Women Underground - Jenny Tingle

The gender balance of the UKs music scene is improving, especially in the underground gig circuit, which I'm proud to be part of. I love seeing an increase of female musicians on stage and mixed-gender bands.

There is still room for improvement.

If I had a pound for every time I heard a story about other women being creeped on at gigs, I would do a lot less window-shopping in the frozen section at Lidl. My own experiences are often really tame in comparison.

When gigging and busking, I've had unwanted hugs, creepysloppy side-of-face kisses (cos of course I'll turn my mouth away, shell-suited prince charming), persistent hangers-on more than twice my age, Special Brew-fueled marriage proposals (with 5 pence dowry thrown into my busking bucket to sweeten the deal) and a request to buy my t shirt after a show "for the smell".

Its annoying. And sometimes unsettling.

It's the reason that when I busk I take the miniature but sturdy Public Relations Frying Pan with me.

Are female musicians going to get off stages and streets because of sexism? Hell no! But often we feel undermined, marginalised and not taken seriously. Sometimes even threatened.

Men are not the issue here. Most of my band-mates best friends are male and it would be insulting to them to say that men are to blame. Macho culture is a warped ideology. It implies that behavior like this is acceptable, even rewarded, which encourages the objectification of women. This same culture is also responsible for male emotional oppression, which is extremely damaging.

Probably capitalism is to blame for sexism in some form. The root causes of most problems in the world usually bleed trails of money.

So back to the original train of thought: What do i do about it when I'm creeped on? Well I have to own up, most of the time I don't do anything.

When I'm surprised I don't tend to think quickly enough to react. I'm most of the time a little shy and socially inept and brought up to be polite. My chance to react in an appropriately pissed off manner goes past within a matter of seconds (not that the PR frying pan doesn't have its place). So usually all I do is complain afterwards and feel inadequate.

I didn't write this to complain. I think that the remaining people who believe in macho culture will find themselves challenged more and more as they see an increased number of women playing gigs. There will always be a couple of creepy dinosaurs straggling along, just waiting for the meteor of Karma, but the general idea here is to help change these outdated and inappropriate ideas, rather than demonise and divide people. 

We're lucky that here in the UK- compared to many parts of the world, the sexism which most (but definitely not all) women encounter seems next to nothing. That doesn't mean we don't fight our corner of the larger picture.

I'd like my kids (if I choose to have any) to hear about sexism, and think that it's funny because the concept seems so outlandish and unbelievable to their generation. 

There are so many awesome and inspirational women in the UK's music scene; Jo and Nicky D'Arc from The Twistettes, Louise Distras, Lauren Tate from Hands Off Gretel and goth-influenced punk band Curdle to name just a few. To help contribute to the decline of sexism and macho culture I'm going to write a series of articles showcasing female musicians, artists and creatives. The purpose of these interviews isn't to complain, to undermine men or to cast women in the roles of victims of an unfair society - it's to highlight the sheer volume of amazing music, art and creative contributions to the world population made by women right here, right now.

Jenny Tingle