My introduction to gigging in the Edinburgh music scene was playing riot grrrl/feminist gigs, so I found that environment to be a massive contrast to the largely male dominated punk scene. The punk/alternative scene has the potential be an intimidating environment for a young, female musician who is new to the trade, but only if you let it intimidate you! I think the initial feelings of intimidation come down to the stereotypes and onstage demeanor of male punks, but luckily I had the support and mentoring of Caro Marrow (Girls Rock School Edinburgh) which ensured that I won’t take shit from anyone that has preconceptions about my musical ability because I was born with a vagina.
How have you/your peers faced up to these challenges?
Regarding the intimidation factor – when I got up on stage at that first old school punk gig and looked out at the sea of pierced faces, I imagined them all being caught wanking by their mums. But in general, I think it is important to have an empathetic understanding of the indoctrination that has caused certain individuals to perceive woman in this way. That in no way excuses sexist or misogynistic behaviour, but I spent a long time being angry about these things and I think that spreading a positive message is a much more effective way of solving the problem. Hate breeds hate and if we want to move forward as a society, we need to encourage solidarity which starts with education and the discouragement of segregation/discrimination/marginalisation.
At the time I had recently completed the Girls Rock School spring term and felt very inspired by the powerful energy that is created when a room full of women share their intimate creations with one another. Whilst solidarity and equality between the sexes is a massively important thing, it is also important to recognise that creative scenes can often be male centric and the success of female performers can sometimes be attributed to their sexuality, or as a novelty due to their gender. I think it is important that these events take place, to see these women as individuals therefor removing the so called ‘novelty factor’ and to celebrate their creativity.
As a child I grew up idolising front women such as Theo Kogan of The Lunachicks and Debbie Harry of Blondie, purely because of their ability to embody raw power, sexuality and intelligence. During that period of time, pop idols such as Britney Spears were in the spotlight and to discover such a contrasting female persona was mind blowing and awakening for a wee lassie like myself. Entering my teenage years I became infatuated with Kathleen Hanna, with out her involvement in the riot grrrl movement I would not be the happy, confident and strong individual I am today.