Dear ex-band mate:
Last week, while we were trapped in a car together coming back from another long work meeting, you asked me about ‘the band’ and in a round about way, asked me if I still was angry about what happened in January, and the events which finally convinced me to pack up my bass and leave the group.
This was the band where I had endured, for the last two years, the not so subtle misogynistic remarks of one of our lead singers. A man who loaded the set list in the last 18 months of my membership, with songs like “Hot Legs”, which as a woman made me uncomfortable to play. Who sabotaged every suggestion I made for the set list. Who constantly told me, the bass player, how he had played bass in numerous bands, implying my redundancy at every turn. This was a person who scooped my mids and buried my sound in the mixing board. Who when someone suggested I sing a song, immediately hijacked it for his own. And when I had to bow out of active rehearsals due to a family member’s pending surgery, quickly cut me out of the email conversations about the future of the band, and immediately took my place, with nary a note of regret.
And so seeing the handwriting on the wall, I left the band in January 2017, never to return.
And you stood by, AND SAID NOTHING. For two years, you watched him trying to pay me less, minimize my role and question my ability to play an instrument for which I have at the very least a level of solid competency. It wasn’t until the drummer had to bow out due to health issues that you seriously suggested disbanding the group; my decision a week earlier to leave was obviously a footnote to your conversation with the rest of the members. My departure was seen as an inconvenience, the drummer’s, the true “end of an era”(your words, not mine). You accepted my replacement, you rallied against his.
By your own admission, you knew the lead singer was a right-wing, misogynistic shit. You stated in several conversations that his treatment of me in the last few years was terrible. You privately questioned his musical ability, his choices in the set list and said, he was an asshole. But you stood by and said nothing, as did the other members of the group. Because playing that damn guitar and getting all the feedback from the crowd about “how great you are” meant more than our friendship and standing up to a bully. Your ego won out. Plus, how would it look to the other guys?
So when you asked the question last week about how I felt about the band, I told you I was over it. But what I meant was I was over being in a band with someone who stood silent while someone attacked me for being a woman in a band full of guys. Because, if you fail to speak up when misogyny occurs, you are supporting its continuation. Silence equates consent. And as I said, I’m over that, thank you.