Neko Case is hot. I mean, smoldering hair, Susan Orlean’s intellect, and a voice that could melt platinum (records)—that hot. And you don’t have to take my word for it. The New Pornographers’ singer-turned-solo-act was named Sexiest Babe of Indie Rock by Playboy, and GQ listed her right alongside the likes of Katy Perry and Liz Phair.
So why is it that nobody’s hitting on her?
As the singer recently tweeted: “No, ladies in bands don’t get ANY action.” Other female musicians backed her up. “SO TRUE!” tweeted Michelle Branch. Crooked Fingers singer Miranda Brown asserted, “You are 100% correct … I have gotten laid exactly one time on tour, and it was an ex. Laaaaame.”
This isn’t a call for the universal catcalling of female musicians. But in a world where sex appeal often trades as popular currency, what is with this double standard? Male rock stars’ sexing up fangirls is trite enough to warrant a book like Sex Tips From Rock Stars (which, naturally, only features men). So why is a musician like Colette Alexander saying things like “The best gift a friend can get a (girl)friend who’s about to go on tour is a vibrator”?
There are number of possible explanations. Salon asserted that male fans could be intimidated by the implied power dynamic of approaching a woman like Case.
[T]he biggest reason for the lack of males in the groupie workforce likely stems from the power dynamic inherent in a sexual negotiation. A female fan, for all the chutzpah she may possess to throw herself in the path of R. Kelly, is chasing after a male of higher status. But the man standing outside by the stage door, despite the boldness of his move, is rarely viewed as her sexual equal.
We’ve heard that story countless times. (See: explanations for why Hillary Clinton’s a bitch or why breadwinner women are doomed to divorce.) Female rockers are powerful women and gearing up to approach any powerful woman—let alone a gorgeous celebrity with stage presence—can be tough on a guy’s masculinity. It’s the same code that directs nice guys to avoid hitting on the hot bartender because “she probably gets too much of that anyways.” It’s assumed that a woman like Neko Case wouldn’t want the guy who waits at the stage door. (Not to mention the different set of risks assumed when it’s a guy, not a girl, waiting.)
But here’s my question: why is it assumed that a female rock star wouldn’t want the sexual perks that come with the gig? Even Case herself admitted that it was a letdown, at least initially.
For female artists, it’s got to be weird doing the same job as their male counterparts and not getting the same payoff in attention. But the practical reality is that just because a woman rocks your world onstage, she’s probably not going to do it backstage as well. I’m too old to care now, but in my 20s I felt pretty robbed.
And further, why can’t male fans both respect and court their musical idol? Does a musical Madonna (not Ciccone)-whore complex come into play? I have mixed feelings about the idea of throwing one’s body at a rock star in general—but if it’s going to happen, why is it OK for fangirls to do it and not men?
Here’s Case again:
I didn’t want to be hit on by lots of men so much as I wanted to be hit on as much as men … Competitive inferior penis complex.
It’s often assumed that lady lead singers are dating someone in the band. Maybe overzealous band security has something to do with it.
But when I make it big with my one-woman xylophone-and-cymbal gig, I expect gender-equal sex perks.
So what do you think, readers? Where are all the fanboys?