I’ve loved rock ‘n’ roll since I was a little girl. And back then I was happily unaware of the segregation that exists between women and men in the music industry. As a kid, I had never heard of gender roles or discrimination of women or even feminism. I just thought it sounded really cool with distorted guitars, and James Hetfield singing “Sad but True” on MTV was the most awesome thing I had ever seen. I just knew I loved it and that I wanted to do it!
Aaralyn O’Neil was one of the acts on the TV-show America’s Got Talent last year. Her older brother Izzy played the drums while she sang her own original song “Zombie Skin”. Aaralyn’s growling made the female judges’ jaws drop out of fear. The two male judges, however, made “horns up” and gave the kids standing ovations. In the next round, Aaralyn and her brother Izzy performed with another one of her own songs, “Dog Poop”. Mel B, the former Scary Spice who made girl power a people’s movement, said afterwards to the 6-year-old child that she’s a sweet girl and therefore should be singing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”. Heidi Klum said Aaralyn scared her. Two female stars who are supposed to be role models were telling 6-year-old Aaralyn that what she was doing wasn’t acceptable for a little girl. Not because Aaralyn lacks talent, but because she did something DIFFERENT AND UNEXPECTED. I ask you – does girl power really mean going your own way, or is it just another unwritten rule about how women should act to be accepted?
Is rock ’n’ roll for men only? Is expressing the “dark side” of yourself the way Aaralyn did, something that should be kept from girls? Of course not! You’ve got Debbie Harry, Joan Jett, Chrissie Hyde, Patti Smith and Courtney Love to show for it. They are all legendary women who rocked! But that’s five women, compared to about a zillion men. Men get away with drug abuse, beating up their girlfriends and making all kinds of racist, homophobic, and sexist statements (not mentioning any names), but God forbid a female rock star should lose or gain a pound or two.
Rock ’n’ roll IS all about breaking rules, going your own way, going against the establishment, and yet, being a head-banging, growling, singer – and female – is still rare and even controversial today! Women still have to fight twice as hard as men for being accepted and recognized in the business. And even though I have deep admiration for many male rock bands and musicians, I also know that a male musician will never ever understand how it feels when no one listens to you, when no one takes you seriously or when all focus is on your appearance, rather than what you have to say. My band, Mental Monky Ballet, raises many eyebrows because the women are in the majority. Am I the only one who thinks that’s absurd?
About the Author:
Anna Wennersten plays guitar, keyboards, and vocals for Swedish rock band Mental Monky Ballet. Anna Started her performing career in early childhood, always tough, daring and full of ideas. She has a strong belief in justice for all living creatures and is the true activist of the band. Connect with Anna and Mental Monky Ballet here.
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