When I was 10 years old, I received a Fender mini Stratocaster for Christmas. My dad played guitar, and watching him made me want to learn. When I received that present, I was flabbergasted. “I’m going to play guitar in a rock band,” I thought to myself.
Since then, I have moved on from guitar to bass guitar and have decided that a career as a musician wasn’t my path. Yet, sometimes I still catch myself daydreaming of being the bassist in a rock ‘n’ roll band.
Female musicians have always been in rock ‘n’ roll music. From Janis Joplin in the 1960s and 1970s, to Courtney Love in the 1990s and punk rocker Brody Dalle today.
Brody Dalle originally fronted the punk rock group The Distillers in the early 2000s, singing songs about self-esteem, public image and even dedicating a track to the women of the past who paved the way for our rights and freedoms.
Dalle left the music business in 2010, marrying Queens Of The Stone Age singer Josh Homme and starting a family, but now she’s back with her new track “Meet The Foetus/Oh The Joy,” a jumpy track that discusses her experience with pregnancy.
While most rock ‘n’ roll music can fall under the umbrella of “sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll,” a stereotypically masculine phrase, having women in rock music like Dalle and Love can create a welcoming environment for young women in a male-dominated community. I know that when I listened to The Distillers for the first time, it helped me realize that a woman can put just as much effort and talent into playing guitar as a man. I could scream and sing and be just as angry as the men in rock music, and I didn’t have to apologize for it. I didn’t have to be the pretty girl on the sidelines anymore, just like Joplin’s focus on her voice rather than her looks.
The images of women in rock ‘n’ roll change when female musicians become involved as well. Most of the time, women are seen as groupies in rock music—nothing more than the fan of the band member she finds attractive—but when women like Dalle and Love refuse to be the groupie and are at the forefront and drenched in sweat and running make-up instead, it’s inspiring. Women aren’t seen as aggressive or dominant, and being a woman playing an aggressive and dominant music genre breaks that stereotype.
Dalle recently played a show in Long Beach, Ca. where she dived off the stage and into the crowd. You can decipher through the screams in the audience that most of the attendants were women—women who see Dalle as inspirational, as a fellow woman who has gone through the ranks in a mostly male community and has made it out alive with the message that any woman can rock.