Rocker Girls Start Their Own Bands

floor plan

No one ever said it was easy to be a rock musician. But it sure is a lot harder when the odds are against you. Female musicians not only have to work hard practicing, writing music, and performing like any band does, but we also have to put up with a lot of discrimination in the still sexist world of rock and roll!

One would think that the recent success of artists such as Alanis Morissette, Veruca Salt, and Hole would have overthrown the outdated notion that women can't rock. They have! These female bands have paved the way to the top of the charts. Unfortunately, many girls still experience unfair treatment when trying to start a band. I was one of them.

Having played in four different bands over the past five years, I felt that by age 16 I was ready to front a band of my own. I was tired of always being the only girl in bands made up of guys. I was sick of always being pushed into the background, while the guys took all of the credit and ignored my ideas.

So I found some female musicians to play with. Little did I realize how difficult, and yet how incredibly rewarding, the experience would be. At the time the above photo was taken, musicians Carrie Cannon and Michaela Connell were 16, and Annie Dubinsky and I were 15.

The fact of the matter is, despite all of the great female rock stars out there, amateur girl bands have it twice as hard as their male counterparts. Although our band Supermodel Sal has won awards and sold over 200 home-produced albums, we still face everything from sexual harassment to not being taken seriously.

Two examples stand out in my mind: One night we were at a local club and the manager announced that they were looking for bands to play. He encouraged anyone in a band to speak with him. I waited in line while he took down the names and numbers of several macho guy bands. Then it was my turn, so I told him about my band. He looked me up and down. "Oh, what," he said sarcastically, "are you trying to be Hole or something?" (He was referring to the band which Courtney Love fronts.) The guy proceeded to completely ignore me. How aggravating it was, not being taken seriously simply because of my sex!

We found ourselves in another very sexist situation when we were playing in a prestigious local Battle of the Bands performance. The 'sound guy' (he sets up and controls the levels to make everything sound just right) seemed to have a problem with us because we were girls. It all began when we were setting up onstage, and he asked if he could adjust the levels of our amplifiers. Since he hadn't done this with any of the other all-male bands, I replied, "No thanks, we've got it under control." He then proceeded to yell at us. He said that he'd had years of experience and we obviously didn't know anything! As if that wasn't bad enough, he did a purposely shoddy job of the sound during our performance. One of our friends overheard him say that we would never win because we're girls.


We have had the chance, through our music, to vent our feelings about sexism and other issues that are important to us. We have learned a great deal about music, equipment, performing, and most of all, ourselves.



Don't let these stories intimidate you, though. Far from scaring me away from rock and roll, incidents like these have just given me all the more reason to keep playing. The benefits of playing in Supermodel Sal have far outweighed the bad stuff. We have had the chance, through our music, to vent our feelings about sexism and other issues that are important to us. We have learned a great deal about music, equipment, performing, and most of all, ourselves. We have had incredible support and encouragement from girls who admire what we're doing. And, lately, we have even earned the respect of males who have realized that we are good musicians -- period--no matter what our sex is.

If you are a girl who sings or plays an instrument, why not start a band? All it takes is several musician friends, a place to play, and a time to practice. Learn to play together by playing songs that all of you know. Then, you can start writing your own music. Network with other female bands in your area and ask them if your band can play a show with them some time. Read books and other publications to learn from other musicians' experiences. And above all, have fun! Playing in a band can give you confidence and energy. Enjoy every minute of it!

To any girls out there who play in, or are thinking about starting a band, I challenge you to fight sexism through music. You come from an illustrious line of female musicians, from Joan Jett to Bikini Kill, and all of them have refused to be bullied by the opposite sex. As a girl in rock you will need to work doubly hard, but if you persevere, you will succeed. Grrl, you rock!

For more articles by young women visit Blue Jean Online ( Copyright 2002, Blue Jean Media, Inc.

If you're a young woman, send Blue Jean your fiction, "Travel and Adventure," and "Making a Difference" stories for the next Blue Jean book Blue Jean: What Young Women are Thinking, Saying, and Doing 2.
The deadline is Nov. 30, 2002

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

alternet logo

Tough Times

Demand honest news. Help support AlterNet and our mission to keep you informed during this crisis.