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A teen girl band performing at a county fair in Massachusetts took feedback from the judges to heart. They also took it to social media, pushing back against one judge's comments as sexist and inappropriate.
The trio, called Kalliope Jones, competed in the junior division of the Three County Fair's battle of the bands. The band members (Isabella DeHerdt, 16, vocals and guitar; 14-year-old Alouette Batteau, drums and vocals; and Amelia Chalfant, 14, bass) came in third in their division.
But, as Mary Serreze of MassLive reported, the group may have lost points from one of the judges on the panel for not playing up "the sultry."
A summary of the judges' comments included:
"- Good outfitting style—matches music style well
- ♥ the sultry in bassist voice + Guitar singer's too (sic) - Use the sultry to draw in the crowd. - Audience participation opportunities missed"
The girls took to Facebook to point out how, basically, the judge was saying the girls should have been "sexier"—a strange and inappropriate expectation for the 12- to 16-year-old age group.
"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 they were confronted about it.
They went on in their lengthy Facebook post to quote Merriam-Webster for a definition of "sultry," and sorta nailed it. After the show, they checked to make sure "use the sultry" wasn't standard feedback for all bands.
"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."
Damn, these girls know their stuff. Now, maybe the judges do, too?
Let's hope they turn this experience into a song—a kick-ass, powerful, doing-it-for-themselves rock anthem.