Monday, 4 August 2008

The Gender Agenda

Elfin nu-folk singer-songwriter Laura Marling has been quoted as saying she's sick of being lumped in with other female singers, who she has nothing in common with musically, just because they're all women. It's easy to sympathise. In certain feminist theories there can be no such thing as Woman, due to the diversity amongst individuals. Female artists are as diverse as women in general, so why does music produced by women seem to form its own discrete genre?

Male music does not exist. Male music is just music. Because we live in an androcentric culture which constructs the masculine as the norm, the feminine has become its inevitable Other - without which the masculine would not have meaning. Therefore it seems natural to us that there is a female music which hangs about at the edge like a trophy girlfriend.

In addition to the marginalisation of women in the industry, we have to contend with the perception that music created by women is just not as good as the music of men. I once asserted that "Women in music have to work twice as hard as men," which was met with the response, "No they don't, they can just give the producer a blow job". If this joke doesn't worry you, you should read Freud on the subconscious meanings of trivial utterances.

As long as male artists continue to dominate the music industry - and I suspect this will be a long time - female artists will always be lumped together in their own genre. The only conceivable silver lining being that the masculine dependence on the subjugated feminine means there will always be female music. Which will have to do. For now.

Amy Wilson

Currently listening to...
The Ting Tings - We Started Nothing
M.I.A. - Kala
Goldfrapp - Seventh Tree
PJ Harvey - Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea


Helen Cerys said...

Amen to that! Great article Amy, love it when people make theory relevant to real life :) Like the point you made at the end about women always being the oppositional in music. I think it's perhaps more of a common factor in music than other areas of culture? Feel free to correct me if im wrong on that.

The only time my gender has ever been an issue was when i promoted a my own night last summer. Boys tried to catch me out with sneaky questions about remixes,because obviously as a girl I didnt know anything about the music and was only interested in pulling djs. Similarly, have you ever looked at the music blogs for electro?! on the vast majority every track is accompanied by a girl nearly naked posing in some pseudo porno fashion, most likely in a toilet(and probably actually asked to have her photo taken, because as we all know, every woman aspires to vicarious fame on Anyway, it's not the girl wanting to have her photo taken that i object to, it's the fact that the blogs are like some male haven where women are objectified and aside from a select few exceptions MIA, Lykee Li, Robyn etc, will never have any place on the blogs other than Vice Magazine reading morons wank material.

Anyway...with all that going on im quite surprised that women make it anywhere in music and I will thus endeavour to support any that do!!!

Ames said...

"I think it's perhaps more of a common factor in music than other areas of culture?"

I think it's pretty pervasive in all areas of culture to be honest. Because the male dominates in all areas of society (even though we don't recognise it half the time).

Do you think a similar sexist trend exists in fashion? I ask because it's definitely your area & definitely not mine...