I am not an insider to your community, but I am also not an outsider, you might know me from Budgiedome e-mails, Falcon Ridge, or promotional photography for musicians, or just sitting in the audience loving what you all do.
I have been a folk music fan from the time I could understand that the voices you hear from your car radio or CD player could be seen in person, on a stage, after my first concert I had stars in my eyes and never looked back. Even at a very young age I knew you all were my people. I am not musically inclined, so I contribute by community making, and art, I photograph musicians, I help organize shows. I have made friends and family through the folk music community, who have become invaluable in my life.
So that’s a little bit about me.
The first time I felt uncomfortable at a folk concert I was sixteen years old and it was because a performer generously said my name on stage in an attempt to help me out with my budding videographer career (now turned photographer). So an audience member took it upon himself to start bothering me after the show, luckily the performer saw what was happening and stepped in. I was lucky. I’m going to repeat that, at sixteen, at a folk music concert, in a Unitarian Church, I was lucky.
I am not a touring musician.
This was not the last time, and the last time probably wont be the last time. Occasionally those who have made me feel uncomfortable have been people who are supposed friends.
Male folk in this community, you can do better than this. I would say that I cannot believe that your way of “supporting” women artists was to write a long winded explanation about how you feel safe and how you wish we felt as safe as you did. We don’t. We probably never will. I am not surprised.
We’ve been taking care of our own for a long time, (see female musician stepping in when I was 16) we’ve got lists, and tactics, and we know when to bring a friend. Trust me, if your name is on that Male Ally list and you aren’t a male ally, we know.
I wish I could say that it’s shocking to me that your first instinct was to drown out voices of women coming forward with a weirdly performative declaration how you all are good guys and are pledging to make better things happen for us. I am not surprised.
Nothing really shocks me anymore, I do get angry though, but nothing surprises me.
I know your intentions are good, but please shut up. For once in your lives shut up and listen, amplify the voices of the survivors, but do not add your own comments they are unneeded and distracting. I cannot speak for other people but I am sick of hearing it. I run into the same thing in the fine arts community, in my day job, and in life in general
Do not make this about yourselves. We are tired. You do not deserve applause or thanks for signing something that should just be basic human decency.
Actions including money, are the only way that you make this right, call out your friends when they say something problematic, in public, in front of other people. Not just when it’s convenient for you or when there are women present, every time. Read and share things written by survivors, learn about micro-aggressions. Learn about gaslighting.
If you want women and non-binary folks to feel safe make them feel safe, but listen to them.
I’m going to ask you to do some heavy lifting here, because it’s your fucking turn. Hire more touring women, and include trans women and non-binary folks and women of color in that rotation. Don’t perform at a venue when you know the presenter is a creep. Hire more women to play on your CDs or in your bands. I’m sure that generic young white dude with the guitar plays some great backup, but I’m also positive you can find someone who isn’t a generic white dude of the same caliber.
And on a slightly selfish note, maybe as tax for having to do this emotional labor at eight am before work, hire more visual artists who aren’t men.
We do not need your protection, we need you to stop the behaviors that make us need protection, and that’s all of you, even the “good guys.”
In the folk music world we live in an isolated bubble, but we are also supposed to be accepting of all people, of all folks. Folk music meaning: For the people, passed down from generation to generation. Do we really want this to be our story? Drowning out voices of marginalized people because we want some pats on the back?
So Ally List, step the fuck up. You are not our saviors. You are taking one tiny baby step by putting your intentions into writing. Maybe you’ll get that applause when there’s some real equity in this and every other industry.
If you do not follow through though,
Words, words, words.