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New Century Music

Today, I went and got a new driver's license and, when I did, I left with a card in which I looked like a thug. Five years ago, the same thing happened. At least bouncers treat me well.

On Thursday and Friday I am running a workshop again, so likely it will be quiet, though it has been quiet around here a little, mostly because I've been spending my spare time trying to get books into the hands of people, trying to write, trying to teach, and trying to deal with various personal issues and all that comes and goes with that. No one particularly wants to read blog posts about that kind of stuff. Fuck it, man, I don't particularly wish to be living half of it.

But, what you going to do?

The one thing I have been watching a little out of the corner of my eye is the debate over Triple J's hottest 100 of all time and it's lack of female representation. Even though the debate strikes my personal pet hate, which is that it's about the numbers, and not the actual artists (a road we've been down before where I've tried to express that just having faceless women to fill up a number quota so that you have equality doesn't actually make for equality)... even though it does that, I wonder if it's even worth having the fight over this particular list. Since it was a popular vote, a lot of other factors make or break the debate, and without knowing the gender split of the voters, the age groups, the occupations and so forth, there's not a lot that can be drawn from it except that, hey, there weren't many women there. And sure, excellent female musicians were ignored--no theredsunband, no Patti Smith, no Linda Perry, no Ani DiFranco, no Beth Orton, Portishead, Skunk Anansie, no Bettye Lavette, and so on and so forth--but without that extra information, what is it that can actually be said?

So, I dunno--it strikes me that there are better places to take the fight for the representation of women: festival line ups, promotion of female vs male artists, and so on and so forth. I suppose you can argue that all those things feed into popular vote lists, which is a valid point, but I just keep finding myself saying, "Well, who were the voters, and how'd they all vote? Was it that there was no women? Was the spread of female artists actually more diverse, and the male artists just more concentrated? Was it that there were no female artists in rural voters? Were all the voters in Queensland? Did no one in Sydney actually vote?"

Questions, questions.

(crossposted)

Comments

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ex_benpayne119
Jul. 14th, 2009 12:40 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I tend to agree. It's worth noting, but there's not much further you can take the discussion unless you branch out into other areas.
benpeek
Jul. 14th, 2009 01:46 pm (UTC)
like how everyone should do as i say?
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ashamel
Jul. 14th, 2009 01:03 pm (UTC)
Yeah. If we're meant to be angry, I'm not sure who we're angry at.

But it seems a fair start for discussion.
benpeek
Jul. 14th, 2009 01:46 pm (UTC)
yeah, i dunno about that--i actually think there are better places to start.

btw, my vid card is fragged, so you won't see me round in wow till i get it fixed.
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strangedave
Jul. 14th, 2009 01:09 pm (UTC)
I think the discussion has been interesting because it has let people tackle the issue of female representation without it being anyone fault (except the shapeless hordes of JJJ voters, who seem curiously unrepresentative of JJJ listeners). We don't need to talk to about how a particular person screwed up, or how we should change anthologies we create, or any of that. Just throw up our hands and say aren't they awful, isn't it weird -- which actually isn't that unproductive or bad a thing, because it helps readjusts everyones attitudes a bit for when the next iteration of the debate comes around in the SF field.
benpeek
Jul. 14th, 2009 01:45 pm (UTC)
i'm not actually sure i agree with you there--i think it's more useful when you can point to people, cases, and such, but to each their own, i guess. since i made the post i've actually become curious whatt he spread of female to male artists was like.

though, yeah, like you, i thought the list was a bit unrepresentative of the audience. it was a very nineties list, actually--i kind've felt like it was made by people i went to school with.
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ataxi
Jul. 14th, 2009 03:59 pm (UTC)
"it's about the numbers, and not the actual artists"

That argument - that it should be about the artists - only makes sense to me if it's a critical list selected by an individual or a small group. Then you can interrogate their agenda and review their arguments for excluding or including particular choices. Since it's an open poll, the stats and voting patterns become interesting, and meaningful.

The importance of the arguments about representation are, of course, all subject to how important you think these lists are in the first place. Most people seem to agree not terribly.
benpeek
Jul. 14th, 2009 11:59 pm (UTC)
yes, you are correct that the argument of artists is more interesting when the choices are a critical selection. still, it's my little pet hate, the numbers thing. any chance to shake it a little is good by me ;)
(Anonymous)
Jul. 14th, 2009 04:46 pm (UTC)
Muzak
Outside of this music list, an interesting idea is when to intentionally insert minorities into any position of authority/visibility. More equitable representation of, well, humanity suffers from inertia among other things. Once that inertia is broken by an intentional placement it seems the idea that x type of person can be whatever takes hold. It's not the whole solution and is riddled with issues of authenticity and when to stop this preferential treatment.

Also - perhaps you should cultivate this 'thug' persona.

E
benpeek
Jul. 14th, 2009 11:50 pm (UTC)
Re: Muzak
yeah, the positive discrimination thing has been round a fair bit, and while i see a problem with it--it often reinforces the differences/minority and reinforces the white as norm--i don't really have a problem with it at this junction of time.

i do cultivate my thugness. i'm thuggish. ask anyone round here.
bustedkeys
Jul. 14th, 2009 10:25 pm (UTC)
Charting Integrity
akin to the integrity debate with charts (e.g.'s the recent ones from The Hype Machine, We Are Hunted, and maybe even Billboard), it's always interesting to note how the voting occurs. there definitely needs to be more transparency otherwise all the gaming of these stats just perpetuate the few to control the many.
benpeek
Jul. 14th, 2009 11:57 pm (UTC)
Re: Charting Integrity
yeah, that's very true of all stats.
kylaw
Jul. 14th, 2009 11:24 pm (UTC)
The questions of voter profile (computer use and the willingness to create Top Ten lists are the only certain commonalities) and what would have been in the Hottest 200 are of course crucial for any statistical analysis. Which I would be interested in because frankly, this no women thing really does bug me. I'd given up thinking of women as any kind of minority some time ago and now it seems I've been living in a fantasy world (and not that one, as Xak and Ash well know). I want to know what it means. I can draw my own conclusions, sure, but they'd be those of a female author with a post graduate degree in the humanities and a long, loong history of marching to my own beat.

But does having this profile and the opinion that there should have been more female artists NOT as some kind of quota but just THERE mean I shouldn't have voted for the male artists I did? (I might mention that only three of them made it in and none of the songs). Obviously not. But that's the kind of action it would have taken, on a massive scale, obviously and requiring co-ordination of song choice, to alter the statistics.

Bugger democracy. Taste should never be legislated for in any case.
benpeek
Jul. 14th, 2009 11:56 pm (UTC)
yeah, i must admit, i tend not to think of women as part of a minority either. of course, i don't think there aren't issues with representation in certain areas and the like, but before i go off there, i require a lot more information.

you know, it's entirely possible that there was a massive scale action by bogans altering the songs. that would explain a lot of the choices, in my opinion ;)
bluetyson
Jul. 15th, 2009 08:36 am (UTC)
Yeah, coz bogans are gonna pick Elton John and Michael Jackson and The Shins over Guns and Roses, Bon Jovi, and Rose Tattoo.
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