Best Coast's Bethany Cosentino talks music industry sexism in new essay
"Sometimes people dislike me or discredit my talents because I am a female musician who is not apologizing."
Bethany Cosentino knows a thing or two about sexism in the music industry: The Best Coast frontwoman details the kind of gendered attacks she encounters on a daily basis as a musician in a new essay for Lenny Letter, where she writes, “I just want to be able to exist and make music without people asking me the question, ‘So what is it like to be a girl in a band?'”
Cosentino — who released her most recent album with Best Coast, California Nights, this past May — recounts walking out of an interview once after a male journalist said, “You really don’t see many female rock stars with guitars.” “I’ve never felt more badass in my life!” she recalls. But that refusal to answer an ignorant question is also what gets her criticism.
“Sometimes people dislike me or discredit my talents because I am a female musician who is not apologizing,” she writes before talking about a recent concert review where the writer called her “sexy” but “bemoaned [her] lack of smiling.” “This reviewer’s gendered critique of my presence onstage revealed how he thought a woman who he saw as ‘sexy’ should behave,” she says.
“We live in a world where a man can yell at me while I’m onstage, ‘Bethany, I wanna f— you!’ and I’m supposed to not only stand there and take it but also digest it as a compliment to add to my fierce arsenal of sexy confidence,” she continues. “Not only should I take it, I should be smiling and excited to be sexualized by my audience. If I’m not, there is something wrong with me.”
Cosentino ends the essay by acknowledging that she “absolutely chose the right career,” that she is “a creative, strong, outspoken woman, and [her] voice will not be silenced.” “If anything, I will deal with the sexist bulls— and have burgers thrown at my face so that I can use my voice to say ‘THIS IS NOT OK!’ and let women (and men) know that we don’t have to accept this type of behavior.”
Subscribe to Lenny Letter here to read Consentino’s full piece.