I am so freaking pissed at the way our culture treats girls–specifically with regard to the way that they are discouraged from playing musical instruments. Think of a musician off the top of your head. I’d bet pretty good money that whoever you’re thinking of is a man, and that kills me. Boys are told to want to grow up to be rock stars, which requires years of practice and talent and patience. Girls are told to want to grow up to be pop stars, which requires a spray tan and autotune.
Don’t believe me that girls are encouraged to be pop stars? While trying to find evidence that girls are subtly encouraged to pursue other interests, I accidentally googled “girl music” rather than “girls and music.” The first two search results? Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl” and that “Crush on Obama” music video featuring that chick in a bikini. What the hell is that?
And those girls who want to play instruments are at a severe disadvantage. Let’s re-wind to around September of 1995, when my parents and I went to pick which instrument I should play in band. How can it be that the sexes fall docilely into line without some kind of encouragement from parents and teachers? We might as well be telling kids, “Girls, over here to pick up your flute or clarinet. Boys, over here to pick out whatever you like… except for the flute, of course. Only girls play that.” Is it any wonder, then, that the number of girls taking part in band and orchestra slowly dwindles throughout the years? (And yes, I’m using anecdotal evidence here but I’m far too irritated to sift through online articles looking for hard numbers.) If a boy gets to pick an instrument he’s passionate about and girls are given an either/or option, is it any wonder that girls lose interest?
In addition, most of the instruments that society deems are “cool” (I’m thinking guitar and drums, here, but I could be wrong) are thought of as generally being masculine in quality. Stop me if you’ve heard this one–Lindsay-with-an-A is carrying her rather large guitar in its hard case through downtown Denver and someone feels the need to tell her she looks like a dyke and should probably trade it for a flute. Imagine I were someone who actually gave a shit what other people thought: do you think for a second I wouldn’t have been mortified and taken the man’s advice?
For those of us who manage to find and cling to an instrument we’re passionate about, we’re often treated like morons by the men who work at music stores. I literally could not get service at the Sam Ash in Hollywood. “Got a vadge? Well, then we won’t bother making eye contact with you while we harrass all the men in the store because we’re just going to assume you’re here with your boyfriend. You might want to just wait in the car.”
And what sucks even more about all of this is that there is quite a bit of evidence to support the benefits of music for brain development and other life skills. Half of our children are basically being denied these benefits and it’s fucking pissing me off.