In a recently republished article on MEOW, Amy RaNae Wilson writes about the sexism she faces in music stores. Among the reactions she gets from the men in the store are: being ignored, condescension, sexist remarks, and being told that, “Girls don’t play drums!” She cites moments where she has had to show off her guitar playing skills in order to be taken seriously, and remarks on how this sexism has happened to her in both small towns and large cities.
The cause behind this sexism is the idea that women don’t play loud instruments like the electric guitar, bass guitar, or drums. As Lera Lynn explained in a recent interview, she feels like she receives a lot of doubt from men in the music industry because she plays the electric guitar and doesn’t just “strummy strum strum” on the acoustic guitar, which she believes is what most men in the music industry expect women to do.
A survey conducted on Facebook earlier this year showed that the gender stereotyping of instruments does not affect many women in the music industry compared to other issues women face. Longtime Montgomery musician Angie Blackwell Pentz agrees that, at least for her, there is not much issue of discrimination against women due to instrument choice. Pentz, whose father was a bass player, grew up with music. Her father played bass guitar in a band in which she sang and played acoustic. When he quit, she took up playing the bass guitar. She says that she has never faced any type of discrimination or bias because of her instrument choice. In fact, she says that it is easier to get jobs as a bass player because so few people play bass.
The gender stereotyping of instruments appears to be more of an issue among middle and high school band students. Sarah Cassidy of The Independent writes that gender stereotyping in schools has gone unchallenged. Cassidy reports that education watchdog Ofsted says that, “Girls are nine times more likely to learn to play the flute than boys.” Meanwhile, “Twice as many boys as girls learned to play trumpet, percussion or guitar.”
In a thesis written about the gender stereotyping of instruments among middle school band students, author Megan Perdue writes, “After grade three, gender stereotypes are more prevalent and males tend to choose instruments on the masculine end of the continuum (drums, trombone, and trumpet) while females tend to prefer instruments on the female end of the continuum (flute violin, and clarinet).”
Below, musician and music store owner Lance Lisenby talks about the gender stereotyping of instruments he’s seen in the Montgomery area.