Wednesday, June 15, 2005

LADY'S RAGS

There's never anything totally bad about the launch of a new music paper, and so for that reason we're happy to welcome and wish good luck to Revolution, founded by Leonie Cooper. But we're not totally convinced about the project - we'll suspend judgement until we find a copy, but there's two things that make us nervous. The first is the similarity in name to Revvolution, Jonathan King's shortlived title (the one which gathered all its adverts into a pull-out section in the middle and ran a critique of them); the second is the slightly bemusing female slant:

Why did you decide to found Revolution?
because of the utter lack of any music magazines aimed at women and any with a largely female editorial team. The magazine mostly covers female artists, but we'll let boys in if they have girly hair.


Anyone here remember The Passion? The female arts magazine which had a similar attitude towards its coverage of the arts? Well written, passionate, a decent free CD with each episode; died a death after a couple of issues?

While it's true that music magazines can be a bit blokey, the establishment of a girl's alternative just smacks of giving up the fight - you don't have separate girl's gigs; you don't have lady pop radio; so is there an actual demand for a female-slanted magazine? And even if there is, do women music fans really want a magazine which focuses mainly on female artists, as if they're obviously going to prefer music made by somebody who would use the same toilets as they do? It seems to be answering an arguable problem - (" it has a really different feel to butch, macho male music magazine which are full of hype and twats like Bono and Chris Martin") - with a wonky solution. You can create a magazine that isn't boy-boy without making it only girls allowed.


4 comments:

Anonymous said...

you don't have separate girl's gigs

There's Ladyfest.

Once a year.

Anonymous said...

By comparison, check out the most well-known women-oriented music and arts magazine in the US, Venus. This started out several years ago as a bedroom cut & paste zine and is now a glossy quarterly magazine with an international readership. I am a subscriber. Don't condemn Revolution to the same fate as The Passion on the basis of a press release. I haven't seen Revolution yet but I intend to get a copy. I know that I like most of the bands featured in the first issue.

I think you're missing the point, anyway. It's not that "only girls are allowed". In Venus at least, many bands involving boys are interviewed and reviewed. What magazines like this do is privilege input made by women, in the same way that input made by men is automatically and unquestioningly privileged in all other music magazines and the wider music industry. It exists partly to draw attention to this disparity. I for one think it is a much-needed and very welcome addition to the array of music magazines.

PS Ladyfest also not a "separate gig for girls". The deal is, as I understand it, that bands which are invited to play have to have significant female input. This is in stark contrast to most (indie/alternative) festival lineups. And anyone can buy a ticket, most events are not girls-only.

TB

Anonymous said...

It's not exactly women or the organisers of female based projects that are doing the separating though, is it? The separation already exists (as TB, I think, suggests). Most music magazines, gigs, radio stations (possibly with the exception of everything organised by Plan B) have an EXTREMELY male make-up. Girls are left out in the cold. Whilst it is easy to suggest that they should muck in with the blokes not create a "bemusing" (!!!) female slant I would prefer that female talent be recognised in its own terms by events such as Ladyfest and magazines such as Revolution (as well as the hundreds or thousands of zines that have existed for years and years). This is certainly not "giving up the fight". The worldwide success of Ladyfest and things like Venus shows that there IS a market for this and the market certainly isn't "only girls allowed". Many men that I know appreciate the music and of women in this context.

simon h b said...

I can see your points, and to be honest I think the mention of Ladyfest is kind of crucial here: yes, it's a success on its own terms but isn't it perceived by a large number of women as being cliquey? Ladyfest attracts the sort of people you'd expect at Ladyfest; but I know a lot of women who either feel excluded or bored by the whole concept because it has that air of exclusivity and focus on mission around it. Ladyfest feels to a lot of people like a political meeting with some bands playing, rather than a gig with an agenda. The continuation of indie by other means.

Positive discrimination, self-ghettoising, privleging input from some sectors - all different angles on the same idea, I guess. I really do wish Revolution well - launching a new magazine is a hell of an undertaking and I have nothing but admiration for people willing to put in the time, money, late nights and broken hearts bringing any title into the world takes - but wouldn't it have been much cooler if it had said "Here we are, we're called Revolution and we're a music magazine", allowing readers either to notice or not that it was pro-girl, rather than announcing itself as "we're a girl-skewed magazine, and we're called revolution."

There's a lot of other interesting questions here, of course: isn't it meaningless to say that "all other music magazines automatically and unquestioningly privilege men" - what does that even mean? That my Dad has more chance of getting an article published in Mojo than, say, Caitlin Moran? Most music magazines, as far as I know, privilege their mates.

There's also a fascinating question about if and how the only female editorship of the weekly music press in the UK made a difference? Betty Page's Record Mirror did seem to make more use of women than the three competitors at the time, but I don't know if the tone was any different to the rest of the papers.

The biggest question, though, is what the hell happened to the female music journos in total? Barbar Ellen, Mary Anne Hobbes, Jane Solanas, Elanor Levy, Michelle Kersh, Cath Carroll - my youth was full of female heroes writing stuff for the weekly, mainstream press - at a time when the NME, certainly, was as laddy and cliquey as it had ever been. Where are their heirs?

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