Female Takeover – Challenging Gender Inequality in Music

I didn’t really listen to women when I was a child. Women didn’t feature on our stereo at home.

Dad was into Rush and Pink Floyd. Mum was into Meat Loaf, who did have Patti Russo – a vocally strong woman – supporting. But then I always liked that song where they basically sing about the guy wanting to get in her pants, and her gaining power by not letting him.

My stepmother brought a very different collection of music with her, and I was introduced to Grace Slick, an American singer and former model. She was a wild woman, who performed with many bands, only to be inevitably asked to leave because of her alcoholism and the manner in which she acted when intoxicated. Her solo album – which I played on repeat – was about her experiences when intoxicated and the 12-step programs she attended to evade this negative lifestyle.

My love of Grace Slick came at a time when I was battling my own demons. I felt like the only place to hide was in the warm embrace of strong women such as Slick, who had produced a Top40 album when she had every reason to give up and stop performing Alongside Slick, I devoured the words of Bikini Kill, Siouxsie Sioux and even Patti Smith. These women sang about what every young girl wants – to be a strong, powerful woman in this male-dominated world.

With a background like this, where such dominant women took on such a role, I should have found it easy to name five female artists in Hull. I could, with a lot of time to think.

So, when we asked Lyn Acton and Sally Currie (better known as the Dyr Sister) if they had ever encountered discrimination in the music industry, I was surprised at their surprise to be asked such a thing. Lyn physically responded by pursing her lips and shaking her head. She admitted that there were no female producers or bass players when she first started her music career, but said she had not felt directly discriminated against. A sentiment which Sally mirrored.

Still, I felt – as a woman – I should be supporting female acts. Further into the discussion, Lyn said something which summed up that niggling feminist part of my brain which was yelling at me by this point. Women don’t get asked to headline. Women don’t, traditionally, perform headline acts – in a way in which is suitable for a headline. As far as the Hull music scene, I wasn’t aware of more than a handful of female performers, for this exact reason.

I enjoy the music of Pearls Cab Ride and the Happy Endings as much as I do Streaming Lights or Counting Coins. But were you to ask for a Hull act, my brain would jump to the latter options.

Is gender-inequality so engrained into society that even a female music reviewer does not consider female musicians on the same level as their male counterparts? Do women fail to succeed because their audiences fail to accept them with an open embrace?

This is just one the reasons why such events as the Female Takeover at The Warren is so vital. With an aim to challenge gender stereotypes – in the music industry and beyond – and offering workshops on everything from song writing to music production to performance techniques, this is a week when young women in Hull can develop their skills without the need to fight against the allegedly stronger sex.

If you’re aged 16-25 and are a woman, then head on down to check out these opportunities.

female takeover 2014 poster

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