Laura Bailey Kidd aka She Makes War posted a heartfelt and heartwarming open letter on social media, addressed to her ‘non-men’ fans, encouraging them to let her know what she can do to make her shows more accessible and welcoming to them.
The Bristol ‘gloom-pop’ musician tackles the issue of gender bias in the live music circuit head-on in the letter, shining a light on the elephant in the room that is womxn and non-binary people being significantly out-numbered at gigs. Perhaps because they feel uncomfortable going alone at night to a place where dim lights, alcohol, and a tradition of toxic masculinity puts them at risk of abuse, groping and assault? She Makes War invited fans to tell her what their reasons would be for staying home. Here’s the letter in full:
You Are Welcome Here – a message for women* and non-binary people
* yes, of course trans women are included in this, because trans women are women
I’m writing you this letter because I don’t know where you are, and I’ve been wanting to ask if there’s something I can do to get to spend time with you on my tour this month.
I am solo artist She Makes War. I make grungey, glittery indie rock and release it on my own 100% independent label My Big Sister Recordings, and I’m about to play 11 shows with my band around the UK – a mix of self-promoted gigs and collaborations with local promoters. The tour is a celebration of my brand new album “Brace For Impact” which hit #15 in the Independent Album Chart last week, so I’m excited to get on the road and travel to see some of the people who made that happen.
As a woman writing about my life experiences, it’s heartening to know the stories I share resonate with people from different backgrounds to me and I’m thankful for all the independently minded, predominantly male gig goers and music buyers who have supported She Makes War from day one and form the core of my audience. These people have kept the wheels turning for years and will always be welcome.
This invitation is for everyone else.
This message is for anyone who has heard my music and would like to come and see me play, but feels there’s a barrier to that – safety, comfort…I’d love to know the reasons so I can help find solutions.
Going to gigs isn’t for everyone: not everyone can afford it, or wants to stand up for ages, or feels comfortable seeing something that hasn’t been endorsed by Big Media. But it really bothers me that there might be something else going on, because while I’m a cis white straight woman, I hope the human experiences I write about will resonate with others, and the spirit of inclusivity that runs through everything I do will provide a safe and nourishing space for anyone to come and enjoy.
Every now and then I have a conversation with other women musicians about this – why, when we write from our own deeply personal experiences, do we consistently look out from the stage to see a room full of men? Again, how wonderful that our stories transcend gender, and that there are some people out there who want to support independent artists…but where is everyone else? We muse over the theory that women might feel less confident rocking up to a potentially boozey situation on their own if they’re unable to co-ordinate the busy lives of their female friends to form a group, because of the potential safety/annoyance issues of men bothering them. I understand this – the last time I sat in a pub alone, reading a book, I couldn’t get through a page without yet another uninvited comment, but despite travelling most everywhere to play and stay completely alone over the past eight years, there have been less than five occasions where I felt anything less than safe and respected (and those issues came from promoters, people in bands and random strangers).
If this is the reason women, non-binary people and anyone who doesn’t identify as a cis male aren’t attending my shows, all I can do is assure you that my organic, slow-grown audience doesn’t feel like that AT ALL. The people I speak to after my gigs tend to be thoughtful, interesting people, attending alone, in couples or small groups, who can connect to the melancholy and honesty in my songs. I play small to medium sized venues where me and my band can pretty much see everything that’s going on from the stage, and I work closely with these venues to ensure there is backup from them if anyone was to have an issue. People drink at my shows, sure, but I’ve never seen any overly drunken behaviour beyond someone chatting a bit too loudly. These people are passionate live music fans, there isn’t a mosh pit and I feel really confident that if you came along you’d have a really lovely time.
I’ve got to go and pack the van now, but I just wanted you to know that you are always welcome.
If you’re someone who would like to come to a show but you have specific concerns or suggestions please email me in the strictest confidence.
She Makes War is on tour now to promote her new album Brace for Impact:
Check out the album on www.shemakeswar.com