All readings of William Congreve’s famous adage, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” present a different view of the multifaceted specter of feminism, as does the examination of women’s case in the music world belie many triumphs and quandaries.
As the case may be, women’s issues, as they relate to the contemporary bog of music (and entertainment on the whole), are possessed of much importance but gifted with precious little attention. Throughout the mid-90s, money was thrown at the emerging femme-rock of Sleater-Kinney, Kathleen Hanna (Bikini Kill and Le Tigre) and Liz Phair.
Indeed, interest had been piqued because of what Janet Weiss, drummer for Sleater-Kinney, explains on the band’s web site as her band “continuing because (they) complete a unique puzzle, and because (their)evolving, explosive relationship allows (them) to reach for the moon.” Such ambition was rarely seen during the angst-and-cardigan days of Mudhoney and Teenage Fanclub.
In today’s entertainment-oriented world, gender equality has taken short shrift in favor of the almighty dollar: that which speaks to profit as opposed to iniquity. Given that Britney Spears is quite popular tabloid fodder, she merits consideration under this rule. Her impending marriage to Kevin Federline has given naught along the lines of even-handed appraisal; instead, it is torn because of her declining fame.
Seeking readership, a quasi-publication will highlight anything other than the central matter of Spears’ youth and public immaturity and Federline’s two children — one unborn — from a previous relationship. Such a shame it is that young girls are given the impression that playing the shrew for the prying eyes and enquiring minds of the body politic is accepted and encouraged behavior.
Pop stars are no longer the uniting reason for hysterias and manias but, instead, have transmuted into a galvanizing and downward force upon musical tastes the world over. In the age of multi-tasking, doublespeak, and middle management, for every IQ point around by Cat Power there is a doppelganger waiting — possibly “Dirty” Christina Aguilera — to negate any positive influence upon the gender-music paradigm.
At this point, the turn of the 21st century, entertainment cannot be sold as a simple titillation or diversion; it must be put forth and defined by its capability to inform and express the tablature of the human mind as instrument of change.
Going further, women must be given equal credit and opportunity: Not as artists and musicians with perceived gender differences, but as those in the shared thrall of the imagination.
Feminist Andrea Dworkin once mentioned in her letters that “Woman is not born; she is made. In the making, her humanity is destroyed. She becomes a symbol of this, a symbol of that, mother of the earth, slut of the universe; but she never becomes herself because it is forbidden for her to do so.”
Let us not “make” anything within the issue of gender, but let us give women their due and their deserved space to be themselves.