Serena Cherry / Svalbard. Photo Credit: Olly Hanks

Serena Cherry is the guitarist of British metal/post-hardcore band Svalbard. Follow Serena on Twitter and Svalbard on Facebook.

I am dead against constructive discrimination. At the finish of the day it is nevertheless discrimination. There’s practically nothing worse than getting asked to play a festival Due to the fact you are a lady. I am an artist, not a “female artist,” and I am not right here to fulfill a quota. I do not want persons to diminish my bands’ achievements with phrases like “they only got on the bill for the reason that they have a girl on guitar.” All I care about is no matter whether my music fits the bill of the festival. The rest shouldn’t matter.

But it does matter. It matters when
Download Festival, 1 of the greatest metal festivals in the globe with more than
80,000 attendees in 2019, repeatedly fails to represent the a lot of talented girls
of metal on their stages. And it matters even additional when the head booker of
Download Festival claims the lack of girls in the lineup is “because girls haven’t
felt inspired sufficient to choose up a guitar or be the singer of a rock band,” as
Andy Copping did in a
2015 interview with Vice
, adding “Women like watching bands additional than getting
in them.”

Erm, excuse me?

Any individual who has had their ear to the ground
of fresh metal artists in the previous decade knows how a lot of fascinating, inspired
girls are emerging inside our scene. For Andy Copping to blame his personal
ignorance of these acts on women’s personal “lack of inspiration” is actually
frustrating. If you are not even conscious of our existence, how dare you speak for
us?! Who the hell are you to determine no matter whether we are musically inspired or not?

Visualize how it feels to be told that, as a female metal musician, you generally do not exist to big festival promoters. To be told you are not represented on festival lineups for the reason that you are “not inspired sufficient.” We do exist! We are inspired! Quit blocking us out, as Download did in 2019 when only five% of the bands on the lineup had at least 1 lady (and only two bands on the principal stage all through the complete weekend).

Immediately after I saw Andy’s quote, I speedily bashed
out an imaginary lineup for subsequent years’ Download Festival off the best of my
head exactly where every single single band capabilities at least 1 lady:

I imply, I would go. Would you?

A single of the ideal items about my imaginary
lineup is that, in my haste to place it with each other, there are so a lot of incredible bands
with girls who I forgot! Skunk Anansie, Code Orange, Oceans of Slumber, Brutus
and Baroness — to name a handful of – furthering my point that there are loads of
extremely talented girls in rock music today and it wouldn’t be hard
at all to have a additional balanced representation of gender on a festival stage.

So why are girls nevertheless getting dismissed and
ignored by big festivals like Download? Do the bookers genuinely think we
do not exist? Is it a case of confirmation bias, exactly where male-dominated lineups
have sold tickets for years, so the bookers think that male bands are all
persons want? (In the identical way that festival bookers are afraid to book newer,
younger bands as headline acts for the reason that Metallica have reliably sold tickets for

Now, I’m no company lady. I comprehend that Coven are not precisely a lucrative selection in the identical way that Korn are. I’m not attempting to say that I would book a additional financially effective big rock festival. I’m also not attempting to tokenize girls in rock. I’m merely attempting to prove that girls in rock and metal DO EXIST, and Appear AT HOW DIVERSE AND INFLUENTIAL OUR MUSICAL OUTPUT IS! Would it be so awful for Download Festival to showcase us as an alternative of writing us off?