Is This a Man’s World or Can Anybody Play?

Once there were four women, who played instruments, sang and wrote songs
They rehearsed, they recorded, they travelled to different towns and countries
To play their music to people they’d never met.
One day their manager demanded they changed the way they dressed and the music they composed and unless they wrote hit singles and looked more sexy,
Their instruments would be taken away and they would not be allowed to perform.
We ignore him and continue as we are.
He drives the van away, full of our equipment
Ninety days pass before he is persuaded to see the error of his ways.

For a century and more, many women, including Memphis Minnie, Sister Rosetta Tharpe,
Bonnie Raitt, The Slits, The Bangles, Gail Ann Dorsey, Tina Weymouth, Sheila E. have proved and continue to prove that a woman can make music as good as any man,
But it seems they are still just exceptions that prove a well entrenched rule.

Sitting on a bus heading for the Elephant and Castle, carrying my guitar case
‘What’s in the there?’ says the man sat in the next seat.
‘A bass guitar.’ I say.
He grabs hold of my hand.
‘You can’t play the bass with hands that small.’

Arriving for a soundcheck: ‘We’re not open yet’
‘We’re the band’
‘You’re with the band?’

In clubs after gigs:
‘I’ve never seen a woman play guitar that fast
What drugs are you taking?’

‘I can’t believe you can hit the drums that hard
Can I feel your muscles?’

‘Who writes your solos?’

And Carol Kaye, a well respected session bass guitarist and mother of two,
Who’d spent years playing on hit records like Pet Sounds, Da Doo Ron Ron, River Deep Mountain High,
Had to ask Motown to confirm she’d played on many of their tracks too, including Baby Love, I Can’t Help Myself and Stop in the Name of Love…
Because so many people refused to believe a woman played those basslines.

Some rules are made for breaking, this one should be made extinct.

Jackie Parsons