Was the past more sexist than the present?

A company has analysed the gender balance of various UK festivals. The best was Latitude, which achieved a gender balance of 48.1% women; next up was Glastonbury, with 44.6%.

And then there was Download, home of superannuated rock bands whose commercial and artistic peaks happened decades ago.


That’s all performers. Female artists or bands? 2.9%.

Lots of female bands at their commercial and artistic peaks decades back, were there?

19 thoughts on “Was the past more sexist than the present?”

  1. “Sorry Led Zeppelin we can’t host your reunion show, our quota only allows female bands to be booked for the next 10 years” said no booking agent ever.

  2. I wonder on what other variables the festival audiences vary from the population distribution?


  3. 75-year-old blokes are acceptable. 75-year-old bints not so much. But there’s always the Bangles and Joan Jett.

  4. I can think of plenty of female artists/performers over the past decades who were part of Big Name bands, not infrequently leads of said bands, or even solo…

    Many of those are, of course, deceased, retired, or most importantly: Still Big Enough to not need to appear on festivals and do a revival/retirement/need-money-for-tax tour on their own power…

  5. Bloke In Wales, “sorry Mr Page and Mr Plant, we have found that tribute band Lez Zeppelin to be far more inclusive.”

  6. Cher’s still gigging. So’s Debbie Harry I gather. And somebody’d have to weld the coffin lid down on Madonna to deter her comebacks.

  7. And I just looked up Chrissy McVie. Yep gigging. Knew her when she was Christine Perfect with Stan Webb. (Bloody hell! Stan’s still alive. That really is a miracle. At this rate he’ll see me out.)

  8. Many more men than women like metal music. Many many more men than women are enough into metal music to make it their job. What are they going to do, force women to write and play music they don’t like?

  9. Dennis the Musical Peasant

    Only Ari Up, Chrissie Hynde, and Exene Cervenka mattered. Unfortunately, it was only for a few albums over a brief bit of time.

    Patti Smith, Joan Jett, Debbie Harry and the rest just fill space.

  10. Lots of female artistes 50-odd years ago – but not in rock bands. There was *one*, just one band with a female drummer.
    Females in rock bands were so rare that I remember reading about Siouxsie Sue, although I never went to any of her gigs, because she was a girl in a rock band and, as such, newsworthy.

  11. Dennis, Oppressor, Warmonger, Capitalist and Consumer of Petroleum Products

    Who gives a fuck, apart from weirdos and political extremists?

    Nobody. But that is an apt description of Carrie Marshall.

  12. Gentlemen, you must up your game. You’ve mentioned somebody I’ve actually heard of!

    ( Debbie Harry, since you ask.)

  13. “There are lots of reasons why women aren’t on big festival stages, but not feeling inspired isn’t one of them. Sexist bookers, on the other hand…”

    Did they bother to look up the ratio of ‘male’ to ‘female’ headliners in general?

    And I don’t think any booker is going to refuse to book a profitable act because they’re women. You might make a case that the *audience* is sexist, preferring the male acts (though, again, that could be because the male acts . . . act differently. Joan Jett and The Bangles were pretty laddish in their shows and they did all right as headliners) but I can’t believe that anyone would stand on a principle such as sexism if there’s real money to be made.

  14. There were a few, but they’ve mostly retired unlike male Rock groups. Most female groups/solo were Disco, Romance (Kate Bush), Pop, Easy Listening as that’s what they wanted to do.

    Girls School, Suzi Quatro, Blondie, Joan Jett, SS & Banshees were a few

    I suppose they could be compelled to perform to ensure gender balance. Alternatively reclassify Glam Rock (eg KISS) as Female/LGBTxyz+

  15. The usual SJW ploy.
    Whinge about something but don’t offer a practical solution. Why? Because there either isn’t one or it would be so absurd even at first glance that no one could then take the whinge seriously.

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