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March 30, 2009 | by  | in Opinion |
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Women’s Column

Apparently, musicians = men, and admiring audience = women. This according to some blogger—because it never hurts to throw in a little unnecessary sexism to your post on the nature of hit music—spices things up and pisses off any women who might happen to be reading…

I had a little angry rant about it, but by discussing how blatantly wrong it was, I was reminded of something I’d been meaning to do for a while. No, not starting an angry feminist punk band. One of my friends recently moved overseas to live, and I’d been thinking of making her a mix CD filled with the female artists I love. What better way to channel my frustration into something creative?

So on goes PJ Harvey, love of whom I inherited from my mother. On goes Amanda Palmer, who blew our minds when she played at Bodega. Shirley Manson singing ‘Samson and Delilah’ off the Sarah Connor Chronicles. I could tell you a story for each song. How I first heard that Laurie Anderson CD when I was very young; how when I was a teenager our alcoholic neighbour lent me a copy; how I played it once at a friend’s house and a guy told me it was ‘weird’. The song has a history—and recording such histories has become increasingly important for me.

Maybe it is the way female creativity has been repeatedly swept under the carpet. “She didn’t write it”, as Joanna Russ pointed out of books, or “she wrote it, but she only wrote one of it. She wrote it, but there are very few of her.” And, in Russ’s example, the literary canon sweeps ‘her’ away. Each generation has to start anew. But I want to know what has gone before; I want to leave a way for those who come after.

One of the things I love about feminism is the sense of history it gives me. If I want to write something, even in such a stereotypically male genre as science fiction, there were plenty of women before me. It is a joy to tear away from what the official canon offers me, from what I can pick up down at Whitcoulls. The internet is a wonderful thing—for all the sexist blog entries I might stumble across, there are more like treasures.

I get to hear what other feminists are reading, what has influenced them, what the ‘hidden classics’ are. I downloaded the Shirley Manson song from a women’s discussion of the show; I watch Sarah Connor with my mother, with my sister. And we also all went to Amanda Palmer together. It is a joy to not journey alone, to connect with other women, and to find there are others who have done the work before me. “Women think back through their mothers,” Virginia Woolf said. I have had enough of the history of the father; I want to know what the women were doing, what I am still being told they didn’t do.

It is not some tedious homework assignment, searching out female perspectives. It is not hard for me to find enough female musicians in my collection to fill a mix CD. The hard part is not sticking everything on there—so I leave off Jennifer Warnes covering ‘Famous Blue Raincoat’, which I thought was the saddest song in the world when I heard it as a ten year old. I skip the Minuit song that haunted me till I wrote a melodramatic story about it.

I can’t fit them all on, but it’s nice to flick through them, to say “Yes,” and to tell myself the story. Better to share, of course, to say “Yes, she wrote it, and isn’t she awesome?”

Because she’s out there, even when people insist she isn’t. She’s doing amazing things, and they’re the ones who are missing out.

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Comments (5)

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  1. Turdanklient says:

    Why the did some one rite about making a mix cd when there are other more pressin feminst issues?

    Man with AIDS has unrpotected sex with woman, man in court about raping a woman IN ROTATRUA, the moves by national gvoernmt to stop pay equity, kidnap of a girl, a story bout the pill cutting abortion numbers.

    Then in the Sunday Star times this beauty: “instead, young New Zealand women are regularly getting drunk and cruising around in packs looking for men to have sex with. ”

    Out of a raft of feminist issues she wrote about a mix cd, for fucks sake.

  2. little colin says:

    *women become more and more objectified; increased cases of rape appearing across the board*

    like omigod i made this mix cd lol

    fuck off

  3. little colin says:

    more like cara bollocks aka this article

  4. Kassie Hartendorp says:

    Great column. Discussing issues such as rape and violence against women is extremely important, however, sometimes it’s good to focus on what has been achieved. No one can say us feminists are all doom and gloom!

  5. Shitkicker says:

    Lamest ever. Kassie, don’t be a lame-o

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