Sexism etc – female music critics wanted for Collapse Board
It seemed a shame to let this Facebook thread pass unnoticed. Here’s an edit.
Oh, and just a small aside. Why is it that the vast majority of well-known chefs are male?
Female music critics wanted for Collapse Board. Enthusiasm and opinion favoured over experience. We don’t pay.
ME ME ME ME ME!
Yesterday at 08:17 · Like
Send me some stuff. Or ideas. Or both.
Yesterday at 08:23 · Like · 1 person
Here is an idea – explain fucking Arcade Fire!
Yesterday at 08:26 · Like
Actually, I really want to see that. The thing is, I want to like Arcade Fire. Really, I do. I mean, everyone else likes them so I feel like I’m missing out. Radiohead are fucking incredible – loved them since 1991! Really intricate, passionate, inventive, essential music! So Arcade Fire … I really try. OK, so I haven’t paid money for their albums, but I watch them on youtube and add them to my Last.fm and … every time it plays me a track, I forget that I’m listening to it *while I am listening to it*. Please explain what I’m trying to love.
Oh, and if you can imagine it, ditto Kanye West, because beyond some cool-sounding samples, I’m fucked if I can work out precisely what’s so fucking wonderful about what I perceive as a distinctly average album. If this is the best rap can offer … do better.
Yesterday at 08:29 · Like · 3 people
I think asking for women writers is intrinsically difficult: most women just don’t love rock. It’s like how most women don’t love games – it’s changing and it will change and depends on how you define it.
In school/sixth form, 9/10 of the girls were into pop. Rock fans were a minority, and certainly in my case I had plenty of role models and it didn’t occur to me for a fucking split second that I couldn’t be a rock journo or play in a band because I had the Miranda Sawyers and Courtney Loves (and later Lesley Rankines) into whose shoes I could fit. I was in this shitty band with a friend of Courtney’s and I quit because she wanted to call the band Beef Curtains, but I never felt any kind of *barrier* there, or any distinction because of my gender. I just happened to be a girl.
Anyway, I get what you’re doing and respect it. Just don’t fret too much if you’re not overwhelmed with takers: I’ve always just suspected that me and my friends were just born with too much testosterone or something to explain both our intense love of rock and our natural liking for men in general. I think “just don’t overthink it” covers it. Someone writes a good piece, “hire” them, and don’t worry about whether they’re a boy or a girl.
Yesterday at 08:48 · Like
Jo, are you blogging? You sound like my kind of woman, and certainly the sort of voice that should be heard in Rock journalism, come to think of it, is there a female equivalent to Lester Bangs or Greil Marcus writing about rock today? Forgive me, I’m old and they are my touchstones…
Yesterday at 08:53 · Like
Wow, mentioned in the same sentence as Lester Bangs! I need a quiet lie-down!
Yesterday at 08:54 · Like
I understand what you’re saying Jo, but what I’m looking for IS NOT another batch of fucking ROCK critics writing along delineated MALE lines.
Yesterday at 08:54 · Like · 2 people
I’m not sure what you mean by “delineated male lines” – I’ve never understood music criticism to be gender-divided, perhaps because my “heroes” have been evenly split between male and female. I have occasionally noted that male subjects get awfully embarrassed if physically rated the same as their female counterparts might be, but thus it has always been: I certainly remember a female hack at Number One magazine rating the Stone Roses for their sexual attractiveness.
I personally believe sexuality to be fundamentally part-and-parcel to the whole rock and roll experience, and not to be delineated either by gender or age (so, for example, I can still accept Nick Cave as a sexual persona, even if he protests that he’s over 50). I therefore don’t hesitate to deconstruct a persona along those lines. But I digress: what is delineated male lines? I certainly didn’t know where those lines were when I was writing unprofessionally or getting paid for writing unprofessionally. 😀
Yesterday at 09:15 · Like
Not a rock critic of course, but to me one of the greatest critics period was the movie critic, Pauline Kael – she is the one individual who has influenced my own writing style, but did she write along “male delineated” lines in the ’60’s or ’70’s? It never occurred to me to think such a thing especially as her style was muscular, rigorous, and even fanciful by turns…I’m with Jo on this Mr True, I’m not sure what you mean when you say that you are looking for a “female rock critic”.
Yesterday at 09:24 · Like · 1 person
Imagine if the music critic in Almost Famous had been female. Any chance at all she wouldn’t have been portrayed as a groupie?
Yesterday at 09:38 · Like · 1 person
Strange, I’ve always thought that rock’n’roll was something out of gender, and the fact that I’ve got my degree with a rock dissertation explains all, but still I can’t catch the point…Yes, sexuality in rock’n’roll, ok, but where’s the difference between men and women writing about it? Thanks, a true lover of true music journalism.
Yesterday at 09:42 · Like
There’s no difference in men and women writing about it, Laura. Except that, up to a few years ago, the split was something like 95/5 or something. And the fact that rock’n’roll writing – in common with most other forms of criticism – was set up by men with little or no input from females at all.
So why does that 95/5 split occur? Because women aren’t as interested in, or passionate about, music (as has often been claimed)? Because women just aren’t as good at writing about music (as has also been claimed)? Rubbish. It’s because there’s a particular mindset, way of seeing, when it comes to writing about rock music – as there is in all forms of criticism at any given point – and it’s one that favours a particular male way of experiencing music.
This is not to deny the countless great female writers about music. Just to point out that overwhelmingly a consensus exists, and one that favours male writers.
Yesterday at 09:50 · Like · 1 person
And this has a big knock-on effect on the way music is discussed in general.
Pitchfork, for example, will comment on the appearance of female artists in a way they just wouldn’t bother with male artists. You could argue this is down to the way society conditions us to regard the female form, but this is 2011 and we’re all way past that, surely?
Yesterday at 09:52 · Like · 1 person
Maybe part of the reason has been rock bands themselves who are mostly male. I can tell you as someone going to concerts and writing about them in the 70s that the bands made it difficult for a woman to interview them, and write about the experience; if you were decorative, then they wanted to “do” you, if you weren’t what they deemed hot then you got no respect from them, although this didn’t happen with male fans clearly…as I write about in my latest blog, I used to go to the same shows as Kevin Dubrow who became the lead singer in Quiet Riot, he and his friends got a level of respect as fan-boys that female fans could only envy, let alone a female trying to write seriously about rock in those days, happily this was not true in punk, and I hope that it is not true today.
Yesterday at 10:01 · Like
why are rock bands mostly male?
Yesterday at 10:50 · Like
Andrew, there are so many reasons, from adults who overprotect girls, to boys who want to make rock music a macho thing and shut us out, or who opine that the female approach to music is inferior, etc. You are always fighting other people’s preconceptions, so if you don’t have a lot of external support and/or inner strength you are going to chuck it and do something more socially acceptable. And that is just when you are young and single. Once you have a partner, children, all kinds of other issues come into play, heavier for women. So while for boys, rock can be a lark, or you do it because the other boys are doing it, for girls, you feel like you are always swimming upstream, fighting for it. That’s my experience anyway. I bought my first electric guitar in 1982.
21 hours ago · Like · 1 person
Let me tell you a little bit about my upbringing and maybe it’ll make sense. When I was 13, I found an acoustic guitar in the attic and told my dad I wanted an electric one. He bet me that I couldn’t busk 3 songs in Churchill Square in 6 months; after 3 months I earnt 44p and a sweet wrapper from the busking and an electric guitar for winning the bet.
Most of the girls in my class didn’t like rock – it’s not like they were discouraged from it, they just passionately loved shite boy bands. The ones who did, we hung out together. I started a fanzine after reading that’s how Lush started. I thought if I understood how rock “worked”, I could crack the code to winning at it. (Emma later told me her fanzine days hadn’t impacted on her own success, but it did prove a great experience for me.)
I never thought about the genders of the people who wrote for the ‘zine, but as it turned out, I only ever had two male guest writers. Of the remaining (female) contributors, one ended up at GQ, one at The Guardian, one became a photographer, I think one ended up as some sort of racing driver and the last I’ve just googled and think she was Miss Britain at some point.
I spent my teens joining the sort of bands who sit around talking about how awesome they are and never actually playing any gigs.
17 hours ago · Like · 1 person
… At 16 or so I did work experience for a (mostly female) PR agency, and continued the fanzine. I can tell you what William in Almost Famous would have been like as a girl because I WAS that girl.
At 18 I got a desk job in the music industry – a lot of the women were managers; it was just never something I thought about. I hung out with female PR agents, promoters, musicians and other music types (and a lot of male ones, too). One of my (female) PR friends used to pay me to write press releases and advertorials. One of my (male) PR friends got hired as a magazine editor, liked my fanzine work and offered me freelance work.
As a rather silly teenager with a reputation for turning up drunk, I didn’t get hired by one heavy metal magazine. I got hired by three. I didn’t join one band, but two; each time replacing men in the band.
Eventually I stopped doing it (writing and playing) not because I was frustrated or hit a ceiling, but because I was bored with it. If I wanted, right now, to start writing for money again or playing in a band again, even married and in my mid-30s, it wouldn’t even cross my mind that I couldn’t.
17 hours ago · Like · 1 person
… and as for commenting on the physical appearance of bands, one of the reviews that I most recall in my childhood was in Number One magazine (the rival to Smash Hits), where a female hack described Ian Brown as “pure sex”. Why is it worse for a male writer to comment on a female musician’s attractiveness than it is for a woman to point out that a male musician is hot?
Not that I’m trying to start a lengthy flamewar here, and maybe Australia lives up to its reputation as being a “sexist” country (as well as, apparently, a racist and homophobic one). It just bewilders me as a Brit because if any of those sort of barriers had existed here I just couldn’t have led the life that I’ve had.
16 hours ago · Like
I *was* discouraged from rock (in rural NW California USA). I remember when I FINALLY got someone to show me a Chuck Berry lick. Very exciting! I didn’t have enough native musical talent to just pick it all up from records. Then I thought punk would save me but by the mid-80s (the MEATMEN era, which seems endless), well… I could never get anyone to jam with me, much less consider me for a guitarist in a band. I finally realized I could start my own band, 20 years later.
Sometimes it bugs me when other women claim there are no barriers to being taken seriously as an artist or writer. Not my experience at all, nor that of my female musician friends (which I finally have), but good for you, Jo, if you never felt or noticed it. I’m not complaining, because it is what it is. I just *really* appreciate the validation when it comes (from fans, critics, other musicians). I also deeply appreciate those who push women to the front, because I think that it is still needed. I really do.
5 hours ago · Like
Sorry that you had such a hard time, Erika. I do appreciate that if I’d have grown up in rural NW California, my life wouldn’t have been the same. I guess this sums up how I was raised in terms of attitude: http://blogs.hbr.org/bregman/2009/11/how-not-achieving-something-is.html
5 hours ago · Like
I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and I’m wondering if there’s also a different kind of sexism going on. Let’s start with a premise (which can be disputed but for the time being go along with it please): men and women think differently and are partial somewhat to different actions and experiences. Now, the society we live in is a patriarchal one, so the things which are venerated are things where males traditionally dominate. I, as a male, can listen to music, discuss it, write about it and know that society in general validates my approach by taking these things seriously. I imagine my thoughts as being generally universal. Now, let’s take a pass-time traditionally associated with females, like knitting or sewing. Even though a tremendous amount of thought, talent, creativity and dedication go into these activities, society ultimately does not recognise them as being particularly valuable, so they are seen as being frivolous. Let’s take another example: cooking. This is an interesting one because society also saw this as a necessary but ultimately rather brainless activity. In recent years, however, we have seen the rise of the male chef in popular culture. Thanks to the Bourdain’s of the world, popular culture now see’s cooking as being creative, artistic and even masculine. In other words, because it is valued by males then it is seen as a noble activity.
Which brings me back to music writing. What if, in general, women really aren’t as drawn to music and music writing as males? What if the problem isn’t that sexism deters women from writing about music but that society doesn’t value the things which women are naturally drawn to? For the longest time reading was seen as a frivolous activity, fit for only women. Only when males began to be drawn to it did society start to value it (Even recently we got Jonathan Franzen complaining when Oprah recommended his book, complaining that it would discourage men from reading it. In other words he wanted validation from the male world). Why do women have to succeed in male dominated activities in order to be taken seriously? Why must their success be measured against males?
Now, before anyone tries to distort this, I’m not saying that any woman who wants to write about music is a fake, or that it’s unnatural, or anything of the sort. The more barriers that are removed to allow women to participate more in society the better. Why do we imagine, though, that the reason more women don’t write about music is due to societal pressures? It imagines most women to be weak and unable to overcome obstacles. That’s not to say that there aren’t obstacles, but what if women, in general, are not as interested in such an activity as music writing, and males (and therefore society) don’t value what they choose to do, viewing their choices are either compromises, the result of societal brainwashing or superficial activities?
3 hours ago · Like · 1 person
Interesting points, but knitting is all-but-useless when it’s cheaper to buy new, so of course it’s not taken seriously. Then again, I secretly giggle every time someone complains about “not being taken seriously” as a critic – I don’t take ANYONE particularly seriously, so The Edge, The Wire et al are just pretentious and silly rather than just ordinarily silly.
I think you might be overestimating how seriously most women take most men. The idea of “participating in a society” of which we comprise 51 per cent is a little strange. Just because you personally have no interest in, say, fashion or celebrity gossip doesn’t mean it’s valueless, and frankly most women don’t actually give a shit what you think about it. (That’s not a dig, btw.)
Maybe it’s more to do with the requirements of the job itself: a bulldog tenacity that borders on OCD and extreme belief in the validity of your own opinions – neither of which are traits traditionally associated with girls.
3 hours ago · Like · 1 person
Knitting may be all but useless given the cheapness of new clothes, but then that also makes owning a CD or vinyl useless when you can simply have a file on your computer. Many people, myself included, see owning a physical piece of music as an important part of music appreciation. This idea is taken seriously by many. Knitting, though, is still seen as a rather silly or pointless thing to do.
Activities dominated by women are generally seen as superficial by large parts of society. Many males who imagine themselves as feminists think that the only reason women participate in such activities (for example the world of fashion) is because they have been brainwashed by society. If they could throw off these shackles they would be able to excel in activities that are taken seriously by the patriarchal society. It’s really just males demanding that females do something that males take seriously.
In general I don’t think women care, but I think there’s a shadow sexism that exists where some women feel agony over the things they enjoy. Unless they are excelling in male dominated activities they feel their life is superficial. In areas like work, pass-times, sex, music, literature I think many women feel like unless their enjoying the same things as men, as much as men, then they’ve been brainwashed and repressed. Again, what males enjoy is seen as the norm and women must match it.
2 hours ago · Like · 1 person
Interesting … and new. I guess we can’t possibly talk about “women” or “men” as being some sort of hive mind because we’re talking about three billion people with wildly different opinions. It’s pretty sad if anyone does feel like that.
2 hours ago · Like
what men think about women is pretty important when it comes to things like jobs, wages, reproductive choices, etc., because it is men who hold most of the power in society. To me, the urge to make art is an urge to be heard, while having the audacity to think you have something worthwhile to say.
32 minutes ago · Like
RE: barriers and judgment: Have you ever been to Guitar Center? I have several hilarious stories about being things said by their staff whilst checking out gear. My favorite is when I went in there to buy my Schecter Hellraiser. The 20-something dude was like, “Let me show you how to use this…” Then, went on to play a five minute solo. He didn’t touch any of the knobs or tell me anything useful about the guitar. He just wanked it for a while… like that’s showing me how to use something I already know how to use. I took the guitar from him and rocked it. He was flabbergasted to learn that I knew how to play. I went to the front counter to make my purchase, and his acting manager told me, “You’re the best girl guitarist I’ve ever seen [sic].” Are you goddamn kidding me?! Gawd, I love that place.
I guess I don’t really look at this as a barrier. It’s more about judgment. I think (aside from newborn – 18 years of age) we create our own barriers.
Anyway, I love stories and I get a kick out of GC jackassery, so I let them do their thing. Then, I call Erika and tell her about my latest Guitar Center experience.
There are two things I will say (and yes, Everett – I know this is totally outside the scope of your original discussion/request). One: I’ve survived pretty well with a sense of humor. I generally don’t take opinions seriously (especially, when it comes to thoughts on women and music). Some people call it “thick-skin,” I call it humor appreciation. And two, in a lot of ways, I completely remove myself from the male/female realm of music. I just wanna rock. I play for myself. I feel I have my subjective little fingers squarely on the pulse of good music, and I produce that. I definitely never think about having a vagina while I write.
Sorry, kids. I spew stream-of-thought. Also, I am not interested in writing for anything. The whole world-against-women vs. my life attitude thing gets me going.
I wonder how people can stop themselves from laughing. I mean, I’ve encountered a lot of this weird attitude about women from male musicians (especially those who claim to make punk – PDX suffers from emo-punk confusion). Like I am incapable of rocking. I laugh when these judgment-passers hear what I produce since it makes their balls fall off. Total Kodak moment. I will scream and destroy you with my electric power. I am good at screaming and destroying with electric power… which leads to discussion about jealousy-deflecting tiaras… I will stop there.
01 February at 04:09 · Like