By: Karrie Keyes
The start of a new tour is always interesting, seeing friends you have not seen for awhile, being with your road family, and always meeting new characters. I try to figure out who is who and what is what pretty fast. So it is on the first day, after traveling twenty hours or so and finally arriving in Amsterdam, that I meet the first character.
Evidently, he toured with Pearl Jam about eight years ago on another European tour. I don’t remember him and he does not remember me. He is super excited to see that our production assistant from that tour is now our production manager, and yes she happens to be a woman. He can’t believe that I do monitors and is even more amazed that the road manager from Arcade Fire is also a woman.
And then in wide brush stroke he comes to the conclusion that
The Women are Taking Over!
I stand there slightly amused at this conclusion and then wonder if that is how men in this industry view more than two women working. That 1 + 1 + 1 really does not equal three, but an army of women ready to take over the industry.
I have heard similar comments throughout my career. They have been made in both positive and negative lights and sometimes in true puzzlement. When they are made in a positive way, they are usually followed up by “It’s about time” or “we need more women working”. When made in a negative light they are usually followed by some snarky comment. It seems in this case it was stated in confusion and puzzlement. That it really is happening and what does it mean?
I spent the next few days wondering about his statement. I wondered if the Pearl Jam crew is viewed that way. I have heard it time and time again that Pearl Jam has all the women on their crew. Not that Pearl Jam is an equal opportunity employer that hires men and women for both technical and managerial roles. Not that Pearl Jam has a diverse crew, that employs Caucasians, African Americans, Italian Americans, Brits, Irish, an Australian, and even a few Texans. While we do have eight women on our crew, 7.5% of the crew being women hardly signals a take over.
I admit that I have become a bit numb to the sexism and I don’t let it bother me. Living inside my Pearl Jam bubble, I am rarely exposed to sexism. I also came up in a different generation where it was almost expected that you would have to put up with sexism and prove that it did not bother you (less you be deemed emotional or on your period). You would have to be able to hang with the guys (at strip clubs and be able to drink them under the table), prove time and time again that you could handle the gig and not cause any drama. You simply had to be unbreakable and somehow be cute and sweet too.
My daughter’s generation is much different – calling out sexism, calling out the ridiculous double standards, calling out white male privilege, and calling bullshit on the concept of the oppressed white guy. Calling out unequal access to education, employment opportunities, and equal pay. Calling it Misogyny. One of our SG members commented on the recent discussions we are having on sexism and asked where is the support from our male colleagues? Why are they not standing up for us and supporting us? As one of my daughter’s says “You are either a Feminist or you hate women”! It’s that simple.
I think we are entering a powerful time for women, women are no longer asking to be taken seriously or to be given a chance to prove themselves. They are now demanding it. Demanding equal access to education & employment, health and child care, salaries & benefits. In the United States, the near future may bring us our first woman President, sadly many years behind other industrialized countries. When our demands go unheard and unanswered – women are making the changes themselves.
Women are starting campaigns everywhere that seek to empower women and girls. Lean In and their Ban Bossy Campaign to SciGirls that encourage and support young girls in leadership and STEM. There are organizations that seek to empower young girls in leadership, activism, music, sports. Girls Rock Camp, Science Camps, Sports Camps, and Girls Inc.
We are exploding the Confidence Gap Myth and exposing the very real institutional barriers women face. We are tired of being objectified and told how to look and act, we are saying that most women do not look like the models that grace every media outlet. There is the Lean In and Getty Images project, that provides stock photos of women and families in empowering ways. We are no longer complaining that women are underrepresented in all media outlets and are doing something about it. Taking over Wikipedia and writing our own entries about women in art, history, science etc. Women Storming Wikipedia, Rewriting Wikipedia – Global, Women
We are writing, talking, rapping, and designing art against sexual harassment, Starting our own record labels and recording studios.(SG members Andrea Atkins is starting her own studio Outspoken Recording Studios, Grace Royse started her own studio as well) Even our own audio schools Women’s Audio Mission. We are starting organizations like Legion of Leia,Tech Girls, SoundGirls.Org.
And we are no longer blaming ourselves when it comes to rape – instead we are demanding that men and boys take responsibility by Not Raping. There are great websites that empower young women like Feministing and Rookiemag.com.. There are so many other positive things happening the list could go on and on.
I am amazed at the community we have made at SoundGirls.Org in the last year. We know we are not alone and our stories are empowering. It feels like there is finally movement – that things are about to change. And maybe that is what this crew person sensed – Maybe the Women are Indeed Taking Over!