Reading this article reminded me of when I first picked up the guitar in grade 5. My mom had an old classical guitar and a beginner-level book lying around so I started teaching myself. It's ridiculous thinking back now, but during that time, I kept it a secret from all my peers and when the topic ever came up in class since other boys were starting to learn it as well, I pretended that I didn't know how to play. I recall being afraid of what others would think if they knew. As a child, all I knew was that I needed to fit in, and trying to suppress my Chinese-ness was already an issue (though now I know it shouldn't be). From my understanding, it was inappropriate - socially unacceptable - for girls to play guitar. It was a boy's instrument.
In a time before the internet, my knowledge on the music industry came solely from Much Music, which exposed me to artists like Sum 41, Blink-182, the Spice Girls and Britney Spears. From the music videos I watched, I made the connection that only guys played instruments. Girls were supposed to look pretty while singing and dancing.
It's so fascinating thinking back to my early understanding of social norms. I was so concerned with trying to fit in with the outside world that it never once occurred to me that there was a female guitarist right in front of me - my mom. Of course, as I grew up I started to be exposed to more female guitarist friends (also Avril Lavigne happened), which told me that what I was doing was actually okay.
Nowadays I'm more into music production, so I'm more interested in keeping up-to-date with the realm of female producers. The internet definitely helps us discover more diverse artists, but still, there's not nearly enough because I find my main role models to still be mostly guys. The lack of female producers might give off the idea that it's not a role suited for females. As much as I hate to admit it, when I find a female music producer, I will (at least initially) be skeptical of her abilities. I think it's because when it comes to females, the music industry will always flaunt their looks, while skills are secondary and not entirely necessary. Because of this, I'm always questioning their "legitimacy". When I see pictures of pretty female DJs in provocative clothing, I always wonder if they have any idea what they're doing.
So how can we combat these gender stereotypes and imbalance in the music industry? I have no idea (teehee) but in regards to the next generation, I think it was well articulated in the article:
"Encouraging women toward production rather than performance should start as early as possible — from childhood, even. It means putting meritorious emphasis on skill (the way we do for boys), rather than on being seen and admired. By offering and actively encouraging alternative profiles in music where young girls can begin to see themselves as more than just clothes, pretty faces, and style icons, we might start to see more women work behind the scenes in the art of music making."