Yesterday was International Women’s Day. This day is so very important for a plethora of reasons, and it feels only right to pay tribute to women of the past and present who are changing the face of rock and roll.
The music industry at large has long been regarded as a “boy’s club.” Though many advances have been made, it still is to this day. However, this has been especially prevalent in rock and roll. Notorious rock critic Lester Bangs has dwindled down artists such as The Runaways and Debbie Harry to nothing but sex objects, and decades later The Donnas were criticized for being “bad influences” while being interviewed on The View. The reason? Some of their songs were about drinking, partying, and getting the guy. However, this is no different than the content of the songs of many male rock bands that came before them (i.e, KISS, AC/DC, Aerosmith….the list could literally go on forever).
The sexism that has long plagued women in the music industry is disgraceful, but it’s time to pay homage to the women who have forged and are currently forging the rightful path for women in rock. Below are some of the many notable women whose message and body of work is worthy of one’s time and attention not just on that special day, but any day.
California, 1974. Two fifteen year old girls, Joan Larkin and Sandy Pesavento, have just met through notorious music producer Kim Fowley.
Larkin had just moved from Philadelphia and recently picked up a guitar, whereas Pesavento, a California native, had been playing drums for a few years. When they played together, it was obvious they had the foundations for something special. After recruiting a Sherman Oaks high schooler named Cherie Currie, established young guitarist Lita Ford, and bookworm Jackie Fuchs, Joan Larkin became Joan Jett, Sandy Pesavento became Sandy West, and The Runaways-one of the first all female rock bands-was born.
The Runaways took the world by storm. Not only were they pioneers for women in rock, but the ages of all five members ranged from fifteen to seventeen. They made history, and they were also made targets. Rock and roll was still very much a “boy’s club” at the time, and society did not respond well to young girls going up on stage and doing something that has traditionally been done by grown men only-and doing it just as good as them.
The Runaways not only showed the world that women can do anything, but that young women can do anything.
Click here to listen to their hit, “Cherry Bomb”
Bleached is making waves with the recent release of their new EP “Can You Deal?”, with the title track being centered around the band’s experience with the media branding them as “female musicians” instead of simply “musicians.” Putting “female” in front of a title of a profession is extremely degrading, as it implies that the individual(s) is/are “good for a girl” as opposed to just being “good.” Mass media is more than guilty of perpetuating this, and Bleached uses “Can You Deal?” to flip this the bird.
The chorus of the song minces no words and wastes no time getting to the song’s core message. Lead vocalist Jennifer Clavin sings, “Yeah I’m a girl and I play in a band/Can you deal?”
Really, that says it all.
Click here to listen to “Can You Deal?”
CLEMENTINE CREEVY OF CHERRY GLAZERR
Though she hasn’t even reached legal drinking age, rocker Clementine Creevy has been packing a punch in the contemporary music industry for years as the leader of Cherry Glazerr. Crete’s work with Cherry Glazerr immaculately captures the grace and grit of being young and female through songs such as “Whites Not My Color This Evening,” “Bloody Bandaid,” and-of course-“Teenage Girl.”
Creevy continues to reach new heights with Cherry Glazerr’s most recent album, “Apocalipstick,” which was released last month. The band’s lineup and sound have changed over time, but one thing that hasn’t is Clementine Creevy’s creative fearlessness and relentless talent.
Click here to listen to “Whites Not My Color This Evening”
GRACE McKAGAN OF THE PINK SLIPS
19 year old rocker Grace McKagan is the audacious lead singer of The Pink Slips, a California-based bad that has been making a name for itself in the west coast music scene. The Pink Slips’ songs celebrate independence and self expression, and through these songs McKagan shows the world that young women aren’t afraid to say exactly what’s on their minds. Dynamic and musically innovative, Grace McKagan embodies the very essence of rock and roll authority.
Click here to listen to “Bratty Attitude”
Punk rock superstar Patti Smith has an incredible story. After coming to New York City in her early 20s, she found herself with nowhere to live and with very little money. However, she was fueled by her dream so immensely that hope kept her afloat during these times of uncertainty. Over time, she went from being a homeless poet to one of the creators of punk rock.
Patti Smith was one of the first iconic female front women and forged a path for the many who would come after her. Her unparalleled lyrical abilities and sense of creative freedom and abandonment were hallmarks of her music. After all, one does not simply become labeled as the ‘godmother of punk’ for creating just any old work of art.
Click here to listen to “High on Rebellion”
BRIDGET BATTLE OF TWEENS
Cincinnati trio Tweens is fronted by powerhouse Bridget Battle, who rounds out the band’s unique sound with vocal stylings that drip sweetness and sass. Their self-titled album features one rollicking track after another, and includes a remarkable cover of The Teardrops’ “I’m Gonna Steal Your Boyfriend.”
The album covers a vast variety of topics ranging from crushes, wanting to stay out late and experience what the night has to offer, boredom, and noncommittal relationships. This sheds light on the raw, nitty gritty aspects of womanhood-something that society still views as taboo for women to be sharing and experiencing
However, the lyrics Battle sings tackles the experience of being a woman with a (much needed) edge.
Society has used and abused the term “boys will be boys,” and Battle shows the world that the characteristics and often associated with this phrase (i.e, “casual” relationships, the urge to break away, jadedness, grit, determination, lust) are just as much of a “girl thing” as well.
Click here to listen to “Be Mean”
This list could be added to and written forever-the women listed here are merely only a glimpse at the infinite badassery women in the music industry have been and currently are engaging in.
Rock and roll isn’t just for the boys. It never was. The women in this industry are, and have been, kicking ass. Female musicians have to deal with unthinkable obstacles. For prevailing in spite of this, they are completely hardcore and bring an entirely new definition to what it means to be a rocker.
In honor of International Women’s Day, please take time to support the work of female artists in any way you can. They deserve it.