Both Sides, Now! – How Women are Denied Universal Appeal as Songwriters
How do we fix this situation? By making female artistic expression as normal as male artistic expression. Now, the problem is female artistic expression is as normal as male artistic expression, so that means the real issue is exposure. Imagine a place where exposure to female artistic expression happens on a daily basis, so as to make it the norm. I humbly suggest that place is Collapse Board. I myself am a man who has spent most of his life listening to male singers and songwriters. In recent years that situation has changed. I have been reading Collapse Board since last year and have been contributing since early 2011. So far three of my Top Five albums of 2011 have been made by female artists. Coincidence? Perhaps, but the fact remains that with enough exposure and advocacy situations can change.
There remains an underlying assumption that women singers and songwriters are expressing a limited aspect of humanity, that their thoughts and emotions do not have the same grand all-encompassing sweep as that of the male artist. This is where the music writer can truly alter perceptions. Let those who see unfairness use their anger as a crowbar to pry open the minds of those momentarily fooled by illogical societal inferences. Once open, flood these minds with unarguable reasons as to why they need to hear a particular artist, be it the forgotten 60s sunshine pop of Margo Guryan:
to the ice-cold majesty of Austra.
Only then can we put an end to harmful opinions about women in music, which more often than not rest on the assumption that the status quo represents some kind of natural law, that broad commercial appeal and critical approval indicates some kind of innate greatness. The list of powerful, talented, unorthodox women songwriters is too long to type up. That they did not always receive validation on the market speaks more of the poverty of imagination in regards to popular culture than to the lack of authentic brilliance from the artists in question. It seems a pity that this still needs to be pointed out.