The Women on Your iPod

When I was in college, I took Social Dance and I was regularly partners with this guy I fully expect could have been the Republican Senator from Iowa if the Republican party were still filled with people who appreciated tradition, history, fine scotch, cigars, and minding your own business. You know, the kind of guy who is wrong about everything, but is wrong so brilliantly that you don’t mind dancing with him, even though he’s terrible, because he really wants something from it, and even if you don’t quite get what it is that he wants, you like that he’s trying something he’s terrible at.

Anyway, sometimes we didn’t dance in class. We just had an hour of stretching , which you had to do with a partner. Now, if you’ve ever known anyone like a mid-90s college Republican, you can appreciate the dilemma this caused for him. He was not comfortable touching a woman he didn’t know and trust, but he certainly couldn’t carry on with a good girl in such a manner.

He needed Miss Kitty, I guess. I mean, I know, to type it out, it sounds degrading–like he needed a floozy he liked or something. But it wasn’t exactly that. He needed a woman he could trust whose morals were different than his. Back in the old days, kids, Republicans did trust people whose morals they didn’t always agree with.

I’m not saying it wasn’t problematic, just that it was clearly his hang-up not mine, so it didn’t really affect me other than that I could do him this favor by being his partner.

This is a long preamble to say that, when we had those stretching days, the instructor always put on music by women, only. And she said, explicitly, that she only bought music by women and that, if she wasn’t listening to the radio, she only listened to music by women, because so much of what she heard otherwise was by men. That blew my mind. And she had hours worth of awesome music.

I don’t listen to music only by women, obviously. But I have never forgot the idea she gave me–that your own collection could be really deliberately curated, not just to include music you like, but as an antidote to shortcomings of the broader world.

And if you’d asked me about the split of artists on my iPod, I’d have said it was about 50/50. I think I hear one woman’s voice for each man’s voice that I hear. But I just counted up and I have 82 different women singing to me on my iPod and 155 men.

I know Kathy says that tallying up isn’t really the point, but there’s something about seeing it so starkly. I think the post Kathy’s referring to is partially right–there are a lot of women working in genres that aren’t my bag, because that’s where women are funneled to. But the world is so wide. It’d be nice if we could imagine women inhabiting all of it.

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One thought on “The Women on Your iPod

  1. I wasn’t going to tally, but you inspired me. :)

    My iPod’s not in arm’s reach, but going with my last.fm page, my playlist is about half-and-half. Granted, it’s a no-risk way of discovering new music because you don’t have to purchase anything, just click the “add to my playlist” option — and for that reason my own iPod doesn’t come as close to achieving parity — but I’m proud of that.

    Which is why the “oh it’s so hard to discover new artist” excuse is just that — and excuse. There are so many options compared to when we were teenagers and MTV and mainstream radio stations were the only places to hear new music if you lived in a town without a good college or community radio station.

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