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 Everett True

sexism etc – triple j and the hottest 100

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triple j Hottest 100 Australian Albums of All Time

Gotta love triple j – “Australia wide radio station with topics concerning all the youth’s of Australia” [sic].

They’ve just announced a new poll for the Hottest 100 Australian Albums of All Time, and “to get the ball rolling and get you inspired”, they polled 175 industry ‘experts’ and top musicians to provide a dummy list. This has been weighted, with no explanation how. Female musicians are represented (at number 30) by Sarah Blasko and – much, much lower down the list – by Kylie Minogue and Sia. And that – the odd band-member aside – is it. Three female acts in a 100.

Simultaneously, they’re asking listeners and the general public to vote for their favourite Hottest Australian Musicians Of All Time. Female, natch.

It’s beyond parody, really.

Shouldn’t the triple j slogan be “We love music (made by men)”?


“I like PJ Harvey’s theory,” wrote one bloke on Twitter, after I highlighted the disparity. “It doesn’t matter what gender the person is, it’s whether the person is good at their craft.”

“Define ‘good’,” I wrote back.

On the whole, males define what is ‘good’. Music they are familiar with. Male music. Music that was created along certain lines, with the rules created by men. Most textbooks (e.g. youth-orientated commercial radio stations) would include the word ‘male’ when defining ‘good’, whether they admit it or not. Polly’s argument is meaningless within such parameters.

20 Responses to sexism etc – triple j and the hottest 100

  1. Nazz June 15, 2011 at 6:04 pm

    Three??? Effing three??? I knew there was a reason I refused to hear or participate in these things.

  2. hannah June 15, 2011 at 11:53 pm

    I notice that a lot of the respondents who commented to say that there is no discrimination going on are men. How on earth would these men notice? It’s like me (a white girl) saying that racism against black people doesn’t really exist any more… maybe I wouldn’t see it, maybe I wouldn’t experience it, but I certainly wouldn’t feel able to be the spokesperson for that. And I would certainly not be making such claims when there’s a factual piece of evidence to the contrary staring me in the face, like this piece of info is now.

    If you think there’s no sexism at work here, then you clearly think that men are better musicians than women and that in itself makes you part of sexism, which continues a culture of discrimination. Nice work a**holes. You must be so proud.

  3. Erika M June 16, 2011 at 2:11 am

    What Hannah says.

  4. Erika M June 16, 2011 at 2:41 am

    Music, from my standpoint, is without a doubt one of the two most sexist fields I’ve ever worked in. The other was web dev. The diff is that with music, you’re laying your goddam heart on the burning sand as they – peers, family, “friends” – repeatedly walk past and high-five the dude over there, despite the fact he’s banging out the most derivative boring wankery… “ok” you think, “obviously my songs/musicianship/voice isn’t that good.” So it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The women who stay in as musicians are generally going to be those who are “hot” singers, or from exceedingly supportive family situations, lucky enough to get into a supportive band situation, or just stubborn and fiercely aggressive. Much more rarely the fucked up sensitive poet types, who to me are the more interesting musicians.

  5. Erika M June 16, 2011 at 2:52 am

    THAT SAID there is still a lot of great female-made music out there… you just gotta open your eyes and ears and mind and STOP WALKING PAST IT.

  6. Lucy Cage June 16, 2011 at 2:56 am

    “I think part of it is that many women are good singers which fits much better in the “commercial” arena. Good singing does not seem to fit so well on triple J.”

    “Since then I’ve grown a preference for the stuff that doesn’t get played on radio at all – prog rock, electronic, etc. These genres don’t have a strong female contingent, for one”

    Neither of these statements, made in defence of the choices on the list, are true and stating them just blurs the fact that there is definite bias going on here.

    Of course women don’t in general sing any better than men: women are just more likely to be allowed to fit into the niche of singer than they are guitarist or drummer. And commercial pop singer at that. And yer average indie boy is considerably more likely to be allowed to be a less-than-perfect singer than yer average indie girl. That’s why “good singing does not seem to fit so well on triple j”: it’s nothing to do with any inherent truth about singing or girls.

    It *does*, of course, all depend entirely on where you’re standing. I also listen to stuff that doesn’t get played on the radio, some of it might be said to be prog-influenced, lots of it is electronica, but there are plenty of women who have made or are still making complex, innovative, alien-sounding music if you look for them. Just off the top of my head, I can think of Colleen, Spacedog, Bjork, Broadcast, Fever Ray, Laurie Anderson, Marni Stern, Laika, Leila, Emika, Mira Calix, Cocorosie and, ferrchristsake, Delia Derbyshire and Daphne Oram bloody invented electronica!

    It depends on where you’re standing and what spectacles you’re wearing, cos if you’re conditioned to think of music as male, that is what you will see and hear. But it ain’t the whole truth, not by a long chalk.

  7. hannah June 16, 2011 at 8:38 am

    What Erika and Lucy say

  8. hannah June 16, 2011 at 9:01 am

    I wonder if women are encouraged as singers because generally singers use phallic shaped microphones which unconsciously make men feel comfortable because of what it reminds them of?

  9. Gerry June 16, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    So, 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?

  10. Scott Creney June 16, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    Would like to put a good word in for Lindy Morrison as one of my favorite drummers of all time. Go-Betweens get mentioned a lot in that list, and as someone who saw them on their pseudo-reunion tour in (approx) 2000, they were NOTHING without Lindy. Girl drummers rule, and so does Lucy Cage.

  11. Everett True June 16, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    I have developed the argument further here.

  12. hannah June 16, 2011 at 11:31 pm

    I would say that partly it is a lack of role models. I play guitar and that was because of Courtney Love making it look like the coolest thing on earth. But I was also inspired by Kurt Cobain to play guitar. Now who is there doing it in the public eye? I know Kurt Cobain was a man, but he was also a man whose girlfriends all seemed to play in bands and who spoke up about female musicians with a lot of encouragement and respect for them as peers. The modern day equivalent go out with models and you can see the influence on culture by the rebirth of ‘the Groupie’ as a role for girls who like guys in bands to aspire to… it’s a step backwards.

  13. Cam June 20, 2011 at 10:51 am

    why is a band only counted as a ‘female band’ if they have a female singer? aren’t bassists/drummers/guitarists/keyboardists/strings/horns players counted as band members? the female band members i’ve previously played with who didn’t sing always found this quite offensive.

  14. Everett True June 20, 2011 at 11:15 am

    why is a band only counted as a ‘female band’ if they have a female singer? aren’t bassists/drummers/guitarists/keyboardists/strings/horns players counted as band members? the female band members i’ve previously played with who didn’t sing always found this quite offensive.

    A very fair point, Cam. I was using the word ‘musicians’ when I should really have been using the word ‘singers’. On the whole, however – for the sake of not getting too bogged down in semantics – I usually refer to bands with a majority of males in them as ‘male’ (although if the singer is female, then ‘female-led’), bands with a majority of females in them as ‘female’ (it’s very rare indeed to find such a band with a male singer: indeed only Prince and perhaps Hunx And His Punx? come to mind right now – so I haven’t actually had to consider how I’d refer to such a band), and bands with a roughly even split as ‘male/female’. That’s not to denigrate the contribution of individual members, just to briefly summarise. Usually, more becomes clear in the actual piece of writing.

    Hope this clarifies.

    Incidentally, I suspect that if you calculated the number of actual female musicians involved with this projected Hottest 100 as opposed to male musicians, then the split would be even more marked. Maybe I’d be proved wrong and be pleasantly surprised at the lack of gender bias in the Australian music industry. That’d be great.

  15. Cam June 20, 2011 at 11:24 am

    it’s probably about the same. 8 bands (four with female lead singers – you missed magic dirt), 11 albums. this is only counting permanent bandmembers. i may have missed some, i’m not intimately familiar with all the bands on the list.

    i’m not saying there’s not a disparity, just pointing out this little peculiarity that i see come up again and again and again (eg: one of my old 3pc bands with one female member was often listed as an all-male band on 4zzz’s playlists).

  16. Everett True June 20, 2011 at 11:29 am

    Yeah, I agree Cam. It can be very frustrating. I do try and avoid referring to bands as ‘all-male’ (or ‘all-female’) if they’re not. Simply because it’s dumb to do otherwise.

    P.S. Apologies for continually updating my previous reply while you were writing yours!

  17. Mem June 24, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    The same thing happened with “the Hottest 100 of All Time” that JJJ ran a couple of years ago. Was there ANY female act in that list of 100 songs? I know a few people barked about it back then too.

  18. Darragh June 24, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    Mem – I believe Collapse Board had some comments on it way back when that happened.

  19. dan July 25, 2011 at 5:20 am

    Yeah i agree that being only about 10 – 15 bands with female musicians is big gap…But my understanding of the hot 100 is its voted for by the public! They play more and more female based acts the more popular they get..or if their music is good! Neither one male or one female makes a band great its the lyrics and melody that gets these bands noticed.

  20. dan July 25, 2011 at 5:25 am

    and really theres 100s of great bands that should of made the list…and dont agree with alot on their…but its not my list…Are you willing to do anything about what you are talking about?? Just appreciate the great music and if you dont like triple j how about you start your own station and fill it 50/50…we’ll see how well you do.

    by the way my names danielle and i have been a female listener of triple j for a long long time..plus i search for new music for a living …

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