A ‘sexist’ pub has come under fire after it defended its controversial ban on female-fronted bands, claiming women ‘can’t sing rock’.
Doctor Brown’s, in Middlesborough, has been berated by female singers who claim they have been denied the opportunity to perform because of their gender.
Yet the pub’s manager has defended the decision, claiming she has come under pressure herself from regular customers do not believe women can sing rock songs.
The pub’s manager, who did not want to be named, said: ‘We had female singers on in the past and customers just didn’t like it – we’re a rock bar and they don’t think that women should sing male rock songs.
‘It’s nothing to do with me, it’s the pub’s regulars who come in every week, they won’t come in if there’s a female singer.
Doctor Brown’s, in Middlesborough, has been berated by female singers who claim they have been denied the opportunity to perform because of their gender
‘If we put a poster up and our regulars know there’s a woman in the band, they won’t give them a chance – they’re my bread and butter and we can’t risk nobody coming in.’
Defending her ban, she added that she would be relaxing the rule by allowing one band with a female singer to play next year.
She also said female singers who could guarantee large crowds would also be allowed to play, but the controversial policy would remain in place.
She added: ‘We have got to keep our regulars happy, I’m not a rock fan so can’t judge myself but I’ve been told that some women can sing and some can’t, but they can’t sing heavy rock.’
Yet female rocker Hannah Sowerby said she has been discriminated against by Doctor Brown’s after they discovered her band Revenant and Syndicate 66 was fronted by a female.
Ms Sowerby said: ‘I haven’t been allowed to play because I’m female, despite the fact my band can draw a crowd.
‘You wouldn’t get people saying they don’t like male bands, because not all male singers are the same – just like not all female singers are the same.
‘It is a sexist attitude from the regulars and there’s no excuse for it in 2017, you’d think we’d be past this by now.’
Another female singer impacted by the ban said her group were being ‘punished’ because of her gender.
She said: ‘One shouldn’t judge a book by its cover and in this case, the pub is judging all female singers on the basis of being female.
‘Unfortunately, it’s true that many don’t think a woman can sing rock well and this is one of the reasons it’s extremely difficult for a woman to get anywhere fronting a band.
‘We have to work twice as hard as men to achieve the same thing – it saddens me that some places won’t give females the same chance as men because I’ve seen male singers who aren’t very good either.
Harriet Hyde, who is the vocalist for rock band Black Moth and has been played on Radio One, condemned the pub’s ban
‘If a band has a good reputation and they can see videos confirming the quality of the band, they should not make the decision for their customers what type of band to enjoy but give them a chance to sample varying types of entertainment.
‘My band are punished by this too and they are extremely talented guys – it’s a shame.’
A spokesman for the Equalities and Human Rights Commission said the pub’s ban was not illegal.
A spokeswoman for the Musicians’ Union said they had not been involved in this particular incident but take discrimination on any grounds very seriously.
Five female rockstars who helped shape the genre
- Pat Benatar – Five platinum albums, three gold albums, and 15 Billboard Top 40 singles, including the Top 10 hits ‘Hit Me with Your Best Shot’, ‘Love Is a Battlefield’
- Joan Jett – Best known for her work as the frontwoman of her band, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, preceded by success with the Runaways, including the hit song ‘Cherry Bomb’. The Blackhearts’ song ‘I Love Rock ‘n Roll’ was number-one on the Billboard Hot 100 from March 20 to May 1, 1982
- Janis Joplin – The singer-songwriter also known as ‘Pearl’ was respected for her charismatic performing ability. She was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995
- Stevie Nicks – Best known for her work in Fleetwood Mac, she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998
- Suzi Quatro – She was the first female bass player to become a major rock star, breaking a barrier to women’s participation in rock music and has sold more than 50 million albums worldwide
They said: ‘For the purposes of booking shows, female-fronted bands should not be treated any differently to male-fronted bands, and neither should they be expected to identify themselves or their music according to their gender.
‘We have been investigating the seeming lack of female artists on festival line-ups but this is the first time I’ve personally come across a booking cancelled explicitly because of the gender of the performer and the assertion made that audiences aren’t interested in gigs featuring women.
‘Sexism in this regard is damaging both to the local music community and to the wider industry.’
Harriet Hyde, who is the vocalist for rock band Black Moth and has been played on Radio One, condemned the pub’s ban.
She told MailOnline: ‘I think its an extremely poor business decision from this pub which will only alienate half the population.
‘I can’t really see how this is going to be good for them or go down well for anyone. This is coming at a time where females are finding their voice in the public sphere, and I’m sure if this venue won’t showcase female talent, there are plenty of other venues that will.’
She added: ‘You’re entitled to your opinion on what is and is not good musically but to enforce such a ban is just ludicrous.’