Masonic Boom

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

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Things Could Get Worse

I'm not sure how, though.

To start off with, I am *still* ill with swine flu. I desperately want to go back to work tomorrow, but today, when I thought I would be all better, I'm still collapsing after walking as far as the local shops - and the bus stop is another block further than that.

I got banned from ILX today and I don't entirely understand why. A topic I was interested in (about eroticism - specifically about what kind of cues one takes for masturbation) got locked for no reason after only 4 posts, none of which were nasty in the slightest. On a board where it's perfectly acceptable to post about pretty much anything (there was at the time three separate thread revives about foreskins and circumcision so it's not like this is a prudish place). I asked why, kind of wondering, not just why the thread was locked, but where the line between acceptable and unacceptable was, on that board. The threads kept disappearing. A mod I know IRL said "oh, cause things like that always turn into clusterfucks" and I said, half joking, "stop being so repressed and English." Finally someone I didn't even know was even a moderator said "I locked it, and if you keep asking about it, I'm gonna ban you."

I left the mod thread, went back to a "joke" parody thread about it, said I really didn't understand what the hell had just happened, and said that I'd been told I would be banned if I mentioned it again - BOOM - I was banned.

And I'm... I'm near suicidally upset about this. A community I've been a part of for 8 years. Friends I've known for ever, in internet terms, and I'm suddenly cut off from them. For no reason I understand. I still don't get what was so outrageous about that thread that it was locked, and why I was banned for disputing the locking of it. And for this I'm kicked off the single longest-running cohesive... thing I've ever been a part of in my life? I've never had a job for 8 years. I've never had a relationship or a band for 8 years. But on the whim of some stranger, I can be excluded.

No, I am not happy. I'm feeling very fucking isolated and alone right now, thank you very much. I've been quarantined from the outside world for 5 days now, with the internet my only lifeline, and now that's been cut off. As if it's not enough of a slap in the face to realise - OK, you need medicine for this illness. You cannot leave the house. You are not actually even well enough to get the half mile to the shop, even if you were not quarantined. You have no housemate, no partner, no family within a hundred miles. You are not on good enough speaking terms with your neighbours to ask them for a favour. The one friend you have who lives in the same neighbourhood as you has gone out of town for the night. You. Are. Fucked.

And now some stranger has taken away your safety valve, your connection.

I know I'm out of the woods now, I'm no longer that ill, I just have the long boring recuperation to deal with. But it rubs home again, if I died tomorrow, how long before anyone would know? How long before anyone would care?

It opens up those big, scary questions. What the fuck am I even here for?

Oh, I've been spending all weekend remastering old Shimura Curves tracks. For what? I can't even get my bandmates to listen to them, how on earth am I gonna persuade the world? I set up a community board so we could all communicate. Only half the band even signed up for it. I put the whole back catalogue up on one of the threads to go through and pick the track list. A week later, I can see from the stats that only one person has even looked at it, and that's Chris at our label. What am I even doing this for?

What am I doing this for? To show off to a bunch of geeks on the I'm A Producer, Too forum? What for? "I've got a deal and you haven't." ? I lose, coz they've got a life and I haven't.

I don't know why I'm doing this. Everything seems pointless right now. Going to bed. Staying awake writing. Finishing the album. Shelving it again. Going to the doctor to get work certified. Not going to the doctor, not going to work. Living. Dying. Breathing. Stopping. This is fucking desolate.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Why Aren't There More Female ... X?

This was written to counteract a "why aren't there more female DJs?" thread on the Erol Alkan Forum, but it could just as well apply to almost any high profile role you don't see a lot of women in.


Warning: this post is gonna contain a lot of gender stereotyping and personal observation. Like everything else posted on an internet messageboard, it's one person's opinion.

Yeah, you're right. It's frankly weird to me when I compare the large number of female DJs I know and see, at a grass roots level, with the relatively few that exist on the national level. (Or even just going out to small clubs that are not run by my mates.) It's really puzzling for me to attempt to reconcile these two sets of ratios.

I just think that there is more to it than Megadebt's assertion that sexism doesn't exist and it's because all female DJs are crap.

Maybe attributing it all to the Glass Ceiling is just as reductive. (After all, the Glass Ceiling in the corporate world is hugely complex, involving not just male gatekeepers, but also female expectations, the Mommy Track, women who pull the ladder up after themselves in order to maintain their novelty advantage, etc. etc.)

But... I'm interested in WHY things are like this.

1) I definitely think that VtN is on to something, in terms of the lack of role models, which is a self-reinforcing cycle. It's been shown in studies (look at that link that I posted back in the Finding Ada thing about Delia Derbyshire) that women do require female role models more than men do. (Why is this? I don't know, maybe it's just easier if you're a man, to find examples of men doing stuff already.) Women are just more likely to do something, if they see other women have done it. This is why female pioneers like Amelia Earhart, Ada Lovelace, Madame Curie, etc. *are* such touchstones to a lot of women. And maybe list threads like this are important, rather than being sort of female ghettos, if they make female realise there are a *lot* more women out there doing this than you'd think if you looked at the lineup of a superclub.

2) Another issue comes down to the difference that boys and girls are raised and socialised. Boys are trained from day one to promote themselves, to compete, to push themselves forward, to ask for stuff, and expect to get it. Girls are trained that being assertive, let alone competitive or aggressive, is to be "shrill" or even worse, to be "a bitch."

Myself, I find the way that a lot of these ground-level remix competitions and DJ battles and everything being played off like a sporting league to get an opening slot at Fabric or whatever - I find that really *alien* to my stereotypical female collaborative, community-building, gossiping knitting-circle way of thinking and being.

I have never sent out a mix tape to a club. I've never asked a stranger if I could come and play records at their club. I've only ever got gigs in one of two ways - 1) because people (even if they don't know I DJ) assume that because I'm an electronic musician, or a music journalist, I might just have some interesting records and know how to put them on or 2) In speaking to people who run clubs I know well and go to all the time, I've coyly suggested, hmm, wouldn't it be nice if I came and played some records here?

Now I don't think this experience is unique to myself. In speaking to loads of other women, we find again and again that promoting oneself is one of the hardest things to bring yourself to do. (And in my case, I found on other forums that the penalties for uppity women who attempt to promote themselves are much heavier and nastier than for other people.)

So perhaps that's the fault of us women, we need to learn to shout about ourselves more, the way that teenage boys do just completely naturally. (and accept the knocks, even when they do get nasty or personal or rapey.)

3) and this is where I'm going to get the shit. The gatekeeper issue.

You know the old dichotomy, "men act, women appear" ? Nowhere is this more true than in the entertainment industry, of which music and DJing is part.

Men are judged by their performance, their skills, their talents, their abilities.
Women are judged by their appearance, and their sexual desirability.

"But Boom!" I hear you protest, before I have even typed those words. "Women are just as bad as men - in fact, you are 1000 times worse, the way that you drool over Erol and his hands, hair, arse, etc."

But the difference is, I am not a gatekeeper. I have no power whatsoever over whether an attractive male musician is promoted or ignored. So long as the high-level gatekeepers in this world - the promoters who book clubs, the A&R people who run labels and sign artists, the features editors who decide what artists to cover in their magazines, and how to promote them - remain mostly men, male artists get picked according to their actions, and female artists according to their appearance.

So, of course, if you're too busy primping, preening, shaving, waxing, perming, bleaching, working out, applying make-up, styling your clothes, getting your nipples erect and artfully posing in pornographic promo shots, who on earth has time to remember to plug in their decks, let alone learn master the art of beatmatching?

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Back From The Dead

While I am waiting for my old, dead Mac laptop to be magically brought back to life... (the sys admin at my job volunteered to "take a look at it" before I dragged it off to an expensive data recovery expert - and has now not just recovered the data, but is reinstalling the operating system to get it going again)

Here are some interesting articles I found in various places around the web. The Male Privilege Checklist which I've been looking for, for ages, and all the links were dead.

And another take on it from another angle which sparked my interest.

Following link led to link as I read and surfed (oh, I had forgotten how interesting the blogosphere could actually be once you venture outside the realm of young whiteboys shouting at volume about how interesting and amazing their musical taste is)

And this is just something I wanted to link to, which is a rebuttal to that endlessly repeated chestnut about feminists being sexist and "hypocritical" (oh boy, how many times have I heard that one?) Yes, it's on the f-word, of course.

Oh, if only I had a penny for every person (male or female) who has ever made some negative comment about feminism, or prefaced a comment with "I'm not a feminist..." (usually before trotting out some utter o_O WTF? where did you get the idea that feminists think that? meme as reason for their "not being a feminist")

I have but one question for anyone who ever says "I'm not a feminist, but..." Do you believe that men and women should be paid the same, for equal work? If your answer to that question is "Yes" then sorry, honey, you are a feminist.

Errr... across the room, I can see my old laptop ticking away. It's so weird to see that screen lighted up blue again and not the terrible grey screen of death. It's kind of exciting. Very exciting, actually. I was looking at Shimura Curves masters for the first time since October 2007 a few minutes ago. (Looking, not hearing, obviously, as I don't have Cubase here at work, but still.)

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Three Days

So, three days into my new (well, revived old) exercise regime and I'm exhausted and ready to fall asleep by 9pm. Hang on - let me first assure you that this is nothing to do with trying to lose weight - I am and remain an unrepentant fatty - but simply an attempt to regulate my increasingly erratic moodswings. I've got a sheet cut out of a newspaper, about "how to be happy" and one of the first things it says is about exercise - it's not so much that exercise is a natural anti-depressant, as that *not* exercising is like taking a regular depressant.

So up I get, at the crack of dawn, before it gets too hot, and hop on the machine to be stretched and exercised until I'm dripping with sweat. Is it working? Sort of. The episodes of intermittent rage have calmed down slightly, though honestly, this heat doesn't help.

What a stupid week to pick to try and work out an alternate route into work. I finally reached my limit with the 159 bus, after a journey that should take just under an hour stretched out to an hour and 40 minutes or so. So I splashed out and got a travelcard (£30, thank you, 3 times the £10 weekly spend on the bus) and took my chances with the overground and the Tube.

How on earth does anyone stand the Tube? I am convinced that the Tube at rush hour is a special circle of hell that office workers are damned to. I read in one of the free papers that temperatures on the Victoria line can reach 109 degrees Fahrenheit. That's like, Death Valley temperatures - except with roasting humidity factored in, as opposed to the clean, dry heat of the desert.

I can't exaggerate how packed Tube carriages get. And this is from someone who is used to riding the NYC Subway. Somehow the low ceilings and enclosed spaces of the Tube make it much, much worse. Drenched with other people's sweat, other people's bodies pressed into your most intimate spaces - how do people stand for this, day in, day out?

Three days, and I'm going back to the bus again. If I'm late for work, I'm late. I simply cannot take any more of this.

Oh, speaking of which, I just had my three month review at work. That's it, they're keeping me, I'm permanent, consigned to the cellulite mines of the cosmetic surgery industry for the rest of time. Actually, it was the briefest and easiest meeting I've ever had in my life. I sit opposite my boss, so we tend to just talk to one another over the tops of our monitors. "We're happy with you. Are you happy with us?" "Well, yeah." "Anything you want to talk about?" "If I did, you'd have known long before this." ::laughs:: "Yeah, you're not the sort to keep quiet about stuff. I kinda figured that."

See, this is the reason that I *like* my job. I have fantastic communication with my boss. If either of us have a problem, we raise it immediately, we get it sorted out. Oh, and we all run out and get ice cream or even beers in the middle of the afternoon on particularly hot days. I've never seen an IT department run so fast as the time the Mr. Whippy van came jangling down Harley Street. Perhaps the exercise is paying off; we all ran after the ice cream van, but it was me that actually caught it.

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