NAMM 2019: The Problem with Dean Guitars’ Sexist Marketing

Like any gear-obsessed guitarist, I will be spending this week drooling over pictures from NAMM 2019 – the world’s biggest music product trade show. My feed is awash with shiny new axes and intriguing effect pedals. It’s great. But there’s always one who has to spoil the fun. I’m looking at you, Dean Guitars.

Now, in case you are wondering who ‘The Dean Girls’ are. They’re underwear models. They did not play the guitars at NAMM 2019, they posed with them in low cut tops for photos. Now, as a feminist, I am not here to deny two girls the opportunity to make some money by modelling. They’re not the problem. The problem is the outdated marketing team at Dean Guitars, to whom I would like to say this:

Do you realise how hard it is for female guitarists to be taken seriously in this industry? Do you realise that when we step onstage, we have to work 30 times harder to “prove ourselves” – because there is a perpetual (unfounded) assumption that we can’t play well? Do you realise that when we do showcase killer performances of our shredding, people are more likely to comment on our looks, not on our ability? As players, we are continually diminished, doubted and dismissed.

So when you, Dean Guitars, employ underwear models at a fucking MUSIC TRADE SHOW – you are contributing massively to the problem. You are making things worse for women in music. Because you are promoting the notion that women can only be the shallow sex-appeal, not the musical talent.

Can they shred?”

“Of course they can’t.”

I bet that’s how every conversation at the Dean Guitars stand went. And thus, the assumption that women “can’t play” is perpetuated – because we are being fucking represented at a music show by women who can’t play! LET FEMALE GUITARISTS REPRESENT THEMSELVES PLEASE. LET US HAVE THAT VALUABLE PLATFORM TO SHOW WHAT WE ACTUALLY CAN DO. THE KNOWLEDGE AND SKILL WE HAVE. How will we ever be taken seriously, if a chance to demonstrate a guitar is given to a model who is only there to pose sexily for photos? How will we ever be regarded as anything more, if you keep painting us in this objectified role?

To put it into perspective, if Dean employed some hot male models to wonder around with their guitars – no one would even assume they couldn’t play. No one would assume they knew nothing about the guitars. Oh what luxury, to be automatically respected.

Words: Serena Cherry