There’s a common misconception among some male concert attendees that females in the audience are present only to get close to the band and then attempt to sleep with them. And this is wholly untrue. We know, we know…some breaking news just seems obvious to the most casual reader, but news is a cyclical business and it has come to our attention this proclamation bears repeating: Not all women at shows are groupies.
Many, in fact most, women who attend music acts are fans and to assume otherwise, or to make judgments on their sexual behavior for attending, is, well, downright insulting. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, or have been in a cryogenic deep freeze for the past half-century, the term “groupie” typically refers to a super fan who targets rock stars for sexual conquest. Believe it or not, the word “groupie” is usually not a compliment.
While we’re at it, not all groupies are women. Yet, despite this well-known fact, it’s women who get the most accusatory groupie-like questions at shows. Even when people say the word groupie, their voice drops in pitch, the tone becomes ominous and there’s a subtext so shameful, you might have concluded this poor woman was capable of unspeakable evil. Music needs to be a safe place for all, no matter their sex, sexuality or gender. Whether they're rock stars or fans, music is a party where everyone's invited.
Consider this a helpful guide when speaking to a female fan at a rock gig. Err on the side of grace and presume she’s a pundit for live performance. And whatever you do, never say these following things to a woman at a concert.
ARE YOU GONNA TRY TO MAKE YOUR WAY BACKSTAGE? (See also: Are you gonna head to the tour bus after the show?) There’s so much implied here, it’s hard to know where to begin. Let’s start with “make your way,” which presumes all kinds of sleazy behavior to not only reach backstage but undesirable behavior to get through that door. It also implies a solo operation, and if you’re trying to flirt with this woman, you’ve just figuratively cut yourself out of the conversation. That’s two strikes, fellas.
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ARE YOU JUST HERE FOR THE AFTER PARTY? To presuppose she’s not there for the live performance is really calling her disingenuous at best and a poseur at worst. Let’s pretend she listens to music, appreciates the artist, and spent her own money and time to get to the gig. Let’s also pretend she has her own favorite songs picked out and hopes they will be played — sounds like a real savant of the band, huh? Because she is, and while she may enjoy an after party, don’t make some lousy conjecture that’s the only reason she would attend a live production.
ARE YOU SHOWING UP JUST FOR THE HEADLINER? Another loaded question that implies she doesn’t possibly listen to music or care to discover openers she’s never heard of. Everyone knows real fans arrive when the doors open and leave long after the last encore. If you cross paths with a woman who not only digs the same music as you but purposely catches the early local acts, the mid-range openers, the co-headliners and elbows her way upfront after line check for a headliner, wife up that musical maven yesterday.
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HEY, YOU SHOULD GET AN AUTOGRAPH ACROSS YOUR BREASTS/ASS/RANDO BODY PART. Unless you’re speaking directly to an actual groupie who is at the venue for that reason, this question sounds like, "Hey, you have a vagina. Ever thought about offering it to a rock star?" That’s a decision best made by the owner of the vagina and probably none of your business. If she chooses to open her autograph book, those chapters are her own personal narrative. Best to leave it at that.
YOU KNOW, ROCK STAR X MET HIS FUTURE WIFE AT A SHOW… Not every woman (or man) is particularly interested in dating a musician, much less marrying one. And the assumption that women flock to rock stars just for their money is a false stereotype. What musician do you know who has any money? Exactly.
Here’s the thing: What if a grown woman decides to meet the band, head backstage, party all night and choose to have consensual sex with whomever she pleases? While the term “groupie” carries its own connotations, the expectations behind it are long overdue for a check. Calling a grown woman a “groupie” is a way of slut-shaming her, an attempt to control her sexuality through critical and negative speech.
And that kind of thinking is not only outdated, it’s reflective of the tired and trite double standard of sex in rock and roll: We expect male rock stars to bed myriads of women, but Lord have mercy if you’re one of those women. Rock and roll is about rebellion and freedom, and those patriarchal expectations of female behavior not only have no place in a free society, they most certainly are unwelcome in the lives of adult musicians and their companions.
Even if it’s just for one night.