navigating sexism and the backhanded compliment

words by jenna smith


feb. 20, 2019

I originally wrote a piece describing my experiences with backhanded compliments from men in the music scene. I talked about the phenomenon of being physically cut out of a circle of guys chatting about records or getting hit on by DJs who think I keep tabs on them because I want to fuck, not because I appreciate them as artists.

While this all really happens, I had a change of heart when I opened up about my experiences to a broader audience of men. When I told some guys my stories, they were genuinely concerned. They were perplexed by the behaviors of the men I was describing. The confusion in these men brought forth confusion in myself - I was having bad experiences with some guys and chalked it up as “well I guess that’s just how it is for all of them.”


Well, I’ve realized that notion is no longer true. I’ve been having bad experiences because I’ve been associating myself with shitty guys. Guys who think my interest in music is “cute” and not serious, and/or get offended when they find out I was having conversations about music WITHOUT the intention of fucking them. What a concept, I know.


It’s been a learning process, but I’m opening up to the idea that not every guy in music is a total piece of shit. Don’t get it twisted, though - A LOT are. Hence why I’ve had blanket assumptions for so long. But here’s what I’m learning: it’s all about who you choose to associate yourself with. I made so many negative connotations in my head because I was only interacting with men who reinforced this negativity. And the worse part is, all the energy spent trying to become friends with these guys, was energy I could've spent cultivating new friendships with men who aren’t low key insecure misogynists.


As a woman, sometimes it feels like your passion for music is just an annoying cycle of “proving” how big of a fan you are. You’re greeted with constant skepticism by men and expressing yourself becomes more of a task than an outlet. But the best thing you can do in these vulnerable, challenging moments is to just say F U C K I T. On to the next. If a guy who's into music can’t take you seriously as a woman also interested in music, he is not worth your friendship, kindness, or time. For every shitty dude who doesn't take you seriously, there's another one out there who will genuinely have your back.


Fuck anyone who doesn’t include you in the conversation, the group, whatever. Fuck the made up rules of how to do things, who to hang with, and what artists to care about. Fuck any guy who doesn’t take your interests and passions seriously. Your thirst for knowledge, to learn, and to expand yourself is the only thing that really matters. Fuck everything else.