(CNN) — There’s a scene in “The Runaways” — a biopic based on the Joan Jett and Cherie Currie fronted 1970s band — where the group’s manager informs them that the only place men want to see women is in the kitchen or on their knees.

Much has changed since The Runaways became the first all-girl rock group, and the evidence lies in the vast number of female-centric bands that followed in the next 30-plus years, many with large, devoted followings.

And yet, in the midst of that progress, a group of women getting ready to perform at a venue can still be met with confused stares, said Linda Lou, the lead singer and guitar player of Los Angeles-based band Cockpit.

“It’s a tough business; it’s hard for everyone, male or female, but we do have our own problems,” Lou said.

“There was a time when we were loading the van [with our equipment], and there were guys outside of a bar who asked, who’s dating who,” the 29-year-old Los Angeles, California, transplant recalled. “Who dates who in the band?”

When they explained that they were the band, the guys were “really confused; they really thought we were helping our boyfriends load the equipment. I was like, ‘Is it that hard to imagine?’ ”

It shouldn’t be. Women in rock have a long and respected history, from the rule-breaking Runaways in the ’70s to The Bangles and The Go-Go’s in the ’80s. The ’90s brought the Riot Grrrl movement, where all-female bands created a genre in which punk meshed with politics, and the turn of the 21st century saw the popularity of California-bred band The Donnas, whose single “Take it Off” was a radio mainstay in 2003.

So perhaps a few imaginations will be stretched as “The Runaways” opens nationwide, but the movie also highlights that the visibility of all-girl bands has shifted in the past decade, as well as the genre’s sound.

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