As summer festival season approaches, attention turns once again to the presence (or, as so often is the case, lack) of women on the lineups. Could it be because women just aren’t as into music as the lads? That they’re just not as good at it? Jenn Gannon says no. And she’s mad as hell…
THERE’S A LOT of chat on social media at the moment; endless useless chat around women and their relationship with music. That somehow being blessed with ladybits makes you unable to appreciate, have the same reaction or deep connection with it that our penis-possessing brothers have. That yet again, we were doing everything wrong by the terrible affliction of ‘not being men’.
I dunno about you, but never in all my years of being an obsessive music lover have I ever slid the shell-like opening of my vagina over a record in an attempt to listen to it. I didn’t realise that’s how we women were supposed to do things. Thanks guys for setting me straight! I’ll give it a go!
Unbelievably there are men out there that are still under the illusion that music is somehow their sole domain. In their minds a woman who appreciates music is to be treated with suspicion like a cat that has learned how to walk on its hind legs. They have spent so long in the company of other like-minded men in damp smelling bars and fungus clustering basements, turning music into some kind of Premier League to be sliced up and poured over in a humourless, grey, trainspotter way, it’s all they know. They rely on facts rather than feeling. They know all about Fall b-sides from 1976-1981, they know exactly what DJ equipment anyone who ‘knows their shit’ should be using, they nod too vigorously in agreement to Losing My Edge missing the joke.
A woman is not welcome in this environment unless she slid out of her mother’s womb with a white label pressing of Afrika Bambaataa’s Planet Rock tucked under one tiny arm. Men are allowed to discover music, to taste and test it in their formative years, to go through ‘phases’ to fumble through musical mistakes like attempting to get to grips with a tricky bra strap. Women are not afforded this luxury. If you are a woman who likes music you better come to it with your opinions fully formed and your indie/techno/hip-hop times-tables learned off by heart.
When you identify as a music loving woman whether it be working in a record shop, writing about music, or God forbid – actually attempting to create something new by being in a band or DJ you will inevitably come up against some men who will either try to ignore that you exist, try to belittle you, make it hard for you to succeed or be taken seriously. There are men that make music seem like it’s a quiz only they know the answer to because it was a secret written in jizz by their musical forefathers, didn’t you know?
These men are scared. They’re afraid because they don’t understand women. They don’t understand that women’s lives are powered by music just as much as their own. A man in the music ‘biz’ once told me that most men become DJs because they hate dancing. Who are the first people to charge dancefloors worldwide without even one drink inside them? WOMEN. Music makes women free. Women scream along with every line at a gig unabashed, a hurricane of twisted emotion, women can lose control and tear down an entire hall when the first three notes of The Beatles’ Twist and Shout clang out. Women made the bloody Beatles famous in the first place. Women gather in kitchens at parties and drunkenly point at their friends and say ‘THIS IS OUR SONG’ about every single song and then get them in a headlock.
Women make music colourful, they make it a performance, a ritual, they make it fun and they’ve been making men millionaires from it since the dawn of time. Not only that but just like Justine Frischmann introducing Damon Albarn to Can and Yoko introducing John Lennon to concepts like civility, Feminism and avant-garde art – women too can be influential. IMAGINE.
In 2015 upon the release of her astonishing Vulnicurna album, Bjork told Pitchfork:
After being the only girl in bands for 10 years, I learned – the hard way – that if I was going to get my ideas through, I was going to have to pretend that they – men – had the ideas, I want to support young girls who are in their 20s now and tell them: You’re not just imagining things,It’s tough. Everything that a guy says once, you have to say five times.
Some people still want to believe that her male collaborators are responsible for her ever evolving sound, that it is in fact her relationships with producers like Arca, Timbaland and Howie B that have created Bjork as an artist. That eight fucking albums later they refuse to accept that a woman can be lyrically passionate, technically gifted, artistically inventive, proficient in several areas and be in complete control of all of them. It only took Michael Jackson one solo album for him to be hailed as a genius.
She had also been criticised for ‘hiding’ during her DJ set at the Day for Night music festival last year whereas her male counterparts were allowed to stand in the shadows behind the decks letting the music speak, as a woman she was criticised for not ‘performing’. Women are chastised for at once being too visible (using their looks to get ahead or get noticed) or for being unwilling to participate. How could you blame them for not putting themselves forward or pushing themselves into an industry that still uses them as glorified window dressing or mocks their intentions or passion.
The reason I ended up setting up a club night with my friend Cian was as a woman and a gay man we were tired of those testosterone fuelled clubs where four guys are standing in a DJ booth high-fiving each-other over which obscure remix they’re going to play next. We just wanted to play songs we liked to dance to, no agenda, no coolness, just funtimes.
After almost 20 years of trying to explain or prove myself to various men with regards to music I stopped and in the words of Roxette, I listened to my heart.
Lime & Fancy is a kind of tribute night to our inspirations, our older sisters. The ones who brought magic into our lives through pop music. Music turned these girls into mythical creatures, who would swing you round the living room to Abba’s Head Over Heels, the sunshine through the window making the dust particles float ‘round like gold. The girls whose first gig was Wham! Or who could do the rocksteady as well as the boys and then some.
Us girls will be over here, being carefree, creating, being joyous. So come join us on the dancefloor or would you dudes rather sit this one out until the end of time?
Jenn Gannon is a pop defender & telly lover who writes & says things on the radio. She once ate the cloak from her sister’s Ewok figurine in a moment of glum curiosity. You can check out her club night Lime and Fancy here.