sleep with the band. Record collecting is a guy thing, isn’t it, all music geeks are men, and so if you’re a woman and you have more than a passing interest in music, if your passion is the songwriting, the musicianship…stands to reason you’re only interested because you fancy them, right? (Of course, this popular misconception also assumes that everyone is a) straight, b) gender-binary and c) obsessed with sex, but that’s an essay in itself.)
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve had to explain to someone or other that Michael Monroe (formerly of Finnish glam-punk legends Hanoi Rocks, now forging his own solo career again) is my hero for reasons deeper than I can adequately explain in fewer than a hundred words, and that I don’t fancy him, never have and never will. He’s not my type, I don’t want to shag him, I just look up to him and respect him for everything he’s been through, everything he’s done, and everything he stands for. Nobody would question me if I was male, but because I’m female I have to explain myself; and even then I think not everyone believes me.
And then, conversely, if a male musician is attractive to look at, he isn’t taken so seriously. He’s a pretty boy, all the girls love him for what he looks like, he can’t possibly actually be any good at what he does. Sour grapes on the part of those doing the criticising, perhaps? Or again that insidious little idea that women can’t possibly be interested in any musician for his talent; it’s got to be his looks that are doing the trick.
Meanwhile, female musicians, especially in the world of rock, also aren’t taken seriously. They’re only where they are because the boys fancy them, right? They can’t possibly be any good, because girls can’t rock, right?
Well, I beg to differ, and so do more of my female friends than I can reasonably count. Which leads me to believe that there are more of us out there, many more of us, who love music and musicians for what and who they are. All right, maybe we find some of them attractive, but that isn’t the main thing (and what male music geek doesn’t have his own crushes among his record collection?). We too have our heroes and heroines, our record collections, our favourite songs and the guitar riffs that send shivers up and down our spines. We can do all this without wanting to sleep with anyone, just like the boys can. Sex isn’t the be-all and end-all - but music just might be.