women classical composers good for a girl

You never hear about women classical composers, aye?

So thanks to Anne Midgette at the Washington Post for compiling this list of awesome classical music composers who have VAGINAS*
*or maybe they don’t but i just like saying that.

Settle in, grab yourself a good book and a cuppa tea, and bliss out this weekend to these fab classical pieces composed by women.

This article originally appeared on The Washington Post and is written by Anne Midgette


 


Composer Missy Mazzoli, whose next opera will be premiered by the Washington National Opera in January. (Marylene Mey)

NPR’s recent list of the 150 greatest albums by women was inspiring — but where were the composers? In the wake of much discussion about the chronic underrepresentation of female composers on American concert programs, I came up with my own best-of list. Since I was responding to a list of recordings, I confined myself to artists active in the recorded music era, the 20th and 21st centuries — leaving out Hildegard von BingenFanny MendelssohnClara Wieck SchumannBarbara StrozziMarianne Martinez, and many others. My selections are based on a combination of personal preference and some idea of what constitutes “importance,” and it was hard to winnow it down to only 35.

Meredith Monk:

One of the musical pioneers of our time, Meredith Monk has been carving out her own channels through the artistic landscape since the 1960s, defying categorization with work that used to be characterized as “dance” but now is clearly “composition.” Monk’s trademark is extended vocal technique, mining the voice for expressive possibilities not contained within the established conventions of Western notation. With evocative titles like “Turtle Dreams” or “Dolmen Music,” her work has the feeling of a myth you’ve always known, rooted in our collective historical unconscious, offering a sense of deja vu in pieces that take the form of dreamlike narratives or “operas” (“Book of Days”), or of devotionals (“Songs of Ascension”). Now 74, she is working in an increasingly rich, instrument-based idiom, but has lost none of what she has called her “sense of wonder.”

Caroline Shaw:

When she won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013, Shaw, 35, a violinist and singer, didn’t even consider herself a composer per se. But her “Partita for 8 Voices,” composed for the vocal group Roomful of Teeth(of which she is a member), a sequence of riffs on Baroque dance forms with a wide range of unusual vocal effects, got the attention of the Pulitzer jury. Shaw’s distinctive, lyrical vocal writing also got notice from the rapper Kanye West, who has both performed and released tracks with Shaw (including a remix of the song “Say You Will”). Recognition hasn’t changed Shaw’s honest, serious approach as she explores new musical idioms and forms — like her first-ever piece for orchestra (with solo violin), “Lo,” premiered by the North Carolina Symphony at the Shift festival in Washington in March. “It is a strikingly original and moving work that rethinks what orchestral writing can be,” Simon Chin wrote in The Washington Post.

Joan Tower:

A doyenne of American orchestral composers, Tower, 78, is known to many for her six “Fanfares for the Uncommon Woman,” a pendant to Aaron Copland’s ubiquitous musical prelude. However, these are relatively small works in a catalogue that has moved from early serialism to music that is impressionistic, colorful, and direct, like “Sequoia” (1981). Another signature piece, “Made in America” (2006), was performed in all 50 states before taking a Grammy award for Best Classical Composition in 2008. Tower has taught composition at Bard College in Upstate New York for 4½ decades, and co-founded the Da Capo Chamber Players in 1969 as a forum for her own and other contemporary works. (She left the ensemble in 1984.) In music, she told an interviewer in 2015, “the gender issue is nonexistent. … Now, outside the music, there’s all sorts of problems!”

Kaija Saariaho:

The Finnish composer, 64, had a new wave of publicity when the Metropolitan Opera performed her “L’Amour de Loin” last season, but she came to international attention when the piece was first premiered at the Salzburg Festival in 2000. Saariaho’s music is characterized by surging, luminous tones and textures, large masses of sound that move and change, more static meditations than dramatic journeys. Saariaho got her international start working in Paris at IRCAM, the computer and electronic music center founded by Pierre Boulez, and the resulting analytic sensibility and ability to consider music as sound, and sound as music has left its traces on her acoustic scores. But her work is anything but abstract, tied into a range of other human experiences and perception: sight and space, love and motherhood. “Long after the curtain goes down, you feel that you are still swimming along in her sound,” the musicologist Susan McClary told The New Yorker in 2016.

Pauline Oliveros:

Oliveros, who died in 2016 at the age of 84, was a pioneer of tape music, creating works like the poignant “Bye Bye Butterfly,” which puts a recording of Puccini’s opera “Madame Butterfly” through a sequence of electronic filters, or “Crone Music,” which refracts and multiplies the sound of her own accordion. She is best remembered, though, for the work that she developed under the rubric “Deep Listening,” the name for both a trio of performers and a program based on the concepts of active listening and responding to other musicians. “Deep Listening” also underlined the autonomy of the individual in deciding how to create and experience music, liberating music’s practice from the restrictions of the Western canon — particularly with regard to female composers. “They are not necessarily intended to be concert pieces,” she told New Music Box in 2000, speaking of her seminal “Sonic Meditations.” “I turned the paradigm around by saying, ‘Okay, you make the music.’ ”

Julia Wolfe:

In 1987, three young composers, David Lang, Michael Gordon, and Julia Wolfe, responded to their frustrations with the academic new-music scene by hosting a marathon performance featuring music of every style and stripe — and Bang on a Can was born. The organization has since spawned an ensemble, a record label, and summer festival, as well as the annual marathon; and all three composers have become elder statesmen of what’s been termed alt-classical music. Wolfe, 58, won a Pulitzer Prize in 2015 for “Anthracite Fields,” an oratorio about life in the Pennsylvania coal mines; she is also a recent MacArthur Fellow. Like her fellow Bang on a Can composers (she is married to Gordon), she has been moving from shorter intense kinetic works, such as “Lick” (2009), to longer narrative ones: a piece about women in American labor will be premiered by the New York Philharmonic in 2018-19.

 

Sofia Gubaidulina:

Like her colleague Arvo Part, Gubaidulina, 85, found refuge in music from the restrictions of life under the Soviet regime, seeing music as a link to the Divine in the face of proscription and blacklisting that kept her work unperformed for many years. A difference is that Gubaidulina’s music is more conventionally dramatic: like the dark outbursts and suffocated solo-line outcries of the violin concerto “Offertorium,” which Gidon Kremer helped champion in the West. Another champion was Mstislav Rostropovich, for whom she wrote “Canticle of the Sun,” a cello concerto with chorus. Drawing on musical traditions from both East and West, Gubaidulina has explored folk music and instruments like the bayan, a Russian accordion. In 1992, she moved to Germany, where she has been able to enjoy her tremendous international renown.

Missy Mazzoli:

Already an established fixture on the Brooklyn scene with her band, Victoire (which played DC in 2011), the 36-year-old Mazzoli came to the attention of a wider audience in 2016 with her second opera, “Breaking the Waves,” which brought the lyricism of Benjamin Britten through a filter of Louis Andriessen into the 21st century. “It’s so easy to create an idea of what my music is based on its labels: classical, indie-classical, post-minimal, contemporary, chamber-pop, opera, orchestral, etc.,” she said in a 2015 interview. “None of these words really tells you anything about how the music sounds or how you will feel about it.” She’s written for orchestras like the Los Angeles Philharmonic, but her signature works remain vocal: from her first, acclaimed opera, “Song from the Uproar,” to the pop-song like “Cathedral City.” Her third opera, “Proving Up,” will be premiered in January as part of the Washington National Opera’s American Opera Initiative.

Jennifer Higdon:

One of today’s most-performed living composers, Higdon, 54, embodies a combination particularly appealing to American audiences: She’s at once a maverick and, in a certain way, a conservative. Self-taught until college, espousing no particular aesthetic school, she writes smart music that is not ashamed to be tonal, and beautiful. “Blue Cathedral,” one of the most-performed of all contemporary works, is a lush wash of tonalities throbbing through the orchestra. A teacher at the Curtis Institute, where she got her own graduate degree, she has formed relationships with some illustrious students, writing her vivid violin concerto, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2010, for Hilary Hahn, and her piano concerto, which the National Symphony Orchestra premiered in 2009, for Yuja Wang. In 2015 her first opera, “Cold Mountain,” had a success in its world premiere at the Santa Fe Opera. “If my music is not communicating,” she said in 2012, “I feel it’s not doing its job.”

Lili Boulanger:

Most rosters of great female composers include Nadia Boulanger, the composer, conductor, and influential teacher to a couple of generations of composers. But Nadia devoted considerable energies to keeping alive the memory of her sister, Lili, a child prodigy who died in 1918 at 24, having been the first woman to win the prestigious Prix de Rome — with a big symphonic cantata, “Faust et Helene,” that like many Prix de Rome-winning pieces is a little too cumbersome and weighty to fully reveal the strengths of a composer whose best work is packed with color and light. Yannick Nezet-Seguin and the Philadelphia Orchestra gave a fine reading of her sun-dappled “D’un matin de printemps” when they last appeared here in January, though her best-known short work is probably the “Pie Jesu” — possibly the only surviving section of a planned Requiem she did not live to finish.

Augusta Read Thomas, 53

An unabashed high modernist — no concessions to pop music here! — with a lyrical and even antic streak, Thomas writes uncompromising but engaging works with evocative titles drawn from her extensive reading of poetry. A former composer in residence with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, she is first and foremost an orchestral composer whose work has been extensively performed — but because of union contracts and the fact that many of her premieres happened before orchestras such as Chicago started fielding their own recording labels, her work has been notably underrecorded. She got tenure at Eastman when she was only 33; she has since had other teaching posts and is now on the faculty at the University of Chicago.

Germaine Tailleferre, 1892-1983

The only female member of the group of French composers known as “Les Six” (which included Poulenc, Honegger, and Milhaud), Tailleferre was prolific throughout her lifetime but is best known for the work she wrote in the 1920s and 1930s when “Les Six” were most active. Although “Les Six” were partly conceived as a reaction against Wagner and the impressionism of Debussy, there is a French lightness to much of Tailleferre’s work. She moved between France and the United States a couple of times, leaving many of her manuscripts behind during the war years, and much of the music she wrote in the last decades of her life, when she taught music to children at a school in Paris, was not published until after her death.

Ruth Crawford Seeger, 1901-1953

The first woman to win a Guggenheim fellowship (in 1930), Crawford Seeger was a hugely influential American modernist composer whose string quartet left its mark on Elliott Carter and others. She became a significant figure in American music after Henry Cowell put her on the board of his New Music Society in the 1920s, with a host of significant compositions — her Three Songs set to poems by her friend Carl Sandburg represented the United States at the 1933 festival of the International Society for Contemporary Music in Amsterdam. Yet as the demands of family and her involvement with preserving American folk music took over (she was married to the musicologist Charles Seeger; Pete Seeger was her stepson; and Mike and Peggy Seeger, two of her four children), she gradually moved away from art-music composition to more folk-oriented work, from collections of folk-song adaptations to pieces such as “Risselty Rossolty, an American fantasy for orchestra,” written for an educational radio series.

Du Yun, 40

Her second opera, “Angel’s Bone,” with its haunting use of chorus and electronics woven around the solo voices in a searing story, was awarded the 2017 Pulitzer Prize in music. Born to factory workers in China, initially trained as a pianist, Du Yun has parlayed degrees from Oberlin and Harvard into a career as a teacher and administrator — she is artistic director of the MATA festival, a cutting-edge event for new music — as well as a composer. Her piece “Dreaming of the Phoenix,” a contemporary take on the early Chinese-opera form kunqu, was performed at the Sackler in 2013; in The Washington Post, Stephen Brookes wrote that her “delicate and ethereal score . . . seemed to come alive with the shimmering mystery of a half-remembered dream.”

Anna Clyne, 37

London-born, Brooklyn-dwelling Clyne writes well-crafted music with close links to narrative, which makes her a natural for the ballet stage (“Rift,” for example, written in 2016 for the Cabrillo festival, is described as a “symphonic ballet”). Her music often incorporates electronic components in uneasy partnership with the acoustic instruments, as in “Seamstress,” her violin concerto written for Jennifer Koh, who also premiered her double concerto, “Prince of Clouds,” with Jaime Laredo — both with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, where Clyne was composer in residence for five years. A mentor has been Marin Alsop, who commissioned Clyne’s “Masquerade” for her appearance conducting the last night of the BBC Proms in 2013.

Anna Thorvaldsdottir, 40

Already boasting a Deutsche Grammophon album devoted entirely to her work, the Icelandic composer creates atmospheric pieces: physical installations, or orchestral clouds of sound, in which one can bathe in the textures and contemplate the unconventional techniques used in creating details emerging from the whole. It is intricate and meditative music and is getting a lot of play these days; the International Contemporary Ensemble performed her installation “In the Light of Air” at the Atlas in the District a couple of years back, and Alan Gilbert led her “Aeriality” in one of his final concerts as music director of the New York Philharmonic this season.

Lera Auerbach, 43

The multitalented Russian American performer-composer — who is also a published poet — writes emotional, heart-on-the sleeve music steeped in nostalgia and a deep knowledge of the canon, including adaptations of and homages to composers from Mozart to Shostakovich, but tinged with unusual colors, like a theremin. She has written for many of the world’s leading orchestras — the New York Philharmonic premiered her latest violin concerto, “NYx: Fractured Dreams” in January, and several of her works have been performed at the Kennedy Center over the years, including “Requiem for Icarus,” a reworking of the last movements of her first symphony. Also a pianist, Auerbach recently recorded her own violin-and-piano version of Shostakovich’s 24 preludes, along with her own sonata “Arcanum,” on ECM.

Paola Prestini, 42

An ambitious entrepreneur, Prestini functions as both the mastermind behind large-scale performance projects and a kind of new-music activist, creating performance opportunities for a whole cadre of artists — most recently at National Sawdust, the factory-turned-performance-space she co-founded and runs in Brooklyn. Her own work runs to evening-length performance works and operas tackling ambitious and weighty themes about life and death and the cosmos, with music generally better than its themes, like the opera “Oceanic Verses,” an exploration of Italian folk music and the fate of women, performed at the Kennedy Center in 2012.

Unsuk Chin, 56

Born and raised in Korea and resident in Berlin, Chin writes music that reflects neither place as much as an eclectic and sometimes humorous approach of her own. There’s a healthy admixture of European postmodernism in works like “Acrostic Wordplay” from 1991, the first piece that gained her wide attention after she moved to Hamburg to study with Ligeti and others in 1985. The 2007 opera “Alice in Wonderland,” a quirky piece that definitely doesn’t follow the template of children’s opera, has been performed around the world and will be followed by “Through the Looking Glass,” scheduled to be premiered in London in 2018/2019.

Eve Beglarian, 59

An experimental composer and performer, Beglarian writes genre-defying, intimate music that resists categorization: a collage of sound and effect, voice and electronics, written for everything from a rock band to a found recording, and sometimes responding to collaborators such as Maya Beiser or a concept like kayaking down the Mississippi River, which resulted in “BRIM: the river project.” Her ongoing “Book of Days” is creating a kind of musical devotional book-cum-diary in excerpts and musical vignettes with texts by creators including Rilke the I Ching, expressed in an equally diverse musical vocabulary.

Sarah Kirkland Snider

Dense, layered, large-scale works for voice and instruments, probing the past, are a hallmark of this New Jersey-born composer. Rrecordings of her song cycles, including “Unremembered” (2015) and “Penelope” (2010), have won critical plaudits. (In The Washington Post, Tom Huizenga called “Unremembered” “a study in the beguiling power of memory.”) Snider is also a co-director of New Amsterdam Records, one of the main outlets for contemporary new-music recordings, with a de facto emphasis on the Brooklyn scene.

Laura Kaminsky, 60

Kaminsky has an extensive background in teaching and administration in addition to a long catalogue of chamber and orchestral works. The success of her first chamber opera, “As One” (2014), a poignant and effective piece about the transition of a transgender woman, has led to a new burst of activity for her on the chamber-opera scene; after “Some Light Emerges” for the Houston Grand Opera (2017), she is working on a new chamber piece for a consortium led by the San Francisco’s Opera Parrallele.

Gabriela Lena Frank, 44

Multiculturalism is an integral part of Frank’s extensive work. A sometimes member of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble, she often writes for non-Western instruments and explores her Peruvian heritage (on her mother’s side) in pieces such as “Leyendas: an Andean walkabout,” mingling folk feeling with compositional sophistication.

Lisa Bielawa, 48

A vocalist and composer who co-founded the MATA festival with support from Philip Glass, to whose ensemble she belonged for some time, Bielawa has written a number of pieces juxtaposing voice and acoustic instruments in small ensembles but is increasingly aiming larger with pieces such as “Hypermelodia” for big band, chamber orchestra and percussion. Her current project is “Vireo,” an opera crafted to be released in broadcast form, like a television serial.

Melinda Wagner, 60

Winner of the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for her Concerto for Flute, Strings and Percussion, Wagner has been commissioned by a panoply of American orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic (her energetic trombone concerto was written for Joseph Alessi) and the Chicago Symphony (which premiered her piano concerto for Emanuel Ax). Her music is non-allusive but has an engaging, propulsive continuity.

Galina Ustvolskaya, 1919-2006

Strongly supported by her teacher, Shostakovich, Ustvolskaya was among those composers who remained little-performed under the Soviets. She worked steadily, however, ultimately moving past the audible influence of her teacher to create an oeuvre of dark, brutal uncompromising work. “Scream into Space” is the subtitle of her second symphony, which describes the sense of futile anguish evident in many of her pieces.

Shulamit Ran, 67

The second woman to win the Pulitzer Prize (for her Symphony, in 1991), the Israeli-born Ran has lived in Chicago for most of her professional life, where she was composer in residence with the Chicago Symphony Orhcestra for seven seasons and, until recently, taught at the University of Chicago. Her music draws on a wide range of material from other mediums, including literature and visual art, in scores that are now thorny, then surging with a kind of contemporary romanticism.

Chen Yi, 64

Born into a musical household in China but forced to work in the countryside during the Cultural Revolution, Chen Yi is one of several expatriate Chinese composers who in the 1990s and early 2000s brought some of the sounds and instruments of China into the vocabulary of Western orchestras, particularly in American concert halls.

Amy Beach, 1867-1944

The first American woman to compose large-scale art music, Beach focused on composition after marriage compelled her to pull back from what had been an active career as a pianist. The Handel and Haydn Society’s performance of her Mass in E-flat gained her renown, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra subsequently premiered both her Gaelic Symphony and piano concerto (with her as soloist). After her husband died, she traveled extensively in Europe, and her writings about the European music scene remain a valuable testimony to an era; but her unpopular political sympathies (with Germany in World War I and Mussolini in the 1930s) may have contributed to her postwar neglect.

Valerie Coleman, 47

In 1997, Coleman, unhappy with the underrepresentation of musicians of color in the classical music world, founded Imani Winds, a wind quintet whose name is the Swahili word for “hope.” The group has gone on to considerable success, and Coleman remains its flutist and composer in residence with a catalogue mainly of chamber works for her ensemble as well as some pieces for other instrumentations, often incorporating whiffs of jazz and evocative illustrations of the music of the South, such as “Red Clay and Mississippi Delta,” which Joan Reinthaler, in The Washington Post, called “a family portrait in sound,” and “terrific.”

Libby Larsen, 66

A pathbreaking figure in creating a sense of community in the American new-music scene, Larsen co-founded the organization that became the American Composers Forum and was the first woman to hold a residency with a major American orchestra, the Minnesota Orchestra, in 1983. She has written 11 operas, from a children’s opera based on “A Wrinkle in Time” to “Every Man Jack,” about Jack London, and has a huge catalogue of choral music, in addition to several symphonies and large-scale orchestral works.

Florence Price, 1887-1953

A 1906 graduate of the New England Conservatory, Price was the first African American woman to have her music played by a major orchestra — the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, which performed her first symphony after she took first place in the Wanamaker Foundation Awards. She incorporated American folk tunes and material from the African American religious tradition in her native South in expressive, accomplished works.

Gloria Coates, 78

The most prolific female symphonist — she has written 16 of them, though she says she didn’t originally set out to write a symphony at all — the American Coates has lived largely in Germany for most of her career and remains less known in the United States. Her music is a kind of impassioned postminimalism characterized by a use of orchestral glissandos and crescendos — slow steady movements of a whole body of instruments. She has also written extensively for voice.

Judith Weir, 63

The first woman to assume the role of Master of the Queen’s Music, knighted for her service to the field, Weir, a former composer in residence with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, has written a number of operas in a tonal vein, of which “A Night at the Chinese Opera” (1987), her first, has been arguably the most successful.

 

 

Cécile Chaminade, 1857-1944

Chaminade was one of those composers who were acclaimed during their lifetimes and neglected afterward. Her works, mainly piano pieces and songs, gained her a following not only in France, but also in England and the United States, where she toured to great success in 1908. She made a number of piano rolls but gradually ceased composing as she grew older.

For further exploration, look into the music of Ethyl Smyth, Peggy Glanville-Hicks, Elodie Lauten, Hannah Lash, Kate Soper, Elena Kats-Chernin, Kati Agocs, Anne LeBaron, Adriana Holszky, Olga Neuwirth, Thea Musgrave, Lucia Dlugoszewski, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Judith Lang Zaimont, Tania Leon, Margaret Brouwer, Bernadette Speach, Lori Laitman, Dalit Warshaw, Elena Ruehr, Arlene Sierra, Andrea Clearfield, Ursula Mamlok, Victoria Bond, Barbara Kolb, Agata Zubel, Nicola LeFanu, Peggy Stuart Coolidge, Mary Ellen Childs, Zoe Keating, Alexandra Gardner, Rachel Portman, Betsy Jolas, Nancy van de Vate, Cindy McTee, Marti Epstein, as well as jazz composers Maria Schneider and Nicole Mitchell, and performance artists including Laurie Anderson, Pamela Z, Joan LaBarbara, and Diamanda Galas. A firm case could be made as to why any of these women should be included on this list in place of any others.

PRISCILLA FRANK

A History Of All-Girl Bands And The Rock World That Tried To Keep Them Out

This post was originally published on Huffington Post

Written By: Claire Fallon

Women aren’t rejecting rock. Rock is rejecting women.

It was 1964 and singer Genyusha “Goldie” Zelkowitz had a problem. The all-girl band she formed in 1962 with drummer Ginger Bianco, Goldie and the Gingerbreads, had a major label record contract and an upcoming Las Vegas stint ― but the bassist, Nancy Peterman, had just told the band that she was pregnant. She’d formed an attachment to the organist of a band they’d been performing with; things had taken their natural course. In the 1960s, birth control for unmarried women was still illegal in certain states. Roe v. Wade was not yet a glimmer in the Supreme Court’s eye, and an attempt to get her an illicit procedure fell through. The situation was unsurprising, and the conclusion was unfortunate: Peterman had to leave the band.

Zelkowitz, who now goes by Genya Ravan, practically explodes with laughter remembering the incident now, 50 years later, during a phone conversation. “She kept saying she was ‘so lonely’!” Ravan hoots. “Had I known I would have bought her a vibrator.” A vibrator and a career, or a sexual partner and parenthood: That’s a choice The Beatles likely never had to make.

For Ravan, who was determined to make it in the music business, settling down wasn’t an option. After forming Goldie and the Gingerbreads, she saw the branding benefits of keeping the lineup all women, to capitalize on the exotic appeal of an all-girl rock ’n’ roll band. But over the years, they lost members, and it was difficult to fill all the parts in the group with women.

“A lot of the girls that were canned down the line … they wanted to have a family, they wanted to have children,” said Ravan. “There’s no room for that here.”

Womanhood used to usher women off the stage in fairly obvious, biological ways. But it’s 2017. Seven years ago, Pink put in a rousing performance at the American Music Awards while expecting a baby. In February of this year, Beyoncé performed gravity-defying moves during a Grammy performance while pregnant ― with twins.

Nonetheless, pockets of the music world remain startlingly male. Our greatest pop stars today might be women, but in instrument-heavy rock ― indie, punk, metal and beyond ― the standard-issue band is still a group of three to six guys. Less common: a group of male musicians with a female vocalist, or even a female keyboardist or bassist. Least common: a band comprised primarily or entirely of female musicians.

The music internet periodically offers up listicles of all-women bands to check out, which feature a common core cast of incredible indie groups: Hinds, Ex Hex, The Prettiots, Chastity Belt, Warpaint and so on. Plenty has been written about the the chart-topping pop-rock sister group Haim, but even in a diverse musical landscape of EDM, hip-hop, pop and hybrid music, a wide variety of all-male bands still flourishes. Why is the all-female band relatively elusive?

One might be tempted to blame women as a group. Perhaps we’re biologically uninterested in playing electric guitar, much like advanced algebra and video games. Maybe there simply aren’t girls out there with the chops and dedication to succeed. But ― much as with mathematics and video games ― a closer look at the picture suggests that the problem isn’t that women are rejecting rock. It’s that rock is rejecting women.

But how is the music world fencing women out? Picking on the visible gatekeepers is easy, and in many ways fair: Record labels, magazines and music festivals don’t tend to give women artists an equal platform. Last year, a HuffPost analysis of the gender breakdown of acts at 10 major festivals over the past five years found that the vast majority of performers were male. “[A]ll-male acts make up the overwhelming majority of festival lineups, ranging from 66 percent of all performers (Outside Lands and Governors Ball) to 93 percent (Electric Zoo),” HuffPost Women’s Editor Alanna Vagianos concluded. An LA Times piece on Coachella’s specific problems with women noted that, at the time it was written, only one female act had ever headlined the festival, out of over 40 headliners in its history.

Music media seems little better. In 2016, KQED Arts pointed out in December, exactly zero women made the cover of Rolling Stone ― no Beyoncé, no Rihanna, no Alessia Cara, no Hayley Williams. Women who do snag coverage by major outlets routinely see their musical chops downplayed in favor of their sex appeal, or wind up relegated to special women’s issues or listicles.

The problem, though, starts way before the point when the organizers of Coachella or Bonnaroo are scouting acts, and before magazines are picking out cover models. This isn’t an excuse for their paltry lineups of female artists; it’s just to say that there are other pressures guiding tastemakers toward men and guiding women to give up rock stardom.

Bands made up of all women are rare not because of a lack of talent, dedication or interest, but because women have been siphoned out of the pipeline at nearly every step of the way.

 

GAB ARCHIVE VIA GETTY IMAGES
A promo shot of Goldie and the Gingerbreads, which functioned from 1962 to 1967, consisting of three instrumentalists and a singer. It was considered to be one of the first all-female rock bands signed to a major record label.

Getting The Band Together

For young boys, forming a crappy band is as elemental a part of growing up as playing baseball, or quitting the baseball team to spend more time smoking pot. If you’ve ever known a handful of teenage boys, you probably know at least one who’s been in a jam band inspired by Phish, or a dude rock band inspired by Dave Matthews, or an indie rock band inspired by Weezer. Guys in bands stand to benefit from male bonding, creative self-expression, and cultivating a rock god image to attract romantic interests. As Alex Pall of The Chainsmokers told Billboard in 2016, “Even before success, pussy was number one … I wanted to hook up with hotter girls.”

The flip side, however, is that this gendered adolescent experience rarely includes a space for girls to be anything but doting audiences and, at worst, “pussy.”

“To me that was just kind of a given, guys were always starting bands and playing guitar in their bedrooms,” Allison Wolfe, the former lead singer of riot grrrl band Bratmobile and, most recently, Sex Stains, told me. She grew up in Olympia, home of artsy, crunchy Evergreen State College in Washington State, in the midst of the burgeoning ‘90s DIY punk scene. “I went to a lot of punk shows and saw guys playing. Olympia and Eugene were cool, not super macho like a lot of other places, but it still made me feel like I couldn’t really be a part of it.”

Suzie Zeldin, of the indie band The Narrative, spent her teenage years attending hardcore shows across the country, in Long Island, New York, that were packed with both male and female fans ― but vanishingly few female artists. “It was pretty rare actually to see a girl onstage,” she recalled.

And this was in the late ‘80s to early aughts. Decades ago, when rock ’n’ roll was really taking off, the scene was almost entirely male. “You go back to the ‘60s, and you’re talking about the dark ages of women in music, because the light that you’re putting out, there’s nothing to reflect it back,” said June Millington, co-founder and lead guitarist of the pioneering 1970s band Fanny. “You had to have the courage to walk into that cave that was completely dark.”

Her bandmate, drummer Alice DeBuhr, was blunt: “We didn’t think of ourselves as the beginning of or part of a tradition of women musicians. Because there weren’t any.”

As with any boys’ club, some determined and talented women have always fought their way in. But bands aren’t just about individual moxie. Forming a band requires collaboration. As a teenage bassist in Australia, music writer Anwen Crawford, author of a New Yorker article titled “The World Needs Female Rock Critics,” wanted that classic, adolescent band experience. The only problem? “I could never find other girls to play with, in those crucial years when you’re forming bands,” she told me. “Your teacher is likely to be male, your peers are likely to be male. It’s quite isolating.”

Just playing with her male peers wasn’t a solution either, she pointed out: “The boys around me didn’t really take me seriously, or thought I was a novelty.”

For many years, and even, to some extent, today, women who did seriously pursue rock music were less likely to find a thriving community of female peers to play with. Female stars like P.J. Harvey or Suzie Quatro, Crawford noted, typically ended up as solo artists or the sole women in mostly male bands. After Goldie and the Gingerbreads disbanded in 1967, Ravan joined a mostly-male band and later built a solo career.

 

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Jean Millington (L) and Patti Quatro perform during a Fanny show in 1974.

 

The creeping, pervasive assumption that little boys learn drums and grow up to be rock stars while little girls play Barbies and grow up to be groupies can isolate and stifle young girls who do pursue music, or it can simply delay their start. Many talented female musicians don’t begin their careers until early adulthood, at the age when young people are exploring who they really are outside of their rigidly defined peer groups. By then, many of their male peers have been mucking around with their instruments and amateur bands for a decade ― but that gap isn’t an insurmountable obstacle.

Augusta Koch, the guitarist and vocalist of the pop-punk band Cayetana, readily admits that she “didn’t know how to play guitar” when Cayetana was born five years ago. Koch and her bandmates were all out of college and dreaming of starting a band when they met at a party in Philadelphia. They decided to join forces and polished their skills together, through years of intense solo and band practice.

Mindy Abovitz, drummer and founder of Tom Tom Magazine, started her first band in college, not long after she’d surreptitiously begun to learn drums. “It would have made zero sense to be in a band with a guy at that time, because all my guy friends who were musicians had been in bands since they were 12,” she told me.

“I played music in school band, clarinet and bass clarinet, but it wasn’t until much later that I thought I could do something like be in a band,” recalled Bratmobile’s Wolfe. “But I think I was very lucky to grow up in Olympia.” In the midst of a music scene that prided itself on counter-culturalism and anti-professionalism, “anyone could do anything, and it would be considered music,” she said.

Wolfe went to Eugene to attend the University of Oregon, but many weekends she’d return to Olympia with her friend and future bandmate, Molly Neuman, to hang around the music scene. They met Kathleen Hanna, then a student at Evergreen. Wolfe began to notice that women around her were forming their own bands ― and not cute, smiley bands. One day, the summer before college, she peeked into Hanna’s art gallery, Reko Muse, and saw a band rehearsal in progress. “There was Kathleen, onstage,” recalled Wolfe, “and she was just yelling at the top of her lungs, with her veins popping out of her neck, and her face was all red … It was really confrontational, and intense.” Hanna’s band, Bikini Kill, ended up becoming early supporters of Wolfe and Neuman’s nascent group.

Wolfe and Neuman wanted to be involved in the scene ― they were already referring to themselves as a band around Olympia ― but they didn’t actually begin writing and performing music until a friend asked them to play a show he was booking. Despite Bratmobile’s slapdash beginnings, their first show was a rousing success.

“I don’t think it would have happened outside the Olympia scene, because I don’t think we would have had the encouragement,” she admitted. “People would have laughed us off the stage. But instead we had Bikini Kill there cheering us on.”

 

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Bikini Kill consisted of female members Kathleen Hanna, Kathi Wilcox and Tobi Vail, as well as male member Billy Karren.

Keeping The Band Together

Getting an all-girl band together is a magical achievement, but it’s only step one. Rock bands are notoriously fragile things. Internal power struggles, ego trips and artistic disagreements tear many of them apart. For women, though, the stress of fending off inappropriate behavior, condescension and disdain rooted in their gender often ends up compounding the ordinary struggles faced by every band.

Having overcome years of overt or implicit discouragement to choose a musical career, female musicians face exhausting assumptions: That they don’t understand their own gear or craft; that, if they came later to mastering the art form, they are perpetual amateurs; that they’re just hanging around the scene to get male attention. Cayetana’s drummer, Kelly Olsen, pointed out that “women getting into relationships with musicians… get looked at in a very different way than men that do. And I know that we have been judged by who we date, like, you’re just doing that to get close to this band. And it’s like, actually, no! I have my own self and my own power in my own scene.”

The assumption, however, generally remains that women don’t belong onstage unless they’re accompanied and overseen by men. Lydia Night, the teenage frontwoman of The Regrettes, caught the rock fever early ― she’s been playing guitar since the age of six and has not only attended years of music classes but performed in several bands. Nonetheless, she’s noticed, sound technicians often assume she can’t handle her own equipment. The sexism is difficult to ignore thanks to one simple fact: The band has one male member, drummer Maxx Morando. “We’ve met so many amazing sound people,” she told me, “but we’ve met so many annoying sound people who just assume that … oh, of course Maxx knows how to set up his drums, but she must not know how to set up her amp.”

Though many of the women I spoke to said that they felt respected and appreciated by their male peers in the industry, the spaces men make for themselves aren’t always welcoming. Women might be left out of bands and tours by men who want to keep the fratty vibe, or who don’t want their significant others to worry about infidelity. “Tour buses are definitely places where women get excluded,” Abovitz said, referencing a situation she’d recently advised another female musician about. “They don’t get hired. They just get left off.” Her acquaintance and the other woman in her band weren’t invited on a bus due to this reasoning; in the end, they had to drive themselves separately for the entire tour.

When it’s not the men directly involved in the industry, it’s the press. Music journalism, a field that was carved out and is still largely populated by white men, has historically been hostile at worst, and patronizing at best, to female artists. “The assumption [was] that interviewers and other people could treat us with condescension and that was the norm,” says Millington. “That condescension was pretty lethal, because it can come at you in so many different ways, even the subtle ways cut ― at least 50 percent, 60 percent or more of the time, the condescension had to be there even if [critics] said they liked us.”

Critics and journalists might cover a girl band with a tone of surprise that a group of women could even play competently, or fixate on the band members’ sex appeal and gendered characteristics.

Plus, female artists were played off each other, creating the impression that in the massive rock universe, there was only room for one woman star. “It was never about the music,” Raven remembered of her early reviews. “They always had to compare me with somebody.” Usually, the times being what they were, that somebody was Janis Joplin. In 1969, legendary rock critic Robert Christgau described her as “this group’s resident Janis Joplin” in a review of Ten Wheel Drive, a jazz-rock band she joined after Goldie and the Gingerbreads broke up. Joplin comes up yet again in his review of one of her solo albums, “Urban Desire,” in addition to the accusation that “she oversings.” (Christgau’s oeuvre is a trove of chauvinistic criticism, which is rarely subtle; he takes pains to graciously judge that Fanny’s “execution is competent enough.”)

In the early days of rock ’n’ roll, even audiences who presumably showed up to enjoy these shows were sexist by default. Millington and DeBuhr both vividly recalled one particular compliment from male listeners that seemed to dog Fanny throughout its run: “Not bad for chicks!”

No matter where they performed, “that was the best compliment we could get through the early ‘70s. Isn’t that incredible?” Millington told me. “And we almost always smiled and said ‘Thank you.’” Worse, Fanny often confronted the assumption that they couldn’t play their own songs. “I can’t remember how many times people asked us, ‘Who were the male musicians playing on the album?’” DeBuhr remembered. To a group of women who practiced and performed tirelessly and who took pride in their music, this question was particularly galling.

In the punk era, disdainful audiences could be more aggressive. Wolfe half-seriously insisted that her nearsightedness and poor hearing protected her ego from the vitriol of sexist crowds. “A lot of the time I was saved by the fact that I couldn’t see or hear what was going on in the audience,” she said. After Bratmobile’s second show, Kathleen Hanna met them offstage and asked if they were OK. Unbeknownst to them, some “scary metalhead dudes” in the crowd had been hollering death threats at the band throughout their set.

Harder to ignore: An incident at a show during Wolfe’s time in the late-’90s band Cold Cold Hearts, when a man grabbed her ass while she performed. “I actually started laughing, because it was just too shocking,” she said.

 

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“Growing up, there were a lot of girl artists like the Spice Girls, Aaliyah and Destiny’s Child,” Alana Haim told Lip Mag in 2014. “But none of them really played instruments and I would always look up to Stevie Nicks and Blondie – they are dope female musicians. So I just see us as a band. When people call us a girl band, I take it as an insult – being a girl in a band shouldn’t be a thing. It seems so medieval.”

 

Some women involved with the music world saw a relatively egalitarian, non-threatening environment, at least in specific scenes. Punk historian Gillian McCain, co-author of the oral history Please Kill Me, pushed back on the idea that the early punk scene could be sexually exploitative. “The girls were enjoying their sexual freedom as much as the boys were,” she wrote in an email. “None of the women we interviewed saw themselves as victims.”

But there’s no denying that some women in the music industry have been victimized, and that the experience can directly affect their careers. Pop star and songwriter Kesha, the most infamous recent example, follows in a long line of women whose voices were snuffed out thanks to male exploitation. Due to her ironclad contract and current legal battle with her former producer, Dr. Luke, whom she has accused of sexual and other abuse, Kesha is reported to be sitting on at least 22 new songs she’s not allowed to bring out.

In 2015, the original bassist of The Runaways, Jackie Fuchs, accused the band’s late manager, Kim Fowley, of raping her soon after she joined the band in 1975. She quit in 1977. In a HuffPost Highline feature, Jason Cherkis documented multiple alleged victims of Fowley’s sexual violence, primarily Fuchs and Kari Krome, a precocious songwriter Fowley began grooming at just 13 years old. By the time Cherkis spoke to Krome, some 40 years later, she had been out of the music business since her teen years, instead writing boxes full of unpublished lyrics. “[S]he couldn’t shake the idea that Fowley never believed in her talent, that he only wanted to sleep with her,” he wrote. “She ended up abandoning her dreams of becoming a successful songwriter.”

Though it’s impossible to say how many women’s careers have been stunted or destroyed by sexual predation, even those who remain and succeed continue to face gendered criticism and abuse. With few other options, women musicians often embrace determinedly nonchalant attitudes toward their harassers and critics. “It’s hard to play a show when someone screams ‘you can’t play guitar’ or ‘you’re hot,’ but at the same time,” said Koch, “we try to not let it ruin us.”

During the riot grrrl movement of the ‘90s, women on the scene tried to find safety in solidarity. After the butt-grabbing incident at her Cold Cold Hearts show, Wolfe remembered, “The amazing thing is I didn’t have to do anything. It was a girl power show; all the women bounced him out in two seconds.” By urging “girls to the front” and forefronting feminism, riot grrrl created a safer space for women in rock ― at least temporarily.  In other times, in other cases, playing through the pain simply led to burnout. “I left Fanny in ‘73, because I was just tired,” Millington told me.

When women aren’t kept out of rock genres through sheer discouragement, exclusion or harassment, the malleable nature of the genre can also be used against them. Women artists may be edited out of the rock annals simply through gendered perceptions ― what men play is rock and what women play is pop. Nowhere is this more evidently the case than with black women, who, like black men, often find themselves reflexively categorized as R&B simply because of their race. As Rolling Stone’s Brittany Spanos wrote in 2016, the white appropriation of rock has been so total that it “box[es] black performers into R&B and soul categories no matter how genre-bending they are.”

“Though largely forgotten in our whitewashed annals of history,” LaTonya Pennington wrote in The Establishment, “black women helped create the genre of rock, which has its roots in blues, country, jazz, gospel and R&B.” Just as many pioneers of rock were black men ― Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, Little Richard and Bo Diddley ― many of the early female pioneers, like “Godmother of Rock ’n’ Roll” Sister Rosetta Tharpe, were black. White women were also often complicit in undercutting black women performers. The first recording of “Piece of My Heart” was performed by Erma Franklin ― known as an R&B singer ― yet it was white singer Janis Joplin ― known as a rocker ― whose rendition rose to fame.

The contributions of black women have been routinely swept under the rug and written out of rock history. But Pennington, Spanos and other critics have seen black women reclaiming their place in the rock genre in recent years, from undeniably rock acts such as The Alabama Shakes (fronted by vocalist and guitarist Brittany Howard) to indie darling Santigold to, yes, Beyoncé.

In “Lemonade,” the pop icon dabbled in country and rock ’n’ roll to great effect. “Beyoncé… provided one of the year’s most memorable rock moments with ‘[Don’t] Hurt Yourself,’” Crawford argued. “Here we have a song by a black woman artist (Beyoncé), who has not typically been ‘seen’ as a rock musician, which appropriates white rock masculinity in order to emphasize that the origins of rock music (in the blues) lie with black women, whose music was, in turn, appropriated by white men.” The all-important visuals work fluidly with the song to reinforce this message, she added. “The film clip … which begins and ends with a young black woman sitting behind a drum kit, makes literally visible this lineage of largely disregarded and historically invisible black female musicianship.”

 

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Brittany Howard performs during an Alabama Shakes show at a 2016 music festival.

Passing The Torch

With all the obstacles and forms of discouragement women in rock have faced over the decades, rock is no longer the coolest nor freshest genre. Does it even matter how inclusive it is to women anymore? Crawford, though she qualifies that it’s important for women to have equal opportunity in any genre, suggests women look elsewhere. The masculinization of the scene has been so entrenched, and the genre itself seems so archaic, that she “wouldn’t necessarily advise [a young woman today] to pick up a guitar. I think of rock music like the realist novel ― it’s fun, people are still doing it, but why?” And though “other genres have their own problems,” she pointed out, there’s a less lengthy and calcified history of exclusion to undo. Women have been making huge amounts of exciting, boundary-pushing music in electronic music, in pop and beyond ― rock just hasn’t been as welcoming.

Conversely, McCain downplayed the severity of the obstacles faced by women in punk rock ― though the punk scene was predominantly male. “Unfortunately that’s the case in a lot of vocations,” she wrote in an email. “I think there were barriers to both men and women making it in punk music! […] In some ways the women may have held an advantage as far as getting more media attention.” McCain cited breakout female stars of the era, from Patti Smith to Tina Weymouth, who remain popular today. As Ravan realized in the 1960s, being a woman in a man’s world could be a great marketing tool.

Still, staking a visible claim to rock music isn’t just an ego trip for marginalized artists: It clears the path to stardom for those that follow. Not only does it make it easier for audiences and critics to conceptualize, for example, black and female artists as rockers, but it helps future musicians to avoid the derision, harassment and sense of alienation that has afflicted many.

Even today, women deal with gendered belittlement and abuse on tour. But audiences have seen enough female rock musicians to mitigate the level of scorn faced by individual artists. Where Fanny and Goldie and the Gingerbreads often felt like their gender was so unusual that it was simply treated as a gimmick ― the only reason people bothered to book them as opposed to the many male bands ― women who are currently early in their music careers see a more diverse scene. Night told me that The Regrettes perform alongside “a lot of women … super badass women.”

Zeldin has also toured with a number of bands with one or more woman. “There are a lot of bands that have at least some female presence. It’s nice to see that happening more and more,” she said.

Part of the more welcoming environment for women and gender non-binary individuals in rock has to do with changing norms, like a better understanding of the harm caused by sexual assault. Recalling her time in Fanny in the ‘70s, DeBuhr describes a scene that was not only permissive of male urges, but that lacked a language to talk about it critically. Though sometimes she felt deeply uncomfortable with the sexualized atmosphere, she told me, “At the time, I don’t think we called it sexual harassment … It was creepy, I didn’t like it.” Creepy behavior might still be fairly common in the music industry, but women musicians do have the vocabulary to talk about it. Take music publicist Heathcliff Berru, once a power player in the field. He fell precipitously from grace after a raft of female musicians and industry professionals ― most notably Amber Coffman of Dirty Projectors ― publicly accused him of various forms of sexual misconduct.

Even the idea that women can be rebels and artists as well as homemakers, mothers and playthings needed to emerge over the past few decades. Not only were the first all-girl bands were presented as gimmicks, they were often presented as sexualized ones. Fowley notoriously positioned The Runaways as a clique of sexy jailbait rather than serious musicians ― and that’s a temporary brand at best.

During high school, in 1960s Iowa, DeBuhr played in a girl band called Women. (“We were a gimmick,” explained. “That was the attraction, it was all girls.”) While at an Iowan club, teenage DeBuhr saw a female drummer in a jazz trio. The drummer was older, “maybe 40,” she recalled. “I said, ‘I will quit when I‘m 30. I won’t be an old lady playing the drums.” She did end up hanging up her drumsticks not long after Fanny broke up. Now, she says, she regrets it.

To a young DeBuhr, that solitary, middle-aged woman drummer may have seemed like an oddity at the time; the lack of visible female rock icons inevitably perpetuates the assumption that women don’t belong onstage, unless they’re go-go dancers or sultry vocalists. Even serious bands like Fanny and the Gingerbreads faced pressure to go onstage scantily clad ― which they resisted to varying degrees.

 

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Night (L) and Genessa Gariano of The Regrettes perform at a Planned Parenthood benefit.

 

Perhaps the most important evolution has been the determined, serious incursion of women into the genre, a genre that at first seemed to have no place for them. Though Ravan and Millington cite a few forerunners as inspirations ― Etta James, Lillian Briggs ― they saw their own music as something different. They were playing rock ’n’ roll in bands, just like the boys.

Today, budding musicians have a pantheon of women rockstars to draw inspiration from and emulate. “When I was five, my dad took me to a Donnas concert … and I just fell in love with it,” Night told me. “The turning point for me ― I think I was 10 ― my mom took me to see a movie about the drummer of Hole. I started listening to a lot of Hole, Bikini Kill, Babes in Toyland.”

A push for mostly all-women bands may be unlikely today because, in a more inclusive scene, female musicians see less of a need to huddle together. When Night initially fell in love with The Donnas, she longed to start an all-girl band; now, she says, she doesn’t even think about gender when forming a band. Zeldin, who has always worked with male musicians, felt the same. “I’d totally be down to do a girl band,” she told me. But she wouldn’t be motivated to do so “just because it would be all girls.”

The success of “girl rock” can come in waves. For groups like Fanny and Bratmobile, being all women was part of the point; at those times, it felt like both safety in solidarity and a way of making political statement. “If the whole point was giving voice to girls, then yeah, we wanted to play with other girls,” said Wolfe. After the overtly feminist, but flawed, riot grrrl scene faded, punk and indie rock seemed to contract around men again.

“I feel like riot grrrl ended in the mid-’90s, and by the late-‘90s there was a lot of backlash,” said Wolfe. “Suddenly there were a lot fewer girl bands in the punk scene, and it was like, what happened?” The backlash to riot grrrl, which she concedes had its own problems, still felt “like sexism. Or just dissing feminism.”

Though juggernaut all-women bands like Sleater-Kinney arose from and survived riot grrrl, they were more the exception than the rule. By the early aughts, critics were commenting on the almost startling sexism of the ascendant emo and punk scene. Andy Greenwald’s Nothing Feels Good: Punk Rock, Teenagers, and Emo noted the dearth of women on popular emo labels, as well as the overtly resentful and objectifying view emo artists took of women: “Now emo songwriters were one-sided victims of heartbreak, utterly wronged and ready to sing about it, with the women having no chance to respond.”

In an essay on emo misogyny from her 2015 book The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic, titled “Where the Girls Aren’t,” music journalist and critic Jessica Hopper remembered growing up in the era of riot grrrl. “For me, even as a teenage autodidact who thought her every idea was worthy of expression and an audience,” she wrote, “it did not occur to me to start a band until I saw other women in one.” Watching female fans at emo shows where all-male artists sang about cardboard-cutout women who had hurt them, she thought, “I don’t want these front row girls to miss that. I don’t want girls leaving clubs denied of encouragement and potential.”

The clock couldn’t simply be turned back to the 1950s after the riot grrrl era ended, though. Bikini Kill records were still out there. We knew about the Bangles. Zeldin, who grew up frequenting the emo and hardcore scene, took the rarity of women onstage at those shows as a challenge. “I think that’s probably partially what drove me to do it, aside from having the inclination,” she told me. “It was more like ― I don’t see girls doing so let’s do it.”

Abovitz, who launched a whole publication to cover female drummers, believes fervently in the power of modeling. “There’s this sort of thing that every female drummer I know does: Go out and play a show not just for herself, but for every other female drummer,” she said. “You just want to do it, so that people will get over it already.”

The scene already looks less homogenous than it did 10 years ago, despite the daunting machismo of the aughts. Earlier generations of women musicians have sought to further their gains by promoting their own legacies, and even by educating new generations. Millington started the Institute for the Musical Arts (IMA) with her partner, Ann F. Hackler, in 1986. The institute runs rock camps for young girls, among other initiatives to support women in music. Camps like the IMA’s have begun to bear fruit ― like Night’s The Regrettes, formed by three girls and a boy who met in an LA School of Rock.

Though the genre has put up walls against women for decades, women have refused to stay out ― and the more they refuse, the more open the music industry becomes to all women.

“You gotta keep writing songs that speak out about this stuff, or keep being in bands, or whatever it is that you do,” said Wolfe. “Being there, inserting yourself in a space that isn’t common for women to be.”