All-Male Conferences

We all know that certain areas of academia exhibit a profound gender imbalance — philosophy, it turns out, is nearly as bad as physics. Interestingly, one often sees major conferences organized in which the ratio of men to women on the invited speakers list is substantially higher than one would expect even on the basis of gender-blind selection. I have nothing profound to say about this interesting phenomenon, except to quote in full this lovely comment by “Modalist” concerning the 2011 Oxford Graduate Conference (in philosophy).

I think it worth emphasizing that the most important thing for everyone involved in the GCC is to ensure, by all means possible, that they bend over backwards so as to make sure that there is never any possibility that some Anonymous Internet Person might conceivably be offended at the suggestion that conference organizers anywhere—let alone conference organizers at an institution such as Oxford, whose commitment to gender equity and rejection of male privilege in education runs as far back as the High Middle Ages I’m sorry, I mean 1974—should risk feeling any twinge of private or, Heaven forfend, public embarrassment in the face of some no doubt imagined tendency to repeatedly organize conferences that feature only men on the program. We are, it is worth remembering, only in the second decade of the twenty first century. Mary Wollstonecraft is not yet cold in her grave. Surely Philosophy as an enterprise—nay, an endeavor; a vocation; the love of wisdom itself; a noble calling that grabs one by the testicles early in life and refuses to let go; perhaps indeed the last best hope of rationality and clarity of argument on this benighted Earth—can only suffer terribly if small, unfunded websites populated by aggressive viragos and their emasculated enablers insist on making a habit of pointing out the unfortunate yet, I am sure, entirely accidental Male Pattern Allness occasionally visible at conferences within the field. I should also like to remind the organizers of this “campaign” that a policy such as I have recommended—characterized as it is by polite deference, an unwillingness to make any person feel in any way even slightly out-of-sorts or unpleasantly compelled to recognize their so-called “privilege” on an otherwise perfectly pleasant sort of afternoon in the Junior Common Room, combined with a constant willingness to apologetically back down at the slightest suggestion that umbrage has been taken, or the first appearance of a convoluted description of an imaginary yet technically possible state of affairs wherein the observed outcome might not have been sexist in any way, shape, or form—has been shown by repeated historical experience to be without question the most effective means of effectuating change, especially the kind of modest, incremental and above all comfortably distant, blame-free social change that I am sure we all agree would be the best outcome in this case. Now if you’ll excuse me, my cocoa is getting cold and I do not want to have to ask my wife to heat it up again.

Via the always interesting New APPS.

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41 Responses to All-Male Conferences

  1. Ellipsis says:

    Clearly written by a philosopher — trying to make an obvious point in the most long-winded, annoying way possible. No wonder most women don’t want to have anything to do with the subject! ;)

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  2. Moshe says:

    Seconded. How many runaway sentences does it take to make a point? Appantly not that many if they have sufficiently many clauses. I can envision my elementary school English teacher marking “dead wood” with a red pen all over this one.

    (obvious point made is obvious, of course, though sadly not uncontroversial).

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  3. Harold says:

    Wow, the second to last sentence in the quote…was really long. Maybe not as long as the first sentence though.

    I *always* had trouble reading my essay prompts in my philosophy class. It would take hours to digest a single sentence.

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  4. Kea says:

    Just Brilliant! And having been to philosophy seminars at Oxford, I can indeed confirm that they are just as bad as theoretical physics, complete with the golden boys, old saints and do gooders.

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  5. Shecky R says:

    Was John Cleese at the Conference?

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  6. speranza says:

    Give it a chance. The runaway sentences ARE the point, or at least part of the point. Modalist’s comment is satire — a pretty devastating satire, I have to say — and to be successful, satire must speak the language of its target. Read it to yourself in your best “pompous Oxford philosopher voice” and all will become clear.

    Incidentally, pointing out that a sentence is long is no more penetrating a critique than is pointing out that an equation is particularly hairy. To people in the other of the “two cultures,” it comes off rather in the same way as “Math is hard.”

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  7. Lab Lemming says:

    6:
    Wrong. Complaining about sentences like this is complaining about equations that are long because they have not been simplified. It is like complaining that an equation writer, instead of cancelling appropriate terms, has thrown extra-complicated ways of writing “times one” as a stylistic flourish.

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  8. Kea says:

    My, my, the MRAs are quick to appear on this subject.

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  9. jpd says:

    thirded. maybe women focus on useful subjects

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  10. speranza says:

    Lab Lemming: Do you think there could never be a good reason to use a stylistic flourish? Like, literally never? Let’s say you were performing a bit of mathematical comedy, to entertain your class, and you were being needlessly complex in your mathematical expressions in order to make a point about a certain kind of mathematical communication? Wouldn’t it be missing the point a bit to complain that the equations could be simplified?

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  11. ProstateLess says:

    I agree with speranza’s take on it. Very amusing. Thanks for posting it, Sean.

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  12. Moshe says:

    Speranza, nothing is wrong with a complicated sentence structure if it used to convey a complex and subtle idea. Ditto for “hard math”. That’s not the case here, which makes the style seem pompous and self-aggrandizing (yes, there are ways to do that with math). Anyhow, I tend to agree that it is probably the point of the joke, otherwise it is really over the top…Sorry for missing the point, the quote is a bit out of context.

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  13. Felix says:

    I’m sure the pedantic picking at the writing style in this comment is IN NO WAY related to any discomfort with the actual content of the comment! It’s just that writing that doesn’t meet our exact specifications (or where the style is perhaps lost on us) is much more outrageous that any, actual, sexism in academia, right?

    Down with writing we don’t like! Talking about sexism is boring!

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  14. Captain Electron says:

    Actually, Ayn Rand had longer sentences — but she wrote with an actual purpose.

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  15. kowalski says:

    I have never read any good philosophy by a woman, they need to step their game up.

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  16. Lab Lemming says:

    speranza:
    You can use flourishes to make a knock-knock joke drag on for half an hour…

    The longwindedness distracts us from the point, however. The trouble with having women at conferences is that we’ll need to stop convening them on submarines.

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  17. günal şen says:

    thirded. maybe women focus on useful subjects

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  18. Nick says:

    I suspect most women find that philosophy just doesn’t “grab them by the testicles”. However this theory may just be a load of balls.

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  19. Doug says:

    @kowalski 15:
    Either that, or you do. Hard to say.

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  20. I find it strange that many seek individual explanations for each field with gender imbalance rather than a common explanation for all fields. Yes, there might be some field-specific causes, but the lion’s share of the difference probably has the same explanation in all fields.

    What fields are male-dominated? Physics, maths, philosophy, crime, garbage collection, high-class chefs, chess players, politics, mental retardation, rock music, music composition, computer science, high-level business. (One could come up with a list of comparable length of female-dominated fields.)

    In particular, I think rock music illustrates my point. Apart from singers, those with romantic involvement with boy(s) in the band and members of all-girl groups, can you think of even one reasonably well known female rock musician? (I can think of only one, but even that is something of a special case.) If you believe in field-specific causes for male dominance, what is it about rock music which keeps women out? (The same probably applies to country music, or jazz or whatever though not to “classical” music.)

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  21. Neal J. King says:

    TL/DR

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  22. Kiki says:

    One problem for a lack of women in the fields mentioned above can be probably traced to the fact that women are usually discouraged when entering such a field. The other problem is the creation of a family. In order for one to become the next Einstein or Beethoven, one has to study, practice, envision a bunch of ideas, discard the ones that don`t seem useful. So, if a woman decides to form a family, that means at least 1 year of no work. When she gets back to work, she has to start everything anew. Despite all this, still a lot of women excel in their profession. But, in order to become a genius of one`s time, one has to have supporters. “Behind every successful man stands a successful woman”, says the old proverb, but how many men are willing to stand behind their genius ladies?!

    P.S. Sorry for my grammatical errors, English is not my native language.

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  23. Allyson says:

    Huh?

    Liz Phair
    Ann and Nancy Wilson
    Grace Slick
    Tina Turner
    Chrissy Hynde
    PJ Harvey
    Karen O
    Debbie Harry
    Courtney Love
    Neko Case
    The Go Gos
    Joan Jett
    Siouxsie Sioux
    Alannis Morrisette
    Kathleen Hanna (should we do all of riot grrl and punk rock?)
    Sheryl Crowe
    Janis Joplin
    Kim Gordon
    Pat Benetar
    Michelle Branch
    Patti Smith

    I haven’t even opened my iPod, yet. Your ignorance of rock musicians (HOLY GOD PATTI SMITH???) and apparently country and jazz is astounding. Nina Simone? Really?

    Do you own a radio? Seriously, send me your addie and I’ll send you about 40 mix CDs of all the shit you’ve missed. It’s really good. Motown? You know Motown is rock and roll, right?

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  24. “One problem for a lack of women in the fields mentioned above can be probably traced to the fact that women are usually discouraged when entering such a field.”

    This begs the question, though: why are they discouraged? Yes, this was certainly a problem in the past, with Planck telling Meitner that there were no women’s toilets in the physics building or whatever. However, how much opposition does a female chess player face today?

    “The other problem is the creation of a family.”

    Probably true in many cases. But why are women common in symphony orchestras playing Beethoven, say, but not in jazz bands? And women without family, or whose husbands bear the lion’s share of the work, aren’t as visible as they should be were this the main explanation.


    “Behind every successful man stands a successful woman”, says the old proverb, but how many men are willing to stand behind their genius ladies?!”

    Some pundit remarked that beneath every successful man lies a woman. (Sorry, couldn’t resist; I’ll get me coat!)

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  25. Let me quote myself: “Apart from singers, those with romantic involvement with boy(s) in the band and members of all-girl groups”. (I also mentioned “well known”; one can always find the obscure person.)

    At least the following are singers:

    Grace Slick
    Tina Turner
    Chrissy Hynde
    PJ Harvey
    Debbie Harry
    Courtney Love
    Joan Jett
    Siouxsie Sioux
    Alannis Morrisette
    Sheryl Crowe
    Janis Joplin
    Pat Benetar
    Patti Smith

    Many (most?) of the names I didn’t recognise are probably singers as well. Fill us in please. Is even one of them not (primarily) a singer? There is nothing wrong with being a singer, or being romantically involved with someone else in the band, or being part of an all-girl band. However, most male rock musicians are not singers, are not romantically involved with someone in the band and are not marketed as part of a boy band.

    Ann Wilson is a singer. Nancy Wilson is (primarily) not a singer. Indeed, she is the special case I was thinking of (special case because her sister is in the same band). Again, there is nothing wrong with such special cases, but I want to avoid examples of reasonably well known rock musicians who are special cases in the sense that they have some property (the three I mentioned) which most male rock musicians don’t.

    The Go Gos are a girl band.

    Although I subscribe to Mojo and have been to maybe 1000 rock concerts in my life, I recognise none of the following names:

    Liz Phair
    Karen O
    Neko Case
    Kathleen Hanna (should we do all of riot grrl and punk rock?)
    Kim Gordon
    Michelle Branch

    and thus submit that they are not reasonably well known. How many of them are singers?

    Can’t you just think of a woman who plays bass in a rock group and isn’t the main singer? It’s enough if the group is well known and the individual members aren’t. (Don’t say “Tina Weymouth”.)

    I haven’t even opened my iPod, yet. Your ignorance of rock musicians (HOLY GOD PATTI SMITH???) and apparently country and jazz is astounding. Nina Simone? Really?

    Errm, Patti Smith and Nina Simone are both singers.

    Do you own a radio? Seriously, send me your addie and I’ll send you about 40 mix CDs of all the shit you’ve missed. It’s really good. Motown? You know Motown is rock and roll, right?

    Name me one female Motown musician who is not a singer.

    Yes, people familiar with the field, like myself, can find examples of female rock musicians, Carol Kaye, for example, who aren’t a “special case”, but, despite having been on a huge number of recordings, Carol Kaye is not well known (probably because she is primarily a session musician).

    Read my criteria again. Maybe they are arbitrary, but since most male rock musicians fulfill my constraints, it’s a fair point of comparison.

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  26. OK, of the ones I didn’t recognise, Kim Gordon is (was?) married to a boy in the band (and is also a singer) and all the rest are singers.

    Proves my point, actually. You obviously missed the requirement that they shouldn’t be singers, came up with a list of female rock musicians, and essentially all are singers.

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  27. Allyson says:

    According to your rules, people who also sing are not musicians. Because Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon were married, neither Thurston nor Kim are musicians on your list, if we apply the same rules to men.

    The Beatles? A boy band. And they were all singers. The Rolling Stones? A boy band. Robert Plant? Not a musician.

    Fleetwood Mac? They all did each other. Jimi Hendrix? A singer. Kurt Cobain? Singer. Dave Grohl? Singer. I did come up wit Mitch Mitchell, who did not sing backup in the Jimi Hendrix Experience…but they were an all boy band.

    Keith Richards cannot count as a musician because he’s in an all-boy band.

    Your rules are arbitrary, and since you seem to be the one who can decide whether or not a band or musician in well-known (and the criteria of being well-known is that you know who they are, which is absurd given that you have no idea who Liz Phair is).

    And when your rules are applied equally: No boy bands, no mixed gender bands in which the male is a singer or has slept with another member of the band, etc) it doesn’t work for you, either.

    If you’ve no idea who Sonic Youth is, or the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, or Liz Phair, I would submit that you haven’t read an issue of Rolling Stone or Spin in the last 20 years. This would make you not very familiar with rock and roll.

    So you’ve purposely set up requirements that discount Patti Smith’s guitar. These same requirements also knock Hendrix out. And Cobain. Go ahead. Give it a whirl. Give me your well-known male musician who is not a singer, in all boy band, or has slept with another member of the band.

    David Bowie? Not a rock musician. Springsteen? Doesn’t pass your test. In fact, the only thing keeping Clarence and Little Steven on the musician list is that Patty Scialfa in in the E Street band, making them NOT an all-boy band. Yay for Patti. Is she not well-known? She can’t count as a musician, though, since Bruce.

    Give me your list of well-known male musicians who are not in all boy bands, aren’t singers, and don’t sleep with any of the members of the bands they’re in. You cannot count Billy Joel, Rage Against the Machine, or Soundgarden.

    And then apply weirdly arbitrary rules to philosophers as well, since that’s your analogy.

    How about we don’t count philosophers who are primarily professors and use apple computers?

    If your point is that sometimes men bend backward to create weirdly arbitrary rules in order to discount the accomplishments of women (you can’t count as a musician if you sing = you count count as a philosopher if you type your papers in Times New Roman?) then you’ve made an excellent point, and I agree.

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  28. thomas says:

    whatever

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  29. “According to your rules, people who also sing are not musicians.”

    I didn’t say that; that is your (rather bizarre) interpretation of what I said. Pick a male rock musician at random. Chances are he is not a singer (since most aren’t), not romantically involved with someone else in the band (most aren’t) and not part of a “boy band” (most bands aren’t marketed as such). My point is that the corresponding female musician is rare, almost to the point of non-existence, at least for reasonably well known bands. This is in contrast to the number of female musicians in, say, symphony orchestras or chamber-music groups. The question is why. (Just to be clear, read above where I wrote that there is nothing wrong with being a singer etc, it’s just that I’m asking a specific question for which there is not an obvious answer.)

    As to your second paragraph, I obviously didn’t claim that such examples are not examples of musicians, nor did I claim that they don’t exist. My claim is that most male rock musicians don’t fall into these categories, whereas most female rock musicians do. The question is why.

    As to “boy bands”, there is a difference between a band marketed as such (say, Take That, or NKOTB, or any of the others which spring up every few years) and a band which just happens to be all male, just like there is a difference between a conference where all the attendees happen to be male (because no women registered) and one which excluded them from attendance. Ditto for “girl bands”. The Go-Gos and The Bangles were definitely marketed as such. However, we don’t know what goes on behind the scenes and whether the band decided to be a single-sex group. So, let’s leave that out and ask where the non-singing female rock musicians are who aren’t involved romantically with anyone in the band. It turns out that almost all are in all-female groups. This might very well be do to the fact that male rock musicians might want to avoid women (at least women in the band). That is essentially the question I’m asking. I don’t have any evidence to back this up, though. Sometimes, when someone leaves there is an open audition, e.g. as documented in the film Some Kind of Monster, where Metallica audition for a bass player. (Robert Trujillo got the job and was blown away by the million-dollar advance Lars Ulrich offered him.) Not all the applicants are shown in the film. Did any women apply? I don’t know.

    Certainly among the rock musicians I know, no-one would object to having women in the band, but I’ve only seen that happen among less famous bands.

    I’m just asking a question; you seem to be interpreting it as some sort of statement.

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  30. The question is why.

    And the answer is: Presumably for the same reason that, 50 years ago, essentially no lawyers were women (today, half of law students and 20 percent of law-firm partners are). Or for the same reason that 50 years ago, fewer than 1 percent of doctors were women (today, half of medical students and 30 percent of practicing physicians are). Or for the same reason that, 50 years ago, no major country had ever had a woman elected as the head of its government (today most countries outside of Africa and the Middle East have). Or for the same reason that 50 years ago only 3 percent of doctorates in the physical sciences were granted to women. Today, 30 percent are.

    Both socialization and institutional obstacles have kept women out of many fields historically. As the culture has changed, we’ve moved toward parity. Fifty years ago, people looked at the absence of female doctors, lawyers, presidents & prime ministers, and scientists, and said that it must be due to some inherent difference between men and women. They were wrong. And if you are saying that the underrepresentation of women on philosophy panels, or in rock bands, is due to some inherent difference between men and women, you are just as wrong. And with much less excuse.

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  31. M says:

    Allyson, can we be friends?!

    Phillip Helbig, learn about rock and roll or go home!

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  32. @30: Yours is the most common explanation. The problem I have with it is that it makes rock music look like a hotbed of discrimination, much worse than the other fields you mention. However, there is little if any other evidence to support this. Another problem is that all one has to do is make a record and sell it. Yes, in practice it isn’t that easy, but there is no institutionalized repression involved. The third is that you assume that eventually it will be 50/50 in all fields, but evidence suggests otherwise. Yes, there were problems in the past, and still are today in some areas, but from this it does not automatically follow that all gender imbalance must be due to discrimination.

    The “broader tails” explanation has a lot going for it. If the distribution of abilities is broader among men than women (there is some evidence to suggest this; this says nothing about whether the average is the same, but let’s assume that it is since there is no real evidence that it is not), then there will be more men in areas where one is looking at the tails of the distribution. We usually look at the positive tails, thus find more male chess players, chefs, composers etc. (especially if we look at the most successful ones), but (and this is often neglected) we also find more mentally retarded men, more criminal men, more socially maladjusted men. One gets a lot of sympathy by claiming that underrepresentation is due to discrimination if one wants to be represented, but the fact is that there are many areas of gender imbalance where it is really far-fetched to claim discrimination is the cause. The broader-tails explanation (supported by such luminaries as Steven Pinker (incidentally a man who works in a field dominated by women)) can explain many gender imbalances rather easily and seems more plausible than a special explanation for each and every field or blanket discrimination despite any evidence.

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  33. Allyson says:

    “The problem I have with it is that it makes rock music look like a hotbed of discrimination, much worse than the other fields you mention. However, there is little if any other evidence to support this”

    But this is what you’ve done. You ask the question: “Why are there so few women rock musicians?”

    But that’s complete nonsense given the oceans of women rock musicians. In order for you to make that assertion, you had to redefine the word musician in the most ridiculous terms. Why would who you fuck have to do with whether or not you are actually playing a guitar? Why would the sex of your bandmates nullify your ability to drum? Why would singing (singers are musicians as well, and Juliard would like a word with you if you don’t think so) while playing erase the fact that you are playing a piano at the same time?

    And when it’s pointed out, you put Go Gos in the same category as NSYNC because someone marketed them as an “all-girl band.” Which has nothing to do with the fact that they’re still musicians.

    And as I’ve pointed out already, if we apply your rules universally, Jimi Hendrix is no longer a musician for the same reason Patti Smith isn’t.

    Leaving aside the condition that you’re the arbiter of what is popular and not say, Billboard, iTunes, or who has played the main stage at Lollapalooza, Tibetan Freedom, or any other large music festival in the last two decades…or even the cover of Rolling Stone: They must have made a terrible mistake with that cover story

    The only way you can make your claim is by twisting a definition into something no sane person would ever agree with.

    The odd part? You probably could have made a similar claim by replacing “rock” with “The last decade of rap.” And even Chuck D would agree with you, I bet.

    The part that disturbs me is that you can’t even see that you’ve redefined what it means to be a musician, but only for women. Men do not have to play by those rules.

    It’s disturbing because I now have to stop and wonder if the committees who decide who will be invited to give talks also redefine what it means to be a philosopher, or (or any other profession) and simply cannot see that they have done so.

    The only point you proved with your women musicians in rock analogy is that it is surprisingly easy to not only apply different, arbitrary rules to women that do not apply to men, but also to double-down and twist in order to justify your discrimination.

    You have to explain why it matters that one sleeps with a member of their band, and whether that also means that the male band member is also no longer considered a musician (if it’s a heterosexual pairing). You simply must explain why that negates a person’s musicianhood for females but not for males.

    When Kate Shellenbach was the drummer for the Beastie Boys she was a musician. We can safely assume she didn’t sleep with Yauch, since she’s gay. But when she joined Luscious Jackson (all female) she ceased being a drummer?

    There is no “special explanation” only your “special definition.”

    Women frequently joined together in all-female bands to avoid discrimination by men who said they couldn’t be considered musicians because they were women, despite women picking up guitars and playing them. So they played together. And sold assloads of albums. And now we get to have Meg White (White Stripes), Cindy Blackman (Lenny Kravitz), Nicole Fiorentino (Smashing Pumpkins), and of course the aforementioned Phair, Gordon, Jett, etc who front all male and mostly male bands.

    So you do not get Clapton because he’s a singer, and I don’t get Bonnie Raitt’s slide guitar.

    Captain Logic is not at the helm of your tugboat. Your analogy is a stinker. Concede.

    And from now on, you don’t get to decide who gets the title “musician.” Ever.

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  34. Allyson says:

    I need to add my own mea culpa in case it seems like I’m putting down boy bands to lift up the Go Gos or The RUnaways. NSYNC falls more into pop/R&B, but its members are actually all fine musicians who play a variety of instruments in addition to being able to create beautiful five part harmony which is difficult.

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  35. “The problem I have with it is that it makes rock music look like a hotbed of discrimination, much worse than the other fields you mention. However, there is little if any other evidence to support this”

    But this is what you’ve done. You ask the question: “Why are there so few women rock musicians?”

    This illustrates something I mentioned, namely the assumption that gender imbalance necessarily implies discrimination.

    Why would who you fuck have to do with whether or not you are actually playing a guitar? Why would the sex of your bandmates nullify your ability to drum? Why would singing (singers are musicians as well, and Juliard would like a word with you if you don’t think so) while playing erase the fact that you are playing a piano at the same time?

    That’s the point. That’s the question I’m asking. I made an observation and you turned it into some kind of judgement.

    I also never claimed that people who don’t meet my criteria are “not musicians”.

    Rather than attacking my question, answer it, and back up your answer with evidence.

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  36. Allyson says:

    “I also never claimed that people who don’t meet my criteria are “not musicians”.”

    Then you cannot make the claim that there is a dearth of female rock musicians, and therefore your question, “If you believe in field-specific causes for male dominance, what is it about rock music which keeps women out?” is moot, given the number of female rock musicians that do in fact exist.

    How can I answer a question that is false in its nature?

    Saying that you never claimed that they were not musicians is disingenuous since this is how you framed your question: “In particular, I think rock music illustrates my point. Apart from singers, those with romantic involvement with boy(s) in the band and members of all-girl groups, can you think of even one reasonably well known female rock musician?”

    This is how you are defining female rock musician. They must meet your criteria. Or else you cannot make the claim that there are few female musicians.

    “My point is that the corresponding female musician is rare, almost to the point of non-existence, at least for reasonably well known bands.”

    No. Your point was that there was a dearth of female rock musicians: “what is it about rock music which keeps women out?”

    There isn’t a lack of female rock musicians. In order to claim that rock music is keeping women out, there would have to be evidence that women are being kept out. But rock music is simply loaded with female musicians. Your ignorance of their existence does not mean they don’t exist. So you’re simply going to have to choose some other field for your analogy.

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  37. Let me rephrase it. You asked:

    Why would who you fuck have to do with whether or not you are actually playing a guitar? Why would the sex of your bandmates nullify your ability to drum? Why would singing (singers are musicians as well, and Juliard would like a word with you if you don’t think so) while playing erase the fact that you are playing a piano at the same time?

    Let me ask you why this matters, because almost all female rock musicians fall into these categories. The question is, where is the female bass player who doesn’t sing etc? There are lots and lots of male bass players who don’t sing etc.

    I am not re-defining a term to suit my taste. I am asking a question about a (large) subset of rock musicians.

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  38. Allyson says:

    Let me ask you why this matters

    YOU brought it up! Why did it matter at all to you?

    The question is, where is the female bass player who doesn’t sing etc? There are lots and lots of male bass players who don’t sing etc.

    I thought the question was: “If you believe in field-specific causes for male dominance, what is it about rock music which keeps women out?”

    Women are not being kept out of rock music. I keep giving you example after example of this along with resources.

    How does singing while playing, or fucking while on the road strengthen or weaken your (proven false) premise that rock music is keeping women out?

    One cannot be blamed for thinking that you are applying conditions to women that you are not applying to men to exclude them or making some statement about their inclusion in the defined term or you are not. You say you are not, and I believe you. So I am wondering what you think your questions have to do with your false premise.

    You CAN say that rock music is a traditionally male dominated field and ask why it has been so. You cannot make the statement that women are being kept out until you show me data that women have been turned away by A&R simply because they are women. I will assume that you cannot show this since your only qualifications regarding rock music is that you have heard rock music and not that you have worked in the industry or have access to the number of demos that A&R people receive at the hundreds of record labels producing rock music right now. Is this a fair assumption?

    Now you must show the number of newly signed artists of each gender, year by year, and see whether the number of women musicians seeking record contracts and getting them is lesser than, equal to, or greater than the number of male artists seeking/receiving record contracts.

    You’re also going to have to try to come up with a meaningful definition of rock musician. Are we including R&B, Soul, Punk Rock, etc?

    Would you like to rephrase your original statement to: We have not yet reached gender parity in rock music. What is it about rock music that has kept us from parity in this field? Now show me your data for the last decade, five years, one year ago. I am interested in knowing whether that statement is in fact, true. Perhaps there are more new female musicians in rock signed on to labels this year. Perhaps that will trend for the next ten. IDK.

    So I ask again. What do your questions have to do with whether it is a male-dominated field, and whether women are currently being kept out of it? How do your questions support your statement?

    They don’t. Show me a male rock musician who has never fucked a groupie, done an illegal drug, and/or worn pants on stage. Can you think of one? What’s the point?

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  39. To make it very simple, my question is why most female rock musicians are singers and most male rock musicians are not.

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  40. Allyson says:

    You had asked why there were more women in symphonies. This helps: Blind Auditions (link to PDF)

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  41. While this might be a problem in some cases, women are much more prevalent in “classical” music than in rock music even if the auditions aren’t blind. I listen to quite a bit of Baroque music. Chamber groups often have more women than men, and some are even all women (not as unlikely as it might seem since the typical size is just 5 or 6 people) without marketing themselves as a “girl group”. This demonstrates that there is no obvious deficiency of musical ability on average, even though non-singing women are rare in rock and jazz. Prejudice? That would be along the lines of “we don’t want a woman who just plays bass, but a woman who sings and plays bass is OK”, which seems rather bizarre. Another explanation might be that women who are interested in rock music have a stronger desire to sing than men, but the question remains why this is the case.

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