That’s Dr. Barefoot and Pregnant to you...
Since my blog is called #TheSingingPharmacist, one can probably gather that I’m a singer and a pharmacist. What you may or may not know is that I have a lot of experience with gender inequality in pharmacy and music. I’m also a former pageant girl, and as you can imagine that comes with a lot of stereotypes. Let me share with you some experiences that stand out to me in my past. In light of the protests and the #MeToo Movement, I believe it is important to share.
First, let’s start with my career as a #pharmacist. There are so many stereotypes in healthcare that are directly associated with being male or female. For example, we automatically assume a doctor is a man, a nurse is a female, and the pharmacist is the man behind the counter, usually middle aged. I have technicians in my pharmacy who are young men, and even though they are dressed differently and my portrait hangs on the wall, patients assume they are the pharmacist. Then, when I come to help them, I can tell they probably don’t trust my advice.
Next, let’s briefly touch on pageants because I’ll talk more of my experience in pageantry later. If you know me, you know I AM NOT A PAGEANT GIRL! (Side note: a lot of pageant girls say this without realizing they are in fact pageant girls…lol) I am a blunt, beer drinking redneck from northeast Tennessee who takes shit off no one…so when I say I am not a pageant girl, I mean it. I just played the game.
I met some phenomenal women in pageants, so when I say wasn’t a pageant girl, I just mean I didn’t really fit in, and that’s totally ok! I was dared to do a pageant and only won because I am good at running my mouth in an interview and can sing my tail off. Nonetheless, I won Miss Northeast Tennessee and then Miss Johnson City the following year. With a preliminary title in the Miss America Organization, I had the duty of making certain appearances. Honestly, I met some amazing people and did some amazing things, but as the old saying goes, “there’s one in every crowd.” The worst instance that is tattooed on my brain forever is when a man at an event is standing amongst a group of people asking me about my future endeavors. As I was proudly sharing that I was getting my PharmD and pursuing a music, I see a gentleman whisper in a friend of mines ear. I can usually tell when people are talking smack about me….pageants, the music business, and working with the public: do I need to explain further as to why? Didn’t think so. Back to the story…being that I’m not one to just let things go, I asked what he said. He said that he knew where I would be in five years. I asked where that was. His reply was ,”barefoot and pregnant.” My response back in true Jessica style was, “if that’s the case, you can call me doctor barefoot and pregnant, which is more than you can say.” This gentleman also expected me to play at a festival for free when I knew he was paying other people.
That story leads me into my final subject: music. Music industry insiders will tell you they can’t get women played on the radio, especially in country music…I chose the right genre right?! Statistics don’t lie either. Here are a few I have found in various publications like Billboard and The New York Times. In 2017, 83.2% of artists were male and 16.8% were female. Percentages were similar among songwriters. When the top 600 songs from 2012 to 2017 were analyzed, only 22.4% of the artists were female. Those stats don’t even include Grammy nominations, which show the exact same trend. Now imagine being a female in this business trying to make it. Also imagine that people don’t want to book you because you’re female or call you a diva (that’s the nice word) for asking for fair pay or an explanation as to why you were passed over. I was even told that I wouldn’t be booked because I was a Carrie Underwood wannabe (uhhhh, we couldn’t be more different, #CarrieUnderwood is great but I’m just trying to be me). Before I moved to Nashville, people would book me all the time if I did it for free or they would tell me I needed to be more established. I do not mind donating my time to worthy causes, but when it’s not for a good cause and I know others are getting paid, I find it ridiculous. I always did what I was told and it didn’t make a difference, so I stopped playing as much. (Go figure that’s when people started saying they wish they could come out and hear me) In fact, I was booked for a high profile singing appearance just because the man over the institution wanted to date me. I was lied to about having a stage at a festival and found out when the line up was released. This is just the tip of the iceberg and that was when I was a local artist. I used to get mad, but then I realized it did no good because it was just more ammo for them to call me high maintenance. So, I learned to just take it in stride. I learned who was in my corner and who wasn’t, and the longer I was away from a small town, the more I realized there were some amazing people to work with in the industry and there is a big world out there. I took the blinders off. I’m not bitter. I’ve learned a lot, and I’ve just had to work harder. I also had to shift my focus to those who did believe in me and always gave me a chance.
Even though I’m not bitter or upset anymore, things still need to change. Women have come a very long way, but we can do more. In my opinion, women need to STOP SELLING THEIR BODIES INSTEAD OF THEIR TALENT AND BRAINS. Looks fade, so don’t depend on it. Set an example for the future generations of women! If you have to pose half nude on Instagram or starve yourself to be a certain size for attention, is it worth it? Does it really attract the right people, people you can trust and call friend and mentor? Most importantly, before we can demand respect from men, we must SUPPORT EACH OTHER! We have to have a United front and stop being jealous and catty and in unhealthy competition. Society has made this ok behavior, so it’s easy to fall into the trap. Make a mindful effort to stop this cycle! When we all demand respect and unite in support, things will change!
Here’s a tune for my ladies I wrote with Lance Carpenter!