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Boys Against Girls: the Brisbane Street Press, part 1

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If you’ve been reading Collapse Board in the last few weeks you will have noticed several related articles on sexism in music journalism, the lack of female voices in mainstream music criticism and the construction of female identity in Brisbane’s street press.

Based on this, I thought I’d look at the Brisbane street press in a bit more detail. The original reason was to just look at the male/female contributor split and see what it was, rather than just relying on unsubstantiated hearsay as to what proportion of music press contributors in Brisbane are female and how this might compare with elsewhere.

Here’s what I did:

  • I went through the masthead of each of Brisbane’s four weekly street press publications – Rave, Time Off, Scene and 3D World – in the edition that was published during the week of 31 January 2011. (I didn’t include Tsunami as it’s not weekly and concentrates on the music scene up on the Sunshine Coast).
  • If a contributor was called something like Darren, Steve or Tim, I assumed they were male.
  • If a contributor was called something like Sarah, Clare or Holly, I assumed they were female.
  • If a contributor was called something like Sam, Kim or Mel, I internet-stalked their name and variations of it to see if I could find out more information on which to make a decision.
  • If they had a more exotic name I internet stalked them, then did Google web and image searches on their first name, then checked out ‘Name Your Baby’-type websites.
  • If they called themselves something like Birdie, I assumed they were female.
  • If they called themselves something like Cyclone, I assumed they were male.
  • I also Facebook-stalked people through people I’m friends with, who work at/contribute to the publication in question. I also checked out the street press fan pages on Facebook.
  • If all else failed and I couldn’t tell either way I just assumed they were male.
  • No allowance was made for any George Eliot-types.

One thing I did learn from this exercise and that did surprise me is how few street press writers have blogs and collate their writing in one place that’s easy to find. And it was similar for a lot of the photographers. Maybe it’s just me, as a long-term blogger and street press photographer, but I don’t know why you wouldn’t want to show your work to the world and make it easy to find. Or even why you wouldn’t want to take advantage to extend yourself beyond street press’ restrictive word counts or the small amount of space that gets allocated each week to photos.

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14 Responses to Boys Against Girls: the Brisbane Street Press, part 1

  1. Matt February 10, 2011 at 11:02 am

    Very interesting – albeit not entirely surprising.

    For the record – Cyclone is female (and Melbourne-based) and Gloria Lewis is actually a George Eliot type.

    Also, 3DWorld is a bit hard to evaluate in a poll like this because its editor is Sydney-based.

  2. Matt February 10, 2011 at 11:05 am

    Also, to satisfy your curiosity, I haven’t created an online portfolio of my work because 1) I’m not really satisfied with the majority of it 2) It’s quite difficult to keep track of it all and 3)I’m not really too interested in moving too far beyond street press.

  3. Ellie February 10, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    To me it seems girls are interested in contributing to different kinds of music media like blogs, zines and radio – or actually creating their own publications. BATS Magazine and PressRecord (http://pressrecordonline.squarespace.com/) are run by girls, for example. I volunteer and announce at 4ZZZ – all the managers at the station are female. A (lady) friend and I have recently started producing music news bulletins for AMRAP. I recently interviewed Q Music and the girl I interviewed said everybody in the office is female too.

    So I think there is a female presence in the music industry – a huge one – just probably not so much in conventional street press. Anyway, I’m looking forward to going to Women in Music with the massive list of speakers!

  4. Darragh February 10, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    Interesting that the negligible percentage of she-males involved in the Brisbane street press.

  5. Alex February 10, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    It is hard to truly know. I’m a good example of this. two of my names are currently listed in streetpress and for the moment their both male but towards the end of last year, I had four name listed and two of them were female names. That said, I’ve stopped writing for street press for the most part and so even the two names currently listed are redundant… Sorry to mess with your math.

  6. Cyclone February 11, 2011 at 12:17 pm


    Yes, I am female – and Cyclone is my name. One reason I don’t use my surname is the ethnic spelling confounds a lot of people. The joy of street press is that there is scope to be non-traditionalist about such things.

    I am Melbourne-based but born in the ACT.

    I write up to 10, 000 words a week so I don’t have time to blog or feel the desire to – and also on a freelance income I don’t have the resources to develop a site and archive my material, but it is coming.

    It’s an interesting discussion, glad I was alerted to it! But maybe you should talk to some of the female writers who are active to learn more about their experiences? You may be surprised by what they have to say…

  7. Howard Duggan February 11, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    Scene Magazine’s archives dating back to April 2008.


  8. Sophie February 11, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    I freelanced for two years until I landed a full-time permanent job late last year. I’ve had a portfolio website the entire time, and it was something that really helped me land more work and permanent employment.

  9. Kye February 15, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    @elly Your right about a few mags and websites run by women like Bats Mag and Faster Louders QLD editor is femail. Press Record was started up by a group of femails but since then most of them have quit and is now runned by a male but about 70% of it’s writers are female.

    There is alot of females in the industry but it’s mainly promotion companies but it all depends on genre. Metal, Hip Hop and Dance are mainly males while the rest are 90% female.

    This is a really cool article but does have a big part of error with determaning gender….but it’s quite hard to tell sometimes

  10. Yeo February 16, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    You obviously don’t know shit if you think that a Cyclone could be a man.

  11. ed February 17, 2011 at 10:19 am

    Thanks everyone for the comments.

    Cyclone, sorry for getting it wrong. If it wasn’t obvious or I couldn’t find any information I assumed the contributor was male purely based on the majority of contributors being male.

    I’m now really intrigued by the use of pen names. I can see why a writer might do it – to write about music/genres they don’t normally write about (or don’t want to admit listening to/liking), to try out different writing styles, maybe even to submit work they aren’t fully happy with and don’t want to be published under their own name or avoid repercussions of a bad review in small music scenes. At the same time I’m intrigued to know whether it’s encouraged by editors (and I’d say most of the music press editors I know use pen names in their own publications anyway) to make it look like the publication is more important or has a whole army of writers writing for them or even is more inclusive when it comes to the gender of its contributors. If male writers are using female pen names are female writers using male pen names?

    Looking back at what I was finding when googling contributor names, it’s obvious that this is what’s happening as some people just didn’t exist on the internet outside of a few articles for the music paper they write for.

    I need to get on and finish the second part of this; going through the last four issues of each publication to tally up the gender split on different sections of the actual content is taking time. The results are pretty interesting so far though!

  12. Matt February 17, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    For the record, Ben Preece is a woman.

    Also, some people just don’t use the internet. I remember a friend of mine presuming Douglas Leonard at RealTime was a pen-name because *no-one* had any contact with him – but he turned out to be some experimental performer from the 70s who just wasn’t into self-promotion as a writer.

  13. Ben Preece February 17, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    Am not a woman!!! *cries*

  14. digger February 17, 2011 at 10:13 pm

    It’s good to see the beginning of this thread was serious, then two guys pop up and make stupid comments, because they actually think that this was addressed directly at them and them only.

    They don’t blog or showcase their work, because (a) it’s boring as bit sh#t and (b) they don’t know how to as they think that by posting a Facebook update about gigs or their work, they have made it!

    hell, one of them claims to be some big shot in music, but has a website that directs you to his facebook page?? Interesting marketing tool and certainly isn’t doing his bands any favour by only promoting them on Facebook.

    Nice to see some decent chop for a change – people who blog & do it well, are far more successful than those who use one medium only – ie, Mucha whatever only advertise their roster on Facebook…..I guess their “quality” roster is happy with that limited service?

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