I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe

The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken

Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
-Bertrand Russell

What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell

September 19, 2017 - 12:18 p.m.

Sexual Balancing Act II: The Two Towers

I did not have an eventful day. I managed to go food shopping. The highlight of the day was making Garlic Bread for the first time in ages. I didn't do a good job but it's still garlic bread. I intend on making it again tonight. I bought the Italian bread so I might as well. I could make sausageeggandcheese on garlic bread for breakfast. Has anyone ever done that? I might be creating the greatest breakfast food. I'll be a billionaire.

It's late and I don't feel like writing something serious but I promised a return to my study of hiring of women musicians. Some of what I'd like to add is not so much about the science but about attitudes and how complex the issues are.

One factor I didn't mention in Part 1 is that a lot of the audience perception is created by the singers; male and female vocalists are different instruments. I like to think in terms of strings, women are violins and violas and men are cellos and basses. There's overlap of course but it's not just vocal range it's timbre, men and women sound different. This is something people are attuned to, just as we are to recognizing faces. When a woman sings backed by 5 men playing instruments our brains are telling us, "woman." People often have preferences for male or female voices. I prefer female voices and I don't think that's unrelated to me being a heterosexual male. So that gets into it to. Musically someone arranges a piece of men and women just as they would for violins and cellos.

That's a large part of why so many backup singers are women, they fill a voice part. But where are the other female supporting musicians? You'll often see a woman backed by all men but I'm not sure I've ever seen a man backed by all women. Something I may or may not include in the study is my very strong impression that you'll find women in the backing band on fiddle/violin and to a lesser extent piano, but rarely playing anything else. Plenty of women play guitar but most guitar accompanists are men, particularly on electric guitar. There are exceptions; when Dar had a band the bass player was a woman, Bridget Kearney (spelled it right the first time!) plays stand-up bass in Lake Street Dive, and Cheryl Prashker plays drums for everybody, but women are still less often found in those positions. This is true even in bands fronted by women. There are all-women bands but isn't that an attempt at separate but equal? We know what the Supreme Court said about that.

Something related, both singers and women do not get the musical respect they are due. I have even heard musicians disparage people that "just" sing and don't "play an instrument." Singing backup is the housework of music; it's vital and takes skill but is not appreciated or rewarded. There are male led bands with a female lead singer but it's not considered her band. She "just sings." Sometimes she doesn't even introduce the songs.

I have one last thing in my notes; age discrimination. Bev brought up that women in music might face more age discrimination than men. It's certainly true in acting so that would not be surprising but I'm not going to include it in the study for one mundane and one interesting reason. First, it's not easy to get the age of every performer; as the Roches sang, "We don't give out our ages or our phone numbers." Then there's the complex reason. No matter what the study finds women face challenges in the music business that men don't. I mentioned in part one that tech people will assume the men in a band are in charge and ignore the woman, even when she's the leader. Then there's the obvious found in all fields, sexual harassment. Some many women have told me stories of inappropriate behavior by presenters, DJs, and other men with power over their careers. If it is more difficult for women to gigs that's one more reason for women to give up on musical careers earlier than men do. Most musicians can't make a living out of it and at some point, give it up. That might just leave more men in older age cohorts.

This leads to a larger issue and part of why I don't want to touch on causality. There is no way of figuring out if men or women have an equal chance of getting a gig. Let's say that all presenters discriminated against women. Given equal talents they will hire the man. What would happen? The women not getting gigs would give up and we'd be left with a stronger group of women than men who then might get hired just as often. The average woman would work as often as the average man but there would be more men in the pool. So, we wouldn't know if there were fewer women trying to be musicians or if discrimination discourages more women from entering or staying in the field. It's not putting the cart before the horse, it's a merry-go-round going in circles.

Someone brought up in the discussion of part one that some presenters are reluctant to put two women on a bill. That I can make part of the study with not much effort. I have in my notes that I'd like to measure if on headliner/opener bills if the male:female ration is the same in both positions.

I'm delighted that this has led to intelligent discussion in the comments. I don't think there will be a Part 3 but I will come back to it now and then as I do the study, people come to me with other issues, or as is inevitable, I remember the obvious points I forgot.

Now for my exciting breakfast experiment. If this is a success I will hire somebody to do the study. I'll be busy being the garlic-bread breakfast sandwich king.





Brother Brothers in Arms - October 01, 2017
Late to Bed and Late to Rise - September 30, 2017
On Your Feet or On Your Knees - September 29, 2017
Why Life Doesn't End on Closing Day - September 28, 2017
Anna and King of I Am - September 27, 2017



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