Originally published on Introspxct, no longer active.
Yesterday, Alex Garskarth, lead singer of All Time Low, posted a photo including all the support acts and crew to mark the end of the Young Renegades Tour.
In the caption of the photo, he lamented that they "need more ladies around !!!" and the backlash came quick. The wording of the tweet seemed as if it were almost preemptive damage control. However, acknowledging the problem in hindsight at the completion of tour doesn't do much good.
Alex responded to fans asking why he couldn't have used his position to include women, he responded by saying that that's just how the run worked out, and that All Time Low has worked with women in the past. When prodded further about the band's hiring practices, he explained that they usually just hire within their circle or based on recommendation.
Therein lies the issue: The Boys' Club. When those in the industry, specifically in the plethora of successful male rock bands that litter arena shows and festival line ups only pick from their circles, they're picking people that are like them. When you're consistently aligning with people who have similar backgrounds, upbringings and social circles, more often than not, they physically resemble them as well. Note that in the photo, every single one of the men is white passing as well.
When Alex reacted to naysayers by asserting that they "tour with women all the time," it was clear that the diversity issue wasn't a matter of having the incredible number of female fans that follow ATL see representation on the stage or giving women in the music industry who are so often looked down on an opportunity. It was about checking boxes.
Having past representation on a smaller scale doesn't fulfill some sort of quota for your band and allow you to continue operate under some sort of virtuous #woke paper crown. By being complacent in their hiring and network practices, bands like ATL aren't allowing up-and-coming, hardworking people with marginalized identities to have an actual shot. If this were a smaller band, it'd be a different story. Management often has a heavy hand in things of this nature. However, it is safe to say that All Time Low has the clout and pull to have a fairly decent say in the makeup of their touring cohort.
And when it comes to gender diversity, it goes beyond having a single female-fronted band sharing the bill. There are whole Facebook groups full of aspiring non-male sound techs, roadies, tour managers, and photographers just waiting for their big shot.
All of this leads to a broader issue in music. Many women trying to make it in the music industry simply aren't taken seriously. They're considered "fan girls" or "groupies" (both terms that are misogynistic and target the demographic of young women as a whole) who just want a way into the band's inner circle. The sooner that women are seen as potential colleagues, employees, coworkers rather than people that want to sleep with the band, the sooner that some of the rungs on the upward ladder to success can be repaired.
More often than not, though, we still need a hand to reach down and pull us up (I say "we" and "us" as a woman who sees myself in this situation as well). This hand comes in the form of established bands who have the platform to allow us to grow. And while there are bands like Diet Cig who have taken active stances on diversifying their touring cohorts, they are in the minority.
Proper allyship means using privilege to help others who may not have the same experiences and connections. Alex, women in the industry can absolutely put this on you. The onus is on you to make the change, rather than lazily caption a photo on Twitter. Proactive behavior by those in power are the only way to change up this Boys' Club of a scene.