It’s obvious females struggle to be taken as seriously as their male counterparts in the music industry. I don’t have the answers to suddenly make dudes stop being less gross or more respectful. I can’t pretend to know what a female musician goes through on stage, but it’s in my own experience as a writer, editor and blog queen that I’ve come across quite a lot of this nonsense. I don’t know when people suddenly decide to take you seriously, or stop questioning your knowledge, experience, age, credentials, etc. It’s just something that really angers and saddens me, and I hope that this very small way of speaking up might silence some critics or encourage more women, and even men, to support their fellow sisters. The first time I realized things wouldn’t come as easily for me was in college. Over the course of my education I was met with more questions and more negativity toward my chosen career path than any of my male peers. Professors told me I couldn’t write about music, and “friends” told me that nobody liked the “garage rock” I did. Their faces often showed disbelief, that me, quiet Lauren, would make it anywhere past the college newspaper. For a time I let that doubt control me. I hid behind the names of others, writing for websites and publications, that of course were all run by men. Not many people notice it, but look closely at the bylines of your favorite website and paper, how many of those writers are women? I took on smaller opportunities and never pursued my own path because I was afraid. I think for a time I thought I couldn’t do it, and that maybe everyone was right, maybe some girls just weren’t allowed in. Even when I went to shows I felt out of place. I like girly things, I like teen dramas, the color pink glittery make-up and flowery accessories, and I often felt like I didn’t belong. Again, I think it all went back to the men, and even women I surrounded myself with, the people who made it their business to essentially make others feel like crap. Maybe it was that I finally recognized my anxiety and depression and started to treat it, but in 2013 I finally decided I wanted to do something. I rid myself of all those assholes and naysayers and decided that I was going to do my own thing, even if the only person who read it was my mom. And for a time the only person that read The Grey Estates was my mom. I could let myself get down like before when I receive e-mails asking me to write about bands where a male calls me babe, cutie or honey. Even worse, I could get upset when they ask for the person in charge, like a woman couldn’t run a blog!? I could let websites, run by males, take my interviews, stories and quotes and run them without attribution, or “this babe” could stand up for herself and call you out on your bullshit. Even after years of writing, and I mean writing, I’ve done a lot of writing, I still find myself on the outside looking in. I still contend with men who won’t acknowledge me, who won’t recognize that yes, I am a female, and yes, I started a website that has grown, and grown and grown. The next time you head over to your favorite website or publication, take a look at the byline. Recognize how lucky you are to see a woman speak her mind, and then recognize how hard she had to work to get there, and how much further we have to go. Seriously, don’t let the men get you down.