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 Everett True

attempted clarification on the triple j ‘sexism’ blog entry

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sexism in the media

By Everett True

“So,” asks Gerry. “Why don’t more young women pick up guitars? Is it a lack of role models? When I started playing in high school the whole ‘band’ thing didn’t seem to be taken particularly seriously by girls my age. There wasn’t any encouragement either, from my (non-band member) peers. I guess the question I’m trying to get to is: Why do some people get started & persist in making music (mainly males)? What factors are involved in keeping all these guys interested & freezing the girls out?”

Quite a few of the responses to my point that the suggested shortlist for triple j’s Hottest 100 Australian Albums Of All Time borders on discrimination against females cite the defence that listeners simply prefer ‘male’ music. Interesting, that folk should choose to split music into gender. Or perhaps they don’t see it like that? Either way, my argument is simple. (The following is reprinted from an answer I gave in the comments section: I feel it’s worth bringing further attention to, as it forms the core of one of my arguments against the patriarchal hegemony that holds sway within the Australian music industry.)

How much of taste is down to conditioning (the radio stations you listen to, the magazines/websites you read, the friends you choose, etc) and how much is down to personal preference? If radio listeners in Australia have been exposed to music that is 95% male then surely that is what they will 95% vote for in polls like triple j’s Hot 100s? They don’t really have any other option: to behave otherwise would be perverse (and outside the rationale of the mainstream).

triple j is responsible for some of this conditioning: as a popular ‘alternative’ radio station, it holds way more power over its audience’s taste than folk like me have ever done. triple j need to acknowledge this responsibility so when polls like this come along, so woefully weighted towards the favoured gender – they can take a step back and go, whoa. What is wrong here? And what can we do about it?

triple j clearly looks to both the UK and US music scenes to inform its own taste. And yet this music (‘indie’, loosely) has a far more even female/male split in the UK and US when it comes to both creation and coverage. Isn’t it time that triple j caught up? (To anyone familiar with the UK music press and triple j, it is obvious that triple j controller Richard Kingsmill grew up reading the NME/Melody Maker during the 90s. And he’s still at least a decade behind the times in this respect.)

Oh, and don’t give me the old “there are more male indie musicians out there than female”. Well, of course there are. This is because there are more male indie musicians out there being encouraged to make music than female, same way as there are more male critics out there being encouraged to write than female. Plus, both art forms were designed along strictly male lines … by males … and it’s only been in recent years in the UK and US (and doubtless other countries) this has changed, previously-maligned pioneers like the Riot Grrrls being in no small way responsible for this change of attitude. Sadly (and clearly) this doesn’t hold true in Australia yet.

(Look at Mess+Noise. Fine music website – I’d put it up any day against any of its UK/US contemporaries. Except: WHERE THE FUCK ARE THE FEMALE WRITERS? Don’t tell me they don’t exist. I know they do. So where are they?)

P.S. Yes, I was aware that triple j has also run a poll on hottest male musicians … it just seems unfortunate timing to run a second poll, looking for the hottest female musicians (which, by the very nature of such things, objectifies women far more than it does men) at exactly the same time they run a poll seeking to find the ‘greatest’ Australian Albums of All Time which has the unfortunate secondary effect of showing up, very starkly, the massive disparity in the way female and male musicians are regarded in this country.

So, I guess my main question here is:

Is there anyone out there brave enough to stand up and admit something’s wrong – and do something about it?

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