Chicks with Picks

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Title: Chicks with Picks An Ethnography of Female Rock Instrumentalists in Tampa, FL
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Fournet, Adele
Publisher: New College of Florida
Place of Publication: Sarasota, Fla.
Creation Date: 2009
Publication Date: 2009


Subjects / Keywords: Gender
Popular Music
Women in Rock Music
Bourdieu, Pierre
Female Rock Instrumentalists
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation


Abstract: This ethnography of female rock instrumentalists playing in bands in the Tampa, FL area explores the social significance of why there are so few female instrumentalists in this scene�five percent of the total number of rock musicians. Drawing on the ethnographic strategies of interview and participant observation and the theoretical insight of Pierre Bourdieu, this research more specifically seeks answers to the following questions: First, why are there so few women playing instruments in bands in this area? Second, how do some women get involved in this scene as instrumentalists despite the statistical odds against them? Finally, what are the effects of this minority status on the lives and careers of the women who do manage to enter into rock as instrumentalists? In order to answer these questions, I argue that it is important to conceive of the local level rock music scene as a distinct field of cultural production with unique forms of cultural capital. I demonstrate that women's access or lack of access to this cultural capital, along with the habitus that would incline them to see rock music as an attractive field to pursue, is a crucial factor in understanding the significance of women's minority status in rock music in Tampa, FL.
Statement of Responsibility: by Adele Fournet
Thesis: Thesis (B.A.) -- New College of Florida, 2009
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The New College of Florida, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Local: Faculty Sponsor: Miles, Stephen

Record Information

Source Institution: New College of Florida
Holding Location: New College of Florida
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: local - S.T. 2009 F7
System ID: NCFE004095:00001

Permanent Link:

Material Information

Title: Chicks with Picks An Ethnography of Female Rock Instrumentalists in Tampa, FL
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Fournet, Adele
Publisher: New College of Florida
Place of Publication: Sarasota, Fla.
Creation Date: 2009
Publication Date: 2009


Subjects / Keywords: Gender
Popular Music
Women in Rock Music
Bourdieu, Pierre
Female Rock Instrumentalists
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation


Abstract: This ethnography of female rock instrumentalists playing in bands in the Tampa, FL area explores the social significance of why there are so few female instrumentalists in this scene�five percent of the total number of rock musicians. Drawing on the ethnographic strategies of interview and participant observation and the theoretical insight of Pierre Bourdieu, this research more specifically seeks answers to the following questions: First, why are there so few women playing instruments in bands in this area? Second, how do some women get involved in this scene as instrumentalists despite the statistical odds against them? Finally, what are the effects of this minority status on the lives and careers of the women who do manage to enter into rock as instrumentalists? In order to answer these questions, I argue that it is important to conceive of the local level rock music scene as a distinct field of cultural production with unique forms of cultural capital. I demonstrate that women's access or lack of access to this cultural capital, along with the habitus that would incline them to see rock music as an attractive field to pursue, is a crucial factor in understanding the significance of women's minority status in rock music in Tampa, FL.
Statement of Responsibility: by Adele Fournet
Thesis: Thesis (B.A.) -- New College of Florida, 2009
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The New College of Florida, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Local: Faculty Sponsor: Miles, Stephen

Record Information

Source Institution: New College of Florida
Holding Location: New College of Florida
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: local - S.T. 2009 F7
System ID: NCFE004095:00001

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CHICKS WITH PICKS: AN ETHNOGRAPHY OF FEMALE ROCK INST RUMENTALISTS IN TAMPA, FL BY ADELE FOURNET A Thesis Submitted to the Division of Humanities New College of Florida in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Bachelor of Arts in Music Under the sponsorship of Stephen Miles Sarasota, FL March, 2009


Acknowledgements I would like to take this opportunity to thank the ma ny people in my life that facilitated in the resear ching and writing of this thesis. Without their help, guidance, and support, I doubt that this project would have come to final fruition. First and foremost, I acknowledge the excellent guidance of my acad emic advisor and thesis sponsor, Steven Miles, who without fail provided me with the most appropriate insight and support throughout every stage of this project. My roommates Lee Ellen Reed and Nina Barraclough, though they may not be consciously aware of it, provide d the comfort and stability I needed in order to carry out these ethnographic investigations. Many night s I was out until tw o or three in the morning researching a music show, and they never complained about my coming home so late and rather provided constant encouragement and enthusiasm even when I was extremely exhausted. Nate Chandler, a cl ose friend and fellow social researcher, accompanied me to a number of these shows a nd proved to be a valuable second pair of eyes and conversation partner as I worked through the complex social issues I was exploring. Of course, abundant thanks to all of the participants in my study. They were always eager to meet with me and invariably shared provoking and thoughtful insight. In many cases I came into an interview with a strang er and left it with a new close friend. A number of people generously gave some of their time to read this work and give me feedback, including David Fournet and Ta ra Tinnin. I thank them for their time and suggestions. My greatest thanks go to my family, especially my parents David and Andrea, for encouraging my musical inclin ations since before I can remember. ii


Table of Contents Abstract ..........iv Introduction ...........1 Chapter 1: The Field of Rock Music Production......8 Chapter 2: Where My Girls At? An Explanation for Why There Are So Few Women in Rock...........17 Chapter 3: Getting Into Rock...........38 Chapter 4: Challenges of the Field...........53 Chapter 5: Women Rockers and Strategic Action.......66 Chapter 6: Spectra of Consciousness ......84 Conclusion .........93 Appendices........98 References .......102 iii


iv CHICKS WITH PICKS AN ETHNOGRAPHY OF FEMALE ROCK INST RUMENTALISTS IN TAMPA, FL Adele Fournet New College of Florida, 2009 ABSTRACT This ethnography of female rock instrumentalists playing in bands in the Tampa, FL area explores the social significance of why there are so few female instrumentalists in this scenefive percent of the total number of rock musicians. Drawing on the ethnographic strategies of interview and pa rticipant observation and the theoretical insight of Pierre Bourdieu, this research mo re specifically seeks answers to the following questions: First, why are there so few women playing instruments in bands in this area? Second, how do some women get involved in this scene as instrumentalists despite the statistical odds against them? Finally, what are the effects of this minority status on the lives and careers of the women who do manage to enter into rock as instrumentalists? In order to answer these questions, I argue that it is important to conceive of the local level rock music scene as a distinct field of cu ltural production with uni que forms of cultural capital. I demonstrate that womens access or lack of access to this cultural capital, along with the habitus that woul d incline them to see rock mu sic as an attractive field to pursue, is a crucial factor in understanding the significance of womens minority status in rock music in Tampa, FL. Dr. Steven Miles Division of the Humanities


Introduction This thesis is an ethnographic study of female rock instrumentalists in the Tampa, FL area. In playing in the Tampa scene over the past few years I have noticed that there are comparatively very few women playing instruments in rock bands. To give a number to this observ ation, I checked the band lineups for the four most popular music venues in the area The Brass Mug, Crowbar, The New World Brewery, and The Pegasus Lounge. I determined that approximately 5% of musicians playing instruments in rock bands at thes e venues are women, and only 10% of bands have one or more female musician in them (see Appendix 1). The three primary questions I had in c onducting this ethnography were as follows. First, why are there comparatively so few female in strumentalists in rock ba nds? Second, how is it that some women enter into rock bands as instrumentalis ts despite the statistical odds against them? Third, what are the social implications of this minority st atus on the careers and lives of the women who do end up as rock musicians? In conducting this research I have assumed that the answers to these questions are completely social in nature, given that I believe that men a nd women are equally musically capable and talented on a biological level. This assu mption is corroborated by the most recent U.S. Gallup Poll, which demonstrates that there are equal numbers of men and women playing instruments in American households, as well as by my observation that th ere are equal numbers of men and women attending music school for classical performa nce and playing in professional or chestras (see Appendix 2). Given that there are equal numbers of me n and women playing instruments in general, my hypothesis is that there is something peculiar about the social dimens ion of rock music produc tion in particular that explains why there are comparativel y so few female instrumentalists. 1


I carried out the research for this study over a three-month period in the fall of 2008 using two primary ethnographic strategies: interviews with part icipants in the rock mu sic scene and participant observation at rock music shows. I conducted 29 in terviews in total, 23 of which were through e-mail and 6 of which were in person or over the phone. Of the total number of interviewees, 24 were women instrumentalists playing in bands and 5 were male instrumentalists playing in bands with female members. Approximately half of the women played in all-female bands, whereas the other half played in mixed-gender groups. I generated the questions for the e-mail interviews based on my central research questions and on the knowledge I gleaned about e ach individual from,, other websites, other bands, and fans. Although I ha d questions prepared for the in person interviews that addressed my central concerns these interviews were much more freeform and wide-ranging, which allowed me to get to know the inte rviewee better and to understand he r perspective with more depth. Although I attended many shows during this period, as both an audience member and as a rock instrumentalist, I attended f our of the shows with the explicit purpos e of taking field notes. All four of these shows featured at least one band with a female instrumentalist. I took notes on everything from the interaction between band member s, to the exchanges between ba nd members and the crew at the venue, to audience reactions, to the perspectives of bar tenders a nd sound guys. A majority of my analysis in this thesis is based on the interviews, but I call upon these field notes from time to time. In many ways this thesis is an extens ion of the sociologist Mavis Baytons book Frock Rock: Women Performing Popular Music, which is a sociological study of women in contemporary popular music in the UK from the 1970s to the 1990s (Bayton, 1998). In her book Bayton likewise assumes that the explanation for the absence of women in rock is completely social in nature, and she also posits the same three central guiding research questions. Although my research and analysis go beyond the scope of Baytons book, many of my findings support her findings and I will re ference them often. 2


The main point of distinction be tween my work and Baytons is that I started my project with a theoretical model already in mind. In order to clarify my thoughts about rock as a unique social universe, I employ Pierre Bourdieus theory of fields of cultural product ion. In the first chapter of this thesis I will outline the relevant points of Bourdieu s theory and demonstrate how rock music functions as a separate field of cultural produ ction, with its distinct forms of cu ltural capital. Usi ng his theory is central in my understanding of and explanation fo r why there are so few women in rock, how some women get involved, and what minority status really entails for these women who are involved. In this way my work differs from many ethnographic studies, including Bayt ons, which attempt to develop theory from the data itself, or only evoke theory once very clear patterns ha ve already independently emerged from the data. Bourdieus theory did not completely determine my data collection, but it did significantly inform the questions I asked and the pro cesses I paid attention to. For example, concepts such as cultural capital and habitus were already operating in my mind when I went into these investigations and functioned as a fi lter through which I made sense of this social milieu. With this said, in creating my analyses I did not allow the theory to completely dictate what I noticed or found interesting in the data. At many points throughout this thesis I leave the theory behind, especially when the data does not seem to be clearly or effectively illuminated by it. I first noticed the lack of women playing instrume nts in rock music when I formed my first allgirl rock band at the age of se venteen. At the time I was a seni or at Fayetteville High School in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and I desperat ely wanted to play in the battle of the bands competition at the end of the year. None of the girls I knew played rock instruments, a nd since I have played keyboard my whole life, I made a deal with my two closest girlfriends: if they ag reed to learn how to play rock instruments in order to be in this battle of the ba nds, I would switch to a new instrument and we would start from scratch together. The Sh arp Teeth, as we called ourselves, ha d its first and last performance at 3


that battle of the bands, but the experience both we tted my appetite for rock music performance and made me keenly aware of just how few women are out there playing rock. We were so desperate for a drummer, in fact, that we eventually sett led on a male drummer dressed in drag. When I entered college I joined my second ba nd, No Face, first as a vocalist and then as a keyboard player. I played with th is band for a year and helped reco rd the first No Face album. The following year I joined my third band, The Done For, as a keyboa rdist, vocalist, songwriter and eventually bandleader. I still play with The Done Fo r, and we perform as frequently as my academic career can tolerate. In addition to these bands, I have played in cover bands and in an avant-garde jazz trio. In playing in these various bands I have in many occasions felt overtly and covertly discriminated against as a female musician. I have had sound guys i gnore me completely, despite the fact that I am the bandleader, and communicate instead with a male me mber of my band. Last summer, I was playing with a 60s Soul cover band and we practiced in a professional practice studio that was initially plastered with pornography, though my accommodating band mates fina lly agreed to take it down while I was in the band. Evidently I was one of the first, if not the first female musician to use this studio, and I frequently had friends and parents concerned about my safety when I was playing there at night. Clearly this research is a dire ct extension of my personal investment in rock music, and having this personal investment has its benefits and drawb acks. For one, I was able to empathize with my interviewees situations and to ask them questions only an insider would think to ask. Furthermore the participants were much more willing to open up to me knowing that I shared a similar background and lifestyle to them. I established numerous valuable connections and friendships with women in the Tampa area through conducting this research. At the same time, I am also clearly biased in this research. Given my personal background, I paid extremel y close attention to issu es of gender inequality when conducting my interviews and participant observation, perhaps to th e detriment of other 4


observations I could have been making. I do my best to remove my personal bi as in my analysis, but my subjective perspective inevitably shines through, as it does in all social research. In order to avoid confusion about my terminology, it is important to define exactly what I mean by Rock. Rock is an ambiguous category of music and is used and understood differently from person to person. In this research, I am using rock to mean any type of popular music played by a band (meaning two or more people or one person functioni ng as more than one person with looping stations) using amplified instruments, one of which is usually e ither an electric guitar or an electric bass guitar, and with one or more vocalist. This definition of rock allows me to include a very wide array of genresfrom metal, to punk, to indie, to experimental, to blueswhile excluding genres like folk, jazz, acoustic singer-songwriting and any kind of orchestral ensemble. This definition does not hold true for everything (I can think of some band s that only play amplified keyboard s that I would s till categorize as rock and many jazz ensembles that play with amplif ied string instruments and a vocalist), but for the most part it does the job. I have chosen to focus exclusively on female in strumentalists, as opposed to female vocalists in bands, because female singers in rock music are ex tremely common. One can th ink of numerous bands with all male instrumentalists and a female lead singe r. In many ways being the singer in a band is seen as a marginal position when it comes to the actual structure and integrity of the music. As Lucy Green writes in her book Music, Gender, Education The sight and sound of a woman singing affirms the correctness of the fact of what is absent: the unsuitability of any serious and lasting connection between woman and instrument, woma n and technology (Green, 1997: 29). There is something different about being an instrumentalist in a rock band that contri butes to the disproportionate statistics between men and women, and this is why I am focusing exclusively on instrumentalis ts, though it should be noted that many of the women I interviewed are vocalists in addition to playing their instruments. 5


There are many social facets of the Tampa, FL rock scene that I am overlooking in this thesis. In an attempt to focus on gender, I am not addressi ng issues such as race, ethnicity and economic background in my analysis. Although I saw one band with black instrumental ists while conducting my field research, and one of the bands I interviewed is originally from Venzuela, the Tampa rock scene is overwhelmingly white. My main goal in writing this thesis is to bring a ttention to an issue that is very often unnoticed. Throughout the course of this research I have come to realize that many, many people involved in the rock music scene are unaware of the lack of female instrumentalists. For in stance, the sound guy at The New World Brewery, a popular indie music venue in Tampa, estimated that 40% of the musicians playing at his venue are women, whereas one of the sound guys at The Crowbar, another very important venue in the scene, speculated that 45% of the mu sicians playing at his ve nue are women. After double checking the actual numbers of wome n performing at these two bars, I realized that these men are simply completely mistaken in th eir perception of how many women ar e playing. I have noticed that people, like these two men, either think that this field is equally accessible to men and women, or they recognize that it is a male-dominated field yet find this fact unproblematic. For many women, playing rock music in a band is an occupation like any other. It is a source of income, a social network, and a venue for creative e xpression and identity formation. Whereas issues of gender inequality in traditional occupations have been rigorously explored on a sociological level, they have been given very limited attention when it come s to rock music. Although th e amount of literature is blossoming, my hope is that this rese arch serves to inspire more thought and exploration on this topic. I certainly plan to continue this i nvestigation, perhaps in a different c ity, in order to clarify and expand upon some of the patterns that emerge d in this initial res earch. In many ways, the observations I make here are just jumping off points for futu re investigation a nd clarification. 6


The chapters of this thesis are organized accord ing to my three central research questions, with an additional chapter introducing my theoretical framewor k. The third question, which addresses the social ramifications of the minority status of female rock musicians, is answered over the course of three chapters. The first details the different kinds of discrimination women face as minorities in rock, the second discusses the strategic actions women empl oy in light of their minority position and the consequences of those actions, and the third demons trates the range of awareness women in the field have of both their minority position a nd of their particular forms of stra tegic action. By the end of this thesis the reader should have a better understanding of why there are comparatively so few female instrumentalists in rock bands in Tampa, FL, how it is that some women enter into rock despite the statistical odds against them, and the social implicatio ns of minority status on th e careers and lives of the women who do end up as rock musicians. Although th is inquiry is tied to one geographic location, my hope is that it illuminates many co mponents of the female experience in rock more generally. 7


Chapter 1: The Field of Rock Music Production I found the social theory of Pierre Bourdieu, as outlined in his books The Logic of Practice and The Field of Cultural Production to be extremely useful in concep tualizing the complex role of women in rock music production. The following introduction to Bourdieus theory is my interpretation and distillation of the elements of his theory most relevant to my research. It is by no means an extensive or authoritative overview of his oeuvre. Bourdieu has two fundamental goals in developing hi s social theory. The first is to overcome the theoretical dichotomy between objec tivist and subjectivist approaches to studying human life, and the second is to understand and explain the unequal distribution of power in society at large as well as within different subcultures. In working towards these goals, Bourdieu formul ated his interrelated ideas of habitus, cultural capital, and the field of cultural production, all of which are relevant to the study of women in rock music. My goal here is to demons trate how Bourdieu arrived at these terms and to clarify what they mean, to show how they can be applied to rock music, and to outline what the implications of this application ar e for studying women in rock music. In The Logic of Practice, Bourdieu expresses his dissati sfaction with both objectivist and subjectivist approaches to studying human experience (Bourdieu, 1980). He th inks that the social scientist must employ both methodologies in order to formulate a comprehensive and accurate depiction of human life. In brief, objectivist theories posit that there are rule s and structures of society that mechanistically determine human behavior that the so cial scientist can observe and model like any other natural phenomenon. These kinds of theories often preclude human agency. By contrast, there are theories that seek to understand human experience exclusively from the pe rspectives of free human agents while overlooking the constraints placed on these individuals by their objectively observable social positions. A large problem with objectivism is that it has trouble accounting for change in social 8


structurehow can there be change if there are fixed rules that humans simply adhere to like automatons? Subjectivism can eas ily account for change, but has tr ouble accounting for continuity how can we explain the relative cons istency in social structures and hum an behavior over time if people are always acting spontaneously a ccording to their own free will? In order to transcend this theoretical binary, Bourdieu opts to use both methodologies simultaneously: Social science must ta ke as its object both th is reality and the perception of this reality, the perspectives, the points of view which, by virtue of their position in objective social space, agents have on this reality (Bourdieu, 1990 :130). In other words, Bour dieu chooses to study objective patterns of human behavior in various social contexts but at the same time recognizes that these patterns could never exist without the subjec tive experiences, understandings, and dispositions of the individuals that constitute this social context. The quote above, which states that agents have a perspective on social rea lity only by virtue of the positions they occupy in this social reality, implies the idea of habitus that Bourdieu uses to combine these two seemingly irreconcilable positions. As I understand it, habitus is the internal, psychological counterpoint to the external social practices and hierarchies of a partic ular social context that individual agents employ, either consciously or unconsciously, to seek their individual ends within this context. To think of it in other terms, humans learn from a young age the appropr iate behaviors and beliefs that correspond to the social spheres, or fields, we are exposed to, as well as the positions within these fields that we occupy. By the time we are adults we feel and act as if these behaviors and beliefs are second nature, whereas we find ourselves very aliena ted and uncomfortable in fields for which we do not posses the appropriate habitus For example, the young prince who grows up in a noble palace, learning the rituals and ideology of th e palace, effortlessly participates in this particular social field by the time he is a young adult. In this case, the overarching social field is the wealthy noble milieu, 9


whereas the princes particular position in this field would be determin ed by his status as male royal. The poor peasant woman, by contrast, would lack the appropriate habitus in the noble milieu and would thus be very handicapped trying to participate in this field. What is more, not only is the habitus formed by exposure over time to external social relations, these external social relations are in turn constantly recreated by habitus. Bourdieu explains this phenomenon in many places by describing the habitus as structured structures that in turn structure social reality (Bourdieu, 1980: 53). For without agents with the a ppropriate accumulated dispositions, social fields would be constant ly changing and chaotic. At the same time the interaction between habitus and external social reality is more than just a feedback loop, fo r this would get us little beyond an objectivist social theory. If this were the case, the habitus would simply be an internalized form of social structure, and there would still be no agency or unique subjective experien ce. Rather, agents both unconsciously and consciously create new productsthoughts, perceptions, expr essions, and actions that fulfill the expectatio ns of a given social environment but which are nevertheless novel and, with repetition, can slowly transform this e nvironment. Bourdieu describes in The Logic of Practice the simultaneous freedom and cons traint that the idea of habitus gives us: Through the habitus, the structure of which it is the product governs practice, not along the paths of a mechanical determinism, but within the c onstraints and limits initially set on its inventions. This infinite yet strictly limited generative capacity is difficult to understand only so long as one remains locked in the usual antinomieswhich the concept of habitus aims to transcendof determinism and freedom, conditioning and creativity, consciousness and the unconscious, or the individual and society. Because the habitus is an infinite capacity for generating productst houghts, perceptions, expressions, and actionswhose limits are set by th e historically and socially situ ated conditions of its production, the conditioned and conditional freedom it provides is as remote from creation of unpredictable novelty as it is from simple mechanical reproduction of the original conditioning (55). Habitus allows the individual to e ffortlessly understand, act it, a nd recreate the practices and beliefs of her particular social posi tion, insofar as it is an internal manifestation of this position, but at 10


the same time the agent still has a significant amount of freedom in how she understands, acts in, and recreates these practices. One way to enter into a discussion of Bour dieus second central concernthe unequal distribution of power in societ yis to focus on the fact that habitus always corresponds to the objective position an individual occupies in a given social context. As Bourdieu writes in The Field Of Cultural Production The representations of agents vary with their position and with their habitus as a system of models of perception and apprec iation, as cognitive and evaluativ e structures which are achieved through the lasting experience of a soci al position (Bourdieu, 1993: 131). If habitus is the product of a particular social position, what is it that creates di stinct social positions in society, to be occupied by different individuals, in the first place? To answer this question, it is im portant to turn to Bourdieus concepts of cultural capital and fields of cultural production. Like many social theori sts, Bourdieu recognizes th e centrality of material capital in determining an individual s position and realm of possibilities in society. He thinks that the distribution of material capital is the largest determinant of an agents social position. However, he also realizes that there are other forms of capital that are not material in nature that come into play in a variety of subcultures, or separate fields of cultural production as he calls them. For Bourdieu, a field of cultural production is a separate social universe having its own la ws of functioning independent of those of politics and the economy (Bourdieu, 1993: 162). In other words, in a field of cultural production the traditional forms of gaining and holding power, such as accumulating material wealth and social connections, do not necessarily apply, or at least do not apply in full. Instead, in these fields different forms of capital determine an actors position within that fiel d. Bourdieu calls this form of capital cultural capital. Cultural capital is knowle dge of the particular pract ices, people, ideas, and cultural objects unique to a given field. 11


To use an example from my own experience, one could talk about the field of the contemporary American coffee shop and look at how the knowledge of how to make, appreciate, and critique the array of coffee flavors and espresso dri nks functions as a form of cultural capital that one can accumulate independently of ones position in the larger economic field. Th e barista or caf patron with the most knowledge of the subtleties of coffee production and consumption occupies a higher social position than does the neophyte barista-in-training or the poor fellow at th e counter trying to order a Starbucks Frappuccino. One can talk about an agents pos ition within a given field, or a bout her aggregate position in all fields, including the overarching economic field. Bourdieu writes, Agent s are distributed in the overall social space, in the first dimension in accordance with the overall volume of the capital that they possess in different kinds and, in the second dimension, in accord ance with the structure of their capital, that is, in accordance with the relative weight of the diffe rent kinds of capital, economic and cultural, in the total volume of their capit al (Bourdieu, 1990: 128). We have an average position within the total field of social intera ction, but have higher or lowe r positions within subfields (the field of the caf, for instance), depending on how much of different ki nds of cultural capital we have accumulated. In The Field of Cultural Production Bourdieus primary focus is French literary production in the 19th century as an example of a fi eld of cultural production. Howeve r, it is easy to see how rock music also functions as a field of cultural production. The prim ary criterion for a given social environment to constitute a field of production is th e accumulation of a unique form of cultural capital that agents use in achieving their en ds. In order to demonstrate that rock music production constitutes a separate field of cultural production, then, one must demonstrate its distinctive cultural capita l. Through my research, I have noticed that the Ta mpa, FL rock music scene has accumulated three forms of unique cultural capital, wh ich I think reflect the cultural capital of rock music production 12


worldwide. The first is knowledge of how to play rock music in a band, which differs greatly from knowing how to play, for example, classical music in an orchestra, the second is knowledge of preparing for and playing a gig at a rock music venue, and the third is knowledge of how to promote the band and its music. I will elaborate on these forms of cultural capital later, but it is useful to describe a few examples of them now. For instan ce, when it comes to knowledge of how to play rock music in a band, a rock music instrumentalist must know how to learn immediately by ear, improvise, memorize all musical structures, play well with other musicians, understand popular music references, and effectively use a wide array of musical equipment, from PA (publ ic address) systems, to guitar pedals, to looping stations. She must also know how to transport her equipment to the place of a gig, set up her equipment, run a sound check with the sound crew at the venue, pl ay her set and then tear down her equipment, all the while observing other social expectations of the music venue. Likewise, she must have an understanding of how to promote her band and music through a variety of media, including,, and other mu sic websites, flyers, press kits, connections with other bands and venue owners, as well as how to record and distribute her bands music. Participants in this field use these forms of cultu ral capital to achieve a va riety of ends, such as playing tight music with other dedicated musicians, performing liv e shows to as many audiences as possible in order to disseminate original music, and making money off of writing and playing this music. It is very difficult to achieve these ends in this field without a sufficient am ount of cultural capital. It is useful to think about how the cultural capital of rock music differs from the cultural capital of other forms of musical production in Western culture To use the example of classical music again, a performer in this field must learn how to read music off of a page, play exactly what the composer prescribes, follow orders from a central leader, and in most cases develop a close familiarity with her 13


instrument and her instrument only (as opposed to havi ng to learn about amplifica tion, effects, and other forms of sound technology). Clearly rock music produc tion qualifies as a distinct field of cultural production as articulated in Bourdieus theory. It should be not ed that rock music production is a very large and multi-faceted field. In this thesis I will primarily be focusing on the lo cal level performance aspect of the field, as opposed to the international rock mu sic industry, the recording studi o, record labels, etc. For the purposes of this thesis, the most relevant aspect of Bourdieus theory of fields of production is how participants come to enter and thrive in some fields and not others. To enter a field, one must possess the habitus which predisposes one to enter that fi eld, that game, and not another. One must also posses at least the minimu m amount of knowledge, or skill, or t alent [read cultu ral capital] to be accepted as a legitimate player (Bourdieu, 1993: 8). An effective illustration of this is to think about how particular social positions, espe cially within the economic field, predispose an individual to enter particular vocations. A wealthy, wh ite, educated man in our country is much more likely to find being a professional physician an achievable vocation, whereas a poor, Hispanic woman in this country will not see it as an achievable vocation even if she might see it as an attractive voc ation. Moreover, the white man is more likely to accumulate the right cultural capital (the education, the connections) that would allow him to participate in this fiel d, whereas the Hispanic woman is not. What I demonstrate in the following chapter is that women lack both the habitus and the cultural capital that would attract them to and allow them to successfully participate in rock music as instrumentalists. That women lack the habitus and cultural capital of the field of rock music goes a long way in explaining why there are comp aratively so few women in rock. Prior to demonstrating that women lack these tw o criteria, however, it is necessary to clarify exactly why women, because of their gender, lack a habitus that would predispose them to see rock as a 14


reachable vocation. Bourdieu does not write exte nsively about the relatio nship between gender and habitus, but he does make it clear that early childhood experiences weigh more heavily on the formation of habitus than do later experiences. He writes: Unlike scientific estimations, which are corrected after each experiment according to rigorous rules of calculation, the an ticipations of the habitus, practical hypotheses based on past experience, give disproportionate weight to early experiences (Bourdieu, 1980: 54). Instead of adapting our ac tions and social strategies accord ing to the scientific method or other self-reflexive methodologies, we rely heavily on the understandings of social interactionthe habituswe gained as children living in a particular social position. Tom Meisenhelder, in his article Toward a Field Theory of Class, Gender, and Race, in which he applies Bourdieus theory of habitus to class, gender, and race argue s that gendered dispositions are some of the earliest components of habitus that a child accumulates, insofar as she experiences on a daily basis the sexual division of labor between her parents (Meisenhelder, 2000: 76). Male children, because they identify with their fathers bodies, id entify with the male position and accumulate the male habitus, whereas by contrast female children accumulate the female habitus. Meisenhelder describes this phenomenon when he writes: The habitus is a gendered structure that informs how actors perceive self and others and how they act within social fields. Ac tors inhabit their bodies as gender ed bodies and enact strategies and practices within the social fields they encounter according to the possibilities allowed by gendered understandings of themselves and others. Gender field di-visions tend to be reproduced in the individual's earliest and most important habitus Images of self and other constituted through gender differences are created in the earliest years of life as a child experiences a familial field of intimacy structured via gender di-visioning and a gende red division of labor and reward (2000: 76). Not only do individuals encounter their current social circumstances as gendered subjects, they also select future fields to participate in according to their gender. In our society, there are still different fields and activities that are seen as male and female domains. For instance, being a mathematician, a motorcyclist, a mechanic, or a skateboarder ar e still male vocations, whereas being a nurse, a 15


homemaker, a hair stylist, or a dancer are predom inantly female vocations. Playing rock music is a vocation designated in our society as masculine. Little boys grow up fantasizing about being in a rock band and, in many cases, see playing in a rock band as a real possibility for their lives, whereas little girls, even if they do fantasize about being in a rock band, do not s ee it as a real po ssibility. Bayton speculates that there are three reasons why rock is seen as a masculine field: First, it has always been domi nated by men, and as there are fe w female role models easily available, this sets up a self-fulfilling prophecy. S econd, it is believed that in order to play rock music instruments certain physical and mental characte ristics are required, such as aggression, power, and physical strength [which have stereotypically been co rrelated with masculinity in our culture]. Third, rock is associated with technology, which is itself symbol ically interwoven w ith masculinity (41). In most cases, to lack the habitus, the disposition, that inclines one to enter a particular field because of gender is taken as the na tural order of affairs. Bourdieu suggests that the most improbable practices are...excluded, as unthinkab le, by a kind of immediate submissi on to order that inclines agents to make a virtue of necessity, that is, to refuse what is anyway denied a nd to will the inevitable (Bourdieu, 1980: 54). In the following chapter I will demonstrate that many women who eventually entered the field of rock music production as instrumentalists late in life initially lacked the habitus that would have predisposed them to enter the field when most bo ys doas preteens or young teenagers. Many of these women recall the submission to the state of things that Bourdieu describes in the quote above; many desired to be in a rock band but never saw it as anything more than a nice daydream. This gendered habitus functions in tandem with a lack of cultural cap ital in preventing women from entering the field of rock music production. 16


Chapter 2: Where My Girls At? An Explanation for Why There Are So Few Women in Rock To enter a field (the philosophical field, the scien tific field, etc.), to play the game, one must possess the habitus which predisposes one to enter that field, that game, and not another. One must also posses at least the minimum amount of knowledge, or skill, or talent to be accepted as a legitimate player (Bourdieu, 1993: 8). Why are there so few female instrumentalists in rock music? Why is it that we only hear allmale bands playing on the radio and only see men pl aying rock instruments on MTV? Why is that only five percent of the instrumentalists playing rock music in Tampa, FL are women? This salient absence of women in rock begs for an explanation. I argue that women do not enter rock music because, as women, they lack both the habitus the dispositionthat would in cline them to become rock instrumentalists in bands in the first place, and that furthermore they lack the cultural capital that would enable them to be successful participants in this field even if they were to see it as an attractive pursuit. If these social constraints were lifted, I believe th at women would eventually constitute half of the participants in rock music given that th ey are equally musically capable as men. There are two distinct ways in which having a gendered habitus deters womens involvement in rock as instrumentalists. First, having a gendere d habitus causes women to prevent themselves from getting interested in rock (an internal, self-imposed restraint), insofar as they see it as a masculine activity inappropriate for women. Se condly, it causes others to prev ent them from en tering rock (an external, other-imposed restraint) insofar as women are classified as women and therefore seen as suited only for activities designated as feminine or gender-neutral. In th is chapter I will first demonstrate the two forms of restraint that derive from having a gendered habitus, then I will delineate the particular forms of cultural capital that defi ne rock music as a separate fiel d of cultural production and which participants must amass in order to successfully partake in this field.1 1 In future research I intend to interview women who di d not end up as instrumentalists in rock bands in order to come to a better understanding of what a gendered habitus really entails in relationship to 17


I. Gendered Habitus: Internal Restraints Its Just a Fantasy It is not simply material factors which le ad to womens absence from rock, for many young women have no desire whatsoever to play in a band because, in terms of gender ideology, rock bands and rock instruments are masculine (Bayton,1998: 40). Because many women identify as female and accumulate the habitus of a female position, they often never even have an interest in playing a rock instrument in a band because they see it as such a masculine activity. These women, even if presente d with the opportunity to learn to play a rock instrument, will turn it down because th ey are so unable to identify with it. Emily (guitarist and singer for Super Secret Best Friends): When I was younger my older brother had a little rock band. They played like Van Halen songs And he had this fender telecaster from 1971 and he ended up leaving it in my room when I was in high school. And it just sa t there. I eventually sold it. I put a classified Ad in the paper and sold it. And ended up getting in huge trouble for it. My brother still brings it up. But it never dawned on me: Hey I might actually be able to play this instrument sitting in my room. I never even touched it. When she was younger, Emily was unable to identify w ith the idea of playing the electric guitar. Even though the guitar was available fo r her to play, it never beckoned to he r as an attractive pursuit. Other women have a strong desire to play, but never think of it as a real option for their lives. They prevent themselves from pursing this desire b ecause they think that, as women, playing in a rock band is an off-limits masculine field. Many women use the word fantasy to describe this early interest in playing rock music: Jax (drummer for Kore): As a kid, playing drums was just a fa ntasy, nothing I ever thought about doing for real and Im not sure why. Alex (drummer for Super Secret Best Friends): [Playing rock] was kind of a fantasy of mine. Like a very out there fantasy. Like the whole Josie and the Pussycats idea was very, very romantic to me. I was like I want to be a drummer in an all-girl rock band but I never actually thought it would happen. It was always kind of like a pipe dream that I never thought would happen. participation in rock music. The excerpts in this ch apter are all taken from women who eventually entered rock music. Their discussions of having a debilitating gendered habitus are simply recollections of how they felt at an earlier point in thei r lives and are therefore, unfortunate ly, not as revealing as would be discussions with women who never joined a band. 18


In labeling their desire to play rock music a fantasy, both Jax and Alex categorized it as something unreal and unobtainable t hus handicapping any further pursuit of this interest. Although these two women were not explicitly aware of the restraint they were placing on themselves, some women were in fact very aware of this act of self-regulation when it came to rock music: Stephanie (guitarist and vocalist for Some Day Souvenir) AF: When you were younger did you ever think to yourself, oh it would be so cool to be in a band? Stephanie: Yeah I did think that! And if my guy friends would tell me they were in a band I would think I want to do that too... But then I would stop myself and I w ouldnt let that go any further. Stephanie saw being in a rock back as an extr emely attractive prospect but would consciously prevent herself from getting too exci ted or invested in the idea. Women currently in bands run into this problem of self-constraint when trying to recruit new women to play music with. In talking about a girl she was trying to recruit for Super Secret Best Friends, Emily laments that she was totally convinced that she was incapable, as a girl, of playing in a band even though she was an enormous rock music fan: Emily (guitarist and singer for Super Secret Best Friends): Its really hard to find women. And she was kind of like Oh, no, Im not musi cal. And I was like Well, neither am I. I just started playing. And I was trying to convince her that this really is, you just decide to do it and you can do it. And she was really like No, I really couldnt do it which real ly bummed me out. I really wish that women just felt like it was something they could do. Who Do I Look Up To? Some women, even if they are inclined to play rock music and even of they take the first few steps towards doing it, stop themselves short because they lack female role models. Because they identify as women they find it di fficult to emulate male figures. Gina (singer and guitarist in multip le Tampa bands in the 1990s, owner of the lo cal music venue The Bombshell gallery, and pop music critic at the St. Petersburg Times from 1999-2005): Everywhere you look you see guys in a band. Boys have tons of influences and the loud-and-clear precedent that men play rock n roll. Girls don't see th at reassurance all around them. So, really, only the brave, bold girls set out to play in bands. I do think it's changing. When I was a little kid, I thought Jimmy Page was the greatest guitarist around and maybe little girl s today might think it's Carrie 19


Brownstein of Sleater-Kinney. Still, it concerns me that all these years after my band made a splash in Tampa, I can still name every female musician in town off the top of my head and I could never do that with the hundreds of guys in bands in the area. Gina attributes the salient dearth of female musi cians to the absence of a female legacy in rock. In only identifying with other women, because they have this gendered habitus, women cut themselves off from fields in which they do not have female role models. Reah (bassist for The Black Rabbits): I always thought of the band image as all male, except for a few girl singers. Most of the female performers I knew of were solo ar tists, and there were few of them. After a while, if I saw a girl pl aying an instrument in a band I was just like, Is this a joke? For Reah, seeing women in rock was so unusual th at when she encountered a woman playing in a band that she could potentially look up to, the image of this wo man was anomalous, humorous, and even pathetic. Many women in Reahs position would stop their pursuit of rock right there for fear of being seen as a joke doing something so out of the or dinary. In other words, even where role models do exist, women are still hesitant to fo llow their lead because of the fact that these female role models are breaking many gender rules and acting beyond the bounds of a female gendered habitus I think Ill be an Actress Women with a strong interest in performance many times steer their passion towards a genderappropriate field, like drama or dance. This wa y they experience less resi stance from their social environment when engaging in creative expression. Ba yton likewise found it to be true in her research that drama, like art and classical music, is an outlet for girls creativit y... (Bayton, 1998: 54). Stephanie of Some Day Souvenir di d not consider being in a rock band to be a plausible vocation when she was younger, whereas being an actress was completely fair game: Stephanie (guitarist and vocalist for Some Day Souvenir) : Well its funny, because when I was growing up and people would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always wanted to be an actress. Why? Because I loved the fame and the atte ntion. And thats the thing, Im very much an attention whore when it comes to things And so thats a big part of why I wanted to be an actress when I was younger. 20


Her desire for attention got cha nneled to acting, instead of playi ng in a rock band, because it is an authorized female activity. Similarly, Annie of The Freight Train Annie Band studied and taught dance for many years before even considering rock music as a possible vocation: Annie (singer and band leader for The Freight Train A nnie Band and organizer of Skippers Girlie Night Tuesdays) Annie: I used to teach dance to kids and adults for ten years. That was my ot her life...Ballet, tap, jazz, acrobatics. Everything. I grew up da ncing and singing, and I went to sc hool for a little while... I was a classically trained dancer. Did Someone Ask for a Singer? If women do see playing in a rock band as a possi bility, they usually find themselves attracted to the role of singer, which historica lly has been a position within rock open to women, and shy away from playing an instrument. Their gendered habitus inclines them towards the traditionally female position within rock and away from the traditionally male positions. Emily (guitarist and vocalist for Super Secret Best Friends): Yeah my old role models are all singers and they dont really play any inst ruments, so you always fantasize about being a singer and being the front person. But you dont fantasize about being in the back, you know playing drums or being in the back with your guitar. Bayton notes that women often elect to be singers in bands, if they decide to be in a band at all, and corroborates the point that bein g exclusively a singer in a band is still categorically different from being an instrumentalist in a band: The role of singer in popular music-making has been the obvious one for women who have, indeed, a special (rare) space in the profe ssional world of rock as session vocalists, where they anonymously hold their own with (male) session instrumentalists. Nevertheless, this only serves to underline their structural ex clusion as instrumenta lists (Bayton, 1998: 13). II. Gendered Habitus: External Constraints Even if women were to lose th e gendered component of their habitus that causes them to prevent themselves from entering rock, they are still disabled by the constraints imposed on them externally by their friends, teachers, and peers who pos ition them as gendered subjects. 21


Its Just Not Something Women Do From what I gathered in performing this res earch, many parents are opposed to their daughters playing in a rock band because it is seen as unlady like or even dangerous. Corey, the guitarist for My Little Trotsky, is also a classically trained pianist and piano teacher in the Tampa area. She remarks that many of her male piano students are also in rock bands or are taking rock music lessons, whereas none of her female students are: Corey (guitarist for My Little Trot sky and private piano teacher): I have had piano students, boys, who take piano and are also playing guitar and doing rock school and their parents are all behind them, but I couldnt see, at least the kids Ive taught, parents be ing really excited if thei r daughter were in a band. Sometimes parents are opposed to the idea of their daughter perf orming in general, because of the sexual connotations that co rrespond to women being on stage, and this broad parental discouragement concerning performance deters women from playing rock music more specifically. Annie (singer and band leader for The Freight Train A nnie Band and organizer of Skippers Girlie Night Tuesdays): I can remember being in the car with my parents, ten or el even years old, and I remember saying: I want to be a Broadway star. And my dad looked in the re arview mirror at me and said: You cant do that because you have to sleep with everybody. I didnt know what that meant. And my mom just kind of ga ve him a firm talking to. But once I r ealized what that meant I think it had an effect on me, and I think I became fearful. Although Annie eventually got over her fear, and is now a very conf ident performer, her fathers attitude clearly affected her earl y in life. Other parents, who mi ght not completely thwart their daughters musical pursuits, will neve rtheless be very discouraging: Stacie (keyboardist for Morningbell): My father has always been kind of an ass, and I would say he was an obstacle. He didnt want to buy me a real pian o, pitched a fit when I had to have a metronome to practice with, never went to recitals etc. He never wanted to hear what I was playing and always made me use the headphones if I was practicing. My brother wa s also sort of an obstacle. He used to throw things at me to try to get me to mess up while I wa s practicing. He hated hear ing the piano while he was trying to watch TV. I eventually moved the electric piano into my bedroom. Although both of these women overcame these ex ternally imposed obstacles, many women do not. Bayton points out that even if parents were to be open to the id ea of their daughters playing rock 22


music, many are certainly opposed to the idea of thei r daughter going out late at night, being at bars, and practicing with a bunch of adolescent boys in a base ment, which are all crucia l components of making rock music. She writes: The sort of venues where local gigs are held would be considered unsuitable by many parents, especially middle-class ones who w ould perceive joining a ba nd as a serious threat because the rock world is peopled mainly by men, associated with sex, drugs and late hours (Bayton, 2006: 351). In this case, parents prevent their daught ers from playing rock mu sic not because they see rock as an exclusively masculine field, but rather b ecause they see their daughters as being vulnerable as women in certain social environments. In either case, women are being prevented from engaging in certain activities because they are perceived of as being categorically different from men and therefore subject to different expect ations and restrictions. Drums Are For Boys Parents and teachers frequently encourage girl s to start playing musical instruments, but discourage them from playing rock instruments in partic ular because they see them as masculine. It is not unusual for musical instruments to be gender ster eotyped like this. For ex ample, the popular-music sociologist Lucy Green in her book Music, Gender, Education illustrates that drums and most horns as seen as mens instruments, while flute, violin an d clarinet are seen as wo mens instruments (Green, 1997). That drums are perceived of as a masculine instrument and therefore not suitable for women is clear in Anais experience: Anais (drummer for Still Life): I liked drums ever since I can remember, but I never had the money to buy a drum set. So I came here [to the U.S.] in 1 998 and I started working without papers, because even though my father had the money at the time to buy me a drum set he was like: no, the drums are for males and blah blah blah, its for guys. Why do you want to play drums, youre insane. Actually he was really cool with me in the beginning, because I remember when I was like six or seven he bought me a keyboard and a guitar and different stuff. I know how to play a lot of different instruments, but all my life I wanted to play drums, and he was crazy like no, no, no and he was like youre not going to play drums. Im not going to buy you a drum set. 23


Even though Anais father encouraged her to pl ay instruments he was vehemently opposed to her playing drums because he saw it as an unseemly activ ity for his daughter. Unlike Anais, who defied her fathers wishes and purchased herself a drum set by working illegally in the U. S., Gina never took up the drums after her father failed to encourage her interest in them: Gina (singer and guitarist in multip le Tampa bands in the 1990s, owner of the lo cal music venue The Bombshell gallery, and pop music critic at the St. Petersburg Times from 1999-2005): Every time I was around musical instruments as a child, I freaked out. I had to touch them and play with them, whether it be a neighbor's piano or my cousin's dr um set. Here's where the trouble starts: I was so obviously attracted to music and my parents never responded. I never had an instrument of my own or the opportunity to get lessons. What was irritating is that every time we went to my cousin's house, I would spend the whole time banging on his drums. Appa rently I showed some talent because I still remember my father and my uncle kind of laughing and saying, "Look at her go," you know, "this little girl." But there was no follow-up and I suspect it was precisely because I was a little girl. And drums, were for boys. This kind of gendered approach to instruments is perpetuated at school bands as well, where girls are herded towards wind and string instrument s and away from brass and percussion. Annie (singer and band leader for The Freight Train A nnie Band and organizer of Skippers Girlie Night): Annie: Yeah, its like I wa nted to play drums in a band when I was in school and they were like No, you play clarinet or flute because those are the girl instruments. And I hated all those instruments. I wanted to play drums but they wouldnt let me. AF: And your parents didnt stick up for you and say, No, shes going to play drums? Annie: Not really. My parents werent that i nvolved. They didnt like to stir up trouble. In Annies case, she was not allowed to play a masculine instrument at school and her parents did nothing to overturn this decision, reinforcing the constraint imposed on her by the school. Even if parents allow a daughter to take up a rock music instrument, they are often oppos ed to her playing it in the house: Isabel (bassist and vocalist for Rickety-Rag): My mother was adamantly against the bass guitar. It was electric and too loud. I did not get to practice very often at home, especially since we shared a bedroom and I had little to no privacy. She was supportive of the guitar and en couraged learning classical like Andre Segovia. I still listen to him today but do not attempt this kind of playing. 24


Playing a quiet, classical instrument was perfect ly acceptable in her mothers eyes, but playing an electric rock instrument was not. Isabels lack of privacy is also an interesting factor to explore in understanding womens relationship to rock instruments. Through her st udies Bayton realized that girls on average are allowed less private space than thei r brothers in their homes, which makes it more difficult for them to practice a rock instrument or organize a band practice at their house (Bayton, 1998: 30). Through my research it became very clear that many women view playing an instrument in a rock band as an unrealistic activity for women a nd thus prevent themselves from pursing it as a legitimate hobby or vocation. This internal restraint, in tandem with the restra ints placed on them from their parents and teachers, provides significant insight into why there are so few women performing rock music in Tampa and in all likelihood in rock scenes across the country. III. Cultural Capital But even if a woman does decide she wants to play rock music, and does not find herself impeded by external constraints, she may quit befo re she gives rock a fair chance because she is overwhelmed by the amount of knowledge she must accumulate concerning the idiosyncrasies of playing rock music. In other wo rds, women often shy away from play ing rock music because they lack the cultural capital peculiar to rock that a participant in this field mu st posses to successfully pursue his or her ends. As I have already mentioned, I distilled three forms of cultural capital that are central to creating and performing rock music: knowledge of how to play music in a rock band setting, knowledge of the rituals of playing a rock music gi g, and knowledge of how to promote a band. How to play music in a rock band Learning in a Group Setting 25


Playing a rock music instrument requires, above everything else, the ability to play ones instrument well with other people. The band is the central instituti on of rock music production, and the individual must have the ability to play in this setting in order to play at all. As Lucy Green highlights in her book How Popular Musicians Learn peer-directed learning and group learning form central components of popular music informal learning practices (Green, 2002: 83). Playing in the rock band setting requires both unique social and technical skills. The individual must learn how to compromise her musical ideas to accommodate other instruments and to create new ideas collaboratively with other musicians. On a technical level, she must posses the right musical vocabulary, be able to improvise, play by ear, find creative ways to talk about music, and have proficiency with a panoply of musical equipment. Lets Work Together: Social Skills in the Band Room I have found in my research that in most bands an individual player wi ll come in with an idea and then allow the rest of the band members to try it out, modify it, add new parts, and sometimes even reject it completely. The individu al has to learn how to not get too attached to her id eas, and rather understand that she is just planting seeds for the band to cultivate as a group. Stephanie (guitarist and vocalist for Some Day Souvenir): Typically, someone comes in with a riff and everyone else works around that, adding their style and influence. When arranging, the whole band puts their opinion on what works and what does not. Th en everyone works togeth er to compete the song. Reah (bassist for The Black Rabbits): Jetson usually starts with a re ally raw idea for a song, like a chord change and a little melody, and sometimes lyri cs. Usually by the time I get there Skyler has an idea of what he wants to do with the drums, and then we just play until we get some ideas, flesh out the songs and when we have a solid f oundation its easy to work out the details and make it better. Were around one another a lot so when someone has an idea they just bring it up and we try it out. In both of these examples, the individual brings a musical idea to the table but then backs away and allows the other members of the group to modify it and take ownership of it. Being able to effectively collaborate is cr ucial for being a succe ssful rock musician: 26


Geri X (guitarist and vocalist for Geri X the band: Its all collaborative, one song turns into another within seconds. At a good band practi ce all of us are open minded and all our creative juices are flowing so we get a lot done. But to tell you the truth, it is one of the hardest things in the world to write with other people. You have to learn to be very open to ideas and tr ying something out no matter what you think. Its a hard process but great things come out of it. Indeed, knowing how to detach oneself from ones musical ideas and being able to successfully collaborate in a group setting are not skills we are bor n with. Rather, they are skillscultural capital that develop through exposure and practice. Moreover, they are very different fr om the skills of playing classical music, in which the performer never co mes up with original ideas and does not have to negotiate much concerning the musical structure (with the exception of interpre tation, perhaps) with her fellow musicians. This Plugs into What? Techni cal Skills in the Band Room The vocabulary Band members must posses the right vocabulary th at enables them to productively communicate their musical ideas to other members of the band. I not iced that bands in variably use terms such as riff, groove, pocket, jam, chorus, verse, beat etc., to communicate with each other and which all have very particular connotations that would mystify many outsiders. Bayton confir ms that this special vocabulary is vital to the band: A shared language is necessary simply to be ab le to communicate with other band members and, eventually, sound crews and the recordi ng studio. A band member must obviously get to know what is meant by a bar, middle eight, riff, phrase, bass line and so on (Bayton, 1998: 92). Once again, this is vocabulary the individual only gains thr ough practice and exposure. Before she has this vocabulary she cannot fully participate in a band. Just Make Something Up Improvising on the spot is a key facet of playing an instrument in a band. A fellow band mate will come in with an idea and expect you to come up with a complimentary part within a few minutes. 27


This requires confidence in ones compositional abil ity as well as enough musical proficiency to know and play what will sound good. Stephanie (guitarist and vocalist for Some Day Souvenir): It [a song] usually starts as improve. Either with a beat or a riff going. And then Ill come up with my chord progression and my rhythm, and like sometimes things click and your hair starts standing up. And we push record. We always record ourselves so that we can go back and listen and figur e out what was going on. So then we go back and listen and start recreating it and then really ironing out the stru cture of the song. Like wheres the chorus, wheres the pre-chorus, ve rse, wheres the bridge, how ar e we going to break this down. Some Day Souvenir is so improvisati on-oriented at times that they record their prac tices in order to have access to this spontaneous form of composition at a later point. Well Play It by Ear For Green, playing by ear is what differentiate s the way popular musicians learn from the way classically trained musicians learn. Whereas classically trained musicians learn to read notes from a page in order to recreate the s ounds, popular musicians listen to and imitate recordings (Green, 2002: 60). Many popular musicians opt for playing by ear even if they can read music: Samantha (guitarist for Kingsbury): Despite my classical guitar training, I do almost everything by ear. I dont usually ask for notes or keys. I just start pl aying along. Sometimes if you think into the music too much you lose creativity. If it sounds good, use it. Who cares if the notes arent exactly in the same key. For Samantha, playing by ear is her gateway to in creased creativity and spontaneity. But playing by ear is not so simple as sitting down with a record one afternoon and learning to play a guitar riff in a matter of minutes. It takes, in some cases, years and years of practice. Corey (guitarist for My Little Trot sky and private piano teacher): When I first moved to Florida I was playing in a Wedding band, and I had to learn four hours of top-forty mu sic that I really hated. But it was really good practice because I had to sit there w ith a tape deck and learn everything by ear...I had to really work at it to learn to play by ear, but then it becomes easier. 28


Sounds Like... Finding creative ways to discuss music is also an important skill to have in playing in a band. One popular way to discuss musical ideas is to comp are a fledgling musical id ea to a song or a band in rock music history. Having familiarity with this hi story, then, becomes an extremely important element of cultural capital in relaying ideas and in interpreting other musicians ideas. Stephanie (guitarist and vocalist for Some Day Souvenir): Depending on what I am trying to explain, I could say, the chorus goes D-A-Gor we can star t soft and then da-da-da -da-da-da bu ild it.or play that section lik e the same rhythm that Taking Back Sunda y does in Cute with an this. A classically trained musician would know how to play D-A-G during the chorus, but unless she is familiar with the band Taking Back Sunday, sh e will be clueless about the rhythm, groove, and general atmosphere of this portion of the song and will not be able to fully contribute to what the guitarist is going for. Katherine (guitarist and vocalist for Sons of Hippies): When it comes down to it, musicians are almost always stealing (borrowing) from th e previous talent pool. There's no wa y around this. The trick is to not imitate or mime exactly others' songs or styles, bu t to celebrate them through one's own interpretation. A lot of the time, then, we talk about music in terms of other bands. Like, "play it more White Stripes-y, or, remember this rhythm from Radiohead's National Anthem? Play something like that." The communication is always diffe rent though, depending on the song. Katherine could describe exactly what she mean s by a White Stripes-y beat, in terms of rhythmic durations and the different drums on the drum kit, but it is much easier for her to just refer to this popular band in the cannon of rock music histor y as a kind of shorthand. And any drummer who does not understand this shorthandespecially wh en it comes to The White Stripeswill have his competence as a rock drummer seriously questioned. Will Straw, in his essay Sizing up Record Collections: Gender and Connoisseurship in Rock Music Culture, also observes that in order to succe ssfully engage in the fiel d of rock music one must have an extensive knowledge of rock music histor y and genre. Connoisseurship in rock culture 29


tracking own old albums, learning genealogical links between bands and so on is the capital one must accumulate in order to thrive in the field (Straw, 1997: 20). When a musician fails to think of a popular s ong or band that resembles her idea, which happens relatively frequently, she has to be able to communi cate her idea some other way. Sometimes this will be as straightforward as playing the idea on the other persons instrument or writing down the chords, but often she will have to resort to humming or singing the idea or line she is thinking of: Sheila (guitarist and vocalist for the Sheila Hughes Band): If I have the time, I will actually figure out what it is I'm playing, then I'll type it up in the computer and print it out for the other band members. But if I don't have the time, I end up humming to them vo cally whatever it is I'm hearing in my head, and usually they noodle around until what they're play ing on their instruments matches what I'm doing vocally. Another strategy is to talk about the music metaphorically: Katherine (guitarist and vocalist for Sons of Hippies): I like to use emotional landscaping to try and get the feel across, like, "I want this part to feel like we're floating sp ace, or, this part reminds me of a fistfight where the knuckles ar e covered in silk cloth. This kind of metaphorical communication about the music requires that the musicians be relatively intimate. Knowing what a silky fistfight would sound like is pretty subjective, but having the general ability to translate non-musi cal ideas into musical ideas is ce rtainly a skill that applies to musicians playing in many bands. So Many Cables Learning to use all of the equipmen t that goes into playing in a rock band can be one of the most daunting challenges of all. The mu sician must learn how her instrument attaches to amplification, how that amplification works, deal with problems like f eedback, learn how to use effects pedals and looping devices, balance mics and the PA system, etc. I dist illed the following list of equipment, which excludes instruments, from musicians in my study talking about their practice space. This is by no means an exhaustive list of the equipment used by bands, but it gives the reader an idea of just how much 30


technology a person must be familiar with in addition to her instrument in order to successfully play in a band. It must be noted that not everyone in the band uses all of the equipment, but it is extremely useful to have at least a superficial understa nding of the equipmen t other players are using in order to effectively communicate with them about their sound. Non-Instrument Equipment Used in Bands Amplifiers Pedals (Phase Shifter, Wa-Wa, Flange, Reverb, Over drive, Distortion, Delay, Fuzz, Pitch-Shift, Vibrato, Line 6 Echo Park Pedal, Dig itech EX7 Expression Pedal) Tuners PA (public address) systems Microphones and Microphone Stands Laptops (Protools, Logic, Ableton Live) iPods H4 zoom recording device (or equi valent digital audio recorders) Stage Lighting Looping Stations In-Ear Monitors Cables (XLR and quarter inch) Playing Gigs Once a band has been practicing together for a while it usually decides to play out, or play a gig. Playi ng a gig usually entails pl aying a show with three to four other bands at a local music venuetypically a local bar or club. In order to successfully play a gig, one must know how to transport all of th e equipment to the venue and set it up, r un a sound check (a procedure in which a sound person balances the levels of the different in struments) with the sound crew at the venue, and follow the particular social rules of behavior of the gig. Set Up and Sound Check Each band develops a unique strategy for setti ng up at a show, but they all run through the same basic procedure of loading everything out of the van or truck, setting up the equipment next to or on the stage, communicating with the sound fo lks, and then running sound check. 31


Stacie (keyboardist for Morningbell): We load in earlyusually ar ound 7-8pm. We each set up our own gear as quickly as possible. Each place is diffe rent as far as if we do a sound check before people get there, or a quick sound check right before we go on. The sound check invol ves each of us playing our instruments one at a time and the sound guy setti ng our levels. I usually keep my keyboards turned down a little bit, because the sound guys usually se t them pretty low in the mix, then when were actually playing I turn up a little bit. I never rely on monitors wo rking, so I always go through an amp, which is directly behind me so I can hear what Im doing. In Stacies case, an important facet of the sound check is outsmarting the sound guys. I know from experience that keyboard s are often kept low in the mix at live shows, and Stacie has figured out a way around this problem. Coming up with strategies to suit your personal needs is an important part of playing a gig. It is also important to be able to get everything accomplished that needs to get accomplished while negotiating the landscape of an unfam iliar venue. Playing the gig, like playing rock music, requires a significant amount of improvisation: Geri X (guitarist and vocalist for Geri X Band): Every show brings new obsta cles and problems. Every venue is significantly different from the previous and every band you shar e the bill with is different from you. So going to venues you never know what to expect. What we usually do is pull up our van and go inside and find someone who knows wh at we should be doing. Then we load in and put our equipment to the side. Once the sound guy is ready for us we set up everything like we do at practice and sound check. Thats what a typical night is for us. Geris experience reflects a combination of improvisation and planned procedures. That knowing how to set up for a gig and run a sound check is not inherent knowledge, and rather a form of accumulated cultural capital, is apparent in how un comfortable many of my in terviewees felt at their first few gigs. Stephanie (guitarist and vocalist for Some Day Souvenir): This is one of those things in music that if you have never done it before, you are left in a wha t do I do state how long do I need to play, what needs to be heard, etc. It took me a while to fi gure out what I was supposed to do for sound check. And since running sound is the other side of music, as opposed to playing it, its like you are entering a world of many unknowns. Likewise, Stacey (vocalist and band leader for Doll Parts): Well my husband Gary (has been playing music for years) told me how it should work and I went with it and as time went on I became more comfortable setting up gigs, dealing with the staff, communicating about money and all the good stuff that comes 32


along with playing gigs. Sound check for the 1st time was weirdwe werent use to hearing sound people communicate through the monitors and it was weird to say the least. Some of the interviewees still f eel a little out of place at gigs a nd try to make the most of it. Katherine (guitarist and vocalist for Sons of Hippies): I felt out of place for years. It takes a lot of confidence to go into a strange bar and set yourself up to do something so personal. The disorientation goes away after a while though, when you embrace the vulnerability. The Gig Code of Conduct In addition to the technical f acets of playing a gig, there are social rules band members must learn and follow, especially when it comes to in teracting with other bands and the sound crew: Stephanie (guitarist and vocalist for Some Day Souvenir): Stephanie: In the whole music play ing there is a certain ethic, like a certain code of conduct that you abide by. AF: Oh yeah, whats that? Stephanie: Well, like for instance, whenever I go to a show I always introduce myself to the other bands were playing with. And then like when we play I always try to tear down, lik e if theres another band coming on, tear down and help them. And stand around and watch them play if were all on the same bill. Even if we go on first, Ill wait til the last band plays just to lend my support. So for me theres this code. There are certain things you do and you dont do. Giving respect to other bands, by listening to their music and helping with their equipment, is extremely important in building connections with them. Bayton observes another rule, which is that it is understood amongst bands that when a another band is playing the other musi cians in the crowd will stand close to the stage and pay very close attent ion to the details of the music (Bayton, 1998: 97). Knowing how to properly interact with other musicians is crucial for success in the field. It is also important for members of a band to know proper etiquette for interacting with sound guys, which usually involves being polite when they ar e trying to adjust levels and showing respect for their equipment: Sheila (guitarist and vocalist for the Sheila Hughes Band): In my experience, I've noticed that the sound crew most typically gets irri tated with acts that are unprepar ed and/or unprofessional -the band brings cables that are crackling or ar en't working at all, or they use cheap equipment that's unreliable or causing problems with the sound person's equipment, or, probably worst of a ll, they plug and unplug 33


their instruments without first chec king with the sound person to make sure the faders are down or the board is muted, causing a loud pop which could damage the sound person's gear, etc. Not knowing the proper etiquette for interacting with sound guys could jeopardize the bands future of playing gigs at a given venue. Promoting the Band But before a band can even play a gig, it has to pr omote itself to fans, venues, and other bands to play with. The two most popular media for prom oting a band are: the Internet (especially and face-to-face networking at shows. I found all of the participants for my research on, and from what I gathered in my interviews, trying to promote a band without a Myspace page is band suicide. Annie, who is both member of a band and a show organizer at Skippers Smokehouse, a popular music venue in Tampa, will not even c onsider a band without a Myspace page: Annie (singer and band leader for The Freight Train A nnie Band and organizer of Skippers Girlie Night): I tell people, people will come in and say: How do you get to play at Skippers and Im like: You need to have a CD, a website or a Myspace, some kind of press kit, that kind of thing. And if you dont have a cell phone or a Myspace, FORGET IT! I mean, I hate to say it but technology has really caught up with us as far as the music business is concerned. Because allows venues and booking agents to stream music, look at pictures, click on links to bands Youtube videos, and see how many fans the band has, it is the perfect medium for finding and selecting bands to play at shows. It is also a great medi um for bands to network with other bands: Katherine (guitarist and vocalist for Sons of Hippies): Myspace is incredible I booked all my shows through Myspace...Endorsement. Its so cool. Everybodys there. Establishing connections with ot her bands and a fan base is impor tant not only in getting shows, but also in getting recognized by record companies: Jessica (guitarist and vo calist for Still Life): Right now I am working on th e press kits. Because you have to have a fan base in order to be noticed by th e record companies. Because even if they like your 34


music, they want to see your fan base so they know that people will buy the record. So Ive been booking shows, shows shows... Right now Im working on the Facebook. Being able to use Facebook, another popular online networking tool, and Myspace is crucial for having success as a band. But despite this centrality of the Internet in promoting the contemporary rock band, face-to-face networking is still indispensable. Katherine (guitarist and vocalist for Sons of Hippies): AF: It sounds like the people that run the venue and run the sound are the people that you need to impress... Katherine: Yes, exactly, that was the main thing. I qui ckly realized that those were the people. Thats what needed to happen and I stopped being worried about random people in the audience. Is the booking agent here? Is the club owner here? Is th e sound guy here? They would always stick around and they were the ones that would come up to us after the show. AF: So they are the new talent scouts? Katherine: Local talent scouts, su re. Yeah, you have to be really diligent about communicating with them, telling them that youll be back. Ill probably send them all another e-mail next month. This is our plan. Its a lot of wor k, and finding the right people. Making personal connections with booking agents club owners, and sound guys gives a band an edge over bands that simply market themselves through Getting to know other players in the field is still a crucial component in being a successful rock artist. Knowing how to play rock music in a band, being familiar with playing a gig, and understanding the idiosyncrasies of promoting a band in contemporary American culture are three forms of cultural capital that an individual must accu mulate if she wants to be successful as a rock musician. Women are clearly capable of possessing this capital (for all of the excerpts in this section were taken from women in the field), but many never accrue it because they are prevented, either by themselves or others, from entering the field in the first place. Some women who are classically trained finally get up enough courag e to join a band but feel so disoriented and ignorant after the firs t practice that they never return. Baytons research indicates that these women feel that their musical identity is threatened in the band context, and subsequently experience a crisis of technical confidence (Bayton, 1998: 85). Thes e women are musically capable, 35


see playing rock music as a possibility for their li ves, yet are unable to play because they lack the cultural capital this is un ique to rock music. But if everyone, men and women, must accumulate the specific cultural ca pital of rock music, why do women in particular feel so discouraged when they are first learning? The issue here is that most boys start learning how to play rock music between the ages of twelve and thirteen, whereas the average female in rock does not start until she is eighteen or nineteen (Clawson, 1999). By the time a girl joins a band, her male cohorts are leagues ahead of her in terms of how much cultu ral capital they have amassed thus making her feel extremely self-c onscious. Mary Ann Clawson, in her study of female rock musicians at the 1991 Rumble Music Festival outside of Boston, suggests that women are not exposed to the band learning environments at an earlier age because of the gender-segregation of children in our culture. Women are not typically close friends with boys when they are younger, and boys are typically the ones motivated and encouraged to start bands. Because friendship rather than skill or adult initiative is the basis for thei r earliest formation, the composition of rock bands mirrors the sexsegregated organization of pre-teen and early adolescent social life. By using peer networks to become musicians, young teens necessarily rely on structures of acquaintanceship that show extensive gender separation (Clawson, 1999: 106). A girl if she joins a band at all, st arts in her late teens or early twenties, which happens to correspon d to the age at which most women leave home to start college or work and consequently begin engaging actively with people of the opposite genderpeople more likely to invite them to join a band. The fact that women lack the cultural capital of rock music ultimately points back to the fact that rock music is seen as a masculine field in our culture and that women are therefore, as gendered subjects with a gendered habitus seen as unsuitable participants in this field. However, desp ite these significant 36


obstacles some women nevertheless manage to succe ssfully enter the field. The next chapter will explore the social factors that enable some women to enter the field of rock music production. 37


Chapter 3: Getting Into Rock The previous chapter demonstrated the degree to which a gendered habitus constrains female activity and expression. Although this does not negate the element of freedom that habitus gives us for women are still able to creativel y act within the fields appropriate to their gender it does highlight the degree to which habitus can function as a mechanism of social differentiation and marginalization. In order to enter into rock music, women must somehow evade the limiting force of a gendered habitus I have noticed in my research that the women who successfully become rock music instrumentalists either never accumulate a female gendered habitus to begin with, and therefore have no regard for the fact that rock is a predominantly male field, or come to think of rock music as a field appropriate and accessible to women. Below I outline different social factors that encourage women to develop a gender-neutral habitus or to see rock as a field accessible to women. No one of these factors is by itself necessary or sufficient cause for a woman to enter rock, and many of these factors are often at work simultaneously in the life of any given woman. I. I Am a Person, Not a Woman: How Women in Rock Accumulate a GenderNeutral Habitus I have noticed that the women instrumentalists in rock who have dodged the accumulation of the gendered elements of habitus typically have one or more of the following childhood experiences in common: they grew up in non-traditional families, in which typical gender roles we re not in place or not cultivated, they discovered their non-heterosexual iden tity at a relatively young age, which caused them to seriously call into question th eir gender, or they identified more as boys than as girls. Whacky Parents The family is one of the strongest agents in producing the gendered habitus However, some families eschew traditional gender roles, in which a man engages with the world in order to provide 38


materially for the family and the woman gives bi rth to and raises the children, and furthermore encourage their daughters to pursu e activities typi cally beyond the boundaries of sanctioned female behavior. Having whacky parents leads many young women to have a non-gendered habitus. Katherine of Sons of Hippies has both a str ong mother and grandmother figure in her family, which she says played a significant role in fostering her gende r-neutral identity: Katherine (guitarist and vocalist for Sons of Hippies): AF: In your e-mail interview you say that you dont see yourself as having a gendered identity. Im just wondering, what do you think contributed to your havi ng the ability to have this kind of identity? Katherine: Supportive parents. Wh acky parents. My mom has the same attitude as I do about most things, and my grandmother as well, so maybe she just imparted that to me. Like the whole matrilineal side of my family is very intensely conf ident and they do what they want, and they can do whatever they want. My grandmother wanted to be a genealogis t, she wanted to study birds at Mote Marine, she wanted to go on tour with her husband with the Th e Newport Folk Festival, which she did. So it was like, Ok, I guess I can do whatever I want because thats just the way we are. Having this strong matrilineal heritage caused Ka therine to never see a difference between the capabilities of men and women or their respective opportunities in the world. Moreover, when Katherine decided to join an all-male band at the age of fifteen a nd tour around Florida alone with the other members of the band in a minivan, her parents posed no obstacle to this adventure and instead provided the band with most of its financial backing. Most parents w ould either instantly reject the notion of their daughter traveling ar ound away from home in a minivan full of teenage boys, or at least seriously think it over, th us limiting their daughters early exposure to rock music. But Katherines parents did not, and she found this ea rly experience in the world of rock music to be valuable in her work when she got older. Contrary to the worst ni ghtmares of parents, Katherine never felt unsafe or sexually threatened as young teenage girl on tour. Again, because her parents never placed restrictions on her behavior based on her sex, Katherine never saw herself as occupying a categorically different social position. Consequently, she never accumulated a gendered habitus that would have disinclined her to become a rock musician. 39


Bayton similarly observes that a significant number of her participants grew up in an unconventional family in which gender stereotypes did not impinge as much as usual or where parents were described as gender-b lind (Bayton, 1998: 56). Lesbianism Based on my own observations and those of the wo men in my study, the density of lesbians in rock is much higher than the density of lesbians in the population at la rge. This observation leads me to think that there may be a correlation between developing a lesbian identity and entering rock music. My hypothesis is that these women, in realizing that they did not fit into sexual roles stipulated by heteronormative social practices, star ted to also reconsider and eventu ally reject othe r facets of their gendered identity. Gina (singer and guitarist in multip le Tampa bands in the 1990s, owner of the lo cal music venue The Bombshell gallery, and pop music critic at the St. Petersburg Times from 1999-2005): I didn't know any female musicians in my life, friends or othe rwise, but in the 1980s, I started to see women in rock: the Go-Gos, Joan Jett, Chrissi e Hynde of the Pretenders, even the B-52s. I liked that the B-52s were really weird and so obviously informed by thei r "otherness," a kind of gayness. I was also at the same time realizing I was queer. Once you realize you' re queer and you're never gonna "fit in," starting a rock band as a chick becomes way easier. I have noticed that an awful lot of fe male musicians are queer. Something about not fitting in with other girls anywa y. I would like to see a perc entage of female artists who are queer. Certainly not all female musicians are gay, but many are. Realizing her queerness corres ponded to Gina rejecting othe r elements of her gendered habitus the elements that would have prevented her from star ting or joining a rock band as a chick. Once she realized she was not fitting in as a typical woman in one way, she realized there was no need to keep identifying with typical women in ot her ways. Stephanie likewise got inte rested in rock at about the time she identified her homosexuality: Stephanie (guitarist and vocalist for Some Day Souvenir) : And within that [discovering my sexuality], with women especially, I really star ted identifying with their music with who I am as a person. And that really helped me. And that was why I was so in to women singers...Its like women who have that mind set, women who have been open to things, can enter a music scene that is dominated by males and with an open mind frame, and they assimilate better in that. Because it becomes more gender neutral as 40


opposed to: Oh, Im a girl playing music. Because they dont think of themselves like that. They just think of themselves as musicians...and I th ink that lessens the intimidation factor. Identifying with female music artists going th rough the same identity struggles she was going through initially got Stephanie in terested in rock. Then afte r deconstructing her gendered habitus and in its place reconstructi ng a gender-neutral habitus, she was able to easily see rock music as a viable and inviting vocation. Bayton in her research has also no ticed the strong co rrelation between lesbianism and getting involved in rock (Bayton, 1997: 72). Interestingly, she documented that there were more lesbians in the British rock scene in the 1970s than in the 1990s, and suggest that this is because lesbianism has become more of a fashion statemen t and an identity to be exploited by different commercial interests, whereas I see this trend still being alive and we ll in the U.S. in the 2000s. Although this hypothesis requires more research, I su spect that the density of lesbians in rock corresponds with cycles in the larger climate of identity politics. Having Balls Rather than growing up with a gender-neutral habitus some women grew up identifying more as boys than as girls. In a wa y they developed a masculine habitus as opposed to a feminine habitus which logically led them to see rock as a perfectly normal activity. Geri X (guitarist and vocalist for Geri X the band: The women who play rock music beat up the boy in kindergarten and have always had balls to push and not be afraid of the consequences. Ive been told to quit so many times and discouraged over and over again and never did. Having this stereotypically masculine component of her identity (having balls) gave Geri X the courage she needed to persevere in a sometimes very discouraging fiel d. Corey also grew up identifying with boys rather than girls: Corey (guitarist for My Little Trot sky and private piano teacher): When I was growing up it seemed like the boys were always playing poker, or playi ng basketball, or doing something fun, and the girls were always just sitting around ta lking about the boys. So I always thought it was better to hang out with the boys because they were doing something fun. 41


In hanging out with boys at a young age Corey exposed herself to the dispositions and activities of boys and learned to identity, at least in part, wi th a masculine position rather than a feminine one. This masculine disposition prefigur ed her later involvement in rock. Samantha of Kingsbury was always a rebellious child, so playing music with men was just another way for her to reject normal female behavior: Samantha (guitarist for Kingsbury): AF: When you were younger, did you ever think of rock music as a predominantly male activity? Samantha: I think that is exactly what drew me to the industry. Ive alwa ys tried to do things a little bit differently than everyone else. Normal was not some thing I wanted to be c onsidered. I chose guitar because little girls my age were playing piano. It s rewarding being able to run with the boys. For these women, playing in a rock band serves as a natural extens ion of their lifelong subversion of typical gender roles. Unlike Bayt on, I did not find that women playing in a rock band corresponded with their engagement in other typi cally masculine activities. Whereas many of the participants in Baytons study were pursuing mathema tics, physics, engineering in the university setting or entering other male-dominated occupations, like pl umbing or carpentry, my in terviewees for the most part had standard female occupations: waitress, ba r tender, piano teacher, mother, dance instructor, secretary, etc. At this point in time I am not in a position to explain why this is the case, but I suspect that it correlates with the fact that Bayton, for the most part, conducted her research in university town settings (primarily Oxford), which are generally more socially progressive Although Tampa has many institutions of higher education, it is not usually considered a unive rsity town. In other words, the ethos of the schools by and large does not perm eate the culture of the town more generally. In sum, women who entered rock because they never accumulated a gendered habitus or in some cases because they adopted a masculine habitus grew up in nontraditional families, are lesbians, and/or have always been tomboys. 42


II. Rock is for Girls: Coming to see Rock as an Accessible Field Other women in rock still have a gendered habitus they still maintain a relatively traditional female identityand instead come to see rock music as a suitable field for wome n. I have noticed that coming from musical families, having male relatives who play rock instruments, knowing encouraging musical friends or significant others working in a record store, playi ng a classical instrument in a rock band, or starting as a singer in a rock band are all factors that contribute to wome n seeing rock music as an accessible vocation for women. Musical Families Growing up in a musical family either a family of musicians that play rock music or a family of rock music fansexposes young women to rock mu sic at a young age and, especially where parents pass on their music predilections to their daughters, leads these women to see rock as an exciting and available sphere of human activity. Sara grew up in a family full of musicians, becoming acculturated into the musician lifestyle at an early age: Sara (violinist and vocalist for The Done For) : They call us the Von Stova lls...we've all got it in our blood to some extent. With my sister it's thinning out some, but the rest of us are either professional musicians or are on our way to star dom. My parents met at grad school where they were both studying voice performance, and not too long after that they had me. Two starving artist s and a baby. Pretty damn boho romantic. The three of us kids grew up around music. Mom and Dad were always getting gigs, having friends over to play music, teaching lessons, ca rrying us screaming bastards out of concerts and church services. Having both a mother and father already in the mu sic world contributed to Saras seeing playing music as a completely open possibility for her life. Bu t even if parents are not musicians, they can still impart a desire to play rock music to their da ughters simply by being big rock n roll fans. Cub (guitarist for Gi ddy Up, Helicopter!): I grew up listening to Heart, Led Zepellin, The Eagles, Pat Benetar (that was mostly my mom's influence) and a lot of old country from my dad. Music was in our house everyday. I'd hear it especially on weekends when my mom was cleani ng house. I think being constantly surrounded by music really ma de me want to be a part of it. 43


In all, over half of the participants in my study had parents who were musicians or were at least very passionate about music. Many famous female rock artists also grew up in musical families: Sheryl Crow, Suzi Quatro, Kate Bush, Fiona Apple, Mira Aroyo, and Annie Clark, whose aunt and uncle are the famous Jazz duo Tuck and Patti. Brothers, Fathers, Grandfathers In looking at the women in my study who came fr om musical families, I noticed an interesting trend: almost three quarters of these women (a thir d of the total number of interviewees) had a close male relative who encouraged them to get involved with playing rock music. These men serve as a gateway into the masculine world of rock music for their female relatives. These male relatives taught women how to play their instruments, exposed them to the ins and outs of being in a band, familiarized them with rock music history, brought them to rock shows, and bought them rock music equipment. In essence, these men passed on to their female relatives the cultural capital they needed to function in rock. For many women, this transfer of cultural capital from a male relative came in the straightforward form of learning how to play a rock music instrument: Reah (bassist for The Black Rabbits): I started with folk, and my dad got me into rock n roll and blues also. He taught me to play guitar. Other women learn the ins and outs of being in a band by watching their fath er or older brother, which is what happened in Ericas case: Erica (drummer for Tyger Beat): I was first exposed to rock music by my older brother. My brother and grandfather are both musicians and are the most passionate in the family about music. I was definitely inspired by going to see local rock shows around the ag e of 15 and seeing that young people were able to perform really loud and fun music. My brother performe d in a band in high school, so I was pretty influenced by him to be in a band. I self taught myself the drums by playing along with songs I loved and saw myself being able to play in a band. 44


By observing her brother play in a band Erica accumulated invalu able insight into rock that would be useful later in her music career. Because of her brother, at least in part, she was also able to see herself being able to play in a band. Knowledge of rock music history is another form of cultural capital that fathers often pass on to their daughters, helping to at leas t partially combat the negative eff ects early gender segregation has on womens familiarity with this component of rock music. Sara (violinist and vocalist for The Done For): I'd have to say that [musical exposure] is all from my dad. When my parents split us kids ended up spending a lot of time in the car with him, shuttling back and forth from North Carolina to wherever my mom ha d us living, and there he first turned us on to the all-inclusive survey. At first I hated the later albums; pr etty much everything after, say, Rubber Soul just freaked me out...It was my dad who really turned me on to rock and roll. I'd say he started me off on the right foot for sure. Because of this early exposure to rock through her father, Sara both amassed useful knowledge of rock music history while coming to see this hist ory as accessible and enjoyable and not as a foreign, male-only discourse. Isabel had a si milar experience with her father: Isabel (bassist for Rickety-Rag): My first exposure to rock music must have been my father. He always listened to the oldies station 100.3 back home in DC He also had a lot of Van Morrison, Niel Young, and Bob Dylan cassettes that he played. Sheila first got interested in music performance because her stepfather was a musician and songwriter, and invited her to perform with him: Sheila (guitarist and vocalist for Sheila Hughes Band): My stepfather was a singer/songwriter. He played the guitar. Just about ever yone in his family played the guita r -even the girl s (which I thought was cool.) We used to all sit ar ound his living room while they play ed and we all sang. I favored singing harmonies and playing tambourine. Then, on Sundays, we'd take this living room-act to my stepfather's church and do it all over again for an audience. I just thought it was great fun. This was my earliest inspiration for live performance. Some fathers go so far as to take their young dau ghters to rock concerts, which gives them early exposure to the routines of the gi g and fires their curios ity and desire to perform in a rock band: 45


Samantha (guitarist for Kingsbury): My dad got me into a lot bands like Sonic Youth, the Pixies, Pearl Jam, Local H, Nirvana, etc. He took me to my first concert in third grade to go see the Mighty Mighty Bosstones with the Dropkick Murphysyikes... Having her father take her to these concerts in third gradesomething most fathers would not consider, hence the yikesfunctioned as a kind of thumbs up for Samanthas interest and participation in rock. Clearly her father saw rock as a suitable field for his daughter and imparted this point of view to her. Importantly, male relatives are very frequently the first source of equipment for women who become involved in rock. Many women in rock of ten start by borrowing equipment from their male relatives or by receiving it as a present. Susana (guitarist for Center): My brother bought me an electric gui tar (out of the blue) when I was 15 (he was 18) and he taught me 2 songs. Shortly afte r that I took some lessons off and college I took a music theory/performance class. The rest was just by ear, tablature from the Internet, practicing... But I credit my brother, I probably wouldn't have picked up guitar if he didn't get me started. Susanas brother bought her a guitar and ta ught her how to play it and this certainly contributed to her seeing rock as a real possibility for her life.2 Pals in the Business For women who lack musical families, having en couraging musical friends can have the same result. Emily, on her thirtieth birthd ay, expressed a spontaneous desire to start playing guitar, and one of her musical friends encouraged this desire and even gave her lessons: Emily (guitarist for Super Secret Best Friends): I started playing guitar around the time of my 30th birthday, I think I was just being crazy. I dont know how I got the idea to play guitar in particular...I remember being at a concert and tel ling some friends of mine that I wa nted to play guitar. And one of them was in a band, and he was like I can teach you how to play guitar and we actually set up lessons after that. 2 Susana wished to remained anonymous in this study, so I am using a pseudonym. 46


Having this encouraging male friend served as Emilys road into rock. Corey had two close male friends who were in a band, and who, after she asked to join the band, warmly accepted her and encouraged her: Corey (guitarist for My Little Trot sky and private piano teacher): These guys, two friends of mine were playing, and what I said was If I buy a keyboa rd, can I play with you guys? I had never even owned a keyboard. So it took my initiative to say that. And then they said Sur e. And thats basically how it started. Had I not known them, it probably would have never happened. Girlfriends and Boyfriends in the Business Bayton observes that a significant number of wo men start playing rock music because their boyfriends are in a band. Being at practices, goi ng to shows, having access to equipment and free instruction pique womens interest in the business. I noticed the same pattern in my own research, but extend the findings to include girlfr iends. Given that many women in rock are lesbians, it makes sense that they would get involved, not because they have boyfriends already in th e business, but rather because of their girlfriends. Stephanie started dating her guita r instructor, who then set her up with a number of fruitful musical connections in the area. Stephanie (guitarist for Some Day Souvenir): My guitar instructor initially showed me how to operate all the equipment. I also picked up a lot just by watching her and asking a lot of questions. I was fortunate to have someone that told me tips on everything from how to string the guitar, to the positioning of my amp, to creating feedback...I d ont think thatthis would have always been something that I had wanted to dobut I wouldnt have taken the steps if it wasnt for her. She basically set it all up for me, and all I had to do wa s show up. I didnt have to do anything else. This guitar instructor turned girlfriend served as an invaluable teacher, role model, and social connector without whom Stepha nie would have never gotten i nvolved in the field. Even though Stephanie had already to a large extent shed her gendered habitus because of her lesb ian sexual identity, and therefore had fewer reservations about entering into a typically ma sculine field to begin with, this 47


relationship with her girlfriend serv ed to reinforce her conception of playing an instrument in a rock band as an obtainable goal. Stacie joined Morningbell, her husbands band, because his keyboard player quit and they needed a replacement. Because he knew Stacie could pl ay, he asked her to join. Without this intimate relationship with someone already in the band, how ever, Stacie probably would have never joined Morningbell. Whats This Album? At least three of my par ticipants worked in record stores when they were younger and this served as fecund exposure to rock music history and to previously unknown female role models. Annie (singer and band leader for The Freight Train A nnie Band and organizer of Skippers Girlie Night): I got my best exposure listening to a Tracks record store in the 80s. I never heard Bonnie Raitt until I started working in a record stor e. I really started getting into all this stuff, bought all these CDs. Likewise, Sheila (guitarist and vocalist for the Sheila Hughes Band): My influences began to change significantly when I started working at a record stor e at age 18. I began listening to artists I'd never heard of before or had been discouraged from liste ning to as a child... U2, Ae rosmith, Sting, Nine Inch Nails, Enigma, Pink Floyd, Counting Crows, Primus, Green Day, Peter Gabriel, No Doubt, Queen, Nat King Cole, Alanis Morissette, Pat Benatar, etc. It didn't matter what genre it came from, I wanted to listen to it. I was open to anything. I felt like a kid in a candy store. It was like being exposed to a whole new world with a whole different set of ideas. Again, working in a record storea masculin e environment in itself (think High Fidelity) equipped these women with cultural capital of rock music history that would work to their advantage when they became rock musician s themselves later in life. The Hynde-Deal Phenomenon Having female role models appears to be crucial in piquing and sustaining a womans interest in rock. My female interviewees invariably mentioned Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders or Kim Deal of The Pixies, along with a handful of other famous fe male rockers such as Ki m Gordon of Sonic Youth 48


and Tina Weymouth of The Talking Heads, as influentia l role models that caused them to really want to be rock stars. I noticed that Riot Grrrla popul ar feminist punk movement in the 1960s in the American northwest that eventually spread worldwidealso played a significant role in reconstructing rock as an accessible field in the minds of ma ny young women in my sample. But when a woman from my sample had not know about these internationall y famous female rockers when she was younger, she had in all likelihood come into contact with a female role model in her local community instead. Nearly all of my interviewees had female role models in rock, either on the national or local level, which inspired them to become rockers themselves. Gina (singer and guitarist in multip le Tampa bands in the 1990s, owner of the lo cal music venue The Bombshell gallery, and pop music critic at the St. Petersburg Times from 1999-2005): I became interested in female musi cians, first the Go-Gos and later my favorites in high school were Kim Gordon (Sonic Youth), Kim Deal (The Pixi es), and Patti Smith. As a vocalis t, Patti was a huge influence, especially since she was kind of making it up as she went alon g. Kind of untrained, like me. Gina was influenced by these female rock icons of popular culture, whereas as Stacie became inspired by a local female guitar teacher: Stacie (keyboardist for Morningbell): In 7th grade my best friend Shannon Hill and I joined guitar club, which was where one of the teachers (a fema le) showed us how to read guitar chords and tablature. All the songs I played on the guitar were rock songs. Classical Background Young women in our culture commonly receive classical music training when they are grade school age, either through their school or through private le ssons. This background, though often causing many women to have a technical crisis of iden tity when they try to enter rock, nevertheless establishes a proven ability to play an instrument and the beginnings of a musical identity. In fact, three quarters of the interviewees in my research sample ha d some form of formal cl assical training when they were younger. Many famous rock/pop performers, such as Sheryl Crow, Bjork, Tori Amos, Annie Clark, and Nellie McKay started their rock car eers with classical training. In my own research I have noted an 49


interesting twist to this story: women with classical backgrounds will start playing their traditional instruments in a band in a more or less traditional way (finding the sh eet music, etc.), but then will switch to playing a more traditional rock instrument or transition to playing their classical instrument in a more improvisational, rock style. Stacie started out playing viola in bandsthe instrument she had played in orchestras throughout her childhoodand then eventually branched out to playing ke yboard in a band, a much more traditional rock instrument: Stacie (keyboardist for Morningbell): In college (Universit y of Miami), I played viola in a latin rock band called Volumen Cero for a brief time. The memb ers of the band were all male, and they asked me and my college roommate, Jennifer Gu arascio (a cellist), to play with them. It was interesting, because I was underage in clubs on Miami beach, which was very exciting at the time. I also played in a minimalist rock band called Roybot, for a short time. Being able to play her classica l instrument is what enabled St acie to first ente r a band. From there she was able to learn more about the technicalities of being in a band and to eventually gain enough confidence to leave her classical instrument be hind. Corey of My Little Trotsky had a similar experience. She started by playing piano in a ro ck bandthe instrument for which she received a graduate degree in music performanceand then eventu ally switched to playing guitar after she accrued enough familiarity with and confidence in the field. Sara of The Done For grew up playing violin in or chestras and joined her fist real band when she arrived to college and some of he r friends found out she could play. Although she continues to play violin in this band, she has removed the training wh eels of her classical edu cation and can now play without sheet music, improvising an d composing ideas on the spot. Sara (violinist and vocalist for The Done For): I started taking violin lessons at four, piano at mom never taught me voice, but I've had to listen to her coach othe r people for as long as I can remember. My dad is a bass player and I idolize him completely, so af ter we moved away and I started playing in the junior school orches tras, I was head and shoulders over the other violinists already so I decided it would be cool to learn to play the upri ght bass myself. Since coming to college I've been largely self-taught with everything. It's good to fe el like I can practice and perform and make good 50


music without the supervision of a coach, but I miss the feedback... my capacity to improvise has gotten so much better since I've quit playing with sheet music in front of me all the time. So long as women are adventurous enough to leave many aspects of their classical training behind, having a classical music background provides th em with the technical ag ility and confidence as a performer they need to first get involved in a rock band. I Play an Instrument Too... Still other women come to see playing an instrume nt in a band as an accessible and worthwhile pursuit by first joining a band as a si nger. These women are usually invited by men to be the lead singer for an otherwise all-male bandthe typical role of a woman in rock. But after this initial orientation into the rock world they gain the confidence and desire they need to take up a rock music instrument as well. Deb (guitarist and vocalist for Halcyon): AF: What led you to join your first band? Deb: I was in high school and was asked by guys w ho had a pretty good sound and no lead singer. It was around 1980 so lots of Pat Benetar songs, of course. After this initial experi ence in a band Deb went on to start Halcyon, in which she is a principle guitarist and songwriter. Isabel also joined her first band as a si nger. Even though she was already playing bass on her own when this band asked he r to join, they only wanted her to sing. Isabel (bassist for Rickety-Rag): The first band I was with asked me to sing for them. They were heavy rock and wanted a female vocalist. I met the guitar player in downtown Sarasota and told him I played instruments but didnt sing. He invited me to come practice anyway. They already had established songs so I sang the lyrics. Isabels experience serves to reinforce the obser vation that the only tradi tionally sanctioned role for women in rock is singer. Isabel told these guys she was a bassist, and not a singer, and they still insisted that she fill the role of singer. Nevertheless this first band served as a sufficient orientation into rock and after this band fell apart she formed Rick ety-Rag, in which she is the bassist and primary songwriter. 51


In short, because of a number of identifiable soci al factors these women come to see rock as a field open to women despite the widesp read conception of it as an exclus ively male domain. It is indeed possible for women to become rock music instrumenta lists despite the initial di sadvantages they face. These women either lack the gendered habitus that typically causes women to be disinterested in rock, insofar as it is a field beyond the real m of traditional possibilities for th e female gender, or they continue to have a gendered habitus but, because of a number of social factors, come to see rock as a field within the realm of possibilities fo r women. Of course, for some it is a mixture of both of these phenomena. Once these women finally gain entrance to rock they still face many ch allenges. The following three chapters explore the social ramifications of minority status in the lives of women in rock. 52


Chapter 4: Challenges of the Field Take a look at your favorite music magazi ne and count how many images of female instrumentalists you see. In the October 2008 issu e of Rolling Stone, there were 24 images of men playing rock instruments and zero images of women playing instruments. In Novembers issue, there were 40 images of men playing inst ruments and 3 images of women: Ta ylor Swift, Aretha Franklin, and Melissa Etheridge, all of whom are not rock musi cians by my definition. On the toptwenty chart for rock music in January 2009 there were no bands with female instrumentalists (see Appendix 2 for list of bands). But it is not as if women are completely absent from rock, they just aren t playing instruments. They are screaming in the audience, posing half-nak ed for promotional pictures, standing at a male musicians side, or maybe even singing, scantily cl ad, at the front of the stage. If you look at the websites for these top twenty American rock bands, you will quickly see the typical role women play in rock: sexual object or singer/sexual object. Album Cover for Saving Abel Hayley, lead singer of Paramore This album cover for Saving Abel, the band with the number nine song in the country right now, is a tame illustration of how woman typically function as sexual objects in rock music. Hayley, the lead singer for Paramore, is the only female in a band that is currently listed on the top-twenty chart, and unsurprisingly she doubles as a singer and sex icon. 53


It is obvious from these two examples and countle ss others that the stereo typical roles for women in rock have been and continue to be the scantily clad groupie and promotional girl or the sexy yet musically peripheral lead singer. Unfortunately, women in rock perp etually combat the expectations audiences, other bands, journalists, and sound guys have of them because of these widely disseminated stereotypes. The two biggest expectations people ha ve of women in rock are that they will sexually objectify themselves and that they will be musically incompetent. Margaret Cooper and Stephen Gro ce confirm this in their sociol ogical study of female members of local level rock bands in two medium-sized Am erican cities. They found that the women in their study regularly experience being se xually objectified by their audi ences and fellow performers and consistently feel that they are not being ta ken seriously as musici ans (Cooper, 1990). Regrettably these negative stereotypes are fr equently confirmed and bolstered by many women working in rock. Eric, the male bass player for Morn ingbell, recalls the story of one of these women: Eric (male bassist for Morningbell): Most commercial bands seem to have the hot girl to increase sales. There was some band from Tallahassee years ago that got some playboy college centerfold to "play keyboards," but we all know why they had her join... Annie had a similar experience while working in a band on a cruise ship: Annie (singer and band leader for The Freight Train A nnie Band and organizer of Skippers Girlie Night): I went for four months on a crui se ship because I was trying to ge t our foot in the door in that area, and I was with inferior musici ans and I hated it. One of the play ers wasnt even playing. She was the girlfriend of the guy that hired me. She was pl aying keyboards and faking it. And we got found out. I almost thought we were going to get thrown off the ship. Images of sexually attractive yet musically inco mpetent women are ubiquitous in the mainstream media and are perpetually reconfirme d on the local level rock scene. The following examples from my research demonstrate how these widely circulated stereotypes negatively affect serious female instrumentalists in rock. 54


I. Female Objectification Appearance First Because physical attractiveness is what typical ly measures a womans value in rock, many serious female rock instrumentalis ts have to put up with their perf ormance being discussed by audiences and journalists in terms of their appearance instead of in terms of the musical integrity of their songs or their showmanship. Conner (male vocalist and guitarist for Giddy Up, Helicopter!): One of our first shows was at a WMNF radio show party, and the write-up for our ba nd mentioned that we were "adorable," and that "everyone, boys and girls, flips out for us because we are just so cute!" No other bands had any mention of their looks. Even though Giddy Up, Helicopter! plays intricate and unusual music, journalists focus on their appearance because all but one of the members of the band are female. Sometimes the commentary from music journalists goes beyond vague descriptions of appearance to detail th e idiosyncrasies of the female rockers body: Gina (singer and guitarist in multip le Tampa bands in the 1990s, owner of the lo cal music venue The Bombshell gallery, and pop music critic at the St. Petersburg Times from 1999-2005): Journalists would write about the strangest things, always wanting to know which boy in the audience was my boyfriend, wanting to know about my love life from ev ery song I wrote. One critic noted when I had lost some weight. Really weird. This kind of scrutiny of physical appearance is extremely violating and aggravating. Women in rock also have to put up with men in partic ular making sexual comments about their bodies: Emily (guitarist for Super Secret Best Friends): God, Ive just heard so many guys make crude comments about women in bands. You know, like Meg White (of The White Stripes) or whats-hername is Silverstone Pickups. It seems to be more about how they look than how they actually play. Whereas I dont think any guy bands ha ve to go through that at all. 55


Show Us Some Skin But the negative effects of female object ification go beyond annoying journal articles and comments from horny men. Many women realize th at they cannot be successful in rock unless they objectify themselves to a certain extent. Still Life played in an all-women rock music fe stival in Tampa last y ear that was organized by two men. The marketing strategy for this festival was to get as many women as possible in the same place at the same time in order capitalize on thei r collective sex appeal. This intention behind organizing the event becomes clearest in the name of the festivalMuff Madness. Jessica (guitarist and vocalist for Still Life): We just had the opportunity on May 4th to play in an event of all-girl bands, or bands with a female memb er, and you know what they called the show? Muff Madness. Can you believe that? I didnt even know what muff mean t! And of course this show was organized by two guys. But what else can we do? We wanted to play. Still Life, because of their desire to play their music to as many people as possible, is resigned to the fact that they will be objectif ied and exploited for their sex app eal by guys like the organizers of Muff Madness. Sheila is also well aware of the fact that sexiness is a big determining factor in the success of a female rock musician: Sheila (guitarist and vocalist for Sheila Hughes Band): The independent woman musicians who get the attention of the local magazines and newspapers he re are almost always single (an interesting bit in itself), and very often are women who exude a very sexual energy. I myself di d not notice the sexual energy until my husband brought it up. What is interesting in this excerpt is that bei ng sexually attractive is not all there is to it. Women also feel pressure to appear sexually available, even if in reality they have a stable romantic partner. Annie is in a serious long-term rela tionship with her lead guitarist bu t understands that she cannot let her audience know this: Annie (singer and band leader for The Freight Train A nnie Band and organizer of Skippers Girlie Night): We never showed our relationship on stage. I was the same person, he was the same person. We never held hands, kissed each other, touched each other in public. As far as everyone else was concerned I was up for the taking... flirt with the crowd blah blah blah. 56


Reah and Skyler of The Black Rabbi ts are also dating, but they make every effort to conceal this when they play shows. When I asked them after a show if they were dating, Skyler looked at me suspiciously and asked if I was a rock music journalis t. Jetson, the guitarist, chirped in and explained that they try not to let the rela tionship leak because it is important for marketing proposes that Reah appear to be single. Unfortunately, appearing sexually available does not end when the female musician walks off stage. Woman in rock have to put up with men, eith er in bands they play with or at shows, who assume that they are sexually available and interested: Annie (singer and band leader for The Freight Train A nnie Band and organizer of Skippers Girlie Night): AF: So youre saying that bands in th is area explicitly hire women to stand on stage and be eye candy? Annie: If they feel like they absolutely have to have one. Ot herwise they are too much trouble because most of the guys want to screw her and that create s tension. When I first join ed Green Flash Craig was like, Alright, she can sing, lets not fuck this up. Nobody fuck the girl, ok? Stay out of the girls life. Men in bands often assume that the women they play music with are sexually available because the stereotype is that th e women who get involved in rock are single and sexually promiscuous. Dealing with this latent sexual tension is tremendously exhausting and a nxiety inducing for the woman. Short Half-Lives Something for the social scientist to consider when studying different occupations is career length. Are there factors that will, for instance, prev ent the individual from keep ing a particular career as he or she ages? While male rock musicians ofte n work into old age, female rock musicians have relatively short careers. Because there is such a high premium placed on appearance, women tend to lose their popularity as they gain wrinkles. A majority of the women I interviewed are well aware of the ominous expiration date on th eir rock music careers. 57


Zaray (bassist and vocalist for Still Life): Yeah, we have to be patient. But the time doesnt wait for you... So in my case, Im almost 30 and I have to make it quick, otherwise wh en I go on stage looking old, they are going to start laughing at me. Similarly, Emily and Stephanie (guitarist and keyboardist for Super Secret Best Friends): Emily: I mean, I dont know if I could still get up in a sparkly dress in front of people... maybe I could. I mean, at some point that is just kind of sad. Stephanie: If we are 45 and wearing a mini-skirt. I mean, there are certain rules of fashion that we cant violate. Super Secret Best Friends are well aware of and respectful of the taboos in rock about aging women. Annie recognizes the difficulties she faces as a woman in rock but at the same time thinks that extreme talent can carry a woman s career into her older years: Annie (singer and band leader for The Freight Train A nnie Band and organizer of Skippers Girlie Night): If youre an old guy, and you can still play decently and youre an OK singer then you can get away with it, but if youre an old woman and you look rode hard and put away wet, you had better sing good. Thats just the way the world is. Most of the women in my study r ecognized that after a certain poi nt they would start looking like wash ups and lose popularity. Despite this, many of th em planned on playing music into old age, even if it had to become more of a hobby. II. Assumed Musical Incompetence Assumed Musical Incompetence Because so many women throughout rock music history have not played instruments or have played them poorly, many people in a local rock music scene assume that the female instrumentalists that are about to hear are likewise musically unskilled. Zaray and Anais (bassist and drummer for Still Life): Zaray: Sometimes when we start playing in places where people dont know who we are, and were new or whatever, they are expecting that were not going be good enough, you know? They are thinking: ok, were just going to look at them because they are girls. Anais: Yeah. Zaray: But once we start playing, they say: these girls, they really can play. Its not that Im saying that we are the best, but we are good enough. And I can see their faces: surprise d that we are girls and 58


that we can play! And after our s hows, they come up to us and say: Im amazed, because I thought you were going to be a complete mess... Anais: you were going to suck Even though the women in Still Life know they are good musicians, time and again they have to tolerate peoples disbelief and surprise at their re markable musicianship. St ephanie too has to put up with the vibe she gets from ma le musicians at shows who assume that she and the other female members of her band are musically incompetent: Stephanie (guitarist for Some Day Souvenir): If we play a show with like 5 or 4 bands playing on a bill, we are the only females who are actually performi ng. And they always look at us and they always give us shit beforehand, and we al ways get the looks from the guys like Oh, what are they going to do? But then when we play, all of the guys from the other bands come up to us afterwards and are like Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, you guys are awesome. A nd there is respect there, whereas beforehand theres not. Its just: Youre a girl. You cant play music. Thats definitely the vibe I get. Katherine notices more particularly that audi ence members expect her to play simplistic bar chords and are consistently blow n away by her intricate riffs: Katherine (guitarist and vocalist for Sons of Hippies): They expect me to play chords, they expect me to play bar chords, and thats cool if you do that, I mean whatever, I dont hold that against people, because weve all been trained in certain ways to thi nk certain things. But after I play people are always like, Wow, I wasnt expecting that. And Im like: Of course you werent. Music stores are another environment in which male musicians assume female incompetence: Corey (guitarist for My Little Trot sky and private piano teacher): I would say the place Im taken the least seriously would be a music store like that [Sam Ash], a guitar store. As a woman I feel that they dont really take me seriously because Im not in the back room playing screaming leads, trying out guitars like the boys are. Sound guys prove to be yet another challenge for female rock musicians. Women feel marginalized by sound guys who communicate exclusiv ely with the male members of the band, when possible, assuming that the female member s of the band are technologically inept: Gina (singer and guitarist in multip le Tampa bands in the 1990s, owner of the lo cal music venue The Bombshell gallery, and pop music critic at the St. Petersburg Times from 1999-2005): The sound guys and the club owners were almost always jerky to us. They treated us w ith no respect whatsoever and dealt directly with the two guys in the band. 59


Conner (male singer and guitarist for Giddy Up, Helicopter!): Weve gotten shit from sound guys who talk down to us or will speak primarily to me. I don't know as much about the technical aspects of pedals and amps as Nicole and Nikki do, yet just because I'm a guy people will come to me. Cub (guitarist for Gi ddy Up, Helicopter!): Sound guys can sometimes be jerks because they figure we don't know what we're doing. While we don't know all the technica l terminology we DO know how to play our instruments and I think th at throws a lot of people off. My first experiences of discrimination as a fema le instrumentalist likewise happened with sound guys who did not take me seriou sly. Generally speaking women can earn respect as musicians by demonstrating their knowledge and ability, but it is nevertheless ta xing and stressful to have to constantly prove oneself. Are You on The List? Misrecognition at Shows What is worse than being thought of as a poor musician is being overlooked as a musician entirely. Women in bands frequently have the experi ence of being mistaken as a girlfriend or groupie by door guys and bartenders: Samantha (guitarist for Kingsbury): Whenever were on tour and we arrive at the venue, the promoters always ask if Im the merchandise girl. I say no, so th ey ask if Im the girlfriend. I also say no and their next guess that that Im the singer. This goes on fore ver and finally I have to tell them Im the guitar player. It happens all the time. Afte r a show a lot of people are blown away that I can actually play the guitar. Again, Stacie (keyboardist for Morningbell): I always feel like I am treated differently by the door guy and the bartenders. This is specifically regarding the fact that everyone else in the band will be carrying their instruments in at the same time that I am carrying mi ne in, and invariably I will be stopped by the door guy at some point to see if I am on the list implying that I am merely a girlfriend of the band. This holds true even after we have played at a venue dozens of times. Similarly, when bands get drink specials, bartenders rarely recognize that I deserve them too, even when we just got finished playing a set and I am with all the other band members. People at shows are so accustomed to seeing women in the field only in the stereotypical roles of girlfriend, groupie, or singer that they find it difficult to understa nd that a woman is a legitimate musician in a band. 60


Musical Scrutiny Ironically, once a woman demonstrates that she can play her instrument d ecently, she is subject to extreme musical scrutiny. It is almost as if women in rock who wa nt to be treated as true musical equals have to work ten times harder than any man to earn this respect. Gina (singer and guitarist in multip le Tampa bands in the 1990s, owner of the lo cal music venue The Bombshell gallery, and pop music critic at the St. Petersburg Times from 1999-2005): I think girls are totally scrutinized. Any drunk frat boy can get up and play bass and no one watches his every move. When a girl puts a guitar strap over her shoulder, she better be prepared for eagle eyes watching her play. I can't tell you how many lousy boy bassists a nd drummers I have seen, and guys who only know major chords on guitar. And that's all fine. But, girls always have to be really, really good or people talk smack about them. Ericas experience gives partial insight into w hy women have to work ha rder to be treated as musical equals: Erica (drummer for Tyger Beat): I feel that I need to be a better drummer than most men so that I can feel that I am more than just a female drummer. I want to be rec ognized as a drummer and not the "rock band with the chick drummer". I always wonder if people only see me as a 'female' on drums or just as a drummer. When men tell me I am a good drummer, I immediately become skepti cal of their opinion. I almost immediately dismiss their opinion even though I'd prefer to believe them, but it is too common that female musicians are ge nerally seen as sex icons. Erica feels that it is easy to earn the title of good for a girl, because women can rely on their attractiveness and novelty to make up for any lack of mu sical talent. But if a female musician wants to be thought of as a genuine musical equal she must be an exceptional drummer better than most male drummers, in fact in order to negate anyones suspicion, hers included, that she is only receiving praise because she is attractive. In short, she ha s to combat the common image of the mediocre female drummer who is only permitted to play because she is cute. To extrapolate from Ericas experience, it would make sense that people closely inspect wome n musics musical ability in order to determine whether they are legitimate musicians or simply fe male novelty acts, which is unfortunately too often the case. 61


A problem Annie runs into is that she has to be exceptional in order to earn respect as a female musician, but at the same time cannot be too outspoke n about her ability for fear of being labeled a Diva: Annie (singer and band leader for The Freight Train A nnie Band and organizer of Skippers Girlie Night): We do have to work a little ha rder to prove ourselves. We ha ve to be outstanding, and present ourselves, and sing well, and play, and do all these things, but WITHOUT seem ing too bitchy or Divaish. And its really hard for anyone who s in a competitive workforce with men. Being labeled a Diva is something female mu sicians desperately want to avoid, insofar as accumulating this title makes it difficult to find other musicians to play with. Women in rock music work in a field in which, in their day-to-day lives, they come across people who assume they are incompetent. Anyone who has been treated as incompetent understands how degrading and frustrating it feels. At other times, they are treated as if they are not even real participants in their own field. In order to be treated as a competent, full-fledged member of their field they are perpetually proving and re proving their ability. Playing rock music is a challenging job for anyone, but for women it can be an outright struggle. It is true that these two stereotypical negative expectations of women at play in rock music sexual objectification and musical incompetenceare the source of many of the challenges women face in this field. However, I think that it is worthwhile to explore this issue a little deeper. Why is it that women came to occupy the position of sexual object or musically nones sential lead singer in the first place? To answer this question I look again to Bourdieu s theory. According to Bourdieu, separate fields of cultural production develop rules of functi oning that are independent of those of politics and the economy. However, he also emphasizes that fields ar e always still embedded in and shaped by a larger social context. Some fields are more heter onomous, being significantly guided by the social mechanisms of the larger social atmosphere, wher eas other fields are more autonomous, having more 62


freedom from them. Bourdieu uses the prism as a metaphor for how a field transforms the rules of the larger social context in which it is embedded into its peculiar rules of functioning (Bourdieu, 1993: 164). Just as the prism distorts a beam of light that hits it, a fiel d distorts the practices and values of the larger social context. Moreover, just as different prisms have more or less e ffect on the original beam of light, so do fields create more or less di stortion of the rules of functioning of the larger social context. I argue that rock music is a highly heteronomous field, causing little refr action of the dominant American economic and social practices. For example, in this field music is turned into a commodity and exchanged like any other good. I ndividuals and corporations seek to make profit off of music and artists, and indeed the rock music business, at least before the rise of the Internet, was one of the most profitable industries in this countr y. Although the participants in my research pool care about making quality music, they are also very concerned about making money. This supports Bourdieus observation that the while participants in autonomous fields of cultural production typically condemn making money, the members of heteronomous fi elds place it as a central goal. Rock music also reflects the predominant subaltern status of women in our country. I recognize that woma n have made significant progress in earning equality over the past century, but I also recognize that they continue to be positioned as sexualized objects, especially in mainstr eam media, and are therefore influenced to believe that their primary commodity is th eir body and not their minds. Stephanie of Some Day Souveni r likewise speculates that the overarching ethos of mainstream American culture is what leads to the sexual ob jectification and assumed musical incompetence of women within rock: Stephanie (guitarist for Some Day Souvenir): I definitely think that [the rock career for women] is shorter. Because you have the whole image. What do you look like? Because once you hit a certain age, everything starts dropping and you star t to get wrinkles and your skin isnt as tight. Your bodys not as fit as it used to be... not that mine is now. You know, toned women dont stay like that forever. And it goes back to the whole thing of women and models and magazines this is what America tells you you need to look like. 63


This position of women in American society at large penetrat es, relatively unadulterated, the field of rock music production and in forms its practices and values. I think that it is too simplistic to say, as many people I have run across often do, that women experience discrimination in rock because thats just the way things are in the world. But to a certain extent this is truethe struggles women face in rock mirror the struggles women face everyw here in this country, and it is important to understand that the gender issues in rock have their roots in much larger and long-standing social struggles. In rethinking the root causes of the difficulties women face in rock, I came across a contradiction in my own reasoning. In the previous chapters I specula te that women are not in rock because they lack the habitus and the cultural capital that would incline th em towards and allow them to participate in rock. Then I go on to say that if they gain these two missing links, through a variety of special social circumstances, they can become successful participants in the field. But as I have just demonstrated in this chapter there are observable so cial facets of this field that pos e significant obstacles to womens equal participation, despite the fact that they have more than enough technical cultural capital to be savvy players of the rock music game. What I discovered is that there is another form of cultural capital that comes into play that women still do not posses. This embodied cultural capital is maleness. Being a man in rock music serves as an indicator of competen ce and acceptability. It is a kind of shorthand that indicates that the individual, until he proves otherwise, has all the other forms of cultural capital needed to be successful in the field. Being a woman, by contrast, serves as shorthand for incompetencefor lacking technical cultural capitaland women, even after they prove thei r competence, have to suffer the consequences of their lack of maleness. 64


This chapter paints a grim picture for women in rock. But women are not passive victims of their minority status and in the ne xt chapter I will demonstrate the di fferent forms of what Bourdieu calls strategic action that women in rock employ to make the best of their position. 65


Chapter 5: Women Rockers and Strategic Action Women in the field of rock occupy a lower so cial position than men insofar as they lack maleness as a crucial piece of cultural capital. Sin ce these women are still agents with an invested interest in the success of their car eers, however, they implement strategies to make the best of this subaltern position. Bourdieu emphasizes that the strategies an individu al employs in a given field, as well as the success or failure of thes e strategies, is contingent on her obj ective position within that field. He writes: The network of objectiv e relations between positions subt ends and orients the strategies which the occupants of the different positions implement in their struggles to defend or improve their positions (i.e. their position-takings), strategies which depend for their force and form on the position each agent occupies in the power relations (Bourdieu, 1993: 30). I have identified three different forms of stra tegic action women utilize in light of their position as female minorities. First, there are strategies wo men use to simply cope with the difficulties of the fieldthese strategies render daily work circumst ances more bearable. Then there are women who exploit their novelty as women in th e field to gain more fans and mo re gigs. In a way, they turn femaleness into a new form of cultural capital. Fina lly, there are women who seek to transform the rules of practice of rock entirely. For example, they ta ke something like female objectification and transform the definition of what a sexy female is. These differe nt forms of strategic acti on are in no way mutually exclusive, and women typically use more than one simultaneously or at different times throughout their careers. We must also remember that, acco rding to Bourdieu, the efficacy of these strategies is always contingent on the individuals ob jective position within a field. Wh ere relevant, I will demonstrate how these different strategies are limited by or can sometime s backfire because of womens minority status. 66


I. Thats The Way We Get By: Coping Mechanisms I Will Work Harder, I Will Work Harder... For many women the biggest challe nge of working in rock is feeling under-respected as a musician. But instead of addressing the underlying gende r issues that inform this lack of respect, some women believe that they can ameliorate the situat ion by continuously proving themselves and working harder. Put differently, they try to take control of the mistreatment they receive by reconstructing the issue as a matter of ability and talenttwo domains over which they have some control. Jessica (guitarist and vocalist for Still Life): Its just that we [women] ha ve been under-estimated since forever. And right now, you know if we start talking about the processes that women have been through to get to this point to be able to work and to be respected, it has taken hundreds of years. So maybe some day... I mean, we dont even have the same wages here in the states. Can you im agine that? This is the most important country and we dont even have equality. So, what can you expect in music? But its okay. If you keep working. Im really proud of people like Janis Joplin, Tina Turner, all those female rock stars, I cant imagine what it would have been like for them to get to that point. It must have just been their talent. I think its just a matter of worki ng hard. And being humble. And being able to work with people. This excerpt demonstrates the degree to which working harder is an attempt to gain control over a situation that is ultimately uncontrollable. Je ssica is aware of discrimination women face in our society at large and in rock music more specificall y, but at the same time she does not want to think about how this is affecting her career as an individual rock artist. Instead, she believes that hard work is all that really matters. Jax, the drummer for Kore, likewise uses hard wo rk as a way to have a certain amount of control over social factors otherwise beyond her grasp: Jax (drummer for Kore): I use their [the audiences] doubt as a dr iving force to keep getting better, so eventually no matter how skeptical and stubborn, they wont be able to find anything negative to say well not about my playing at least. 67


She knows that the audience will inevitably be skeptic al of her abilities as a female drummer, but instead of letting this erode her conf idence she transforms it into a kind of personal challenge. She feels that through hard work she can overcome the doubts people have about her as a musician. Turning It into a Game Others cope with their positi on by transforming it into a diffe rent kind of personal challenge: they turn audiences expectati ons of them into games. Katherine (guitarist and vocalist for Sons of Hippies): AF: So you feel like your image is really important in terms of how people are first perceiving you? Katherine: You know what I think it is? I think its lik e a fun little game for me I dont dress to fuck with people, but depending on how Im feeling I sort of know whats going to happen if Im wearing a certain thing. If my tattoos are showing, that gives a totally differe, oh this is some butch, feminist going to sing about blah blah blah. Or if Im wearing, like sometimes a skirt over jeans or like a feminine shirt, thats when they thi nk Im not going to play guitar very well. Although Katherine says she is not intentiona lly manipulating her a udience, she does gain satisfaction from anticipating and playing with their expectations through changi ng her dress. She is not doing anything to change these expectations but she is turning what could be a negative aspect of the field into a kind of entertainment. When Mandy of Doll Parts feels lik e she is getting sexist lip from someone in the crowd, she turn s the situation around and make s fun of him in return: Mandy (guitarist for Doll Parts): AF: When you play shows now, do you ever feel like you are treated differently because you are a female instrumentalist? Mandy: Oh yeah I definitely still do, but after we play they see we are ju st as good as any of the dickheads out there, and then they lighten up on th e sexist jokeswhich we totally go along with. I think its fun to make fun of them right back. Mandys coping mechanism is to take the offens ive when it comes to sexist discrimination, putting the situation, on a certain level, back into her control. Th e joke is on them, at least in her mind. Corey also views her minority status in rock as a kind of game, and she sees herself as winning this game insofar as she is doing something most wo men are unable to do. For her this makes up for any negative treatment she receive s while playing rock. 68


Corey (guitarist for My Little Trot sky and local piano instructor): I have a sort of a megalomania complex in that I like to feel speci al. Its the one place where maybe I do feel like, hey Im not the first woman lawyer in a certain city, but Im one of the few women pioneering as it were rock music. I like feeling special. Maybe if the majority of rock musicians were women I woul d never even have been interested. Its breaking a glass ce iling in my own silly little way. In all of these cases I think th at it is important to emphasize th at even in playing these games women are still not doing anything to ameliorate the situ ation they face. Rather, they are just fabricating these games for themselves in order to cope with their minority status. Ignoring It A common coping mechanism I came across in my study was simply ignoring or shrugging off any discrimination. These women, instead of problema tizing or getting upset about the obstacles they face as women, simply look the other way. Katherine (guitarist and vocalist for Sons of Hippies): AF: When you play shows now, do you ever feel like you are treated differently because you are a female instrumentalist? Katherine: Yes, every time. And I doubt this will ever change. I don't pay mu ch attention to it though...It just doesnt bother me, you know? AF: If it came to be the case th at someone marketing you wanted to emphasize your sexuality because they thought it would make you sell more, would you be game to it? Katherine: Probably. I mean...I would. Put it this way, I would rather have them do that than change the music that I wrote. So, yeah, I w ould probably consider it. I would be open to th at possibility based on the way that things have to be done in this country, in this industry. Katherine is well aware of the unequal treatment sh e receives as a woman, but instead of fretting over it, she just lets it roll off her shoulders. There is also an element of resignation in her strategy, for although she is not a supporter of fe male objectification she would consider doing it to herself if it was a necessary hoop to jump through to get her music pr omoted by the large-scale American music industry. Reah also has a kind of shrug-your-shoulders mentality towards the prejudice she faces: Reah (bassist for The Black Rabbits): AF: Do you ever feel like you are ev aluated as a "female" instrume ntalist, and not just as an instrumentalist? Reah: Yeah. Its wrong, but that double standard w ill always be there, whether its a matter of intelligence, or how well you can play a sport or in strument. Sometimes people tell me that I dont play 69


bass like a girl, like theyre really surprised that I can actually do it well. Some girls probably find that insulting, but to succeed in music you just cant be so easily offended by little jokes that you think are sexist or discriminating; you just have to take it for what its worth. Instead of getting offended or worked up, just overlook it or try to tran sform it into something positive is Reahs mentality. Geri X is aware that many women are objectified and objectify themselves in the rock music industry, but she simply chooses to ignore it and keep focusing on her music: Geri X (guitarist and vocalist for Geri X band): There will always be groupies, there will always be half naked women in rap videos, th ere will always be cat fights. I am on the other side shrugging my shoulders and trucking along with my music. Walk Like a Man, Talk Like a Man In his book Sound Effects: Youth, Leisure, and the Politics of RocknRoll Simon Frith notes an interesting phenomenon when it comes to women in ro ck. Since rock is such a masculine culture, the question becomes whether or not women can enter this field without having to adopt at least to a certain extent, a masculine persona. The problem quickly becam e a different one: not whether rock stars were sexist, but whether women could enter their discour se, appropriate their music, without having to become one of the boys (Frith, 1983: 239). I have noticed in my investigations in Tampa that many women do not adopt a masculine persona, but that for a few it is their primary coping mechanism. They take on elements of a masculine identity in an at tempt to fit in and be tr eated as an equal. Emily (guitarist for Super Secret Best Friends): I mean you rarely see female bands that play musical instruments that act feminine. Usually, you have th e Pussycat Dolls or The Supremes or whatever, but they dont play anything, they sing. Actual female bands that play instruments, like The Donnas, The Breeders, Doll Parts, they are really tough and they almost act like guys. I dont know, there is just something very masculine about those bands. They are usually really rough and punk. Although Emily herself does not adopt a mascul ine persona, she does notice that many other females in the field take this approach. In talking with the door guy at a Doll Parts show, I noticed that he thought of the members of this band as playing more like guys than like girls. Door Guy at a Doll Parts show : AF: What do you think of Doll Parts? 70


DG: I think they are awesomethey know their shit. AF: How many women do you see playing in here? DG: Not very many...Im trying to think of the last time... AF: What percentage would you say? Less than 10%? DG: Oh yeah, maybe 5% or less. But Doll Parts is grea t. I could close my eyes and not think its a girl band...its the energy with whic h they hit their strings. Unlike most women, who stereotypically play inst ruments lightly, Doll Part s really brings on the full force like any guy band. I also noticed that th e members of Doll Parts, although wearing make up on stage, wore pants and t-shirts, cu ssed frequently, and held their in struments in a very typical, guyrocker stancelegs apart, instrument hung low over th eir groin area. Adopting elements of masculine behavior seems to work well for Doll Parts. The door guy at this show gave them respect as musicians because he thought of them as being one of the guys and not as a stereotypical girl band. Geri X feels like she sidesteps a lot of the st ereotypes placed on women in rock because she takes on a more masculine persona: Geri X (guitarist and vocalist for Geri X Band): I don't act like your typical girl and thats why I think I get treated equally. I don't have ma ny girl friends because, no offense la dies, but most girls act stupid and silly and put themselves into a stereotype. Performing a masculine persona is a natural re sponse for the women, like Geri X, who never saw themselves as normal women anyway. For her, acting like a guy in rock is the adult version of beating up the boy in kindergarten. A problem with implementing this strategy is th at women can feel alienated from other women in the field. In being a little tougher, a little rough around the edge s, these women intimidate other women in the field or even other women in the audience: Katherine (guitarist and vocalist for Sons of Hippies): They are expecting me to be a bitch. They are expecting me to give them the cold shoulder. They are expecting me to be a total asshole. And I dont want to shoot myself in the foot, but a lot of women in bands Ive met are that way. Because I think that there is an extreme threat and uncomfortability. They wont talk to me, especially other women in bands. And yeah I always have to make the first move. I guess thats another thing that Il l have to get used to. Other guys might come up to me and say Hey good job but other girls are really standoffish. 71


Katherine knows that being standoffish and tough are defense mechanisms she and others adopt in the field to hold their own with men, but this makes it much more difficult to befriend other women. It seems that women in rock, in trying to fit in with the guys, end up isolating themselves from each other. Form Alliances with Men Allying with men in the field, as opposed to acting like a man oneself, is another coping strategy. In creating partnerships with me n, women benefit from the mans cu ltural capital and higher social position. Annie attached herself to her gui tarist now husband, Craig, at an early point in her rock music career and attributes much of her success to this alliance: Annie (singer and band leader for The Freight Train A nnie Band and organizer of Skippers Girlie Night): Craig did everything without taking advantage of me. He was the perfect gentleman. There arent a whole lot of musicians out there like that. They are always after something, and I didnt get that. That was something I wasnt exposed to 100% because he kind of sheltered me from that. He would steer me away from certain pe ople. I realize that now but I didn t know that then. He would just be like Oh, you really dont want to know that guy. I dont think I would have gotten as far as I did if I hadnt met Craig. Craig kept her away from people in the field who might have taken advantage of her as a woman, and as I learned later, also showed her how to run sound at shows and taught her a majority of what she knows about the technical aspects of the mu sic business. In short, Annie bettered her position by attaching herself to a man with mo re cultural capital than she. Sheila has done something similar: Sheila (guitarist and vocalist for The Sheila Hughes Band): I actually know very little about running the equipment. If I had to do a gig by myself and set it all up, I'd be in trouble. Before my husband Chris started performing with me as a bassist, he was a soundman. The genius behind what we do technically lies in his brain. He's always been incredibly techni cally savvy. It's not that I' m not capable of learning how it all works. I actually learn things really well -it's just that he fills that need and it's unnecessary for me to know it, too, which leaves me more tim e to focus on what I like to do -songwriting and performing. 72


Sheila clearly could take on th e role her husband currently fills if she needed to, but she currently does not and it is extrem ely beneficial to her career to have a technically savvy man on call twenty-four hours a day, seven days a w eek. The problem with this strategy, of course, is that it creates a parasitic relationshipthe woman is dependent on the mans positi on for her own success, putting her in a position of comparative helplessness. Create a Fortress A similar strategy to allying with a man is fo r a woman to organize a posse of musicians around herself, who respect her completely as a musici an and who value you her as a whole human being, which then serves as a kind of fortress against the difficulties of the larger field. Jax attributes her success to having a supportive family and having a band full of women who respect her and sympathi ze with her situation: Jax (drummer for Kore): If we didnt have the complete support of our families, we probably wouldnt be able to do this. It helps that were all wives a nd moms, so we can relate to each other and know that though the band is important and we are totally committed, family will always come first. For Annie it took a long time to creat e this fortress, but now that she has it she feels much less anxiety as a female musician: Annie (singer and band leader for The Freight Train A nnie Band and organizer of Skippers Girlie Night): And when I come across someone now, Im just like Oh, youre one of those guys, on to the next person. Because I cant take them seriously. If they arent going to take me seriously, Im not going to sit them down and explain to them until Im bl ue in the face why they should take me seriously. Its a lost cause. Now I pick and chose who I want to work with and where I go. Before I didnt have that luxury. Venue-wise and everythi ng like that. And I used to settle because I didnt know any better. Stay an Outsider Some women address their minority status in rock by conceiving of themselves as not real participants in the field. They will write songs, practice, and even play shows, but they still do not identify as legitimate players. I see this as a very interesting c oping mechanism: if these women do not 73


identify as full-fledged participants, they do not have to fully deal with the fact that they are minorities in the field or the corresponding social implications of this status. Gina (singer and guitarist in multip le Tampa bands in the 1990s, owner of the lo cal music venue The Bombshell gallery, and pop music critic at the St. Petersburg Times from 1999-2005): In every circumstance, and I mean every single one, when I ha d female musicians play at Bombshell, they were ridiculously and impractically s hy and humble about their skills and their music. Where guys would boast, girls would shrug. On way too many occasions th e girls would go so far as to refuse payment at the end of the night or offer some of the money back to me. It was astounding. The boys NEVER did anything like that. It was like some thing was ingrained in these young wo men: we are just lucky that you booked us, we don't deserve this, we're not a "rea l" band, etc. It was mind-boggling. I do think that kind of insecurity, that wishy washiness, has much to do with the lack of females in bands. They're not sure they're "allowed," or something. Part of the reason why these women feel like they are not allowed is becaus e, well, they arent rock is still seen as a masculine field only approp riate for men. But, it is curious that these women maintain this attitude of not bel onging even after being in a band and playing at high profile venues. For this reason I see this as more of a stra tegy than simply a product of a gendered habitus Keeping the outsider mentality while clearly bein g inside the field makes it easier to overlook the difficulties that women face in the field. Stephanie of Some Day Souveni r likewise communicates doubtfu lness about her legitimate participation in the field: Stephanie (guitarist for Some Day Souvenir): Do I consider myself a musician? No, I dont think of myself that way. But I have people who will come up to me and be like: Oh, youre a musician! You play in a rock band! And Im like No, Im not in a rock band. Im in a band. Stephanie still feels insecure enough about her position in the field to reject the title of musician, whereas there are very few men who are currently playing in rock bands who will not call themselves musicians. It is also interesting that sh e will say that she is in a band, but is unwilling to accept the title of rock band, as if using the modi fier rock somehow changes the category and renders it inappropriate for what she does. 74


With all of these coping mechanisms, there is s till the obvious problem that they do nothing to ultimately transform the position of women in rock. Using these strategies makes womens personal lives better, but their position in the larger social context of the field of rock music remains little changed. II. Flaunt What You Got: Femaleness as Cultural Capital Women in rock are unique. They stand out in a line-up of male musi cians; they pique an audiences curiosity. Having female instrumentalis ts gives a band an edge over their competition. Many of the bands I interviewed used the uniqueness of having women in the band to their advantage in booking shows, hooking new fans, and finding other bands to play with. Some women simply rely on their novelty, whereas others purposefully emphasize their sex appeal to get what they want. Many women I interviewed had also realiz ed that as women they could capit alize on the lesbian sector of the rock music market. Paradoxically, in these variou s ways femaleness becomes a new form of cultural capital within rock. Get Them Interested The women I interviewed figured out that they could use their femininity to get an audience interested in the music they make: Stephanie (guitarist for Some Day Souvenir): When we do posters we try to emphasize the women most of the time I would say. Because people will s ee that and say Oh, chicks in a band. Whats this about? And thats their reaction typically. But if we can get them in, thats all we want to do. Because we know that once youre in youre going to listen, and youre going to stand there and keep listening. Weve seen it over and over again, so thats what we want. But if we didnt emphasize the women to begin with, like I said, we d just be another band. 75


Some Day Souvenir promotional picture There are five members of Some Day Souveni r, but only the three wo men make it onto the promotional material. This band has figured out that they can emphasize the female novelty to catch new fans but then keeps these fans through making good mu sic. They recognize th at without the female allure of their band they would not be as successful as they are. Sheila also recognizes that her femaleness contributes signifi cantly to getting pe ople interested in her music: Sheila (guitarist and vocalist for The Sheila Hughes Band): Because there are fewer of us, it's more of a rarity to find women who are really good musici ans. Once you've proven yourself to be among the better ones, it's much easier to get people interested in what you're doing than it is if you are a guy. Men in rock concede that women have this uniq ueness and are well aware of that fact that bands with female members tend to be more popular: Jetson and Skyler (guitarist and drumme r for The Black Rabbits): I love female rock instrumentalists and have always wanted one in our band to give us that uniqueness. One of my favorite bands is The Pixies, which has a female bassist who also sings. I think that when anyone sees a female rock instrumentalist they remember the band simply because of that fact. In these cases, it is the uniqueness of women playing rock that really ge ts peoples attention. However, sometimes women explicitly emphasize their sexuality in order to attract interest, especially male interest. Here Corey talks about her previous band, an all-girl band calle d The Great Big No Ones, and how having cute female members really inspired male attention: Corey (guitarist for My Little Trotsky): It was different [with The Great Big No Ones] because I think guys were more interested in a band of three girls. I think it was ki nd of easy for us to get shows and again I think people wondered what we were going to s ound like. I think that th e girl drummer was very intriguing for people. The girl si nger, OK, and even guitar and bass you see, but a girl drummer, people 76


wanted to...And she wasnt the greate st drummer in the world, but she wa s cute as a button and thats all that really mattered. The Great Big No Ones used their femaleness stra tegically to get shows, even when their musical integrity was in doubt. Dari, the le ad singer for Some Day Souvenir, will use her sex appeal to the bands advantage as well: Stephanie (guitarist for Some Day Souvenir): We always say to our lead singer: Dari, if you go into a club and people see you, and then you say hey this is my band, they are going to want to get back to you! She needs to be out there! So weve been really trying to push her to use what she can. Like wherever were playing, shell turn to me and be like: OK, Im taking one for the team. And Im always like Yayeah! And then sh ell go flirt with whoever just to get whatever she needs to get. Women in the field, if they use their femaleness shrewdly, can accumulate a significant amount of power and be very successful. One consequence of using femaleness advantage ously is feeling cheap, like you are not being held to the same musical standards because you are relying on your novelty or sex appeal: Katherine (guitarist and vocalist for Sons of Hippies): AF: You said in your e-mail interview that once youve proven yourself as a musician and all this, that being a female works to your a dvantage but unfortunately. Katherine: Because the bars lower. And I guess I can prove myself up and down as a great musician and if I was a guy it would be obvious or expected of yeah it does work to my advantage. And not unfortunately. Great for me, I guess. I guess I ne ver wanted it to happen that way. I dont want it to happen that way. I think thats really cheap. I gu ess thats what I mean. Unfortunately, something as ridiculous as gender will help me. Another negative consequence of emphasizing fe maleness to attract a crowd is that it can become a gimmick that quickly lose s its effectiveness. Super Secret Best Friends had a quick rise, which they attribute to their femaleness, but are no w seeing a drop off in the number of shows they are playing: Alex (drummer for Super Secret Best Friends): We had a really quick rise in the beginning. It seemed like every single venue kept getting be tter, better, better. And we were even paired with a national act towards the beginningLeslie and the Ly s. And I think the gimmick got us there. It really did. I mean, Leslie and the Lys. Who else are you going to get? It was a perfect match. So I dont know if the gimmicks worn off. I dont know. 77


Women in the field who are using their novelty st atus to be successful have to be careful. Because women are still stereotypically viewed as be ing inferior musicians, who only get attention for physical attractiveness, promoting the female aspect of a band can quickly become a gimmick. Using novelty strategically can be advantage ous, but it is still inevitably ti ed to the position women occupy in rock. Will You Help Me? A potential benefit of using femaleness strategi cally is getting help from men with heavy equipment or pesky technical problems. Emily (guitarist for Super Secret Best Friends): The one thing that is nice, most of the time when I pull up, they realize that Im a female and they help me with all of my equipment. Especially if the other girls havent showed up yet, Ill get he lp. Which you dont see with guy bands. Similarly, Corey (guitarist for My Little Trotsky): I may have it easier since I am a pianist now playing guitar in a band. I know that I will never play guitar as well as pi ano. I dont care if I look like a girl who doesnt know anything, and if my guitar starts making a bad buzzi ng noise (as it did this weekend) I just appeal to the soundmans good nature with a big smile a nd say, can you fix this for me? A very girly approach. I think I used to want to be one of the guys but then reali zed that one of the girls was more unique. Corey is quick to point out though that she only goes with this flirtati ous, Im a stupid girl strategy when she is playing guitar, her second instrume nt, because she has not invested her identity as a musician in this instrument. The Lesbian Sector I discovered in my research that there is a lesbian sector within the rock music market that bands with female members can easily tap into. In this s ector female bands have wildly supportive fans, little competition, and can make a lot of money. Some Da y Souvenir just received national coverage in the December issue of Curve Magazine, a lesbian ma gazine based out of San Francisco, and could 78


potentially tour the entire country just playing at gay venues. Stephanie talks about the perks of playing to the lesbian crowd: Stephanie (guitarist for Some Day Souvenir): The thing is that the gay places, they pay you very well, you have contacts that you know on a personal level, you can get in ther e any time. Whereas in normal venues, you dont know who is doing to the booking, they dont know you, the pay know... youre lucky if you walk away with $75, $100. Enough fo r people to have gas money, if that, versus everybody in the band walking away with a couple hundred bucks in their pockets. I mean, its huge. Deb of Halcyon is also gratef ul for their lesbian supporters: Deb (guitarist for Halcyon): We have carved a unique niche for ourse lves in the fact that we have an extremely dedicated female audience. And we are fortunate enough to have a fairly large following of straight folks as well. But the girls on a regular ba sis are the bread and butter and we love them for it. Only women in rock have the advantage of play ing to the lesbian market. Of course, there are many markets they cannot cater to, but at least there is one that is theres alone for the taking. But targeting the lesbian market is not without its cons equences. Some Day Souveni r wants to play to the lesbian crowd, but this creates tensions within the band between the male and female members. At lesbian events, the women get all of the attention a nd press coverage, whereas the men are left feeling that they are not accepted at the event to begin with. Stephanie (guitarist and vocalist for Some Day Souvenir): In Orlando they had asked us to play over there, and we did. And they actually took all our promotional stuff that we gave them and they cut the guys out of everything! And they we re pissed about it! And the guys ar e cool. They get that we want to play to whoever wants to hear us And we dont try to be one thing this or one thing that, like I want to play to everyone. And they feel the same way. But they were a little...t hat pushed it over the edge a little bit. The band will have to address this tension in de ciding whether or not to capitalize on the national coverage they just got in Curve Magazine. The other problem with marketing to the lesbian crowd is becoming pigeonholed. Success in the lesbian crowd does not necessarily translate into success with the rest of the rock music audience. In speaking abou t a lesbian event Sons of Hippies played in Boston, Katherine expresses her concern that focusing on th at crowd could ultimately limit their potential fan base: 79


Katherine (guitarist and vocalist for Sons of Hippies): But my worry is that in any given social context there is such a tendency to get pige onholed. But maybe the way we think these days we need an image, a label or a category to attach some thing so broad as music to. Which is ok as long as you are there and you are marketed to this or this, it s not just this one thing thats supporting you and then you become it. The Individual vs. Women The most problematic aspect of using femaleness to ones advantage is that its efficacy is predicated on the continued minority position of women in the field. Being female only works to ones advantage if women continue to be a novelty. Using femaleness as cultural capital works great for the individual but does nothing to improve the situ ation of women in rock in general. In talking about how she never real ly sees herself as a role model, Corey realizes that she thinks this way because she is trying to maintain her ad vantage by keeping other wo men out of the field: Corey (guitarist for My Little Trotsky): AF: But you were not thinking that it was a shame th at there werent more women having all the fun you were having playing music? Corey: No, I wasnt thinking that. Which is odd because I think that about every other aspect of life. Like Jobs. Ive always been very pro-women in s ports, women at work. I think maybe I just had my niche and I didnt want to spoil my specialness by having a lot of ot her girls come in, subconsciously. III. Change the Rules of the Game Still another strategic option is to try to tran sform some of the central rules and stereotypes functioning within rock music concerni ng the role of women. Bourdieu writes that for a majority of the time participants in a field act with in the confines of the rules stipul ated by the field when defending or ameliorating their positions. This is exactly what women are doing when they employ coping mechanisms or try to use their minority position as fe males to their advantage. In these cases, they are working within the tacit understandi ng that women do not really belong in rock and that maleness is still a central form of cultural capital. However, there ar e other times when participants in the field attempt to rewrite these rules entirely. So me of the women in my study are im plementing this latter strategy in the following two ways: one, they are transforming the definition of female sexual attractiveness and 80


two, they are consciously clearing a path for future female instrumentalists by being role models or by creating events designed specifically to encourage female rockers. Positing a New Female Sexuality One my interviewees reminded me that being a ro ck star is sexy, no matter what gender you are. Standing on a stage, holding a guita r or belting into a microphone i nvites a certain amount of sexual objectification, period. Sara (violinist and vocalist for The Done For): I think any musician who steps onto a stage, regardless of their gender or genre, is setting themselves up to become a sex icon. Music does that to people. Artistry makes you attractive. But for men, sexuality is the not the only measur e of value. Musical skill and song and lyric writing abilities are valued equally, if not more. For women, the unique struggle is that they are often exclusively or primarily perceived and judged as sexual objects. Some women in the field, however, are rewriting this stereotype by positing a new, multi-dimen sional female sexuality that incorporates talent and competence. Isabel (bassist and vocalist for Rickety-Rag): I am very aware of my sexu ality as a musician. I notice the way the other band members talk to me or about me always in a sexual or flirtatious way. They prefer me to sing songs in a sexier way than I do. I want to represent the female sex as a musician and I am not shy of my sexuality either. I am influenc ed by strong women icons in the music business including Big Mama Thornton and Janis Jopl in. I want to not only emulate but also be the strong woman persona. This means to me that it is okay to be sexualized as long as it is on your own terms. Isabel does not say here what those terms might be, but based on the role models she listed it makes sense to speculate that he r strong woman persona means bei ng sexually attractive while not entirely sexually available, all the while being extremely talented and confident in this talent. Jax too is comfortable with sexiness, so long as it is not the only thing a udiences see in her: Jax (drummer for Kore): Men are men. They are very visual and happen to like to visualize beautiful sexy women. I dont think thats a ba d thing necessarily. I just think a woman can be beautiful and sexy without being trashy or cheap. Do I try to use it to my advantage? Im not sure Id be human, or female if I didnt. But rather than conform to someone else s idea of whats sexy, I guess I try to make being a confident, happy, strong-minde d, musician the new sexy. 81


After sexualizing themselves in the stereotypica l way, the members of Super Secret Best Friends decided they would start to reconstruct female sexual attr activeness on their own terms: Stephanie (keyboardist for Super Secret Best Friends): I think we said, like in the beginning, that we were going to take off our tops. Li ke haha, just kidding. And at this one show all these guys were like: uhhhh yyyeahhhh!!! [yelling]. And we were like: Hmmmm, maybe we dont want to be objects, you know? And we kind of realized th at if we played it up that much that was going in a direction we didnt want. And we thought if we just be ourselves a little bit more it will be better. We dont want to sexualize ourselves or desexuali ze ourselves, you know? Personally, I mean, Im very girly. I always have makeup on. Im wearing a dress right now. Its not fake for me to want to put something on like that, but its almost embracing it and taking it to another level. These women refuse to leave their sexuality be hind in the face of the stereotypes they are confronted with in rock, and inst ead they are transforming the ster eotype into something acceptable, even empowering. Clearing a Path Other women in rock see themselves as clearing a path for women to enter the field in the future. The idea behind this strategy is that the rules of th e game will inevitably have to change as more and more women get involved. Many women clear this path by functioning as role models. Isabel (bassist and vocalist for Rickety-Rag): As I grow older and learn more about life, I realized that one of my main obstacles is bei ng a woman. Women have al ways been oppressed in this country much like they have been around the world. I realized that to follow your dreams as a woman is harder than if you were a man. If I can make some of my dreams co me true I know I will have overcome some serious obstacles. I also want to show musicians that there are women out there who carry on this musical tradition because it is part of them an d because they are seriously good at it. Isabel is a role model for other women both in entering a masculine field and in being a talented musician. Likewise Katherine and Ste phanie are functioning as role models: Katherine (guitarist and vocalist for Sons of Hippies): I want people to know that they can do it as women. I hope that we get there. I want to get there. Stephanie (guitarist for Some Day Souvenir): I automatically connect with the females in the audience because, you know theyre at the shows, theyre cheeringand guys, I mean, they have every other bandso when I have that connection, whether its just looking at them making eye contact, there is a certain reaction that I have...I know that I just made a difference in somebodys life. 82


Annie has taken her efforts a step further. In the fall of 2008 she organized Freight Train Annies Girlie Show at Skippers Smokehouse, which is an open mic of sorts dedicated exclusively to music acts with female members. The idea is to market this night specifically to women so that they feel welcomed and encouraged to play out. Since th e show started, Annie notices that more and more women are coming out to play: Annie (singer and band leader for The Freight Train A nnie Band and organizer of Skippers Girlie Night): Women are all in these little crevices and theyve all been coming out of the woodwork since this started. I have like si x artists lined up asking me wh en the next Girlie Show is. I am also engaged in several projects to change the face of rock music when it comes to gender stereotypes. I will touch upon these strategies in th e conclusion, but briefly I have started a recording studio and record label, Other Mother Records, with the intention of pr omoting female rock artists. I also see writing this thesis as an act of changing the rules of rock. My ultimate goal in asking questions and making careful observations abou t the field of rock music is to change it, by both promoting awareness and inspiring indignation. These three kinds of strategic actioncoping, exploiting, tr ansformingdemonstrate that women are by no means incapacitate d by their minority position. But as I have also shown, these strategies are not without their c onsequences. For me, the burning que stion is: Which position is better? If I could turn back time, would I choose to be a man in rock or choose to continue being a woman in rock? At this point I do not have an answer, for each position has its clear advantages and disadvantages. Being a man means speaking the lingua franca of rock, but it also means being ge neric. Being a woman in rock means being a fish out of water, but it also means having an edge over other acts. 83


Chapter 6: Spectra of Consciousness In the last paragraph of his essay The Field of Cultural Production, Bo urdieu poses a question: what is the degree of conscious strategy, cynical calculation, in the objective strategies which observation brings to light and which ensure th e correspondence between positions and dispositions (Bourdieu, 1993: 72)? In other words, to what degree do agents actively reflect on the different strategies they use to defend or ameliorate their positions within a given field? Bourdieu had assumed that participants, insofar as th ey had accumulated the appropriate habitus for a field, did not put much conscious thought into their strategies and rather relie d on their intuitiv e understanding of how to act. However, in looking deeper into th is question he came across the person al journal of Ma llarm, a central player in the French Literary fiel d of the nineteenth centu ry, and discovered that this man was extremely aware of the rules of his field and its various forms of cultural capital, and more over consciously manipulated these elements of the field to his advant age. The final answer Bourdieu gives us to this question is: it depends on the individual. Some part icipants are very conscious of their position in the field and of their strategic actions, whereas others are not. In my inquiry into the role of women in rock music in the Tampa area I have likewise found that the degree of consciousness, defined here as active reflection, depends on the individual. I have noticed two distinct spectra of consciousness upon which women fall. The first spectrum concerns consciousness of minority positionare women aware of the fact that they are minorities and face obstacles as a consequence of this minority status? The second is consciousness of strategic actionare women aware of the strategies they employ, to cope with, exploit, or transform their position as minorities? At first, I had not differentiated between these two spectra, for it seemed that one form of awareness would naturally imply the other. But I soon came to realize that there is not a one-to-one correspondence between them. For example, some women who actively re flect on their minority 84


position do not reflect on the observa ble strategies they employ in light of this position. Other women, surprisingly, are aware of their stra tegic actions but are not consciously aware of their minority position. My goal in this chapter is to illustrate how the awareness levels of different women in my study fall at different points along these two spectra of consciousness. For the sake of clarity and efficiency I break down the two spectra into three categories: very aware, somewhat aw are, and not aware. In reality these spectra are continuous and are by no means comp artmentalized into thr ee discreet sections. Moreover, it should be noted that a womans location on one of these sp ectra is dynamic, as levels of awareness inevitably change. Consciousness of Position To what extent is an individual aware of the subaltern position women oc cupy in rock music? The following examples demonstrate that it varies from person to person. Very Aware Some women actively think about th eir minority status. Corey is currently aware of the role of women in rock and recalls being aware of if even when she was a younger musician: Corey (guitarist for My Little Trotsky and local piano intructor): I thought about it. Especially from 1990 to 2000. It was the pretty heavy pop-rock only decade of my life, I was pretty immersed in it. And I was aware of it [my minority status], and I preferred it. I probably wouldnt have admitted that or said it, but I knew that there werent ma ny girls around anywhere I went and... And I guess the thing is that if youre traveling around to another tow n, there are four other bands and th ey are all guys, they treat you a little differently because youre the only girl. And Im not saying that people are hitting on you, or youre hooking up with people or anythi ng, they just Oh, heres a girl, is nt that nice kind of thing. So I was aware of it. Corey was well aware of her position and rather enjoyed it. Reah is also conscious of the position of women in rock: Reah (bassist for The Black Rabbits): I always thought of the band image as all male, except for a few girl singers. Most of the female pe rformers I knew of were solo artis ts, and there were few of them. 85


There are others like Corey and Reah who w ill tell you, if you ask them point blank about the role of women in rock, that women occupy a minority position. Kind of Aware For others, it is something they are only intermittently aware of. Stephanie (guitarist for Some Day Souvenir): Am I concerned about it? Well yes and no. I think were so I dont quest ion it most of the time. AF: Would say that you feel that you ar e objectified on stage in a lot of ways? Stephanie: In a lot of ways I do. I do. I mea n...sigh...when I stand back a nd when I think about it I think that. But when Im actually pl aying I dont feel that way. Like Im not consciously thinking about it. In Stephanies case, awareness only comes when she steps out of her daily routines and begins to take into consideration the larger social context. Awareness in her case surfaces and then quickly gets re-submerged under the logistics of making music and pl aying shows. Katherines partial awareness is not a back and forth between reflection and non-refl ection but rather a simu ltaneous consciousness and unconsciousness: Katherine (guitarist and vocalist for Sons of Hippies): I know rocks not an equally accessible field, though this fact never bothered me. It is a pre dominantly "male" activity, and although I'm not sure exactly why, I'm lucky to have never felt my identity was gendered and have thus seen myself as an equal contender. It was never weird for me. It was neve r like: Oh this is this big thing that Im involved in. I didnt go to school thinking Oh, Im the one in the band. It was always really normal. And it was just always this obvious part of my identity that was just always there. Katherine reflects on the minority status of women abstractly but does not turn this reflection towards her personal experiences as a woman in rock. Gender in rock, at least until I brought it up, was not something she thought about in he r day-to-day work routine. Not Aware Then there are women in rock who never consci ously reflect on the suba ltern position of women. Cub (guitarist for Giddy Up, Helicopter!): When I was about 11 or 12 I started listening to a lot of Riot Grrl music. It never once crossed my mind that making music was a male activity. I never once doubted myself in making music either. 86


What is interesting about this comment is that Cub is aware on some level of the role of women in rock, insofar as she knows that journalists emphasize appearance in articles about Giddy Up, Helicopter! as opposed to discussing their music. What I see happening is th at although Cub has these experiences of unequal treatment, for whatever reason they do not get in corporated into the narrative she writes for herself and others concerning rock music. Her understanding remains latent and never fully penetrates her conscious reflection. Gina also observes a lack of conscious awareness in many of the women playing in the Tampa scene: Gina (singer and guitarist in multip le Tampa bands in the 1990s, owner of the lo cal music venue The Bombshell Gallery, and pop music critic at the St. Petersburg Times from 1999-2005): I think the women on the Tampa scene aren't thinking about it. I th ink on some level, they understand that they are anomalies, but I think they are more concerned w ith the business at hand, making the music and getting gigs, and not trying to be feminists and address the lack of women. They all seem to have a stoic attitude about it, like "I'm just here to make music." Like it's uncool and messy to care about the sociological implications. Even if these women are tacitly aware, they supp ress it in an attempt to get the job done and be cool while doing it. Reflection on underlying sociological issues is not a part of their way of being. Consciousness of Strategic Action To what extent is an individual aware of the strategic action she employs in light of her minority position? Again, it varies from person to person. Very Aware Frequent discussion of how they use their minorit y status to their adva ntage is one of Super Secret Best Friends primar y activities as a band. Super Secret Best Friends Emily: And we talk about it. It is something that we do consciously do. Its not like it s just kind of accidental. Its not that its not natural but we do talk about it. Stephanie: We do decide, like: Ok, were going to buy matching cl othes and tonight were going to dress like Geishas. 87


AF: So to you guys, being a really girly girl band is totally fine? And using it to your advantage to play shows and stuff like that is totally fine? Alex: I feel like we exploit it, but at the same time we critique it. AF: How do you critique it? Alex: Its like hyper-femininity. Were incredibly smart and incredibly witty about how we use it. In terms of banter. For instance, for a Clash show we redid Career Opportunities to be about stereotypical women careers. So we had like hooker, Ch arlies Angels, mermaid, pony brushers. Super Secret Best friends did not accidentally fa ll into using female novelty to their advantage. Planning their outfits and crafting their performances are deliberate and frequent topics of band discussion. Moreover, they plan th eir attempts at transforming the gender stereotypes within rock by writing witty lyrics and making fun of femininity. In using femininity to their advantage they simultaneously critique it and make fun of it. Some Day Souvenir also consciously plans how to use femininity to their advantage: Stephanie (guitarist for Some Day Souvenir): AF: But you are conscious of doing that? You say, O k, lets put the girls in the front because were the cute ones. Stephanie: Yeah, definite ly. And I mean, our lead singer is a ve ry attractive girl. Shes the kind of woman that people want to stop and look at. And, fine! If thats what is takes for you to listen to what we have to offer, I dont care. And I think the guys feel the same way. Kind of Aware As with awareness of position, some women ar e only partially or intermittently aware of the strategies they implement in light of their status: Stacey (vocalist for Doll Parts): AF: Do you think that having a woman in your band gives your band an edge? Stacey: I for sure think that it gives us an advantage but I dont consciously use it. Stacey says that she does not consciously use their minority status to their advantage, but at the same time in recognizing it she must be, to a certain extent at least, aware of using femaleness as a form of strategic action. 88


Not Aware Still other women are completely unreflective, at leas t in their communication with me, about the strategic action they are employing. Samantha of Kingsbury says that her band does not emphasize her femininity in their promotional material in an attempt gain an advantage over other bands: Samantha (guitarist for Kingsbury): AF: Do you think that having a woman in your band gives Kingsbury an edge? Samantha: I think it keeps things pr etty neutral. We get equal attent ion from guys and girls. Sometimes people are more interested to see a girl playing lead guitar, but we try to keep everyone in the band on an equal level. We never promote the idea of having members of either sex. We actually try spending a lot of time thinking of ways in which we wont be seen But in my analysis, it seems to me that Ki ngsbury does indeed emphasize Samantha in their promotional pictures, especially in comparison to a band, like Morningb ell, that in my opinion clearly does not emphasize their female member. Kingsbury Morningbell In the image on the left, Samantha is standing in the foreground, wearing a white low-cut dress. From my perspective, her position and the color of her dress make he r the focal point of the picture, whereas the men blend into the background. By cont rast, in the image on the right Stacey, the female members of Morningbell, almost di sappears into the background. I do not know if the other members of Kingsbury intentionally planned th e composition of this promotional photograph in order to spotlight Samantha but this image certainly seems to contradict Samanthas statement that they never promote the id ea of having members of eith er sex. Either it is 89


the case that it is only Samantha wh o is unaware of how the band uses her femaleness to their advantage, or that the whole band is unaware of this strategic action. Reah also does not consciously re flect on the fact that her band uses her novelty to its advantage: From Field Notes at The New World Brewery Conversation with Reah of The Black Rabbits: Reah finally walks over and I introduce myself to her. First I ask her if she ever trips over the cables with he r high heals, and she says th at this is actually the first show to which shes worn them. Usually I wear flip flops or something. And what about the dress? I ask. Doesnt that make it hard for set up? Its funny you should ask. I just wore a dress to one of our shows one time, and the guys liked it and decided that it should be my look I take note. Do you ever think that being female could work to your advantage duri ng shows and stuff? Jokingly, she responds: I just say Dont objectif y me and walk away, haha. No, but I dont really feel like Im old enough to think about it that way. Reah knows that Jetson and Skyler told her to w ear a dress as part of her look, but she does not connect this with the more abstract idea of using her femininity to th e bands advantage. She writes it off by saying that shes too young to be thinking about it. Compare Reahs response to Jetsons: From Field Notes at The New World Brewery Conversation with Jetson of The Black Rabbits: Evidently the band has just got ten a record deal with a subsidiary of Atlantic Records because they have su ch appeal to older audiences. This subsidiary, whose members include some big shot lawyer from Orla ndo and the ex-drummer for Tom Petty, are willing to put forward $200,000 for promotion of the band. I ask Jets on if he thinks that having Reah in the band had anything to do with their getti ng the deal. Definitely, definitely. In fact, some of the people who were interested found out that we had a female bass player and really flipped out. Its like the Pixies, you know? In fact, I told Skyler from the beginning that I wanted a female bass player because that would set us apart. Haha, we also try to get her to sell our merchandise to the audience and stuff, because you know they would buy it. There is no doubt that The Black Rabbits are employing Reahs femininity strategically, and Reah herself benefits from this strategic action as a member of the band. At the same time, she is not conscious of these tactics, or at least not conscious of them as tactics. Incongruence Again, where a woman falls on one spectrum of consciousness does not necessarily correlate with where she falls on the other. Reah, for instance, is certainly aware of the minority position of women in rock, but at the same time is unaware of how the band manipulates her novelty status to their 90


strategic advantage. Stephanie, by contrast, is very aware of how Some Day Souvenir promotes the feminine aspect of the band to gain an edge over their competition, but only occasionally reflects on the minority position of women in general. This seems like a contradiction, and it is in a way. For without recognizing the minority status of women in the field, she would not be able to see that promoting the female aspect of the band could work to their advant age. But at the same time it is not a contradiction, insofar as I think it is possible to see how femaleness can work to ones advantage without fully recognizing or accepting that women only have this advantage because of their subaltern position. These women know that female attr activeness and novelty can be used advantageously but they do not stop to reflect on why they might be advantageous. Consciousness Raising I have to mention that in performing this res earch I have catalyzed an unprecedented amount of reflection on the role of gender in the Tampa rock scene, mostly in the women I interviewed but also in the various audience members and venue workers I cam e across in my field work. Because the social scientist, as a social acto r herself, always influences the social world she is studying, I feel comfortable knowing that the questions I asked and observations I made and discussed with my participants have increased their levels of awarene ss and changed where they fall on th ese spectra of consciousness. A few examples will illustrate the degr ee to which my study functioned as an act of consciousness raising. Katherine (guitarist and vocalist for Sons of Hippies): Well your interview, and your thesis and your topic totally caught me off guard. Because nobodys ra ised this question, ever. Not only with you, but with me, and in all the interv iews Ive ever done. Never. For Katherine, this is the first time anyone has ma de her critically reflect on the role of gender in her career. It was not until we started talking that she became conscious of that fact that on her East coast tour this past November she did not see a si ngle woman playing an instrument in a band until she 91


got to a lesbian event in Boston. Corey too had never been intervie wed about her role as a woman in rock: Corey (guitarist for My Little Trot sky and local piano instructor): This was a fun questionnaire made me think about many thi ngs Ive never thought about. For Super Secret Best Friends I made them more aware of just how few women are playing rock in the Tampa scene. Although they were aware of their minority status, they were not aware of the degree of this minority status. Alex (drummer for Super Secret Best Friends): Yeah, I think there is th is misperception about the number of women. I think I had that misperception t oo. I guess we all did. I thought it was a lot bigger than 5-7%. I thought to include this discussion of consciousness because in the previous chapters I imply, in an effort to clearly articulate my points, that these observations about women in rock are all straightforward and obvious to anyone who participates in the field. As I have demonstrated here, however, this is certainly not the case. Many wome n are unaware of the complex gender issues that surround them in their field, or only have a partial and intermittent awareness them. In these last three chapters I have covered diffe rent aspects of womens experience as minorities in rock. Specifically, I have shown how womens minority status in rock cr eates obstacles in their careers, how they develop st rategies to confront these obstacles, and the degree to which they are aware of their minority status and their strategic actions. 92


Conclusion: A Future in Rock My goal in conducting this resear ch was to come to a better u nderstanding of why there are so few women in rock, how some women get involved, and what it really means to be a woman in rock. After finishing this thesis I can conf idently say that I have achieved this goal. My insight into the role of women in rock in general, as well as into my role as an individual female rock artist in particular, has increased enormously. Of course, the observations I form ulate in this thesis with the help of Bourdieus theoretical framework are just one interpretation of a complex and dynami c social universe. My hope is that they serve as an illuminating and useful appr oximation of this social reality that we will never completely understand or model in its entirety. This research has had interesting implications in my own life. Since becoming so much more aware of my own experience as a female rock instrume ntalist I have begun to experiment with my forms of strategic action. Last month I started a pastiche Riot Grrrl band called Tamponshock, in which I am drumming and singing back-up vocals. My goal with this band is to stage outrageous performances, alluding to the Riot Grrrl movement while incorporating the most s hocking discursive and performative elements of radical feminism. I want this band, which in many ways lives up to the stereotypes of women in rock (sexualized women who cant play th eir instruments), to simu ltaneously critique these stereotypes, causing an audience to re flect on the status of women in ro ck. The details of this strategy have yet to be worked out in full, but I have confidence in our potential. I have also started my own recording studio an d promotion agency called Other Mother Records, which is tailored specifically for women in rock. I think that a big part of getting women interested is letting them know that they are wanted and welcome. Like Freight Train Annie, who is seeing more women in rock because she cleared a space for them, I too want to clear a space for women to make recordings of their music. My business partner an d I have already formed the LLC for Other Mother 93


Records and are now waiting for a number of fu nding requests to go through to get started on the construction of our studio. Over the course of this research the form of my strategic action as a female rock artist has shifted from using femaleness to my advantage to trying to transform the rules of rock music completely. Although I will probably always still use the former strategy, as well as various coping mechanisms to endure unpleasant situations, mo re and more I see myself as being an activist in this field when it comes to issues of gender. Over the next few years I plan on continuing my rock career, as both an artist and producer, all the while diligently studying the field from an anthr opological and sociological perspective. One thing I will certainly change about my approach is to incor porate more perspectives. I want to interview more men in the field, more women in audiences who ne ver joined bands, band managers, production studio technicians, etc. The field of rock music production is very large and di verse, and I feel like I have only scratched the surface with this init ial investigation. Hopefully in the next year or two I will have accumulated enough data to write a much more penetrating and effective analysis of this social issue. Gender Trouble Through the process of writing this thesis I became keenly interested in feminist theory. In particular, I became interested in Judith Butlers ideas concerning gender after receiving an interesting comment from one of my participants Katherine of Sons of Hippies, in her email interview, wrote the following: I suppose the one thing that 's clear to me after completing th is interview is that if you make it a gender issue, it become s a gender issue. In her book Gender Trouble, Judith Butler argues that gender and sex, as well as any norms concerning sexua lity, are social constructions (Butler, 1990). Gender and sex are both products of di scourse and not preexisting entities. In this thesis I too argue, with the help of Bourdieu, that gender is a social construction. Women a nd men do not come into the world 94


already fitting into a cleanly defined gender binary, but rather accumulate the habitus of one gender or the other through a process of socialization. What is different about Butlers theory is that she thinks that in continuing to talk and write about men and women as two separa te categories of human beings in our discourses, we are perpetuating the distinction between them in reality. I came to wonder, especially af ter receiving Katherines response, if I am contributing to the continued distinction between men and women by choos ing to focus on it and write about it in my study. I wondered: am I creating a gender issue where there isnt one, as Katherine insinuat ed? After much reflection on this I have come to the conclusion th at I am indeed not imagining a problem, and more importantly, that I am not causing the continued separation of men and women by contributing this study to the larger sociological discou rse. First of all, it is clear that men and women have different experiences and opportunities in rock because of thei r perceived gender. This is not a product of my imagination but an objectively observable fact of soci al reality. Furthermore, even if discourse is fundamentally to blame for the disparate positions of men and women in our soci ety, I think that it is only through discourse that we can rectify this situation. If we were to eradicate gender binaries from our discourse prematurely we would be deceiving ourselves, for the inequalities that fall along gender lines would continue to exist. Examining the world in terms of gender enables me to see patterns that I would not be able to see otherwise patterns that are actually there, ev en if they were originally the product of discourse. Rock School Last month I was traveling in California and met two young women who are taking rock band lessons at the Rock Institute of Seattle, WA. These two young women, who are learning how to play bass and drums, go to rock lessons twice a week after school. On one of the da ys they meet one-on-one with an instructor and work on whatever rock song th ey have been assigned for the week. The other day 95

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they play through this song with ot her students who are learning it on complimentary rock instruments. The songs assigned depend on which band the students ar e currently studying. Evidently the syllabus is divided into modules, which last two to three weeks, and which focus on different iconic rock bands in the rock music canon. So for instance, there is a Beatles module, a Led Zeppelin module, a Talking Heads module, etc. After doing a little more research, I learned that the first rock institute started in Portland, OR, in 2001 and that other rock schools ha ve subsequently popped up across the country. Some are specifically for girls, such as the Girls Rock Institute in Portland (which is featured in the recent documentary Girls Rock! The Movie), while others are mixed gender. When I first learned about these rock schools I was downright appalled. Rock music is not something that can be institutionalized! It is anti-institution at its very core. Who came up with the idea to put the Talking Heads on a syll abus? Moreover, I was concerned that women who learned to play rock instruments in this context w ould not be accepted in a real world rock scene. Isnt it monstrously dorky to have learned how to play Whole Lotta Love from some middle-aged dude in an after school program? Who is going to want to pl ay with a nerd girl like this? I asked a few of the participants in my study what they thought about the rock institutes and, to my surprise, they thought they were a great idea. Emily of Super Secret Best Friends sees the schools as a necessary step in getting women involved in rock: Emily (guitarist for Super Secret Best Friends): With kids its really hard for things to grow organically. And if you can get that basic knowledge of how to play, an d say a girl realizes that shes good at it, then she could join a guy band, she could join whoever. It would be ni ce if I had those skills from an early age, where I could jump in with this band, pick up this other thing. We have to kind of stick together and we re stuck with that.... Emily sees the rock schools as a safe setting for women to explore their interest in rock and gain the cultural capital they need to play with other bands. Even if a normal rock band grows organically, having these formalized schools might be the only way to get enough women in the field to see a 96

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significant change in the face of rock. Perhaps after a few generations of women going through these rock schools there will be enough women in the field for others to see starting a band as an available and attractive pursuit, and to have enough female friends and role models to actually do it. Emily also pointed out that videogames like Rockband and Guitar Hero might serve as an entrance point for women into rock. Because wome n can play these videogames in the safety and comfort of their own bedrooms it is much easier for them to get inte rested, involved, and skilled. Of course, the obvious problem with this is that being good at a vi deogame guitar does not translate into being good at a real guitar. Moreover, being good at a videogame does not necessarily inspire one to then go out into the world and implement a real project. Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see if and how these videogames influence womens participation in rock music. I am hopeful that this field will continue to open up to women and that, as more women get involved, the stereotypical roles for women will start to deteriorate. At the same time, I know that this will not happen without the conti nued work of people like me, Mavi s Bayton, other women in the field, and the folks at the Rock Institut e, who must keep writing, asking questions, performing, and inspiring others to do the same. 97

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Appendix 1 Bands in Tampa The following statistics were generated by look ing at all of the bands playing during the month of October, 2008, at four of the most popular rock venues in Tampa, FLthe Brass Mug, Crowbar, The New World Brewer y, and The Pegasus Lounge. I determined whether or not the bands had female members by looking at the bands webpages. Total number of bands Bands with at least one female instrumentalist (including allwomen bands) AllWomen Bands Bands with female vocalists only Numbers 113 11 3 2 Percentage 9.7 % 2.7% Approximate total number of musicians playing at these venues during the month of October (assuming 4 members in each band): 452 Total number of female musicians playing: 23 (including vocalists) Female musicians as a percentage of total: 5.1% Appendix 2 2006 U.S. Gallup Pole 98

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Appendix 3 Top Twenty Bands January 2009 1. Kings of Leon 2. Shinedown 3. Apocalyptica 4. Paramore 5. Seether 6. The Offspring 7. Anberlin 8. The Airborne Toxic Event 9. Saving Abel 10. Disturbed 11. Mudvayne 12. Hollywood Undead 13. Rise Against 14. The Killers 15. The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus 16. Weezer 17. MGMT 18. Franz Ferdinand 19. Blue October 20. The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus 99

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Appendix 4 Alphabetical List of Interviewees The names in inverted commas are pseudonyms because some of my participants wished to remain anonymous. Alexandra Zayas Drummer for Super Secret Best Friends. Tampa, FL. Anais Atencio Drummer for Still Life. Tampa, FL. Annie Waddey Vocalist for The Freight Train A nnie Band and show organizer at Skippers Smokehouse. Tampa, FL. Conner Guitarist and Vocalist for Gi ddy Up, Helicopter! Tampa, FL Corey Holt Merenda. Guitarist for My Little Trotsky. Tampa, FL. Deb Hunseder Guitarist for Halcyon. St. Petersburg, FL. Emily Nipps Guitarist for Super Secret Best Friends. Tampa, FL. Eric Atria. Bassist for Morningbell. Orlando, FL. Erica Gressman Drummer for Tyger Beat. Sarasota, FL. Geri X Guitarist and vocalist for Geri X Band. Milwakee/WI and St. Petersburg, FL. Gina Vivinetto Music Journalist, vocalist, venue owne r. Tampa, FL (Currently lives in Washington DC) Isabel Maioriello-Gallus Bassist and vocalist for Rickety-Rag. Sarasota, FL. Jax. Drummer for Kore. Tampa, FL. Jessica Vielma Guitarist for Still Life. Tampa, FL. Jetson Black Guitarist for The Black Rabbits. Orlando, FL. Karen Collins Bassist for a Velvet Underground cover band. Tampa, FL. Katherine Barnes Guitarist and vocalist for So ns of Hippies. Sarasota, FL. Leo. Bassist for Some Day Souvenir. Lakeland, FL. Mandy Guitarist for Doll Parts. Clearwater, FL. Nicole Schleif (Cub). Guitarist for Giddy Up, Helicopter! Tampa, FL Reah Smith Bassist for The Black Rabbits. Orlando, FL. Samantha Christine Guitarist for Ki ngsbury. Orlando, FL. Sara Stovall Violinist and vocalist for The Done For. Sarasota, FL. Sheila Hughes. Guitarist and vocalist for Sheila Hughes band. Tampa, FL. Skyler Black Drummer for The Black Rabbits. Orlando, FL. Stacey Vocalist for Doll Parts. Clearwater, FL. Stacie Atria Keyboardist for Morningbell. Orlando, FL. Stephanie Hayes Keyboardist and vocalist for Super Secret Best Friends. Tampa, FL. Stephanie Wood Guitarist for Some Day Souvenir. Tampa, FL. Susana. Guitarist for Center. Tampa, FL. Zaray Virla Bassist for Still Life. Tampa, FL. 100

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Appendix 5 Still Life (left to right: Jessica, Anais, Zaray) Katherine of Sons of Hippies Some Day Souvenir (Stephanie, Dari, Chris) 101

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102 References Bayton, Mavis (1998), Frock Rock: Women Performing Popular Music (Oxford: Oxford University Press). Bayton, Mavis (2006), Women Making Music: Some Material Constraints, in A. Bennett et. al. (eds) The Popular Music Studies Reader (New York: Routledge). Bennett, H. Stith (1980), On Becoming a Rock Musician (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press). Bourdieu, Pierre (1993), The Field of Cultural Production (New York: Columbia University Press). Bourdieu, Pierre (1990), In Other Words: Essays Towards a Reflexive Sociology (Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press). Bourdieu, Pierre (1980), The Logic of Practice ( Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press). Butler, Judith (1990), Gender Trouble (New York, NY: Routledge). Clawson, Mary Ann (1999), "Masculinity and Skill Acquisition in the Adolescent Rock Band." Popular Music 18.1: 99. Cooper, M and Groce, S. (1990), Just Me and the Boys? Women in Local-Level Rock and Roll, in Gender and Society Vol. 4, No. 2, pp. 220-229. Frith, Simon (1983), Sound Effects: Youth, Leisure, and the Politics of RocknRoll (London: Constable). Green, Lucy (2002), How Popular Musicians Learn: A Way Ahead for Music Education (London: Ashgate). Green, Lucy (1997), Music, Gender, Education (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press). Meisenhelder, Tom (2000), Toward a Field Theory of Class, Gender, and Race (Race, Gender and Class, Vol: 7, iss: 2, pg: 76). Straw, Will (1997), Sizing Up Record Colle ctions: Gender and Connoisseurship in Rock Music Culture, in Whitley, S. (ed) Sexing the Groove: Popular Music and Gender (London: Routledge).