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Whose Girlfriend Are You? Getting Beyond Stereotypes in the Music Industry

Wonka Vision 43 CoverWonka Vision has shipped its first “Women in Rock” issue. Copy editor (and former NYC crime reporter) Ellen Thompson sets it up with an editor’s letter:

…Our main administrative staff is now 90 percent female, yet we’ve managed to fill the pages with articles in which notable women bitch about the disparities between males and females from the metal and punk to the indie and hardcore genres.

Sure we highlight bands like Bleeding Through Walls, along with solo acts such as Kate Nash, illustrating the contributions these women have made to their genres, but those are contributions that merely add glossy shine to the surface. The disparities the notable women in the following pages are bitching about have more to do with what’s not meeting our eyes and ears. It’s the disparities in the boardrooms and recording studios of record labels and in the lighting booths at clubs and venues.

…There are more teenaged girls who know [performers like Avril Lavigne] and what they’ve done than there are adult women who can tell you who Trina Shoemaker is…Shoemaker is the only woman to have won a Grammy for sound engineering.

Inside the magazine there are interviews with Feist, Tegan & Sara, Amy Millan, and a mix of women with far less notoriety.

Band manager, tour manager, and record label lady Kate Hiltz says: “I think it used to me more of an issue than it is now. I used to get a lot more comments like ‘whose girlfriend are you?’”

“Often people think that women in the music business are sluts who got their jobs because they slept with guys,” says freelance photographer Cindy Frey. 

Movement is slow. Ohio State women’s studies professor Susan Burgess speaks to this: “Just like in feminism,” she says, “there are these conflicting threads of oppression and stereotypical norms and progress in rock that continues until this day. But then you also have to acknowldege that serious scholars have said that rock music is most responsible for popularizing feminism.”

That reminds me...