Repeater: 001.3: Experiences of Women as Performers

The final part of this is to deal with the issues women have as performers – be that in bands, as DJs, or as other performers in a musical space.

Any performer, of course, should be allowed to do their thing without any form of audience interference. There may be audience interaction, but anything else is beyond the pale. In addition, they should also be able to do their preparation for performance without discrimination, being patronised, or worse.

Sadly all of these clearly happen, as these comments show.

Obviously, please bear in mind that there are some pretty distressing stories amid this, and a number feature some fairly graphic descriptions of what happened – some of these stories describe serious sexual assaults and rape as well as sexist behaviour. Readers are advised to be cautious, particularly those likely to be triggered by such descriptions.


I’ve had a problem with a member of one of our larger scene bands, who have been called out for misogyny before. He shouted “What’s SHE doing on stage” when we were supporting them… I replied “SHE is setting up her drum kit”. I know other women have had problems with him too. He also accused me of letting my friends in for free, when I’d spent months busting a gut selling tickets… I earned them £2000 of which I got £70!

I was talking to another band’s merch girl couple of years back, and she’d had run-ins with him too… She’s nearly 6′ tall, and his first words to her were “wow you’re tall… bet you like big men”, while grabbing his groin. What a charmer! [names and bands involved have been removed]

“Being told how to set own pedals up. Being told how to use own amp. “Helped” to carry own amp. Punched in the face for talking before a gig started.”

I’ve been lucky on the whole… I’ve never been groped at a gig, but then I never get sexual abuse on the street either.

A couple of times backstage I’ve been asked whose girlfriend I am, I usually just say “the drummer’s”!

Being told how to set own pedals up. Being told how to use own amp. “Helped” to carry own amp. PUNCHED IN THE FACE FOR TALKING BEFORE A GIG STARTED.

Being asked when “the real sound engineer” will arrive.
Repeatedly having corsets undone and had abuse hurled at me when I’ve told them to leave me alone.
Repeatly groped because “you dykes need a good fucking”
The list goes on and on.

I have found however metal gigs and clubs contain quite few advocates. People prepared to back me up, even though they don’t know me.

I have a friend who is a bass player and if her husband carries her bass in for her when she’s setting up for a gig everyone talks to him and assumes she’s just the dumb groupie accompanying him. When she announces she’s the actual bass player 95% of the other artists go quiet and won’t speak to her.

It’s true. Soundcheck takes the form of “can you tell the bassist to turn the bass up?” I’M RIGHT HERE

If I could count the times I’ve had ‘oh you only get DJ sets cause you’re pretty’, ‘well who did you sleep with for this one’, it being assumed I’m with a DJ rather than doing the work, being told I couldn’t know how to set up/run things

Then I nearly got kicked out a club in London as some guy try to insert fingers into me so I punched him in the face

I’ve had multiple times of people trying to grab at me or thinking that wearing a short skirt gives them a right. I don’t feel safe in my usual clothes in many clubs outside the scene and even at Goth nights will often go off and get changed.

Then add to that that I won’t travel to a night in the outfit I’m wearing even if I’m with a group I trust

* had someone come and adjust the tone on my guitar while it was attached to me -(I’m in a band)
* be told that I couldn’t use my distortion pedal because “the lights affect the sound”
* not being able to get anywhere near the front or even anywhere I can see -I have previously plucked up the courage to ask a very tall man if he could switch places with me only to be snorted at.
* been physically picked up and moved out of the way of a male audience member….

“I put on my gigs, mostly full of women, and men are made to stand at the side or back, and behave themselves, and it’s much better”

As a performer … sound men grabbing my bass and adjusting my sound without asking me, telling me I just had to sing louder (“cup your hands round the microphone love, it will make your little voice bigger”), and promoters automatically putting my all-female band on a lower billing than solo male performers.
Now I put on my gigs, mostly full of women, and men are made to stand at the side or back, and behave themselves, and it’s much better

Too many groping stories to repeat them all but one in particular I remember because it creeped me out so bad. Had just finished playing a show with my band when two guys came up to me and, without saying a word, one of them put his hand between my legs from the front and the other one from the back. They didn’t speak but the one in front of me stared right into my eyes. Totally in shock I wriggled free of them and went to stand with my (male) bandmates nearby. I told my bandmates what had just happened but they acted just kind of helpless and slightly like they didn’t really believe that could have happened. The two men just stood nearby looking at me after that and creeped me the fuck out.

Thanks for reading. If you identify as male, please consider your actions and comments with regard to this.

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