International Women's Day 2024: A fiery speech!

We've had enough! Even in 2024, we still have to fight for things that should be taken for granted -– even in the supposedly progressive world of music.

Ursula von Dark Divas


8. Mar 2024

Dark Divas

It's International Women's Day once again. The history of this day of struggle for equal rights and equal treatment for women began over 100 years ago. In 2024, we have still not reached a point where the day has lost its necessity – on the contrary. Women's rights and equal treatment are alarmingly going backwards worldwide.

And what about the music business? It may present itself as modern and progressive, but here too business is dominated by boys' clubs, strong hierarchies, often conservative attitudes (disguised as progressive) and patriarchal structures (exceptions prove the rule). The Dark Divas team has had enough of this (and I'm sure you have too). It's time for things to change (also in the metal world). You old-established misogynistic gentlemen (young and old), your time has come! Make way! The women are getting what's rightfully theirs from the start.

1. Because we are worth it: Equal pay for equal work

The gender pay gap represents an egregious reality familiar to us all, where men undeservedly earn more for the same work. Should they be fathers, their earnings unjustly increase under the guise of family provision. Conversely, women, including mothers, do not see any financial improvement—in fact, their earnings often diminish further. Those asserting that “the music industry is different” are merely perpetuating a fallacy and contributing to this unfairness. The music sector, too, exhibits a stark disparity, with women in Germany earning up to 30 percent less than their male counterparts for equivalent roles—a downright outrage! The rationale behind valuing men's work and artistry more highly, despite it being of equal or lesser quality, remains indefensible. The time is overdue for this absurdity to end. To achieve the progress long overdue, it is imperative that female musicians not only stand in solidarity, but also actively seek the support of their male peers. Enough is enough!

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2. We will no longer be oppressed

Festival line-ups and tour bookings still crawl under the thumb of male dominance, while bands with women or all-female bands are often treated as token filler "when it suits”. The hackneyed phrases of the established festival organisers (unfortunately, women are among them) drone in our ears in endless repetition: “They book what attracts. There aren't enough female bands.”

Oh, really? Do we accept this argument? Partly yes, mostly no! Women are severely underrepresented in the music industry, especially in the metal scene, where they are almost ghostlike creatures. The USC Annenberg (University of South California) has fed us figures from 2022 that show that although things have changed a bit in the past decade, the situation is still a hair-raising one. Only 1 per cent of the top 900 songs (in the US) are by women. And although it looked like women would take the stage at the 2024 Grammys, a paltry 14 per cent of nominees over the past twelve years have been female. In metal? There, the number is actually close to zero.

Spotify is trying to turn things around with its programme to promote women in the music business, EQUAL, and lo and behold, it's working. Sure, women are still in the minority (around 35 per cent, and rising), but EQUAL shows: Give women the conditions they need, and they will take their rightful place on the stage.

​​Back to basics with yes and no! Yes, women are underrepresented because the music world — indeed, the entire world — is created by men, for men. “The concept of the world, like the world itself, is a creation of men: they describe it from their perspective, which they consider to be the absolute truth.” This quote from Simone de Beauvoir couldn't be more accurate. In a (music)world fashioned by men, female bands, songwriters, producers, sound & lighting technicians, as well as event organisers, must fight for their place with the ferocity of lionesses. And yet, they persist. Therefore, anyone claiming there aren't enough female musicians is either blind, lazy, or both, unwilling to instigate change, entrenched in archaic structures — and prefers to leave the stage to men. But in 2024, this stands as a stark testament to failure and can no longer be seen as a legitimate excuse. To be clear: there is more than enough space for both women and men on the world's stages!

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3. No more boys club

The music industry operates as a boys' club, a phenomenon all too familiar across numerous industries. Men promote other men, securing prime positions for themselves, and then bringing in more men to congratulate each other on their “greatness”. In a male-dominated music scene, where, unsurprisingly, the majority of booking agents are also men, it's a matter of fat that women struggle to secure their spot at the table or on the booking roster. However, men also deliberately exploit their positions of power. Where men hold power, abuse of that power follows – a sad truth. History has repeatedly demonstrated this, and regrettably, it continues to do so every day. It's high time we put an end to these boys clubs in the music industry. Let's aim for a fair distribution of power!

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4. Enough with mansplaining the world to us

Mansplaining and hepeating are not just common irritations in the daily lives of women; they're downright exasperating! How often have you had to endure a man, who clearly possesses only a fraction of your knowledge about music, explaining the world of sound to you as though you were utterly uninformed? Or that moment when your ingenious idea for a hook is overlooked, only for a colleague to propose the exact same idea moments later and suddenly be celebrated as if he had made a groundbreaking discovery. Or, even worse, when you're interrupted mid-sentence because a male colleague's “important” input supposedly outshines everything else — simply because he is male. And let's not overlook the times you're systematically ignored or entirely excluded from conversations as if you were invisible. All this nonsense persists because, in the eyes of many, women are still not regarded as competent, regardless of how superior their skills and knowledge might be.

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5. No more lame excuses for discrimination

“Women could if they wanted to,” is a phrase often heard, followed by: “They just don't want it enough.” These are simplistic excuses born from a patriarchal social structure marked by sexism, which shifts the blame onto those with less power (yes, unfortunately, women have less power than men). Meanwhile, those in a more privileged position are absolved of any responsibility to alter the status quo.

Considering that women make up around half of the global population, it's absurd to think that 50% of humanity faces discrimination simply because they don't desire change sufficiently. The music industry, much like numerous other fields, is deeply entrenched in patriarchal hierarchies. These systems prefer male leaders in decision-making roles (boys' clubs), while women often find themselves in less influential positions (glass ceiling). This imbalance not only results in skewed representation but also affects decision-making processes, which artists get support, and the nature of the music that is ultimately produced and marketed. Women attempting to ascend within these structures encounter obstacles ranging from subtle biases to overt sexism. Men, it's time to put an end to this nonsense! You've long stopped believing the excuses you peddle daily, from “women don't have enough determination” to “they just negotiate poorly.”

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6. Fuck patriarchy, welcome equality

The reality is, patriarchy harms everyone — including men. A society where men, women, and everyone else were genuinely equal and treated as such would enhance the situation for all involved. The Economist recently featured an article on this exact subject, concluding that societies where women face severe discrimination tend to fare worse overall. Therefore, let's unite — men and women alike — in the fight for women's equal rights, so that we all benefit! This way, we can enjoy even more great bands, and on this point, we can all agree — there can never be too many of them!

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