"But there was nothing about the little, low-rambling, more or less identical homes of Northumberland Estates to interest or to haunt, no chance of loot that would be any more than the ordinary, waking-world kind the cops hauled you in for taking; no
small immunities, no possibilities for hidden life or otherworldly presence; no trees, secret routes, shortcuts, culverts, thickets that could be made hollow in the middle – everything in the place was right out in the open, everything could be seen at a glance; and behind it, under it, around the corners of its houses and down the safe, gentle curves of its streets, you came back, you kept coming back, to nothing; nothing but the cheerless earth."
Thomas Pynchon, "The Secret Integration"
This is Ian Mathers' Tumblr. I live in Canada. I've written about music and other things for Stylus, Dusted, PopMatters, Resident Advisor, the Village Voice, and a few other places. Hi.
A couple of caveats to what I’m about to say:
- I have a full-time job unrelated to writing about music. This means my opinion is very colored. I’m allowed to do and say a lot in this space without fear of losing my next paycheck or access to health care.
- As a result, I’m also fairly insulated from the day-to-day of music writing. I don’t actually know what it’s like to be a staff writer. I don’t like, have a lot of experience, a long-standing gig with a major publication or anything. I have no idea what the politics look like. I’m sure they’re not fun.
That being said, it always just comes down to being aware and being open. I’ve been very fortunate to write for The Singles Jukebox where my editors and staff actively listen (first step! prerequisite to everything!), work very hard to be aware, and take proactive steps to get better with women taking central roles in those initiatives. Our application process was giving us a lot of white dudes? Let’s rethink our strategy about it. The dudes on your website are crowding out the voices of women, speaking on behalf of women? Okay, let’s create an environment where your female writers don’t feel uncomfortable pointing out this is ridiculous. Our coverage was missing several gaps, especially around what is music that has been ignored by traditional music outlets? Okay, get women to pick artists and songs to cover.
For casual music writing and reading dudes, it’s important to look at your own biases, too:
- Is your group of music writing friends all dudes? Great, you’ve got a problem. Fix it.
- Are you primarily reading music writing done by white dudes? Okay, time to think of some new writers to follow. Read Rookie! Read The Toast! Read Hello Giggles! These should not be considered websites exclusively for girls or women. They should be required reading for everyone.
- Did a woman call something you wrote sexist? What’s her tone? Nope, trick question — it doesn’t matter; your initial instinct will to be defensive, but you should listen and take it to heart and be better next time.
It’s not the job of the woman to educate or inform. My friendships with women are very well documented online. Do the work and figure them out. And follow those women because they are brilliant, hilarious, thoughtful, fearless, and biting. You’ll find there are more of them than you think.