I am a female drummer that started playing in the late 1980s. Besides Sheila E., think of another female drummer from that era. I can wait.
No one? Exactly!
Just imagine the resistance I got from men having the hubris to think that I could play on their scale and in their arena. It was brutal! This set into motion the idea that the only way I would be taken seriously was to be better than the guys. Seemingly my only option to succeed was to be a superior player, work harder, and know all sides of the business.
To that end, I started working for Live Nation in 1994. I worked in production but aside from that, I managed many bands including my own. To not only prove that I could but also as a way to control my destiny. I worked myself to the bone to some amazing results. I got lots of work, both playing live and in the studio, and saw a lot of the country. Meeting famous people while at my day gig and having fun experiences at night. At one point my band was nominated for more Detroit Music Awards than any band in history! I thought I was living my dream life and yet I was miserable. This trend went on for almost a few decades and came at a tangible cost. I became mentally, physically, and spiritually empty. One day I broke.
I ended up walking away from all of it a bitter shell of my former self and squarely blamed the business for doing this to me. Did this garner me the respect I craved? By some. Could male drummers be completely incompetent and by default be given the same amount of respect without having to earn it? YEP! But these experiences aren't mutually exclusive. I see my friends struggle still with the same patterns.
Recently a friend of mine had a similar experience. She is a smart doctor who is competent, and frankly overqualified for her job. She has been experiencing some flat out misogyny at work with one of her higher-ups. With a comment here or a joke there. Instead of calling him on his poor (and frankly litigious) behavior, she fell into the trap. She worked even harder to prove that she is as qualified and worthy as her male counterparts. It equated to no additional respect or pay, just exhaustion and fatigue. This highly educated woman took the bait without even realizing it. It was only after we had a conversation about the situation that she snapped out of it and put together what was going on.
My point? It's insidious and yet we all fall for it from time to time. The patriarchy in the U.S. has particularly dug in its heels with this fake notion that women can have it all and men will support that. I laughed a little while typing that because this version of “having it all” means that we get to:
Work a job.
Meanwhile for a man to have it all he has to simply just exist, work a job, and that about covers it.
Ladies, it's time to start standing up for ourselves and demand true equality. It can be harder to get our bearings when the overall culture is just teeming with "Rise and Grind" and "Hustle Harder" mantras. However, the time has come to say enough!
If you find yourself in a situation where you have to work harder for equality and respect simply based on gender, it's best to just walk away. Demand better of yourself and those around you. I am still in the process of learning the hard lesson of when disrespect is being served, I don't want a seat at that table. I will create MY table, invite MY guests, surrounding it with love and mutual respect.