Women in Music

Hey dude, why don’t you talk about something you don’t have much authority on and pretend you have a strong and valid opinion?

DEAL!

I get excited about women in rock music. Not in a, “Oh, it’s so hot when girls play music” sort of way either. I probably dig it because I didn’t see much of it when I was a teen going to shows every week. There’s something awesome about the uncommon (especially when you’re a weird kid to start with). Girl music stars? That’s fine. But girls in indie/punk rock bands? Fucking right on.

What I’ve been thinking about for the past few weeks or months (not continuously) is how people appreciate female vocalists. I think the words “female vocalist” put an image into most people’s head. I hear female vocalist and think Ella Fitzgerald. I’m sure most people have a go-to. Madonna. Gwen Stefani. Maybe Britney Spears or Christina Aguilera, for the younger kids. And maybe, for the actual youth of today… google “pop artists”… Jessie J. Most of the people that I think of (and I don’t think I’m alone in this) are relatively good singers. If not actually talented by your standards, they have pleasant enough voices. Maybe Britney Spears can’t hit a ton of notes (I honestly don’t know), but her voice isn’t grating or abrasive. I know there are examples of less pleasant female vocalists from the past but not a ton. Even female “rock” singers like Joan Jett had decent voices. And while Janis Joplin would occasionally wail, she had an amazing voice otherwise.

I think it is infinitely more difficult to get people to listen to abrasive female vocals. There is a long history of terrible male singers (Bob Dylan, anyone?) so it’s comfortable. It’s almost expected. But I think we associate women with pop stars, and pop stars with (more or less) good voices, so that when we hear a shrill or odd voice from a female singer, we are less accepting.

Personal Anecdote to make a point:

I listen to some punk/indie/pop punk rock with singers that sound horrible. Punk is understandable, no one makes sense in that scene. But there’s still an overabundance of unpleasant male singers when compared to women.

Chris Conley from Saves the Day on Sound the Alarm.

Aaron Weiss from mewithoutyou.

Keith Latinen from Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate)

The list is endless. It’s all, basically, annoying, unusual, harsh, acerbic, singing. But I love it all. And more to the point, I hardly notice it. I hear all that noise by choice, yet the first time I heard UUVVWWZ, her voice shut me down. I thought, “I love the music but I can’t stand her voice.”

Maybe she doesn’t sound like Billie Holiday, but neither do Matt Pyror or Tomas Kalnoky. The same thing happened with Screaming Females.

She’s even an awesome guitarist. Now, I love their most recent album, Rose Mountain, but my initial reaction was still, “this isn’t a good voice.” as if all I listen to is Justin Timberlake. I even had this reaction to Hop Along, though her voice is basically awesome.

I’m loving their new album. And I love her voice, now. To be fair, I liked it really quickly but there was the underlying nagging criticism. “She strains too hard, too much.” How stupid is that? The music is great. Her voice, along with the others I listed, is awesome. Sure there might be flaws, but when the hell did I start caring about that? And why does it only seem to come up when I’m listening to female singers? I was able to overcome the initial bias to enjoy all of these bands, but I find it annoying that I have the bias in the first place.

I fully acknowledge that this bias might be a personal problem and the rest of the world is accepting of all types of female voices. I’m not sure I’d buy that, but it’s possible.

When I was playing music back in the day, almost every guy I knew played an instrument and almost no women did. I don’t know every reason for that, but I see my reaction to female singers and I can’t help but think stuff like that plays a big role.

Note: This is primarily about rock/pop music. Stuff like hardcore/punk/rap/metal/etc. are difficult to talk about because the concept of a “good voice” in those genres is more ambiguous.

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Women in Music

Stay At Home Parents

Should Stay-at-Homes be paid somehow?

I’m reading a book about women. So far it’s primarily about how the different sexes are treated and the expectations placed on them right from the off. There’s some interesting stuff about how little boys and girls are treated by their parents, usually the parents don’t even realizing it’s happening. But one huge obvious difference is in the division of labor when one person stays home. This book mainly talks about how it’s more likely that women take up the childcare and household jobs (even when they’re professionals themselves). But I don’t want to get into all the complications that come into the picture when talking about men and women (like how they are raised and expectations, which are messy), so I’ll stick with staying at home vs working and how each are viewed.

A question that popped into my head while I was reading was how two people can be on equal grounds when one works and one stays at home to raise children. I think people generally say they value both jobs. I’m sure you’d say staying at home to raise children is a valid and worthwhile undertaking (maybe the most noble thing you can do). But there are clear inequalities as well, that are maybe unavoidable. Who decides which car to buy? Which house? Which appliances? Who makes most of the financial decisions? And who holds the power if a relationship starts to falter? Whatever the divorce laws are where you live, that’s not the most appealing route to take. Especially when the troubles are small. Immediate earning ability holds sway, I’d say, over the prospect of a long, drawn out divorce. Divorce damages both people, and involves the children. So it would seem that the working person has a much larger say and more power.

So just hypothetically, if you were in a relationship in which you worked and other person stayed home to take care of your child, would you try to work out a way for the person at home to feel like he/she is equal in earning? There’s a dollar amount attached to a professionals. You can count exactly what a full time job contributes to the family. Meanwhile, raising a child is much more abstract. So you spent 9 hours feeding, changing, cleaning, washing, cooking, etc? What does that mean, really? I spent the day at work and earned such and such amount of money to buy those things! It’s hard to make concrete sense out of diaper changes and bottle feedings. Is spending an hour trying to improve your child’s hand-eye coordination equal to an hour on the job? Is that a fair question? It’s equating work, that may or may not be a passion, to taking care of your child, which most people would claim they enjoy. Saying you deserve money (or something) for doing it implies that it’s a chore. You raise your children because you love her or him and want to help do what’s best. You don’t do it for money. Wanting some compensation can make someone look heartless.

It’s not hard to see how unfair that is though. No matter how much lip service you pay to raising the children, one person is still “bring home the bread” (I don’t eat bacon).

So you want to make it more equal and quantify the work that goes into raising a child and keeping a house in order. But then the trouble is, is the other person just giving you an allowance? That’s not ideal. You aren’t a child. Having a joint back account makes people feel more unified. “What’s mine is yours and what’s yours is mine.” But not really. If I make 100% of the money, then no matter the name on the back account, I’m making the money. I bought the groceries. I bought the house. Etc. And, primarily in arguments, those issues will come up. (“And who goes to work every day to pay for this house!?”) Maybe it would help if it was set up in a way that the paychecks were immediately and automatically split and deposited in separate accounts. The same thing might be true, that I’m making the money, but it might give a feeling of independence. That the stay-at-home is being paid for doing a job. Maybe you can write up a legitimate contract (like Kurt Vonnegut wrote for all the jobs he would do while his wife was pregnant). There is no real way to be paid as a stay-at-home unless it somehow comes from the employed person (because the government isn’t going to pay you). I don’t know if splitting the paycheck and depositing into separate accounts would work, but I do feel there should be some tangible way to acknowledge the effort and importance of staying at home to raise kids.

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The book also mentions how having parents who stay-at-home vs work, gives a constant example to the children that maybe there are different roles for different sexes. And since, statistically, women are more likely to be stay at homes, then kids learn women stay at home and men work. And a little girl or boy has more limited options than he or she otherwise would. Food for thought.

 

Note: This was not thought out. I was reading, thought about this and basically stream of conscious’d it. I tried to clean it up a little but please excuse the terrible flow and disconnected logic/logical leaps.

Stay At Home Parents

Feel It All

I propose everyone experiences all of life. The good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful, and the rest of it. I feel this way for purely romantic reasons and for our own well-being. I think the ugly can be beautiful and useful. (Though it’s usually just ugly.) And we should listen to that part. The bad helps because it open our minds to the full spectrum of experience so that we might draw from all those different perspectives when we go off and create. (Everyone in the world wants/has a creative job, right?)

I’ve come across another way that being open seems to help.

“In being androgynous, especially in a sex-stereotyped society, a person would need to be open to experience, flexible, accepting of apparent opposites, unconcerned about social norms, and self-reliant– exactly those traits identified with creative persons.”
(source)

All the ideas I write about in regards to happiness, fear, and melancholia, have at least one thing in common, open mindedness. Refusing to be limit yourself to any set of ideas. That could mean embracing both typical male and female roles or dismissing them both.

“A significant interaction effect between femininity and masculinity was found showing that subjects high on both femininity and masculinity (androgynous) and low on both scales (undifferentiated) reached higher CFT* scores than female-typed and male-typed subjects.”
(source)
*Creative Functioning Test

I think people have a massive desire to define themselves in order to comfort their anxieties created by a relatively scary and complicated world. To think they know who they are. “Here’s my list that makes me who I am.” But I don’t think we should do that. I don’t think we should care. That idea that we should find our true selves is flawed. There is no true self. We are always changing – growing, wilting, learning – and searching should continue for our entire lives. We should never close ourselves off to any part of the world. Sometimes when I read an actress talk about not being a feminist, they have some comment along the lines of, “I just like traditional feminine traits.” And while that has nothing to do with feminism and is annoying on that front, the real troubling part of that is just how limiting it is. It’s fine if you like cooking and cleaning or whatever you define as traditional, you can like those things. But why only experience those things?

There is so much out in the world to do in our short lives. Yet, for some reason, people want to limit themselves to even less. All they end up doing is hurting themselves. Sure, if you don’t want to be creative, then these studies don’t apply to you. But now you’re just boring and predictable. For the rest of us, exploration helps.

Maybe I only care about these studies because I never really identified as manly in its pure/traditional sense. So now I can point to this and marvel at how lovely and smart I am. How I knew the best way to do things all along. In truth, this doesn’t mean much to me on a personal level. I understand psychology enough to know that tendencies are not guarantees. Men tend to be more violent than women, but that doesn’t mean any random man will be violent. But that’s the rational part of me, maybe down in my brain, I’m proud of myself for no good reason. Damn brain.

 

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/beautiful-minds/2013/09/01/blurred-lines-androgyny-and-creativity/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-human-beast/201009/the-secret-creativity-oblique-perspective

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1467-9450.00198/abstract (full article available for free)

Feel It All