Masonic Boom

"Crazy" "Oversensitive" "Feminazi" "Bitch" bloggin' bout pop music, linguistics and mental health issues

Tuesday, November 08, 2011


I'm tired. In point of fact, I'm exhausted. I've been having the same conversations now for 25 years, and I just don't have the energy to do it any more right now.

I've been involved in music since I was in my mid teens. (Don't tell the local nightclubs where I used to see bands!) I am, first and foremost, a fan. An obsessive music fan. I have also been a musician, first an amateur, then a professional touring musician, a session player, a music journalist (for them there print magazines as well as the interweb ones) I've DJ'd, I've run clubs, I've booked bands, I've produced records, I've done radio shows. During this time, I've made a lot of contacts in the music industry, so I've got to know people who work at record companies, people who run record companies, run music festivals, book international tours, and do PR and press campaigns. In short, I think, by this point, I have won the right to call myself a bit of an expert.

And for 25 years, literally from the first time I walked into the soundcheck for my very first gig, I have been having one particular conversation. The Why Don't More Women... Do X?" conversation. I have not had this conversation once or twice. I haven't had it 20 or even 50 times. I have had this conversation, or variants on it, hundreds of times. (4 times a year for 25 years? I'm estimating a bit low, to be honest.)

The thing is, when you have a conversation, literally, a hundred times, you start to notice the patterns in the responses. You start to notice the excuses, the justifications, the "it's just a coincidence!" in the other side's arguments which turn out to be not coincidences at all, but a systematic, structural level inequality. Which is often so deeply engrained that people actually think of it as somehow biologically determined, rather than a cultural bias - even when the actual form the structure takes changes from culture to culture. (Or even, on a highly localised level, from music scene to music scene. This is something you learn when you are in a touring band, as opposed to staying in one scene your whole life. That the music scene in, say, Brighton, can be quite different from that in, say, Newcastle.)

However, when I am talking to a man about this, unless he's very clued up (Yes! I can reliably tell you this! It is actually different when you have this conversation with, say, Everett True, than when you have it with a Random Dude On The Internet!) it is very often literally the *first* time he has ever had that conversation. He has never *had* to think about this issue, in the way that women who repeatedly find themselves the only female in the room have been forced to. (There's a word for that.)

And these men, who are having these conversations FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME deem themselves to be the Experts, on the Experiences of Women. Unlike the women who have actually lived these experiences, for many, many years. (There's a word for that, too.) And they get very, very pissed off, when you suggest to them that their carefully thought-out first explanations about why it's just ~natural~ that their magazine / club / gig / internet messageboard / film / top ten list is all male (or, if they consider themselves very, very progressive, 10 men to every woman) might be, well, something which is 1) not very original and more importantly 2) not very true.

And then they get annoyed because your pesky lived experiences directly contradict their assertions that 10 men for every woman is normal and natural because... MERITOCRACY!!! (If this is the case, why is it that panels of white men routinely produce "meritocracies" of all white men? And when women or PoC produce lists of women or PoC, that's not a "meritocracy" that's "OMG niche interests!") And they get angry because you will not waste another few hours of your life having that same damn conversation yet again because it's like bashing your head repeatedly against a brick wall. Because I've decided that it is officially no longer my job to have those conversations any more.

Yet, if you don't reply quick enough, they will claim that you, dear little woman, lose your right to call out sexism at all, ever again, because they are BUTTHURT that you called them a mansplainer. That's right. As my friend Jen put it, "Well obviously using a cheeky yet accurate portmanteau to summarise his position is just as bad as sexism." That whole "earning 80% of what men earn" thing. The whole rape culture thing. The whole Madonna/Whore dichotomy and the fact that your gender and sexuality will always be used to discredit you no matter what thing. That whole "hundreds of years of structural inequality, the not being able to vote or own property through 99% of history, and STILL, IN 20fucking11, being totally woefully inadequately represented in governments around the world" thing... ALL OF THAT, ALL OF THAT STUFF IS DIRECTLY EQUATABLE WITH THE TERRIBLE AND DEVASTATING ACT OF USING THE WORD "MANSPLAIN" TO DESCRIBE A DUDE'S BEHAVIOUR.

So, you know, I'm done with having this conversation. I really am. I would rather waste my time talking about Thom Yorke's hair and the Caledonian Orogeny and other brain-warping feats of nature.


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