May 11, 2009 by A.C. Rhodes
for women in music journalism? And if so, has it gotten easier or more difficult over time?
Category: Gloria Stavers, Question of the Week
I’m not a woman so I can’t answer that question, although I’m reminded a bit of that old thing where a female member of a band has to suffer the queries of some clueless, unintentionally sexist interviewer who asks the timeless, “What’s it like being a girl in a band?” (Kim Gordon addresses this directly on the new Sonic Youth album, btw.) One time I was interviewing some guitarist, can’t even remember who now, and the context was vaguely about the media and promoting the band, and he just stated flatly, “Chicks ask easier questions, man.” Whew. Well, not for nothing have I myself used the disclaimer, “Forgive the Barbara Walters question, but…” when I’m about to ask a musician a boilerplate soft-ball question. So yeah, I guess in a roundabout way, the answer is “Yes” if this is indicative of some of the prevailing attitudes over the years. I can only hope the climate has improved. (Memo to the ladies: With apologies to several of my closest friends over the years, you probably don’t help your case any when 99% of you go into music p.r. and therefore reinforce the worst of the worst chicks-in-music stereotypes. Of course, nowadays, only a fool or a trust-fund baby would embark upon a journalism career anyway, so there ya go…)
How many women singers, musicians, and producers are considered important? How many women writers, editors, and publishers are considered important? How many are able to define as important the style and content that others come to value?
Listening recently to a couple of women performers (Jill Sobule, Amy LaVere), I noted the way in which they presented women in work and domestic situations, and I was aware that I was paying attention to the female presence in a way I hadn’t been. I thought their work was good, but I was trying to decide if that content made their work more important or less important, as some of these female concerns are timeless, ever recurring (does that make them universal or mundane?).
Sometimes social progress is made when we do not notice it; and sometimes it can be made only with attention, consciousness. I think to answer the question as to the success women journalists have made we have to examine how much actual and acknowledged authority they have to define–as much as a journalist or critic can–what’s important.
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