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Context Matters, Fuckers

February 26, 2010

Piggybacking on Morla’s metal post about menstruation, I just want to point out the greater implications of our surroundings. Gloria Steinem wrote a groundbreaking essay about how status is artificially attached to certain biological criteria depending upon which group has power. She used race as an example, citing how white skin is not beneficial in itself (prone to wrinkles, cancer, skin damage) but it has been seen as the beauty standard for hundreds of years. Those with white skin get social, economic, and political advantages that they take for granted. They start to pat themselves on the back and write endless discourses about how superior they are. It’s “fact”, I mean, just look at their surroundings! People tend to take their surroundings as a given, and not challenge what they see as “normal” and “natural”.

This process is called “social construction” to us ho-hum academic types. Anthropology is mainly the study of the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves.

Where am I going with all this?

Orianthi has been making lots of headlines recently. Why? She’s a woman who *GASP* plays guitar well!

This is unremarkable in and of itself. However, in a time when some of us grew up force fed teen pop idols who had little talent (or songwriting ability), she’s a breath of fresh air. Women were only equally represented in a genre that wanted to sell us things and play on our need to be validated as sex objects, and that sent a powerful message. If you wanted to venture into areas that seemed to cater to music for music’s sake, music that meant something, music that wanted to say something, music that was powerful… it was a sausage fest.

This lack of representation sent a profound message: women don’t often make music. They’re frivolous and more at home gyrating for the cameras with half an outfit on. (And no, this has nothing to do with the male dominated media conglomerates who don’t want to offend the male gaze.) We’re told, “This is just the way it is, don’t question it.”

And we accept it to an extent, because that’s what we’ve grown up with, so that must just be “the facts”, right?

Let’s face it. Women are not allowed to express the same amount of anger in a socially acceptable way. “You’re PMSing.” “You’re crazy.” “Be a lady, don’t talk so loud.” When we do raise our voices in the feminist movement, asking for equal pay, the right to control our own bodies, and the right to live in a society where we are not attacked for simply existing as ourselves, we’re told: “Stop whining.” “You’re just bitter because you’re ugly.” When we assert ourselves, we’re called “bitches” and “ball-busters”.

So Orianthi walks onto the stage, whips out her guitar, and shocks us with her talent. We’re only surprised because we expected her to do something entirely different. Rolling Stone only included 2 women on its list of 100 Greatest Guitarists. It’s not that women don’t make music — they’re just rarely validated for it.

-Ms. Anthropia

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Caley permalink
    May 19, 2010 6:30 am

    Love, love, love your blog.

    I can’t count how many times I’ve had to explain to my dudely associates that the reason they can count the number of female musicians they know on one hand is not because there aren’t a lot a female musicians. The mainstream just conveniently ignores them.

    Keep it up \m/

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