Everett True and the Gender Obsession
By Steven Wright
Editor’s note: A reader emailed me this out of the blue about some of the stuff I’ve been posting on Facebook. Figured it was worth reprinting here, so … here it is.
What is it about men and rock music? It really puzzles me. Why aren’t there more men making good music? Are they just not as interested?
This is the latest in an ongoing chain of observations made by Everett True on his Facebook page and on his website, Collapse Board. In fact, it can seem at times that he uses any opportunity to make jibes at the state of ‘modern male music’. While I understand that True is deliberately provocative (mostly for the better, I might add), this practice has become a major source of irritation for me. Why? Here are three problems I have with this latest statement:
- I think it is unnecessary to make such frequent, definite distinctions between men and women. It has always annoyed me when press releases have talked up the fact that a certain band is “all girls” (or worse: “full of innocent feminine charm”). Marketing on the basis of gender is discriminatory, and consuming on this basis is too. Of course, that decision is up to the individual listener. But when said listener begins broadcasting this to hundreds of people on a regular basis, I have a little bit of a problem with it. [Note: Don’t play the “it’s just a descriptive term” card in reply to this comment. There is as much variation within (for example) women’s voices as there is between men’s and women’s generally. Timbre, pitch, volume, style, range, etc, etc are all independent of gender, and surely just as important.]
- I’m not advocating a complete gender-blindness. There are experiences (among them, biology) common to most women, and others common to most men. And of course, it is probably impossible to talk about music, or about any part of life, without reference to these things on occasion. Bearing this in mind, I think True’s generalised assertions are saying far more about him than anything else .While he would never claim to be an objective authority on music, he very nearly writes off thousands of bands based on gender. Yes, he does say that there are good male musicians/bands (ET quote: “the exception not the rule”). But it feels to me like they nearly have to prove themselves worthy of consideration, while their female counterparts have a head start. I wonder how many women would appreciate that extra boost thanks to their gender? The problem is with you, Everett. You’re not relating to men/bands with men/men’s music, and you’re putting that down to their gender? Why don’t you change the way you’re approaching it, and see what happens?
- Where does music created by transgender or intersex people fit into the picture? It’s excluded completely from consideration. There is obviously a great deal less of it, but my problem is with the socialised norm of just accepting two ‘normal’ gender classifications. [Pre-empting the “it doesn’t matter, this is just a music site/whatever” card here … It might not matter to you, and I’m sure that if this piece was read by many people I would be laughed off as extreme or overly PC. Personally though, I would like to think someone as obviously intelligent and engaged as True would have some qualms about furthering social exclusion. Those directly affected care.]
It’s all very well to talk about subjectivity and anti-elitism, but if you’re broadcasting what seem to me to be unconsidered, discriminatory remarks to a relatively large audience then maybe it’s time to take another look at what it is you’re saying.
Happy to be argued with, laughed at, or written off in response to this. Hope to be proven wrong.