women in music: my experiences

Hey guys!

Women in music.
 A topic I didn't think I'd cover at some point.
Simply because in my opinion, there's no need to highlight either gender.
We should all be able to have the same rights, same opportunities, same experiences.

But we don't.

It's a fact.

I'll be completely honest; this post took a lot of time to write. It's still nowhere near being what I'm completely happy with, but I felt the need to upload it anyway.
Maybe it's interesting for you to read about my experiences and thoughts.

My main goal is to have you think about what I'm trying to say. And to think further than that.
I want you to find or secure your opinion about this topic and maybe I can help you by telling you what I think.

For the first few months of being somewhat little part of the music industry, I didn't have to deal with any sexist comments or encounters at all.
I think that's what allowed me to feel at home in this industry; experiencing it the way most men do.
No trouble, no rude comments.
Please notice that I use the expression "most men"- I'm aware that sexism isn't something only women have to deal with.

The first few bands and artists I got to work with are some of the most wonderful people I know.
Even though I was totally new to this industry and I was incredibly young - they never treated me like I wasn't on the same level. And for that I'm still incredibly thankful.

But of course, the time in which I experience sexism, had to come.

Last year I went on my first tour as a photographer.
A band of four men I had been friends with for a while, took me on the road with them - because they genuinely enjoyed my work.

Two gigs in, comments such as "so you're the groupie?" or "with how many of them did you sleep?", started rolling in.

Whilst you'd think these comments would come from uneducated and immature people,
I was rather surprised to have a promoter ask me in very serious tone, if I got to hang out with two artists last year, just because I slept with them.

I think a lot of times women are expected to just laugh at it and be polite about it.
But it's about time that we don't do that.

It's disrespectful towards our work, our skills and most importantly, it's fucking rude to indirectly call a woman a slut.

I met male photographers who made it very obvious that they thought I wasn't on the same level as they were.

I also met a male photographer who emailed me, once he had seen my work, apologising for questioning my skills because of my gender.

I've had guys push or elbow me whilst I was walking through the audience to photograph the band on stage.

I've had a fellow male blogger tell me that I'm only successful because I look a certain way.

Apparently some people don't think that women understand anything about music. That they only care about fashion and makeup. And that they don't have the same skills as men.

But being a woman in the media/music industry isn't always difficult because of men, unfortunately, a lot of times, it's other women who throw bricks.

I remember shooting Ed Sheeran back in 2014. I had access to the backstage areas because I had worked with his support act beforehand.
When a few girls saw my pass, they started calling me rather unflattering names.

I also remember a gig I photographed earlier this year, where another woman thought she was the only good woman in the photo pit.
 She "accidentally" hit me in the back multiple times and managed to always block my shots.

But why don't women support other women a lot more?
If anyone, we should be the first ones to cheer for each other and respect each other, right?
But not all of us do.
Because we're taught that there's only room for a few women in the industry.
Because we're being told that there's only limited spots available for us.
Because that's the way it currently is.

You think that's "just an excuse"?
 Check out festival line ups, tell me how many female acts you find.
Check out the charts, tell me how many female acts you find.

This is in no way a "men hating" post.
 I am lucky enough to work with some of the most talented, most wonderful and most supportive men that I think there are. Some of the people I receive most respect from, are men.
And I appreciate them dearly.

As a 20-year old woman, I can say that I want to be acknowledged for the work I do. 
The talent I have.
Not for the way I look or who my friends are.

 I don't want to be worried about what I'm wearing, because it might distract from my work.
I don't want to walk down the street, or into a music venue and be afraid of being whistled at, or worse - have a car full of dudes beep their car at me.

But then again I also realise that I'm leading a very fortunate life.

I am here, fighting for equality in the industry I work in,
when other women have to fight to be seen as an equal human being with the same right to be alive. To be seen and treated as a human, not an object that belongs to men.

Maybe it's a privilege that I can complain about these things, because that means I'm one of many women who finally get to be a part of this industry.
Maybe it's a privilege to be in this position, because it means we've created a situation that women before us may have dreamed of.

Many years ago, the women didn't have that opportunity, so we may all use it to make a change.

I hope any of this somehow found its' way to you.

If you want to talk about this topic, please feel free to leave a comment or speak to me on social media.
I want to listen and chat to you.

Thank you for your visit.

Credits // Text & Photography: Vanessa Jertschewske


  1. oh this is so sad to hear :( although i'm working in an industry where it's all about pretty girls, i've been in that same situation where people accused me of achieving stuff because of my looks (not only modeling) i think today it's still common that women are treated differently in most aspects (the simple fact that we still get paid less in most jobs)
    recently some videos from the olympics went viral where male athletes got asked the same sexist questions that female athletes get asked all the time.. they where confused and cancelled the interviews while it's normal for females to deal with this kind of questions!
    so, you shouldn't be mad at the music industry because our society makes people in all industries behave like this! and in this case, it's indeed sad that you made the bad experience of other women dragging each other down than supporting each other! but i think in the music industry (especially among fans) jealousy plays a big role (i can tell from my own experience back then with rooney ;) ) the female fans probably see you more as some "fan with benefits" instead of a girl doing her work, so don't take this personally!
    looking forward to more posts like these!

    kisses, Ola

    1. I love the music industry incredibly much and I don't think anything can change that. The amount of supportive and caring people I've met is still much bigger than the negativity I had to confront.

      Nonetheless I feel like it's our resposibilty to stand up and make noise about the things that are wrong. We can't just accept being treated like we're less than somebody else. That's not how equality works.

      I'm not surprised to hear that men didn't know how to deal with sexist questions, yet it's absolutely interesting to hear. I think so many times it became normal having to deal with those kinds of questions as woman, in order to be professional and successful.

      I could probably write a post about jealousy but then again, that's not worth it. Jealousy comes from envy, self-doubt and insecurities - which is something you can't change.
      Sexism comes from history, ignorance and a lack of wisdom - which is something you can change. So let's do it!

      Thank you so much for your comment, for taking the time to read this and for being a lady who cheers for other lady!
      (and by the way - you're slaying it!)


  2. DO I SMELL A FEMINIST POST? This is what I'm here for. Always. First off, I'm so sorry you had to experience this. I was absolutely DISGUSTED at comments like "how many of them did you sleep with" or questioning your skills because you are female. But really, we as women need to support each other. We need to empower each other and praise each other. Obviously that doesn't mean you can't like a specific woman because of her personality, but we should never resort to making fun of her appearance or her achievements or whatever because of that. Never ever sell yourself short as a woman. We need to be strong and stand up for ourselves, and support each other, in order for things to get better. And we also need to call people out on their bullshit whenever possible. That means, obviously not when we're afraid it might put us into danger (some men are vile as f*** and get really aggressive when you come up with something even remotely feminist) but whenever we can, we should stand up for ourselves. When someone makes degrading jokes about women, we can just ask them to explain and watch them squirm as they try to wiggle their way out of that without admitting they think women are worth less because they KNOW they're wrong. In the Booktube community we had a lot of similar instances already. I've gotten comments that I don't value myself because I don't wear make up, while someone else called out women in the entire community for wearing make up, because apparently being interested in make up and fashion means you can't be a "real" reader. I wish people would just get off their stupid pedestal and stop being snobby about the books they read, the music they listen to, the people they support. It frustrates me so much, especially because all of the creative industries *should* technically be women dominated because boys are generally discouraged from pursuing creative interests and are often pushed more into a sports or science direction, while girls are often told that science isn't for them and they should focus more on arts, music etc. Same with hobbies like writing, cooking, riding and so on: they are generally considered female but as soon as it gets to a career, men dominate and are paid more and recognized more. I recently read from musician Amanda Palmer that a festival basically rejected her asking to play there because they had already signed Regina Spektor and "they weren't sure if two women playing piano wasn't too much". I mean WHAT THE HECK?! So are two bands with guitar playing front men too much as well? Probably not, I guess. Sorry for the ranty comment, but this topic is just SO up my alley, I'm so passionate about supporting women and trying to create better environments for them.

    1. Yes, madame! That's exactly the perfume I put on!!

      I should've probably mentioned that I, in no way, wrote this post in order to receive huge amounts of pity. Surprisingly, none of the above mentioned events ever made me feel bad.
      Actually, they've always sparked more flames in order to keep doing what I'm doing.

      I was taught to "kill them with kindness" but I was also taught to never let anyone put me down. So I'm totally with you here, we need to stand up for ourselves!
      Sadly you're also right saying that there are too many times where violence because a thing. We might not be able to change that, but I think the more we talk about these issue, the more people will realise that sexism is happening and it's something we cannot accept.

      I wish I was surprised to hear that you had to deal with these kinds of things in your industry, but I'm not. This is not just a music industry thing. This is not even just an industry thing - this is our society and it needs to change.

      I don't think I've ever thought about the last aspect you've mentioned - it's actually very accurate - creative interests are entitled as female fields. Funny how that changes when money and fame come into the picture!

      Thank you for this amazing and insightful comment. This is exactly why I wrote this post! You are an amazing lady and I'm so glad that we can cheer for each other.
      I hope that when we're 80, we can look back on this and tell our grandchildren won't be able to understand what right NOW felt like.

      Please please please continue to use your voice to spread awareness! xx

    2. I most definitely didn't take it as you trying to get pity, but whenever I hear this sort of thing, I just can't help but feel very sympathetic towards the poor person at the receiving end of comments like that.
      I agree, I will not use hate to fight the hate, but I won't shut up about it. It's too important a topic and I've shut down many a stupid sexist joke by just asking what exactly the joke is about that.
      Here's to hoping we can create a better world for our grandkids step for step!

  3. First off, I'm sorry you have to deal with such pricks. I guess people in the industry don't realize how important bloggers, photographers and writers are for their own job. Seriously, most of them wouldn't have a job if it wasn't for people supporting acts to get the word out about them. That promoter, he could promote his own stupidness if no one would write about acts and he would get to work with them.
    Some people are so ignorant and like you said, uneducated, they don't even know what they're saying. I think more women should be strong enough to speak out about that. I've read what Jana said and heard about what was going on around the booktube community and as far as I know not enough people addressed the issue because it still happens. And I do think it's a problem in creative industries especially because men often think they can do things better and women are so competitive they rather scratch your eyes out than hold out their hand to help or support each other.
    I'm glad you don't let them put you down and I'm sure a lot of women will be thankful for your post and to know they're not alone.

    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this post and then reply to it.
      It's been 24 hours since I've published this and I'm honestly overwhelmed by the response.

      There were men who messaged me after they had read this post, saying that they are shocked and didn't know what us women had to deal with so often.
      That makes me agree with you wholeheartedly- we need to speak out and share the unacceptable issues we have to deal with.

      I'm afraid we can't change much about the ignorant people, be we can educate those who just don't know better.
      I had no clue how important it can be to just share your own experience. You don't need to be an expert on a topic to wake people up. Sometimes just telling what's going on will do the trick.

      Therefore I hope that we can all do this together and won't be afraid to speak out.

      Again, thank you so much for your wonderful comment! xx


Let me know what you think! :)