Where’s the sisterhood?

My short-lived stint in an all-girl band Gaol B8 (JailBait) was the best thing I ever did with my life. I never considered myself a serious musician, but I secretly dreamt of being in a band and as the end of high school crept up, I knew it was my last chance to make it happen. In my eyes, no matter how big I thought my nose was or flat my chest remained, being a girl in a band would make me both cooler and prettier. My fellow JailBaitians had the actual talent and I got to go along for the ride. I played the tambourine like nobody’s business. Instantly my life became more glamorous: band practices in basements, free bar tabs, recording in Wellington High School boys’ toilets (best acoustics) and bruises from tambourining too hard. What started off as an excuse for scheduled drinking sessions with my best friends ended up with a written album, playing gigs around Wellington and even a thriving Facebook ‘fanbase’ (it mainly attracted creepy old men but with a name like ours that was expected). Gaol B8 was killing it.

I remember after gigs people telling us it was so cool we were an all-girl band and how Wellington needed more. We had never thought much of it, but there were just two other all-girl bands playing in Wellington at the time. After going to see one of these bands perform, I overheard the singer complaining to some guy about how “the JailBait singer tries to be me”. As far as I was concerned, the similarities ended with the long blonde hair and the singing in a band. Hearing this sucked, especially coming from someone who sung so explicitly about feminism – something we all admired and supported. It made me wonder: why doesn’t every guy in a band with long hair, tattoos and a beard think everyone’s copying him?

Many scenes, not just in music, are still very much male-dominated: being a DJ, rapper, skater, chef – the list goes on. But it’s not about “guys only” just as much as it’s not about “girls only.” Being a feminist doesn’t mean you must be the number one fan of every girl band, but if a girl feels confident enough to do her thing in a male-dominated scene, shouldn’t we give her support, not another reminder that she doesn’t fit in? Claiming you’re being ‘copied’ like there’s only room for one female band in the world is selling you and girls everywhere short. I was lucky enough not to feel like I “needed” feminism as much as other girls my age did. I was happily ignorant mainly because I was surrounded by girlfriends, sisters and women I saw doing whatever they wanted without feeling crippled or like some “exception” for being a girl, something that encouraged me to do the same.

Unfortunately, we live in a world where the media encourage cattiness over sisterhood. Apparently we care so much about the mindless bickering of botoxed old women that The Real Housewives of Auckland is actually happening. This obsession with pinning girls against each other may make great reality TV, but it happens in real life all too often. Let’s ignore the shitty portrayals of female friendship that say we can only compare, compete and bitch about each other. I know we’re all better than that.

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