Stages have been packed up, tents rolled up, and the remaining merch folded for the last time during this year’s Vans Warped Tour. Those that worked hard to bring the tour all over the US for yet another summer are probably sleeping for a full week to recover.

Though Warped Tour is an event that has been able to note a pretty even split within ticket sales, the music industry as a whole continues to be male dominated – both on the stage and off.  I feel that one of the best ways to encourage other women to get involved in the industry is to highlight those that are currently killing it in the scene and using their voices to stand up and speak out about injustices. I had the privilege of hearing from some of the women that were part of this year’s tour. They shared their experiences growing up in the scene and gave some great tips for those that may be hesitant to get involved.

Stacey Dee of Bad Cop / Bad Cop

“I was more hesitant to get involved in hip hop when I was younger than punk rock.  Punk has always been a very welcome home to me.  I was always allowed to have my voice and no one told me I couldn’t do anything anyone else was doing.  My advice to young girls that wanna do this…. go for it with everything you have.  Give the boys a run for their money.  Play hard and well. Don’t get caught up in the whirlwind of it all…. learn who you are and be strong!”

Shawna Potter of War on Women

I felt more comfortable when I saw more women around – so clubs and bands need to do the work of involving more women at shows. Actually, I didn’t know to not feel comfortable until some men or older boys figuratively and literally pushed me aside (or my favorite, asked me to hold their jacket). It meant that for boys, music was participatory, but girls were coat hangers. If there had been more women around in general, I don’t think those situations would have occurred, but especially if the women and girls were on stage. So for young girls, I do recommend expecting sexism: A doubt in your ability, suspicions on your intentions to be there etc., and to prepare counter arguments or witty responses to these things. But expecting sexism doesn’t mean you have to accept it. Get your feminist fight club on: support other women, lift each other up, prioritize intersectionality, and be a force to reckon with.

Jennie Cotterill of Bad Cop / Bad Cop

“I started going to shows at about 14, with my older brother. He’s the gentlest person in the world but looks intimidating, so I always felt safe in that setting. When he moved away, I started going with my friends–boys and girls, as many of us as could fit in a car. Getting to know the people in our local scene provided security, and seeing women in bands was always awesome.

I always ask young women we meet at shows if they have a band, or if they play, suggest they start one. Nobody asked me that stuff and I think I may have been subconsciously waiting for an invitation–which is crazy. It’s worth mentioning that you don’t have to be good to start a band because you’ll get better as you play and practice together.”

Isis Queen of Barb Wire Dolls

“I’m from Greece and was living on the island of Crete, and there were zero punk shows going on back then when we started Barb Wire Dolls (2010). I’ve never really experienced going to any punk shows until our band started playing shows, and I guess because I respect myself enough, and I respect others, I’ve never had any issues being a girl in a band or at a show regardless.  Then again my idols are Wendy O. Williams, Johnny Rotten, Henry Rollins, and I could never imagine them having fears of being at a punk show. I do totally wish that the scene is safe for all people, and punk used to stand for acceptance of all types of people and there they would unite to fight against authorities, right? I’m in that world still. It’s like 1977 and I’m in London playing in a band with lots of weirdos and stylish cats acting wild. It’s the wildness that draws me to punk rock. That has to stay or punk will be boring. Expect to be respected at the level that you respect yourself and others. It’s all karma anyways. Be the cause, not the effect. Stay pure! Stay free! Stay wild!”

Mercedes Arn-Horn of Courage My Love

“We started playing shows when we were 14, Phoenix and I. We were the only girls in our local scene back then. Definitely got some strange looks setting up on stage, but we would always focus on the show and on our performance. It also helped to make personal connections with other bands that were supportive and encouraging of us.

I would say focus on being the best musician/artist/professional that you can be. Not the best female, the best period. Don’t listen to any naysayers or bigots that might come your way. If you focus on your talent, your art, and your success, you will prove all of them wrong.”

Ashly Nicole, Mutant Pit Reporter

Don’t let any man or anyone EVER stand in your way!! Keep your head down and conduct yourself in a professional manner always. If you work hard and prove yourself, you will make it far.If you’re lost on how to start, try finding a publication in need of photographers or writers, or maybe help out some local bands to fill your portfolio. Just always always always keep going if it’s something you’re passionate about because someone will notice and you’ll keep growing as a person and artist.”

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