How Not To Write About Female Musicians, Part 7,081

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Mattie Stafford
Twin Sister's Andrea Estella
This Dallas Morning News review of Gorilla vs. Bear's weekend concert came to my attention this morning. Now, in my preview piece for this show, I did mention that I appreciated the wealth of ladies on the bill. I pointed it out. Some might consider that stating something that doesn't need to be stated, since you wouldn't necessarily comment on an all-male bill. OK. Fair enough.

I thought I was just setting the table. DMN writer Thor Christensen cleared it for me, starting with the title, "Dallas' Gorilla vs. Bear festival turns into a Girlapalooza." Commence longest cringe ever.

Christensen then goes on to compare the fest to Lillith Fair, which hasn't been a functional festival in years, but featured all women so, yeah, it's an easy stretch for a lazy writer. He likens Chromatics singer Ruth Radelet to a "fashion model lookalike," remarks that Twin Sister singer Andrea Estella is dressed "like a tramp in a '50s horror film," and says of Glass Candy singer Ida No, "Her voice wore thin in a hurry, but if her music career doesn't pan out, she'll make an excellent aerobics teacher." No word on what Johnny Jewel should do if his career doesn't work out. A mechanic, maybe?

These sweeping generalizations about women's intelligence, work and art based strictly on their appearance aren't new, but I suppose I've been noticing it more locally, especially a few awful sentences relating to girls "in heat" and "chick rockers."

Having spent an afternoon at Girls Rock Dallas last week (and yes, I understand in the context of this piece, bringing up an organization many people think "ghettoizes" young women is counter to the argument, but stay with me), I was inspired by the camaraderie I saw. There's something unblemished about young women of grade school and middle school age. They don't quite have an internal editor yet, so what they say to you is just purely them, and they don't care what you think.

As we become teenagers, and become more image-conscious, we often get more insecure, but that's the boon of a place like GRD. They eschew the use of "cute" to describe their campers, encouraging them to use another term. Body image is discussed, as is self-defense. Beyond learning instruments, they made their own zines, learned about marketing, and learned it's OK to be loud and say what's on your mind.

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Mike Brooks
A camper at last Saturday's Dada showcase
"Girls Rock Dallas" is just a bookmark in a larger story, but they are girls, some as young as 7. Last Saturday, at their Dada showcase, I saw them taking ownership of their voice. Having spent five summers at the camp in Austin, either observing or as a speaker, I've seen them go on to start a blog, start a real band, go from being shy and awkward on Monday to knocking over mic stands on Saturday. There's that confidence that comes from working with other females, and learning why a term like "Girlapalooza" is condescending.

More importantly, no one's telling them that they'll be a good aerobics instructor if music doesn't pan out for them. The artists performing at Gorilla vs. Bear are grown women. Why don't we treat them as such? And be a little more creative with the dialogue?

I'd like to point to Village Voice music editor Maura Johnston's recent piece on writing about female musicians, as it makes a lot of good points about how music writers sexualize women, or compare them to other female musicians. I've been in this business of music for 10 years now. I actually had an old editor tell me, with a straight face, just last year, that writing about music is a "boy's profession." I've always tried to not let things like that crease my skirt, but it's starting to, because it's 2012, and I really can't believe this sort of shit's still happening.


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28 comments
girlonkeys
girlonkeys

I can't believe I missed this article considering I am in a local all female band, my daughter attended Girls Rock Dallas and I assisted a half day at the camp personally. Who has the perception that the Girls Rock organization "ghettoizes" young women? Did I read that wrong?

wanzdover
wanzdover

Thor dissing on Ida is a reflection of his own bad taste which is yet another reason for his insignificance as a music writer. Chromatids and glass candy were amazing. One of the best shows I've sen all year in Dallas

TurdFerguson
TurdFerguson

Thor Christensen is an idiot.  Several years ago in his review of a brilliant Rush concert, he called Trees a "kitschy anti-war tune."  The song is about affirmative action.  Nice try, Thor.  Now put your crayons away.

Casey Mack
Casey Mack

All girl Punk band Bitch Bricks playing Lola's Saloon on Thursday. We love & cherish our lady musicians here in the Fort!

chelsupton
chelsupton

Screw that guy for talking shit about Ida No!Also, thanks for this! The whole "compare women to other women who have nothing in common with them except for the vagina" thing is getting pretty old. If I see another patronizing male music reviewer call a female lead singer "cute", I might scream. 

Amanda Munster
Amanda Munster

It's still a mans world, ESPECIALLY in journalism. Great piece. :D

JBEDallas
JBEDallas

One of my biggest complaints to moving back home to Dallas after living in Los Angeles and New York is the severe mediocrity of the music, art, and film coverage by the Dallas Morning News.

davep010
davep010

What is ironic is that the Observer webpage I read this fine article on had a large advertisement for a bikini contest, complete with picture of a woman in a bikini, at Privilege, a Dallas "Men's Club".  Trying to avoid women being objectified in our society is a sisyphean task.

 

Jeff
Jeff

Ah, Thor Christensen...he used to work here (in Milwaukee) with an equally annoying lack of intelligence.

FortLive.com
FortLive.com

All-girl punker's BITCH BRICKS play Lola's on Thursday.  Vent your anger there and support one of DFW's local all-girl outfits!

Fanny_J_Stumpekrump
Fanny_J_Stumpekrump

With all due respect, Ruth Radelet is very attractive and Ida No's schtick did get very bothersome after about 10 minutes. Commenting on either of those things shouldn't warrant roasting the DMN's writer over a spit. However, his (or her's? Is Thor a girl's name somewhere?) piss-poor attempt to seem edgy and relevant by using the word "Girlapalooza" in his/her title does permit some ridicule.

Chris
Chris

When I read the DMN review yesterday I couldn't believe how amateurish & harsh it was. The "Girlsapalooza" made me cringe as well. And I'm still trying to figure out what "oozing frost" means.

Jaquelin
Jaquelin

i wonder if a girl wrote this..

audra.schroeder1
audra.schroeder1 moderator

 @davep010 It is indeed. And while I can't control what appears on other parts of our site,  I can put up a fight in my little corner of it.

 

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk

 @Jeff Yeah, TC has always been a hack. I moved here from Milwaukee nearly a decade ago and the bastard followed me along with that goofy channel 4 news correspondent,  Saul Garza.

debdoingdallas
debdoingdallas

 @Fanny_J_Stumpekrump but see how you just described those irritations without suggesting her next professional option was to be an aerobic instructor? I think that is the endgame.

debdoingdallas
debdoingdallas

 @keeponcarryinon I'm shocked you read the print edition at all, since the trolling would be nearly impossible to execute as provocatively.

keeponcarryinon
keeponcarryinon

 @TheCredibleHulk All the ads are blocked on my browser. Along with most of the flash content that makes the page take so long to load.

 

Also: If you read the print edition for any length of time you would see the page count getting smaller as advertisers drop the Observer. Soon.. all that will be left are the sexist hooker ads. 

 

Maybe that can be Audra's fallback career?

 

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk

 @keeponcarryinon You're here reading it, adding several of the mouse-clicks that keep the advertisers coming back here to capture YOUR eyes.

 

What's your excuse?

keeponcarryinon
keeponcarryinon

 @audra.schroeder1 So your feminist convictions don't go deep enough to reach your wallet? Got it. I guess you don't mind getting paid with dirty bills.

audra.schroeder1
audra.schroeder1 moderator

 @keeponcarryinon  @audra.schroeder1See my comment above. And if you're going to be a troll, at least try to add something new to the conversation, instead of just stating something that's easily Google-able.

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