I need some help with my attitude I think ...

Daisy

Senior Member
I just don't know how to deal with men in this business. Or they don't know how to deal with me. I've never been girly, I worked in a predominantly male profession all my life and never experienced any difficulties or problems or prejudice. I don't go looking for sexism, and I pretty much despise women who blame all their problems on perceived sexism ... but I'm getting exasperated trying to figure out how to deal with men in bands.

I'm 62, and female. I've been in two bands and in both of them I felt more than a little patronised. I felt I got off to the wrong start with both of them by being perhaps a bit too pleasant, obliging, I'm not imagining this - in the first band I even had one of the guitarists trying to tell me how to set up my kit, the bass beater was too far from the head, my toms were "too flat" etc. With both bands, they sort of dismissed all my input as if I didn't know what I was talking about. With both of them, singer didn't know where the 1 was, couldn't come in on my count, didn't want to listen to me explain that they came in on 2 or whatever .. (Also, with both bands, to start with whenever anyone swore they'd look over at me and apologise, but me responding "Oh, for ****'s sake" put an end to that).

I just auditioned for another band. I didn't specify in my ad that I was female. The guy who phoned me got my back up immediately on the phone by asking if I was sure I "could manage 2 x 1 hour sets, cos it's a bit physical you know". As soon as I arrived at the audition (early) the first thing he said was he'd "never known a woman who ever arrived on time". (It's a "female trait" according to him). And so it went on, various niggly little comments ... until in the break I had a word with him and told him I'm a drummer, I can carry my kit, I'd told him I'd gigged, I didn't appreciate all the sexist assumptions he was making etc. etc (Yes, I know I blew the audition right there and then). To which his only response was "some people just always look for the negativity" and I should "lighten up".

I honestly don't think it's me that has the problem. I've been playing with a blues jam band on and off recently, and was just "one of the guys" which is all I've ever wanted.

I'm feeling very confused at the moment. I wonder if an older woman in a "man's game" sort of attacks their masculinity or something and they can't handle it.

Any insights ? Let me have, I can take it. I won't run into the toilets and cry! I'm just feeling very confused about the best way to present myself.
 

Bad Tempered Clavier

Silver Member
I wouldn't recommend changing yourself in order to accommodate a bunch of overgrown infants; it's true that a certain amount of compromise is needed within any group of people if they're ever going to get anything done but that doesn't mean anyone has to eat a bowl of crap on account of gender/age/race/body-size.

I understand that music - especially rock music - is still seen as predominantly a male domain and I'm sure there is plenty of chauvinism amongst some of the dead-beat idiots that frequent your local scene; but unless there simply ain't any respectable people to play with in your neighbourhood then I suggest you don't settle for the type of band you described.

Like you said - as long as you turn up on time, haul your gear, and rock the crowd then bollocks to anyone who has a problem with your gender.
 

BacteriumFendYoke

Platinum Member
I think you're making a very legitimate complaint.

Grea will be able to comment best but I've always thought that there does seem to be a level of sexism in drumming. Like it or not, having a female drummer is a novelty as far as many are concerned. It's nothing to do with the inherent physicality of the instrument, it's just simply a cultural convention (wrongly, in my eyes). It's interesting to think that often our early childhood experiences can be influential in our gender identity but that's for psychologists to discuss.

I don't like that every time there's a thread about a female drummer that a lot of the men of the board start making comments that make me feel uncomfortable. It's a low-level objectification of female drummers - not intentional always but not taking the player at a musical level. I find the same thing true on YouTube - you just have to look up some of the female drummers with followings on there to read some frankly disgusting comments that have no place in music.

To be honest, the best thing you can do is what you've already done. If somebody is out of line, take them to one side and discuss the issue. If they accept there is a problem and apologise - move on - but if it's an issue then there's no shame in bringing it up as an issue. In your situation, it would make me feel uncomfortable too.

I say this as a twenty-four year old bearded, large man. I think in terms of demographic, my age is probably amongst the worst.
 

jmck

Member
you got to be tuff and not too nice.not rude but not a pushover.sounds like he was treating you with respect,and being polite.who knows who cares.move on and find people you click with.its all about the people not the players.except the fact that your a chick and it will be hard for folks to drop the there is a chick in the room mode relax and dont be such a girl :)
 

mikeyhanson

Silver Member
Totally legitimate complaint. Do what my friend Rosie does when she's confronted with that situation....hand the whiner d-bag the sticks and say "show me." Then bodyslam him with your brutal triplet assault...or whatever's in your bag of tricks.
Oh, and then grab your stuff and leave. If you're not getting respect then I'd get out.
 

Anon La Ply

Renegade
I haven't had that problem much, thank goodness. When I was young I wasn't taken seriously, but to be fair, back then my playing didn't really warrant taking seriously.

The ones who have been patronising tend to patronise everyone anyway. It's not you, it's them. By the same token, the ones who make ignorant assumptions are usually pretty ignorant people. Again, it's not you, it's them.

My advice is to play music with smart, educated men. I also like mixed bands where there's at least two women. My current band's singer is gay enough to make it feel like I'm not alone so it's all good.

Just a side note about novelty value ... I have never posted a song or video with a title announcing my femaleness. Wondering if I'm too starched up to take advantage? :)

Hmm, might give it a go ... look out for "Fetchingly ageing FEMALE drummer - dark ambient soundscape" :)
 

Duck Tape

Platinum Member
Re: input - You might be at fault in that you're not confident in yoursef (if that's the case) but I have often found that being a drummer, my musical input was worth less by default, so I keep my mouth shut until I have a genuinelygreat idea and people are more inclined to listen to me next time I open my mouth.

I used to play medlodic instruments so I might be a little bit of an exception to the whole "drummer isn't a musician" stigma but my band actually looks to me first when we're stumped and I think it's because I don't always have to have an opinion, I listen to others and give them credit for their ideas and when I have a good idea I believe in I can at least convince them to try it, and usually they agree with me once we have tried it.

I think you should take gender/sex out of your vocabulary, even if it's in theirs, and just deal with it as though you're dealing with other humans, not men.
 

Midnite Zephyr

Platinum Member
I am also faced with a certain amount of prejudice when auditioning because I am a big guy. They question my stamina, etc. because they have a cookie-cutter idea about how people like me live their lives (surrounded by twinkies and oreos, I guess). Only thing I can do is drum. Usually my drumming gets me a spot, but, you know, I have my own likes and dislikes too. I'm not going to jump into just any band that has the heart to let me in.

I think people are entitled to their opinions, even if they are wrong. They are entitled to their preferences, and I respect that. I have my own preferences too. They don't know that I've actually grown up doing hard work in construction. They have no idea how many trails I've hiked, trees I've fallen, or wood that I've chopped. They have no clue that I've spent ten years going to a gym and lifting weights. No, they just see a fat guy sweating. Sorry, but there are plenty of cool people out there, don't get hung up on a few jerkoffs, move on quickly because cool guys ARE out there.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
How old are these cretins? I don't need a bad that bad and would just walk away with my pride. Or you could miss a gig and tell them you were too much female to get there on time and to do 2 tough 1 hour sets.
 

Mad About Drums

Pollyanna's Agent
Any insights ? Let me have, I can take it. I won't run into the toilets and cry! I'm just feeling very confused about the best way to present myself.
You're a drummer, period. It shouldn't affect the perception of others in a band setting, your voice and imput should be on the same level as anyone else in the band. Having said that, I've encountered band mates who dismiss my suggestions in terms of musical arrangements, melodically or/and rythmically, it has more to do being just the "drummer" than being a woman in your case, unfortunately, drummers are still often looked down and are not "proper" musicians, it's an ettiquette that's both annoying, frustrating and in many cases, totally unjustified.

Now, there's the factor of "men vs women" relationship, and although, musically speaking, it shouldn't make any difference, there's always some behaviour from both gender which will make you feel very much like a woman (or a man, for that matter) it's part of a "natural" way upon which we all deal with the opposite sex, I guess, and as long as it is not lowering oneself against another, there's nothing wrong about it, and I think is cool to have a female band mate.

Bossy people are bossy people, and igorant people are ignorant people, they seem to behave the way they do with everyone else, there's the "cliché" factor too, were men (or women) cannot resist the "usual" punchline in regards to gender, again, I think is nothing wrong with this, but context is everything, a bit of humour goes a long way, but downright sexist remarks do not feel good in any given discussions/situations and should be avoided, you cannot "buy" education and respect.

As far as I'm concerned, if you can play, it's all what matter, the feminine side is just an added bonus... or some dark, spooky but creative sounding music if you're like our popular Grea :)
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Hi Daisy,

Unfortunately, there's still a lot of ageism and sexism in this business, and the age thing isn't just about being older. Many capable younger players are dismissed because of their lack of experience, regardless how well they actually play the material. I'm finding that younger bands are more open to accept a gal, but then there's that image thing for them, and an older woman may not fit the bill. In music, where image is often important, there are no equal opportunity clauses. Hiring decisions are completely subjective, and no employment 'rules' apply.

What is the age of the bandmembers you've encountered? If they're younger, it may be your age that's a roadblock for them. If they're older and stuck in their ways, then it's being female that's their problem.

And judging by how you present yourself, let me emphasize that it's their problem. I don't know if there's anything specific you can do, except keep looking for the right band. And remember that not everyone is going to be the right fit, regardless of age or sex. Sometimes people just don't mesh. In other words, if you stumbled upon a mixed or all-female group with older members, don't assume that it will necessarily be the right thing either.

But getting back to the age thing... I'll be 56 soon, and am well aware that I shouldn't be playing with 20-year-olds. Chances are they're not playing the kind of music I like, or may not be playing it well enough for me to enjoy. I (generally) stick to genres and band age-ranges that are more appropriate for me. In my 2 primary bands, the members are in their 40-60s. In a few bands, there are a few members in their 30s. I'd also like to mention that while the gender mix is male-heavy, one of my favorite bands is a half & half, with a gal singing lead and playing guitar. Two of my other bands have female lead singers. And everyone seems to be fine with everyone.

I guess it really boils down to the specific people you encounter, just keep looking and hang in there. At 62, you've still got a lot of years of playing ahead of you.

Bermuda
 

harryconway

Platinum Member
Bossy people are bossy people, and igorant people are ignorant people ....
Indeed. You're running into a--h---'s, and their chucklehead mentality is manifesting itself in a sexist way, here. And it ain't got anything to do with your attitude. You ran into some putzes, and that's their issues, not yours. Can't change them, so it's probably best not to be around them.​
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
in the first band I even had one of the guitarists trying to tell me how to set up my kit, the bass beater was too far from the head, my toms were "too flat" etc. With both bands, they sort of dismissed all my input as if I didn't know what I was talking about.
Honestly, I've encountered this myself plenty of times in my life, and I'm a 6'2" male.

Some people are just full of themselves and think they know more than they do.

I wish I could say something more. There is a lot of sexism in music. On top of that, there are a lot of stereotypes that drummers are less than intelligent or don't know much about music. You seem to have the unfortunate experience of running into the few dunces who buy into both sets of stereotypes.
 

Daisy

Senior Member
Awww, you guys! Thanks so much, I am genuinely touched by your supportive comments.

I've been looking inward in light of your responses. No, I don't have gender/sex in my vocabularly. Never did - I've always done boys things, I think my dad wanted a boy and it stems from there (should I add here that I'm happily married with children?)

My first band, the two guitarists definitely had "issues" but initially I was just glad to be there (my first opportunity) so sucked it up. I tried standing up to them after a while, but that's never going to work, you shouldn't be having those sort of battles in a band so I just left.

My second band, they weren't really sexist. I got on well with them (after they realised that I could swear as well as they could and stopped apologising for their language). I think what I encountered there was indeed, as some have said, "drummerism". I got a lot of gender-related remarks (and "short-ism" too) - but it was humour and good natured banter. Didn't bother me to start with, but I suppose after a while it just gets tiresome, and they weren't sensitive to that. (I actually left that band due to gig nerves, and I'm wondering now if all that "banter" just got to me).

This band I auditioned for, there were two in their 40s, one in his 60s, and (the "leader" and the one who gave me the grief) was in his 50s. Strangely enough (or not?) he was the least accomplished musician of the lot of them. The others were great, very supportive and complimentary. (But I didn't get the gig, no surprise there)

I've really only played with older guys, my previous bands were all in their 50s and 60s. I see nothing wrong with people wanting to stick to their own age group, I'm OK with that. I realise that image comes into it, and a metal band in their 20s don't want granny behind them on the kit. This is only the second time I've been advertising for a band. I've specified my age, but not gender because I don't see what difference it makes. My husband thinks (as someone else has said) it could be a bonus, but I don't want that sort of bonus. I don't want to get in a band for any reason that's connected to being a woman. I don't want to be a novelty. I just want to be the drummer.

Thanks again everyone. I was really down this morning. Your comments have been so helpful. And if this is the reality of what I have to deal with in what I've chosen to do, then so be it, I'll deal with it. Onwards and upwards !!!
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Drummers get talked down to more than any other band member in the first place. I've definitely been made to feel less than for no other reason other than being a drummer. I didn't have the added weight that you are bearing. Unfortunately, guy and gal drummers are not seen as equal by many people. It seems to me you have a few choices.

Suck it up, learn a diplomatic sidestep maneuver, and let it roll of you back like water off a duck. Prove yourself behind the kit.

Verbally slice and dice his whole entire attitude and ruthlessly call him on every single sexist thing, completely putting him in his place and purposely embarrassing him. How dare he? You could attack his clothing choice, his bad breath, his verbal diarrhea, his outdated caveman remarks.... and then go for penis size and it's relation to the security of a man. The best defense is a great offense. Once you demonstrate to them that you won't have any of that attitude, and show him that you fight back, I'll betcha he will back down. Most guys don't intend to piss off a woman. And how empowering would that feel? Have you ever dressed down your child? Same thing here. He will either respect the hell out of you and want to keep you around, or he won't want to be embarrassed like that ever again. Either way, you win in some fashion.

I can't really think of any middle ground except take pity on him and try to educate him. You could try humor, but that's just a short term solution. Oh you say my toms are too flat? Not as flat as your ass in those jeans! Humorous torpedos, fire right back, turn it into humor.

Personally, I like the slice and dice approach. Everyone likes a fighter. You'll feel empowered, and he might just change his tune. I think women can get away with that easier than men, that's how it seems from this side. There really is not much possibility of a fistfight I would hope.
 

JimmyTheMonkey

Senior Member
I dont have much more to add that already hasn't been said. But look at it this way, for most playing music is about having fun and enjoying it (in addition to making a living - if you're that lucky). Playing in a band is always hard work, but you shouldn't have a terrible time doing it. If you are in a band that doesn't appreciate you the way you think they should, then leave! You will find a proper one eventually.

It's the 21st century, yet there is still a lot of sexism in the workplace. Drumming is a male-dominated environment. You shouldn't have to settle, though. Besides, many bands, I am sure, appreciate the added benefits of having a a female drummer - especially if it is rare. Keep your head up; you will find the right band eventually.
 

Daisy

Senior Member
And you're short, too? Well there's your problem!! :)
In my last band, the frontman would insist on telling the crowd our names at some point in the gig. (I know, cheesey, but I was a lone voice there too ....). When he got to me he would always say "I know you can't see her, because she's very very small ...." He thought it was hilarious.

Is it possible to over-emphasise how helpful all this has been? That guitarist telling me how to set up my kit - I came home to my husband and said "He wouldn't have said that to a MAN". But it seems men get this too, and 6'2" men at that.

I feel ready for anything now ... grrr
 

cutaway79

Silver Member
Let's be honest here... There really aren't THAT many female drummers out there. And many of those that do exist, aren't all that good... Just like male drummers. There are just MORE male drummers out there, and therefore, more good ones. I've seen/heard a good deal of amazing female drummers. But, from what I've experienced over all the years I've been playing, most male musicians seem to take playing music (talking about "band"-type situations, not really orchestral) more seriously, in general. I've personally known ONE woman who would spend hours every day just honing her drumming skills. Yet I've known probably 50 guys that do. I'm not saying women DON'T. Just saying that all anyone can go off of is personal experience. And in my experience, it's just not as common for women.

Now before you call me sexist or whatever, please know that I am not saying that men are better at drums than women. I'm just saying that if you look at how many female drummers are out there (that the general public actually know about), and how many of those are actually good, and combine that with the basic lack of respect as "musicians" drummers tend to get from other instrumentalists already, well, good luck getting the respect you deserve. You're just going to have to let your playing do the talking. And if they start telling you how to set up your drums, try telling them to change their guitar tones, and raise/lower their straps.
 

Talismanis

Senior Member
Aren't women actually supposed to be better drummers because the sides of their brains are more 'separate' and therefor they automatically have better independence?
It's just a rumour I heard somewhere.

sssh... don't let them catch on..
 
Top