The Unbearable Politics of Human Beings

Minneapolis, MN
Friday, 17 August 2001

[originally posted on the old TCPunk message board (v.1.0)]

Here’s some fast food for thought that might take your mind off what’s in the mirror …

Like most issues, how you feel about this one seems to have to do with where you’re standing at the moment, and whose shoes you’re standing in. I’ve interviewed a lot of bands whose members were all female, and just to try and get a handle on all this, I would always ask several of the same questions to all of ’em. All it proved was that there was no common ground whatsoever. And why should there be?

I’m a guy – despite the results of The Spark’s Gender Test – and I know a lot of other guys, and that doesn’t buy me much, I can tell ya. Having the same genitalia doesn’t insure that we’re all gonna get along with each other, any more than having different genitals than someone who is female will insure that they’ll like me for my mind.

None of the female bands I’ve talked to in the last twenty years agreed on anything – regarding their feminity, from how they feel about their bodies, to acceptable standards of beauty, to pornography, to whether it’s okay to exploit your own sexuality as opposed to someone else doing it for you, to whether certain words should be reclaimed or considered insulting.

Again, this is hardly surprising, as there’s not exactly a spirit of brotherly benevolence amongst the penis-toting set, either. Come to think of it, I’m not so sure men and women exactly like each other, either – at least I haven’t seen much evidence of it, anyway. There’s a good deal of petty in-fighting on both sides of the fence. As a male, getting older and balder, and sporting a beer-gut can be a blessing in disguise. It functions as sort of a built-in screening device for those who wanna be around you for something other than a cute-boy factor.

So what are politics, anyway? Social issues that are important to people? We’ve all got ’em – job politics, roommate politics, relationship politics (platonic or otherwise), and sometimes you need to talk about ’em with people who are concerned about the same things. It doesn’t mean anyone’s necessarily gonna agree with you, but the discussions themselves can (hopefully, anyway) be worthwhile.

It’s more challenging when you discuss your political beliefs with people who don’t feel the same way, actually, but it takes a lot of open-mindedness to keep it from breaking out into a fist-fight, or a flame war. It ain’t easy – and the fact that a lot of us are motivated by our own personal experiences with certain situations is almost a sure guarantee that we’re going to lack some point of view that only someone else can offer.

Some women want to talk about the politics of being female, and this comes up quite a bit in all-female bands, which seems to make sense. Yeah, it would be nice if the quality of the music was on a par with the degree of passion those women put into their music, but that’s just not always the case. Unfortunately, that can sometimes take away some of the impact that such bands would make on the rest of us, but it doesn’t always mean they’re worthless. What it does mean is that the message has been limited by the lack of talent, which is still an important part of what some people listen for in music. Bottom line – fewer people will hear it, and even fewer will care.

The question I always hear female musicians asking, is why there aren’t more women making specific types of music, and why women are so often cast into an image-based, commodified format that actually says very little about talent or a message, but focuses on the gender marketability. It’s a fair question – anyone got any answers?

© J.Free / The New Puritan ReView; 2001; 2022