A Massachusetts rock trio composed of three girls aged 14 to 16 finished in third place at the Tri-County Fair’s “Battle of the Bands” after losing points for not being sexy enough.
According to massive.com, Pioneer Valley band Kalliope Jones performed over the weekend at the Three County Fair in Northampton during a friendly “battle of the bands” for musicians between the ages of 12 and 16. One unidentified judge took away points in the “Stage Presence – Showmanship” category, complimenting their outfits but noting they should “Use the sultry to draw in the crowd.” The judge wrote that he “[heart] the sultry in bassist voice + Guitar singer’s too [sic],” but there were “Audience participation opportunities missed.”
In the category of “Form, Technique & Timing,” his focus went back to their music. See his judging sheet below.
Kalliope Jones is 16-year-old guitarist/vocalist Isabella DeHerdt, 14-year-old drummer Alouette Batteau, and 16-year-old bassist Amelia Chalfant. They responded to the competition’s results in a Facebook post on Sunday, calling the judge’s advice “glaring and crude, sexist and stereotypical.”
The judge did however, give Kalliope Jones a bonus point, because, as he put it, “Chicks Rock.” The judging panel was reportedly composed of two women, who identified as DJs, and one man.
Here is Kalliope Jones’ full response:
Today, we played at the Tri-County Fair at a Battle of the Bands for ages 12-16. Everyone played spectacularly.
There were three judges who decided who got first, second, and third place in the competition, and they ranked each band on different aspects of musicality and performance. They also commented on what each band’s strong points were and how they could improve. After they gave out awards, everyone received the judges’ sheets so they could look at the said comments.
We received third place, a cash prize and gift certificates. In the comments, we were told to “use our sultry to draw in the crowd.” We ended up losing points for not utilizing this aspect enough. As Amelia Chalfant said, “A woman’s sex appeal, or anyone’s for that matter, should not be the defining factor in their success in the music industry, and in addition to that, WE ARE CHILDREN! WE ARE 14-16 YEARS OLD.” The judges tried to say they meant it as a positive thing; that it was supposed to mean “soulful”. They did not understand why we confronted them about it.
From Merriam Webster – Sultry: very hot and humid: attractive in a way that suggests or causes feelings of sexual desire
We then asked if they had made similar comments to any of the bands that were made up of only boys. They said, “Oh, no. It is a completely different thing.” Actually, it really isn’t. This conspicuous act of sexist and stereotypical thinking was deplorable and pathetic.
The fact that they made these glaring and crude, sexist and stereotypical notes about our performance was made worse by the fact that they did so while drinking beer, blowing their bloated beery breath in our faces. It was astonishing , revolting, and VERY offensive. We are grateful to have ranked among the top three performers (who, by the way, besides us, were all boys), but to be judged on our sex appeal and told that we need to be more sexy in order to make it as musicians goes against everything we have been taught.
Come see us tomorrow on the Preachin’ the Blues stage, hosted by the Institute for the Musical Arts, where we will turn it up and play like a girl!!!
-Alouette, on behalf of Kalliope Jones and all the other girl bands out there
Earlier this week, Masslive reached James Ryan, president of the fair’s Board of Directors, who said yesterday that no one was in touch with him about the issue, and he was unaware of any controversy because he doesn’t have Facebook. But he admitted that judging a teenaged band on sex appeal is “completely unacceptable.” He adds: “I have two daughters and a son of my own, and wouldn’t want to have anything like that happen to them.”
On Monday, Kalliope Jones posted another message, stating they were grateful to finish third and did not want to demonize any of the judges or exaggerate what happened. But what they encountered was still wholly inappropriate, and they hope that “positive change” can be the ultimate result.
Their message reads, in part:
Second of all, we do not, in any way, want to be demonizing or offending the judges, sponsors, or fair organizers by making this announcement. Nor do we want to be exaggerating what happened. We only want to bring it to attention. We are just starting out in the music business. This is actually the first time we have encountered any of the stereotypical objectifying sexualization of women that is so common. We had been warned about it, but never experienced it. We wish to be judged solely on our musicality, and not on our appearance or sexual appeal. We understand that the judges may not have even realized that what they said was sexist; it’s just what many define the music industry as these days. Our goal is to educate people who think this, and change the paradigm. We sincerely hope the judges made an honest mistake in their use of the word “sultry,” and that they, the sponsors, and the fair organizers join us in eradicating sexism wherever it may show up.
Here is the judge’s score sheet:
Here is video of Kalliope Jones performing in October of last year…