Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Where Are the Guitar Chicks?

I came across this article titled ‘No Girls Allowed’ by David Segal on why the world of rock guitarists is surprisingly devoid of any female inhabitants.

Some excerpts.

He first points out that this phenomenon isn’t due to a lack of musical talent among girls.

And let's quickly ditch one possibility: Women aren't great electric guitarists because they lack innate talent or discipline or musical intuition. That's silly. Any list of the greatest living violinists of the world would include at least 50 women and probably many more. And we're not talking about the middle or bottom of the pack. We're talking near or at the top of the list, where you'd see names like Anne-Sophie Mutter, Victoria Mullova, Hilary Hahn, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg -- names provided to me by people who actually know classical music. The violin is far more difficult than the guitar. Violins terrify guitar players the way trigonometry scares high school freshmen. It looks impossible.

So all you chuckleheads out there who were thinking, This is simple: Chicks can't rock because, you know, they can't rock, take out your blue books and try again.


One of the reasons he states is that women were slower to get into the rock guitar scene, and hence weren’t present in the first wave of great guitarists. This in turn led to there being fewer female role models for the next generation. (Girls are apparently more influenced by other girls. Surprise? ‘Course not!)

Of course, sociological factors do play a great role. For some reason, playing the guitar (electric, at least) isn’t very feminine. He writes:

"Rock is a male form," she [Camille Paglia, Professor of Humanities and Media Studies, University of the Arts, Philadelphia] says, speaking at just under 150 miles per hour. "For an adolescent boy, your guitar speaks for you, it says what you can't say in real life, it's the pain you can't express, it's rage, hormones pumping. Women can be strangers and all of a sudden have an intimate conversation. Boys can't do that. The guitar for a boy speaks to an aggressive sexual impulse and suppressed emotionality, the things that boys can't share, even with other members of the band. It's a combination of rage and reserve and ego."

And,

The sociologists will tell you that sex, as opposed to gender, is key, too. Boys learn guitar to meet girls. For a girl, outplaying the boys onstage isn't necessarily a shortcut to the male heart.

"Boys are raised to attract women through their accomplishments," said John Ryan, head of the sociology department at Virginia Tech. "When women do get into display, it's more along the lines of Britney Spears. You don't hear a lot of critics raving about her music, or even her great voice. It's about her physical appearance and her fashion.

"The 9-year-old girl isn't badgering her daddy to buy her a guitar. She's in her room fantasizing about the clothes her band will wear while she's leading it."

Meanwhile, the boys are working out all that youthful rage and scheming to meet girls by practicing Led Zeppelin riffs in their bedrooms, for five hours at a stretch.


It’s an excellently written article. Do read all of it.

11 comments:

Saurabh said...

Good post ... :)

Arnold said...

saurabh - thanks man... i really like the article!

Anna said...

sex, sex, sex, hits for your blog, sex, sex, sex, swedish women, sex, sex, libertarian ideas, misogynistic post ideas, sex, sex, sex...
Is that all you think about?

Arnold said...

anna - well, other than "food" .. u've nailed it..

Agarwaen Mormegil said...

good one, dude.
rock and roll of course a male form of art. the music, its expression ad presentation can't be done by females. though females have been successful at obscure sub-genres of rock.

ambi said...

how cum u dint mention what a hard time the guys gave that all-women canadian rock band...becuz of the stupid stereotype that women arent supposed to be rockers or bcuz they felt intimidated that women would conquer THEIR territory? and agarwaen mormegil, "rock and roll of course a male form of art"...that isnt perchance a (gasp!!) CHAUVINISTIC statement, no...could it be??

Arnold said...

Agarwaen Mormegil - dude! tht's a bold statement to make about girls and rock n roll.. have a feeling you're going to be copping some flak from people here..

ambi - well, i couldnt mention everything... that's why u're supposed to read the article for things like that..

FateGlimpse said...

lol anna. yup its true plenty of guys do learn to play the guitar hoping to score. nice post. (atleast wasn't on cosmetic issues)

Arnold said...

fateglimpse - u know, the earlier post had nuthing to do with cosmetics... tht was only brought up with a couple of commenters!

ruhey said...

hmmm..arnold...i liked the article...oh and btw I used to learn the guitar, and the best part was the expression on a guy's face if u learnt a chord or a lead faster than them...haha...they sure got offended...

Arnold said...

ruhey - cool.. i love girls who can play guitar.. too bad u're in nigeria!