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Author Topic: women and music  (Read 36021 times)

KvP

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Re: women and music
« Reply #150 on: 04 Mar 2011, 13:27 »

Like I said earlier I think the waffling over where men fit into feminist movements is a valid thing. I've been called a "feminist man" by people whose credentials I find beyond reproach but it honestly doesn't really come up that much and when it does it's brought up by people whose credentials aren't. I've never really felt comfortable in feminist orgs, but then, that's not really their problem.

But I guess the main thing here is that the way all this came up kind of smacks of power-evasiveness. There's feminist being and there's feminist action, and all the hemming and hawing over the former seems (to me) to be a method for avoiding the latter. It really should not matter what you identify yourself as. A "pro-feminist" man rendered passive by the weight of his own privilege is as useless to feminism as a man with no conception of privilege at all. It's something you see all the fucking time. It's what happens when a man learns ugly things about pervasive oppression and cannot deny or forget it. Passivity, in a lot of ways, is probably the most profound expression of privilege. The ability to throw up your hands and say "this is impossible and I can do no good and I'll only complicate things" is an option that men have because they're not affected by the things women are. It's a way of living comfortably with inequality, and it's the coward's way out.

You're not going to be a perfect feminist, nobody is. You're not going to have a "real" cognizance of the female experience, no one does. You are going to fuck up, but that really shouldn't matter, and cognizance and humility are the only things that should be expected of you. You just have to learn to be derided by misguided and misinformed people  (don't you already do that, as someone who is not really all that "normal"?) and be content with the small clutch of people who will understand and support you, and get more derision than support in general. Your experience as a feminist isn't really going to be all that different from a woman's in that regard.

When it gets to the point that you can't give name to a problem (female underrepresentation in a form of music that is deemed more "real" and "authentic" than all others) because doing so as a man is somehow counterproductive in remedying it, that's a point at which your conception of male feminism has gone tits-up, so to speak. It's worse than useless.
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Re: women and music
« Reply #151 on: 04 Mar 2011, 13:28 »

If I, as a man, claim to be feminist and am told by a woman also claiming to be a feminist that because of my gender I can't be a feminist, then I would call her out on understanding what the feminist ideology is.

You know there's a bunch of different interpretations of feminist ideology right?

Like, you might be wrong. She might be right.
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Re: women and music
« Reply #152 on: 04 Mar 2011, 13:31 »

But I'm just saying, y'know, open invitation from me to you, or if you just wanna whisper the label quietly to yourself from time to time, it wouldn't, like, explode my brain or anything.

Regardless, from roughly a thousand conversations with women who are against the notion of males as feminists, I wouldn't be comfortable with it.

omg you've said this like a thousand times and I am not trying to get you to call yourself a feminist and I completely respect why you wouldn't want to, I was just being nice for chrissake

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Re: women and music
« Reply #153 on: 04 Mar 2011, 13:36 »

There's feminist being and there's feminist action, and all the hemming and hawing over the former seems (to me) to be a method for avoiding the latter.

That's kind of my point in a roundabout way. From years playing in bands and living with active feminist women, I saw how they were still working on the issues of gender equality in practical ways like creating and distributing feminist information and literature, encouraging other women to take the initiative in creating and maintaining the means of production of art, working and volunteering with foundations and charities who supported rape and incest survivors, battered women shelters etc. They were always busy, always working on something which benefited women. It felt like a liberation movement. To me, that's feminism. Doing, not saying or saying you do and not doing anything.

I don't really do anything beyond trying to treat women with respect and thus, that's yet another reason I'm not ready to call myself a feminist.
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Re: women and music
« Reply #154 on: 04 Mar 2011, 13:44 »

omg you've said this like a thousand times and I am not trying to get you to call yourself a feminist and I completely respect why you wouldn't want to, I was just being nice for chrissake

Don't take it personally, at this point I'm just responding to individual posts without even checking to see who is making them and I'm used to having to repeat myself a number of times due to the fact that people commonly assume things about me from my sarcastic, deliberately irreverent internet persona (which is understandable because for most people it's all they have to go on). I appreciate your civility and patience, please don't take my brevity of response as ingratitude.
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Re: women and music
« Reply #155 on: 04 Mar 2011, 16:08 »

If I, as a man, claim to be feminist and am told by a woman also claiming to be a feminist that because of my gender I can't be a feminist, then I would call her out on understanding what the feminist ideology is.

You know there's a bunch of different interpretations of feminist ideology right?

Like, you might be wrong. She might be right.

I generally operate and speak from the point of view of liberal feminism.  And, assume the same of others unless otherwise specified.  I don't think I've ever met anyone that claimed to be a feminist who meant it as a conservative feminist, nor would I expect that I am having a long discussion on the topic with a radical feminist.  I'm not trying to say there is a ridged structure of uniform thought in the ideology, but to realize that all ideologies have basic tenants that must be subscribed to in order to be of that ideology.
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Re: women and music
« Reply #156 on: 04 Mar 2011, 16:56 »

What viewpoints and opinions are universal to all feminists? I can't think of anything that I can't easily bust apart and I'm far from an expert on the spectrum of feminist thought, though I know the basics.
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Re: women and music
« Reply #157 on: 05 Mar 2011, 03:49 »

And the rest.  I can't help feeling that once enough people simply live this way, it will truly have more effect than -isms, which are seen by so many as divisive in their own right.  Can we head straight for that goal, or do we have no alternative but to go through the pain of the imperfect route that we seem to be on at present?  I simply don't know.
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Re: women and music
« Reply #158 on: 05 Mar 2011, 03:55 »

That people should be regarded as equals regardless of sex/gender?
Sort of? Liberal feminism and its satellites, yeah absolutely, that's the whole premise. Difference feminists wouldn't argue for equality, but instead for a revaluation of things that make people different. And there are spheres where most feminists would argue against equality - most would not support equal say for both parents of a growing fetus, for example. It would be generally (but not universally) agreed that the mother's judgment should be more valid than the father's. Lots of Dominance feminists would find "gender-blindness" highly suspect, etc.

Also ideally feminists are concerned with things beyond sex and gender, but that's as much an activism issue as an intersectionality one.
« Last Edit: 05 Mar 2011, 03:57 by KvP »
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Re: women and music
« Reply #159 on: 05 Mar 2011, 03:57 »

Frankly the equity feminist/gender feminist binary remains one of the most common anti-feminist/MRA/misogynist tactics I see trotted out in every debate on the male feminism issue.

By purposefully avoiding or discrediting a massive chunk of feminist theory, we're essentially participating in socialised patriarchy by a different means.
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Re: women and music
« Reply #160 on: 05 Mar 2011, 04:00 »

most would not support equal say for both parents of a growing fetus, for example.

But that is designing inequality into a system which should surely be aiming at equality.  However, equality needs to be measured right - say, equivalence of respect for each person's contribution, which would automatically deal with the case of the foetus, for instance.
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Re: women and music
« Reply #161 on: 05 Mar 2011, 05:11 »

I just realised that in this thread Tommy is a dude who is saying who can and can't be a feminist, which is pretty funny when you think about it.

Would you really lump all people and ideas involved in the 'men's movement' or whatever in as misogynists? Though many (most?) of the people who identify as such are reactionary there are those who are not, and there are issues (conscription, street violence, violence and sexual violence in male-only prisons, etc.) which are important but don't necessarily fall under the remit of feminism (nor should they, feminism is about helping women). There are people who write on these topics who are explicitly not hostile to feminism. The important thing about oppressive systems like male privilege is to realise that, whilst mainting the moral distinction between the oppressor (especially the witting oppressor) and the oppressed, such systems have negative impacts on the oppressors as well. Almost no one in an oppressive system is really free. Abstract concepts like 'honour', 'manhood' and whatnot, intimately tied up with the social system that oppresses women, have lead many men to pointless misery and death over the years, whilst also fuelling the oppression of women. Why this realisation is important is because many men have the mentality that for the goals of feminism to succeed they will have to give up something, whilst actually the liberation of women from the social construct of femininity results in the liberation of men from the social construct of masculinity (and of course the liberation of LGBT people from basically everything).
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Re: women and music
« Reply #162 on: 05 Mar 2011, 06:35 »

I just realised that in this thread Tommy is a dude who is saying who can and can't be a feminist, which is pretty funny when you think about it.

Or more accurately, that I don't call myself feminist because I'm not comfortable with the notion and remain suspicious of most men who do.
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Re: women and music
« Reply #163 on: 05 Mar 2011, 06:46 »

ITT everyone agrees, but disagrees that they are agreeing!
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Re: women and music
« Reply #164 on: 05 Mar 2011, 11:41 »

I really, really do not think we are agreeing. Tommy has his particular strain of feminism that makes sense to him, but puts him in a bit of a bind label-wise because that strain does not want any of Tommy's meddling. And honestly that makes perfect sense if you give it more than maybe five seconds of thought? Like, of course feminism should be wary of absorbing men. Not because men are actively bad people (insert Tommy's probable dissent here), but because a feminism that is successfully absorbing a lot of men has probably changed itself to make it more palliative to men, and ideas that are palliative to men are historically not very good for women. And then everyone in this thread (sorry to lump us all together, I'm not suggesting we all think alike), operating from their own conceptualization of feminism that differs from Tommy's, is like, Tommy, you should call yourself a feminist! And he is like, nooo. And we are like, yeah! Yeah yeah yeah!

Unless I'm incorrectly representing the thread, there is a fundamental disagreement about what feminism should look like going on here. Neither is without merit, but they are fairly different.
« Last Edit: 05 Mar 2011, 11:47 by Yunior »
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Re: women and music
« Reply #165 on: 05 Mar 2011, 12:03 »

I feel like it's important sometimes to speak for those who are unrepresented amongst the limited demographic of this forum. I'm positing an opinion which remains prevalent in feminism and I won't abandon it just because it's outside the limited experience of people who don't realise that there are alternate interpretations which are surprisingly popular. I know pro-feminist men who share my opinion, as well as active feminists who believe exactly the same. It's not a equity feminism/gender feminism thing, it's a matter of not wanting to infringe on a term which already has very specific meaning to many women.

I don't think I can put it more eloquently than the natural science and pro-feminist writer Chris Clarke so I'll just quote his most famous essay verbatim -

Quote
Why I Am Not A Feminist

There’s a recent blog discussion-cum-argument-cum-slagfest that started in discussion of why a couple of blogs run by self-identified “male feminist” bloggers are feeling less than welcoming to some women due to extensive tolerance of sexist commenters. The discussion has so far spanned about forty different blogs that I know of and spawned a couple five subdiscussions, some of which have pitted people I admire and love against one another. One of the bloggers at the center of the storm opined that perhaps the reason he and one other male writer were taking such heat — some of which I delivered — was that there are so few male feminist bloggers, and thus he and the other were the subjects of rather high expectations.

This irritated me for a couple of reasons, one of which I spoke up about in response to his statement. That was this: there are quite a few male bloggers who write thoughtful stuff about feminist issues, on non-single-issue blogs. I try to do that myself here. I usually can’t stand the thought of writing here about stuff I feel I’m expected to write about, an infantile disorder that caused me, when inundated with Koufax traffic looking for political writing, to write post after post of telegraphic poetry about the nature of thought and writing and existence and birdwatching. The astute reader will note that there is not a single post here about South Dakota’s abortion ban. This isn’t because I don’t have strong opinons on the subject, far from it. It’s because ten thousand people have said stuff on their blogs about the South Dakota abortion ban, and I have nothing new to add here that hasn’t been said. I don’t write about feminism all the time because I don’t write about anything all the time, not even the subjects with which I have rather more familiarity. Plus, when I do write about feminist issues here, I quite likely betray my own middle-aged vanilla hetboy bias and privilege. Nonetheless, the insinuation that few men are blogging about sexism just because there are only two prominent, self-identified “male-feminist” blogs rankled me to no end, as if I was being told that I am not a desert blogger or nature writer because I sometimes post pictures of my pet bunny.

But there’s something else. It’s this:

I am not a feminist.

I support feminism and feminist activists. Which is not to say that I agree with every statement by every such activist, or every proposal that has been floated in the name of feminism. But those disagreements tend to pop up either in the realm of feminist metatheory or in places where i feel those activists have not sufficiently grounded their feminism in the context of other issues, such as racism and nationalism. Really, that’s less than a single-digit percentage of the feminist statements I encounter in my life, and I read the blog slagfests. I am a wholehearted supporter of feminist politics and a fervent believer in applying those politics to my personal life — though the women who are part of that personal life will likely tell you that I have far to go in that respect.

I am not a feminist.

I see my name mentioned in more and more places in the feminist blog world as “one of the rare men who gets it.” This gratifies and depresses me, and confuses me not a little. I suspect that some of this is that privilege mentioned above, in which a man who says certain eminently sensible, obvious, just, and humane things about feminism and sexism gets more recognition than a woman who says the same things. I suspect some of it is that I love women, and no matter how you parse that you will likely be right. I suspect some of it is that I cannot imagine my freedom, my rights to be fully realized in any system that deprives others of those rights and that freedom, and women are systematically deprived of those rights and freedoms.

I am not a feminist.

I think rape is a war on women, a systematic hate crime that is mainly treated as a crime against male property, even in North America. I think women have the right to determine the fate of their own bodies. I support legal, accessible, and government subsidized abortion up until the hour before birth. I support free availability of RU-486 and the morning after pill, free access to contraceptives, free public health and contraception education, and an end to gag rules of any sort. I see a dozen systemic social, political, and environmental issues, global and local, that can best be addressed by providing education and political power to women. I support free prenatal care and wages for housework, a.k.a. the guaranteed income. I support Shulamith Firestone’s notion of exploring ways to disengage human reproduction from gender. I support Dad changing half the goddamn diapers.

I am not a feminist.

I agree with the notion that women are the sex class, whether or not they work in the sex industry, and I find this commodification of a human being’s most personal activity abhorrent. I feel this applies equally to prostitution, porn, and primping for the prom. I refuse to condescend to the women who have found themselves being so commodified.

I am not a feminist.

Feminism has been described as the radical notion that women are people. But that is a bon mot, good for opening a few minds but not as a working definition of a philosophy or an ideology. Here is what I think feminism is: Feminism is a liberation movement. Though it takes multifarious forms, and there are probably more feminisms than there are feminists, that is what it comes down to, especially if you grant a broad definition of the word liberation. Feminism is the movement to free women from sexism, to free them from the oppression — whether murder, mutilation, or mere slight statistical lack of employment opportunity — visited on them by men… and by other women.

I am a sympathizer. I am a fellow traveler. At my best, I am an ally. But I am a member of the class against which feminism is aimed. I can do my best to be a traitor to that class. More and more men do, and I think no one would deny that the material support we can provide is crucial, whether talking to other men, offering political and financial and emotional support to feminist activists, or just doing the damn dishes half the time.

I read Cherrie Moraga and Gloria Anzaldua’s This Bridge Called My Back the year it was published, and found it invaluable in understanding a part of American culture I had until then missed. Were I to call myself a Chicana as a result of my poltical support, I would be laughed out of the planning meeting. I have been marching in Pride Parades for a quarter century, and had mainly gay friends in college for a decade before that. Even with broadening definition of the term, calling myself a “Queer activist” would almost certainly raise eyebrows. I cut my political eyeteeth working on the defense of the Attica prison riot defendants. That does not make me a Black Power activist.

My goal is to be the best ally to feminists I can be, in the political realm and in the much more difficult personal realm.

But I cannot call myself a feminist: the label is not mine to claim.
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Re: women and music
« Reply #166 on: 05 Mar 2011, 13:44 »

yeah, we're talking about appropriation here, which is very, very thorny. i should really stress that personally i didn't wake up one day and say "i'm going to start calling myself a feminist now," nor did i reach that conclusion after reading a bunch of feminist theory and agreeing (largely) with it; in fact, up until about last spring, i used "profeminist" myself. it was only after basically being argued into it by women that i saw it as something acceptable. tommy said earlier in the thread to defer to the people who know – and i really, really doubt the women i've talked to on the subject would tell me that identifying myself as a feminist is acceptable in order to like soothe me somehow, or whatever it would accomplish, especially since i made it pretty clear that it wasn't an uncomfortable choice. if anyone is reading this thread and actually on the fence about this, i'd encourage you to talk to the women in your life and defer to them, as well. equality in a broad ethical sense is meant to benefit everybody, but that doesn't mean members of the oppressing group automatically have the right to put on the equality team jersey, you know?

i should also point out that it almost never comes up, outside of discussions with feminist/profeminist types. most conversations you don't go around stating your own personal ideology or conveying the things you identify yourself as. even moreso for actually taking action. what speaks is the action, first and foremost.
« Last Edit: 05 Mar 2011, 13:46 by Johnny C »
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Re: women and music
« Reply #167 on: 05 Mar 2011, 13:51 »

That people should be regarded as equals regardless of sex/gender?
Tell that to the transwomen that get kicked out of feminist women-only gatherings.
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Re: women and music
« Reply #168 on: 05 Mar 2011, 14:37 »

Some might disagree, but I think that has been an A+ thread so far. Good debating peeps. It has, however, moved away from talking about one of the two most important words in the title. While discussions of feminism/women equality issues are obviously very important, this was a thread to discuss it in the sphere of music.

In respect to that, I've been reading some interesting books on music which touch on its' evolutionary basis. One of the theories is that in caveman days, musical talent was indicative of spare time and a solid life foundation; if you could play an instrument well you had to have plenty of food and a good house so you could waste your hours learning an instrument and this made you more attractive to potential mates. Thus a culture arose where an evolutionary advantage was to be gained by men playing instruments well, and perhaps we are still used to this. I'm unsure as to how much I agree with the theory (particularly as it isn't the only theory on why we make music), and would like to think it should cease to matter in civilised society, but perhaps not.
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Re: women and music
« Reply #169 on: 05 Mar 2011, 14:46 »

Some might disagree, but I think that has been an A+ thread so far. Good debating peeps. It has, however, moved away from talking about one of the two most important words in the title. While discussions of feminism/women equality issues are obviously very important, this was a thread to discuss it in the sphere of music.

Yeah, we should definitely talk about that instead. Well said.
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Re: women and music
« Reply #170 on: 05 Mar 2011, 14:53 »

While evo psych is fun to think about, it's best to take it with a humongous grain of salt. Most if not all of the time it is generally used to explain and reinforce existing gender norms (cavemen being theorized as sexually aggressive hunters, for example, justifies views of women as sexless and weak and men as violent).

Anyway, the better theory is that appreciation for / ability to create music is a happy byproduct of being creatures that have the ability to process and use complex vocalizations to communicate. Animals that have the ability to communicate, however simply, with vocalizations have been shown to respond to music in ways other animals don't.
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Re: women and music
« Reply #171 on: 05 Mar 2011, 15:31 »

Anyway, the better theory is that appreciation for / ability to create music is a happy byproduct of being creatures that have the ability to process and use complex vocalizations to communicate. Animals that have the ability to communicate, however simply, with vocalizations have been shown to respond to music in ways other animals don't.

I'd be interested to read where you got this from, as from what I've read it's not similar, as in humans are the only species to value music as an activity in-and-of itself with no obvious role outside of attracting mates. Songbirds etc seem to use it exclusively of attracting partners by creating the most complex lines they can, whereas humans use it to bond as a social group among other reasons.

Also, I agree with you that it is a potential minefield and can be used to reinforce stereotypes, I think it can also be used to avoid those same stereotypes. We're a civilised society, and as such should be rejecting cavemen-like behaviour such as the "role" (ugh) of women wrt (in this discussion) music. However, it could help explain how we arrived at the point we have.
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Re: women and music
« Reply #172 on: 05 Mar 2011, 15:56 »

Quote
I'd be interested to read where you got this from, as from what I've read it's not similar, as in humans are the only species to value music as an activity in-and-of itself with no obvious role outside of attracting mates
Traits don't need an obvious role or benefit to be selected, they only need not kill whatever they're exhibited in. It's one of the little annoying things about evo psych, that every little thing that people do has something directly to do with finding a mate or food or whatever. It doesn't really work that way.

Anyway here's some article. This is a derail so if you want to, you should start another thread.
« Last Edit: 05 Mar 2011, 16:01 by KvP »
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