This article explores the role of gender stereotype and gender bias within the industrial ecosystem of live music touring through the archetype of “Merch Girl,” a catch-all for women who sell merchandise. Using twenty interviews with touring workers and supplementary fieldwork, it situates the idea of “Merch Girl” within its industry ecosystem, querying the gendered dynamics of touring and the place of the merch stand in an often-sexist setting. It argues that merch selling’s second-class status is symptomatic of a set of insidious industrywide assumptions that delimit women’s ability to participate equitably in touring, specifically (1) that the job is a backroad for so-called “groupies” and romantic partners to gain illicit access; (2) that the merch table labor is gendered; and (3) that women’s place within live music itself is resultingly precarious. This rhetoric is a symptom of institutional sexism that delegitimizes women’s ability to belong in the touring industry.
“I’m Not the Drummer’s Girlfriend”: Merch Girls, Tour’s Misogynist Mythos, and the Gendered Dynamics of Live Music’s Backline Labor
- Views Icon Views
- Share Icon Share
- Search Site
John Vilanova, Kyle Cassidy; “I’m Not the Drummer’s Girlfriend”: Merch Girls, Tour’s Misogynist Mythos, and the Gendered Dynamics of Live Music’s Backline Labor. Journal of Popular Music Studies 2 June 2019; 31 (2): 85–106. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/jpms.2019.312009
Download citation file: