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Fuck Politeness

This is a revolution, not a public relations movement

As I posted earlier, there is a grassroots Twitter campaign cranking to compile a Hottest 100 list of songs by female artists in response to the much discussed sausage fest lack of female artists in JJJ’s fairly abysmally generic Hottest 100 of ALL TIME.

Orlando’s initial post raised some excellent points for discussion which were promptly ignored by hordes off jjj listeners and random tinny-cracking-philosophers/nay sayers who decided it *just wasn’t* about sexism/the fact that women get left out of lists of greatness all the fracking TIME, it was cos *chicks don’t rock hard enough*/*it was a nineties list (and apparently music only invented chick-musos in the ‘naughties’)*/*it’s a teenage boy thing*/*it was mostly guitar heavy epic rock music [like Tiny Dancer?] and chicks don’t make that type of music [?]* to which there are many worthy factual and  intellectual rebuttals, but for which I think the most satisfying response would be a swift kick in the manly nut sack: I’ve BEEN arguing with This Type Of Dude over the last couple of weeks and their responses come down to ‘Yeah but I’ve got balls and I’m RIGHT and he’s got balls so he’s right, but you don’t so you’re wrong stupid emotional baggage chick’. So, while normally I’d advocate…well advocacy rather than violence, in this particular case I think that a ball kicking is warranted. But – SIGH – let us be the bigger people (yes, I shall include some Goodly Dudes in my band of merry music listeners). Let us acknowledge that this Wanking Stupidity comes from all angles, from all genders, from all classes and all media forums new and old.

To recap one more time, the points at hand were that JJJ in compiling their ‘potted histories’ had NO WOMEN. NONE. In their ‘whet your appetite to kick off the voting’ lists, they did not see fit to include ANY women in ANY decade AT ALL EVER. The end. They *mentioned* that The Supremes were with a particular record label, and they *mentioned* that Janis Joplin played at a music festival this one time. So that was righteously called out as Sucking of the Big One. But noooooooooooooo you CANNOT POSSIBLY tell people that JJJ has made a big fat fucking boo boo without being called crazy misandrist she-devils!!! OBVIOUSLY it’s because chicks make shit music and not because it was a rather embarrassingly obnoxious oversight to just disappear women’s contribution to music completely!

Then the list came out. There were hardly any women. At the uppermost if you include male led bands with a female member, you can say there were six whole songs that included women (Two by Massive Attack, one by The White Stripes, a Dandy Warhols song, a Smashing Pumpkins song and a Pixies song). The fact that this ridiculously low representation of women, alongside the inclusion of some spectacularly generic and un-jjj dudes surprised and annoyed some people is surprising and annoying people all over the place! How DARE those whacky nutjobs be surprised and annoyed that there are hardly any women in the Hottest 100 of all time! They surprise and annoy me so much with their surprise and annoyance. And so on.

So essentially you have Team A saying ‘Wow. That’s kind of bullshit – look at music history, look at women’s contributions, how the hell are there only six when you look at all the rocking female acts across music history?’ and then we have Team B saying ‘Hoho chortle! There’s no Brahms either, no Mozart!!! Oh the dead classicists are being left out!’ followed by a self congratulatory thigh-slapping. Team A is trying to say ‘Well hi, if you look back at the nineties, the decade that seemed to dominate, you have all these excellent acts and they’re just NOT THERE – what’s going on there’ and discussing what’s going on…that this happens time and again – that music is popular at the time and then people look back and only remember the dudes of music from particular eras (please see Lauredhel’s transcript of Hack’s programme on the matter and particularly the quotes by academic Catherine Strong who’s written on the ‘sociology of grunge), that the music industry works quite hard at keeping women out/keeping them in narrow molds (see Orlando’s post at Hoyden), that jjj contributed to this erasure by way of the utter lack of women in their potted history (and no, for example, it’s NOT excusable to discuss contributions to punk and not include Patti Smith, to discuss alternative rock and not include Sonic Youth, to discuss grunge and not include Hole, to leave Bjork out from the list of a station that played her so continuously), the well made point from Orlando (that I seem to be getting some credit for and it belongs with her) that:

Whenever words like “greatest”, “most important”, “best”, “most influential” and so on, are used in any context we are taught to think of men (I think this is exactly what happened when JJJ put their history pages together). We just aren’t given models in our formative years of women having places beside men in “history”, just occasionally in that disreputable annex “women in history” or “women in rock”. It’s going to take a couple more generations of us modelling a different kind of list to our children before we can hope to see a fair representation.

Anyway, so people all over were trying to have these conversations about how, ok, even if you accept that this sort of stuff ‘just happens’, it ‘just happens’ all the time, it ‘just happens’ everywhere, it ‘just happens’ enough to make us ask how and WHY it ‘just happens’ – to consider it in relation to the music industry specifically, and in relation to history and notions of greatness more generally – because like it or not women have been, and still are *disappeared* from history – their contributions and achievements are *invisibilised* – as Orlando put it, nothing counts til a man does it, and as Catherine Strong has noted, the man doing it is what is remembered. And I think all those points mentioned above, and others are worth considering in a nice lengthy series of discussions. But apparently Team B thinks ‘Shut up stupid feminists and go have a cry, it’s just a LIST ok!?’. So I guess we’re not having that conversation between teams?

So anyway, I guess we just go for inter-Team A conversations. And they’ve been happening all over (please feel free to dump the links in comments and I’ll put them in up here so people can go off reading all the Whacky Feminist Diatribes on how the massive influence of amazing female musicians deserves recognition, how it’s a pity that when people are asked to vote for greatness they’ll not even think of women, how we know we’re inferior but we demand superiority and to rule the earth and crush men under our heels mwahahahaha!

Anyway, I am WAAAAAY off track here. I pointed out on Facebook that essentially the silver lining for me in the shittiness of the list was (aside from these discussions) the impetus to think about who/what I’d have included, and to make lists of female and male musos I’d rather have seen in there, and rediscovering/discovering for the first time some of that music. To which Prime Representative of Team B said (no joke): ‘baggage’. So I deleted his fucking comment. Because I don’t particularly feel like getting “Dr Philled” by that particular Tinny Cracking Philosopher on a Sunday night and having him cement his kneejerk pop psych assesment as The Truth.

So despite what Captain Wanks A Lot thinks, this process of rediscovering music in the process of voting for the Twitter @Hottest100Women campaign  IS a really interesting and satisfying process, you go through your collection and realise how many excellent songs by female artists you have – you get affirmation that others enjoy it, and also you start going ‘Hey, wait, that’s SO not her best, I’m voting for [x] instead’.

And the more I think about it, the more I think it’s a really awesome phenomena. Twitter just takes off in ways that make my head spin. I still can’t quite believe the masses of information flowing around Twitter regarding Iran and Jakarta way before anything hit, say, the SMH site. I think that can be utilised in this instance – when the list is complete I think it’ll be awesome to start posting it everywhere, to ‘tweet’ and ‘retweet’, to go to JJJ and say ‘Look here, did you see the responses? Have you read the articles? Are you listening you big ‘alternative’ radio station you? How about publishing this list alongside the manfest that is your list to remind your dear listeners that women have indeed made music and awesome music at that?’. How awesome would it be to achieve that? I’d love to see it be made available as a cd at some point, but let’s see how we’re going, eh?

I do think that we forget that blogs and twitter and people’s rallying around lists like these can really gain momentum, force people to think, offer alternative views (and lists) and has a real place in society. Today I got contacted by a PhD candidate who’s writing a paper to deliver at a conference on women, blogging and politics, and is using this jjj stuff as a case study. So you know, stop being jaded for a second and join in with the fun stuff cos I really think it could take off, and I want it finished with lots of votes to present it as a comprehensive alternative.

I’m aware that there’ll be people for whom twitter is a new thing/they can’t be bothered setting up an account and getting their head around it. So if you want to submit votes for songs, you can do it here, and I’ll submit them to the @Hottest100Women twitter account and I’ll publish the results when they’re released.

I think it would be awesome to have this list EVERYWHERE and for people to go ‘Wow, that is a far more interesting compilation than the Hottest 100 list was’.

Earlier today:

5 top songs so far: Seether (Veruca Salt), Supernova (Liz Phair), Strange Fruit (Billie Holiday), Nothing Compares 2 U, Violet (Hole).

I’d far rather see other Sinead songs in there. I love that every time I read the list of nominations I think of more songs I’d like to nominate, more artists, more favoured songs of artists already included.

So get amongst it, have at it, how hard is it to submit it in comments here if you’re not a Twitter person? If you’ve got a beef over the shittiness of the JJJ list, or simply listen to female musos you wish people listened to more, then what are you waiting for? Get into the game and start racking your brains/trawling your collection and you’ll be astounded at how many fabulous female acts and songs you can think of. I want this list to be awesome!

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