I’m no stranger to sexism in indie rock. The subject has been oft-written about by me for various sites that I’ve contributed to, namely the now-defunct Awe Chasm, and one I’ve had to deal with in various forms for a number of years now, being a young woman in the music industry. As a music journalist, my second interview ever walked out on me when I refused to get sexy with him, even though I was on the job. I remember the horrible feeling that accompanied the scene as it played out before me and the crushing realization I had as I drove home: Being in the music industry is one small step above prostitution. I comforted myself with the idea that, well, isn’t any job one step above prostitution? Especially as an artist, you’re being forced to sell yourself, your art, your ideas, and thus, you let others appropriate it as they see fit.
There’s a number of things glaringly wrong with that statement, namely the fact that journalism in any form should not make you feel like a whore. No job should, except for maybe prostitution itself.
In the subsequent years since that realization, I’ve seen friends, colleagues, musicians, and strangers treated similarly to how I’ve been treated and all of these groups had one thing in common, other than being in an artist’s industry. They were all female. It’s very rare that you see an article concentrating, say, on Matt Berninger’s physique, however women like Lana Del Rey and Grimes are commonly referred to as “cute” with their music being a slight afterthought.
It’s offensive but the fact of the matter is that it’s something I never truly grasped the complete grossness of until recently. You see, readers, I’m not just Amber Valentine, your friendly Michigan pal who likes to force her musical tastes upon unsuspecting interweb strangers. As of late, I’ve also been the gal behind Amber Valentine’s Shriveled Heart & The Skeletons Left Behind. Recently, we released a new single and an accompanying video. In the words of my bandmate, the incomparable Zunk, the vid was meant to leave the viewer feeling “a little f–ked up after watching it.” When Hearingade’s own Abby said the finished product “made me feel nauseated,” I knew I could borrow George W.’s Mission Accomplished banner, wrap myself in it like a human burrito, and sleep soundly.