Arming girls with guitars

By Stine Arnulf

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Guitars for Girls came out of that issue you’ll discover whenever you go to a festival: there’s a real lack of women on stage. You might see a female lead singer or guitarist here and there, but the rock world is still largely dominated by men. Canadian rock duo KINK recognised this and decided it was time to take matters into their own hands.

Dani and Erica created Guitars for Girls to enable more young women to express themselves through music. By giving away guitars to girls who might not have access to them, they hope to inspire more females to play rock: “Music is a great way to express oneself and to meet like-minded people. We want girls to know [that] if they want to play a guitar and be badass, they can.”

The minority of girls in rock and punk genres surprises KINK: “Girls are just as capable as guys are when it comes to learning and playing instruments.” Although rock is still a genre largely by and for men, it is interesting that one of the predecessors of rock was a woman: Sister Rosetta Tharpe mixed gospel with guitar playing and became an inspiration for many famous rock artists. She has been referred to as “the godmother of rock and roll”, but today the “rock-star” ideal seems to belong to males.

The KINK girls think that we have somehow decided that rock is a male domain: “Boys may be more drawn to the rock industry since that is what they see all the time – guys playing instruments and being cool and getting all the girls.” Even though they both had female idols such as Joan Jett, Courtney Love and Brody Dalle to inspire them, the girls agree that “there haven’t been enough women in the rock industry to make a mark on girls wanting to play drums and guitars.”

The band is hoping to change this issue through their program, but they also want to teach girls that it is okay to be themselves, “even if it means not fitting into the societal norm of what is ‘feminine’ and ‘beautiful’”. KINK have already changed the lives of many girls in their hometown Toronto, where the program has mostly been based. “We have made a huge impact on over fifty lives! Every time we give a guitar away and we see how happy the girl is when she receives it, we know we have made a difference.”

They started the project by contacting Steve’s Music in Toronto, who donated four guitars to their cause. Then they got in contact with Dixon Hall, a music school that organised for them to meet with four girls who were in need of the donated guitars. The giveaway was filmed and the band was lucky enough to get the Canadian rock star legends Kittie involved to help spread the word. The coverage gave them the media attention they needed, and the project took off. Many people have now contacted the band, wanting to donate guitars to their cause.

But KINK are by no means finished. They have plans to expand the project into other cities. They also want to get more bands involved, as they cannot do it all by themselves. And how else will they continue to convince girls to play? Through their shows and their “wicked” fans, of course: “Just at our last show, we were telling the guys to calm down while they were moshing and to respect the girls who were trying to be in front”. Because, as well as inspiring girls to become rockers, they also see the importance of making girls “feel safe at rock shows”, ensuring that “the whole rock scene is accessible to them”. From the fans to the acts, it’s a step towards making the rock world a more equal one.


Find out more about KINK here:


Guitars for Girls Project