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Hottest 100 and Sexism

Willow
Yes, there are almost no women on the Hottest 100 of All Time for Triple J. Yup. We discussed it a bit yesterday on one of the threads here and also over at Twitter. And we've even come up with a bunch of female artists who deserved to be there over some of the male ones.

But just now, I had to bow out of a conversation with a friend about it because I was beginning to get quite internally upset about it. See, I can't watch and discuss this kind of stuff and be removed from it at the same time. I see males do it all the time, more often with respect to the sexist stuff in science fiction publishing, and I see them say things like, "isn't that interesting ..." and I want to yell on the top of voice - NO IT'S NOT FUCKING INTERESTING! IT BREAKS MY HEART!

But you know, yelling doesn't win arguments, especially on the internet.

See, it's like that guy I was with that time who enjoyed holocaust movies and didn't get how I can not watch anything remotely related to the subject in any removed fashion. And he was horrified when I politely agreed to sit through one that "wasn't that bad" according to him when really what the fuck would he know? and I had to leave and sit in a quiet corner for an hour and calm down. And had nightmares that night and the next. Because, like, when I said I cannot watch anything remotely related to the subject, I meant, you know ANYTHING remotely related to the subject. To him a black and white picture of a young boy is a picture of a young boy. To me, it could be my sister or me or a boy I went to school with, had we lived there and not here, and then and not now. What I'm saying is, it's *personal*. For me, there is no objectivity on the subject. There's no element of it that doesn't say: Alisa, this could have been you, it was in fact your great uncles and aunts and great grandparents. And so on.

And so too on the sexism issue. See, I am female. No getting around it. So everytime it comes up, *every time*, what I hear when people say, "well it was merit based", or "we chose what we thought was the best" or "men write better than women" or "men sing better more enduring rock songs than women" or "I don't like reading stories about/by women" or "isn't that interesting that that happened like that (again)"... what I hear is this: Alisa, you are not as smart, not as talented, not as good as a man. And never will be.

Because, you know, I am a woman.

And of course it makes me mad when someone clearly less smart or talented than me says it. But it also makes me sad. Because it means that I am being dismissed because of my reproductive organs. I am being dismissed as never being able to contribute as much/well as a male could and *simply* because I am female. Because if women far more talented than me can't write/perform a long standing song out of *100*, or a short story worthy of winning a big prize, then what about me? What can I ever hope to do or achieve?

Obviously, I don't think the above. And I don't get out of bed in the morning thinking the above. I didn't graduate last in engineering school. And I didn't graduate in an all female class. So ... I was better than some men in my class at maths and physics. (I was better than a lot of them, actually) And I don't think Twelfth Planet Press suffers at the hands of a female editorship or publisher.

So what I am saying is, when I hear other people talking about the sexism ... I *hear* them say that stuff. It's like when people meet me as the first Jewish person they have ever met in real life (happens a lot, I live in Australia). And they have all these preconceived ideas about Judaism and Jewish people and that's not based on their real life experiences. It's hurtful I guess, because you are judged not for who and what you are but for what others have said about people *like* me.

So I say this, when you think of the top artists of all time, do you really not include Madonna, Garbage, Sarah McLachlan, Miss Higgins, Portishead, Janis Joplin, Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, Regina Spektor, Blondie, Tori Amos, Annie Lennox, Carol King, Ani Difranco, Kate Bush, PJ Harvey, Cyndi Lauper, Joni Mitchell, The Cranberries, Dusty Springfield, The Waifs?

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girliejones
Jul. 13th, 2009 07:57 am (UTC)
Hmmm... girl bands being taken seriously is only a recent phenomena...

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fearofemeralds
Jul. 13th, 2009 07:51 am (UTC)
Without defending the striking absence of the XX in the JJJ list, a couple of points to consider:

1. The "Hottest 100" is not meant to be a list of the "best" or "most talented" artists, but the *favourite songs* of Triple J listeners (in itself a problematic demographic). So, technically, the list isn't really saying that women aren't *as good* as men.

2. An argument has been made by a female Triple J presenter that male artists/bands tend to get known for a handful of songs. Think Led Zepplin, you think Stairyway to Heaven. Think Nirvana, you think Smells Like Teen Spirit. Think John Lennon, you think Imagine. Think Pink Floyd, you think Wish You Were Here or Comfortably Numb. Etc etc etc. Female artists/bands, by comparison, produce a wide body of work with lots of songs that become favourites and therefore their vote is more easily split. (Note, this is a problematic argument, as many male artists are also known for a body of work rather than hit singles, but it does hold some water. It's also not my argument, I'm just throwing it out as food for thought.)

3. On a cynical level, Triple J was running a pretty amazing contest tied in with the Hottest 100 - a double pass to the Reading Festival, with airfares, etc, all paid - plus a lot of Prize Packs given out during the week. I'm not sure about the major prize, but the prize packs did seem to go to people who had voted for a song that made the list. If the Reading fest prize is also the same (the winner drawn from the "successful" voters), or even if the perception is that this is the case, it would encourage people to vote for songs they think most likely to make the list. Strategic voting.

Certainly, female artists seem to be well represented in the yearly Hottest 100 list. Not on a par with men, of course, but they are more noticeable.

I know a lot of female artists I love weren't on the list, and I was kind of amazed by some of the songs that were. But you know what, I've realised that I haven't been in the JJJ demographic for quite a while now. It's still the station I listen to for background music, cause it shits me less than the commercial stations, but I tend to pick the eyes out of these days. So the Hottest 100 didn't represent me and I didn't really expect it to. A lot of the music I like will never be played on Triple J (or most radio station). Shrug.
girliejones
Jul. 13th, 2009 07:56 am (UTC)
It comes back to the idea, I think, of how for example, exam based learning and entrance exams self select white males. Because of the test, and who excels at the test rather than at who possesses and has strengths in what skillsets.

I remember learning his in uni at some point, looking at why US colleges had more white men than any other demographic and yet, in the real world, you require the kind of skills women are supposedly more traditionally adept at - team work :)

I didn't vote in the Hottest 100, perhaps for the above reason, I thought it insulting to only be able to list 10 songs *for all time*. It's like whenever I hear people list their favourite book, I always think "you haven't read enough" :)

I also listen to Triple J. But I also have been cringing at the callers on Hack for a couple of years and realising I am getting ooooolddd. :)
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cassiphone
Jul. 13th, 2009 08:06 am (UTC)
Hee what I noticed most about that Hack programme? The conversation was mainly between two women, the regular Hack presenter (ummm) basically asking the hardish questions and Zan Rowe acting as apologist for the list.

Also there were some great callers, male and female, with interesting things to say about the importance of diversity.

I'm not sure how 'look we have a woman on the cover of our magazine' is an argument that JJJ is pro-women, though. ALL magazines print pics of women on their covers... doesn't mean they give a damn about what those women have to say.
girliejones
Jul. 13th, 2009 08:10 am (UTC)
yeah well so bloody Zan Rowe should! Didn't sound like she even noticed the chasm whilst she was hosting it.

I think JJJ does have some interesting female announcers (I hate fucking Kate O'Toole though on Hack). But that doesn't mean they are actually pro-female artists.

As an experiment this morning I tallied how many female artists were played on my journey into work - none.

I realised lately (last year or year and a half) to CDs I have bought rather than Triple J/Radio. I did buy the Gossip and Regina Spektor cause I heard them on Triple J but I think these tyoe of artists get feature play and then disappear rather than being part of the rotation.
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maevele
Jul. 13th, 2009 08:11 am (UTC)
it's cuz girls cant rawk. all those women musicians you listed? you imagined them.

I have gone beyond hurt disappointed and confused (this this is not just still happening but apparently getting worse) and settled in to bitter sarcasm. because I am so fucking enraged, honestly.
girliejones
Jul. 13th, 2009 08:16 am (UTC)
Yeah. Once you get to enraged, I'm not sure where you go after that? Head explosion?
looneymoth
Jul. 13th, 2009 08:22 am (UTC)
I voted, because I am lame. Garbage was on my list, but I can't believe I forgot Blondie! "Heart of Glass" should definitely have got in there. Also: Joan Jett. Where was "I Love Rock and Roll"? Anthem!

It's not that I didn't like the tracks in the H100, but where were the rock chicks? And yes, I do care too much about this list. At 31 I am waaaaay too old to have spent Sunday night dancing in my bedroom to "Killing in the Name" until I got dizzy (then had to have a bit of a sit down). That's just sad.
girliejones
Jul. 13th, 2009 08:24 am (UTC)
It's only sad if you were the only one doing it. I might have gotten down to that song too ... motherfucker!!
ex_benpayne119
Jul. 13th, 2009 08:25 am (UTC)
Also, despite being a Garbage fan for years, I can't really think of a song of theirs that I really like. Can you??
looneymoth
Jul. 13th, 2009 08:29 am (UTC)
I voted for "#1 Crush" because of the awesome, but a few of their tracks were on my short list; "Cherry Lips" (yeah, I know), "Push it" and "I'm only happy when it rains" for starters.

And yes I drew up a short list. Saaaaaaad.
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looneymoth
Jul. 13th, 2009 08:47 am (UTC)
I voted for Liz Phair as well, but she never had a chance :( *sees the straw. clutches it*

No Divinyls in the 100 either. Not my thing for the most part but I'd rather hear "Pleasure and Pain" than "stairway to heaven" any day (I hate that song. So long and boring). Maybe that has a lot to do with the 90s-centric list?

Now I'm thinking of all the people I could have voted for if I had more than 10 votes! Though my number 1 did get in the top 20, which make me geek out all over the place.
girliejones
Jul. 13th, 2009 08:51 am (UTC)
angriest just gave a good list
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pharaoh_katt
Jul. 13th, 2009 08:59 am (UTC)
I don't listen to Triple J, or any radio honestly, so I wasn't aware of all this when it happened. But honestly, there are so many great female artists I can think of without trying, it's so hard to believe more didn't make it on the list.

Where was Garbage?
Where was Alanis Morisette?
Where was Tori Amos?
Where was Natalie Imbruglia?
Where was Lilly Allen?

I can't believe people think that feminism is unnecessary when things like this happen on such a regular basis.
girliejones
Jul. 13th, 2009 09:51 am (UTC)
Because they don't think this was sexist - it was democratically chosen and women also voted for men.
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exp_err
Jul. 13th, 2009 09:53 am (UTC)
"I don't like reading stories about/by women" or "isn't that interesting that that happened like that (again)"... what I hear is this: Alisa, you are not as smart, not as talented, not as good as a man. And never will be.

I have to say, that seems like a good way to get into big, emotional arguments and a bad way to begin a useful conversation that might lead to people changing their minds.
girliejones
Jul. 13th, 2009 10:01 am (UTC)
I'm expressing why I get angry when people say these things, this is my reaction to hearing them. These things being said are inherently emotional, they're about instinct, they're about taste and what people like or don't like.

I'm not going to argue logic into people changing their mind on their fave songs. All that's left for me is how that feels, and this is how it feels. I'm left with why I had to walk away from a discussion because I felt so angry.

I feel angry because this *is* emotional.
thelordmortis
Jul. 13th, 2009 10:01 am (UTC)
On Top 10's:
The only way I can give you one is because I use Last.FM for precisely that reason. I can't think of what my most popular stuff is, but software can tell me...

(for those that care it's at: http://www.last.fm/user/lordmortis)

Actually, I wonder what the last.fm's top 10 are...

Huh, it appears they don't have a top-of-all-time list at the moment. It does, however produce weekly/monthly "top 10s"
girliejones
Jul. 14th, 2009 03:26 am (UTC)
So your top 10 is the stuff you most listen to?

I think for me, my top 10 would depend on a lot of things - do you mean ballads, genre or music for when I am sad or happy? It would be constantly changing on how I feel or what headspace I am in.
purrdence
Jul. 13th, 2009 10:09 am (UTC)
girliejones
Jul. 14th, 2009 03:25 am (UTC)
Thanks for the link!
jumbled_words
Jul. 13th, 2009 10:11 am (UTC)
I have no idea what kind of radio station Triple J is... But some of my favourites that *I* would've liked on a list like that (possibly a Scandinavian version, because some of these are not known outside of Sweden).

Amanda Palmer (and/or the Dresden Dolls), Ani DiFranco, Indigo Girls, The Bird and the Bee, Björk, Ella Fitzgerald, Garbage, Hello Saferide (and/or Säkert, her Swedish project, may not be eligible, but damn, its good), An Horse (so new, but awesome), Janis Joplin, Jenny Lewis (and/or Rilo Kiley), Regina Spektor, Tori Amos, etc.

Some other women that may not make that sort of list but are still kind of awesome: Tegan and Sara, Feist, Ingrid Michaelson, Kate Miller-Heidke, Lily Allen, Liz Phair, Lykke Li, Bitch & Animal, Dar Williams, Marit Bergman, Sahara Hotnights, Frida Hyvönen, Missy Elliot... Uh, possibly I lost track of what I was saying. But yes. I'd be interested to see what a list made by us would look like!
girliejones
Jul. 13th, 2009 10:28 am (UTC)
It's the youth radio station, publicly funded and alternative music in nature.

I like your list!!
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thelordmortis
Jul. 13th, 2009 10:12 am (UTC)
I was talking too Kitty saying how I found it amusing that two of the female vocal songs were Massive Attack (I like Massive Attack, and only paid cursory attention to the list) and then she informed me that they were the only female vocals *on* the list. Period.

!? I find it very disappointing that the list has turned out the way it has - how did the voting system work?
girliejones
Jul. 13th, 2009 10:27 am (UTC)
they reckon 500 000 votes were cast, each voter could only vote for 10 songs. And it was done online. I suspect that actually 50 000 voters voted, each with the 10 votes thereabouts. Cause that would make those stats seem better. Otherwise if half a million voters, then 5 million song votes, surely women would have done better than that.

Also, is not the Massive Attack female vocal a guest appearance?
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zey
Jul. 13th, 2009 11:43 am (UTC)
Oh, definitely heaps of other female artists missing: Do Re Mi (Deborah Conway), Divinyls (who really should have been on that list somewhere given the other bogan content), Kate Ceberano, Nina Hagen, Bjork, Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Bangles, XMal Deutschland, Janet Jackson. The list really goes on and on.

It really strikes me as a music industry thing rather than anything from the audiences or the buying public. For my own part, I'll listen to anything that sounds good, and whether it's boys or girls doesn't factor into it.
girliejones
Jul. 13th, 2009 11:46 am (UTC)
In which case is it music industry or triple j for their rotation lists?
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mandysbitch
Jul. 13th, 2009 12:19 pm (UTC)
I didn't listen - even thought I voted - because I knew it would happen, and I knew I would be angry, and I know this because it's happened every year since 1989 (and look how many women were in the 1989 list! WTF? The Sugarcubes (Bjork's old band)) were No. 9!) and including the years when they changed to the Hottest 100 of the year, as they do now. But I was just blown away by how few women were in that list! I counted only 9 songs with actual female members in the band (not including the Massive Attack songs because they are actually guest performers) and four of those were songs by the Smashing Pumpkins.

I mean, PJ Harvey, the Breeders, Belly, Kristen Hersh, Bjork, Hole, the Clouds, Siouxie and the Banshees, Joan Jett, the Divinyls, the Pretenders, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, PATTI SMITH FOR CHRISSAKES!!!

I mean, I'm glad to see they're talking about it but it's a problem every year and it's like the female voices have to be silent before anyone notices they're no longer in the conversation.
girliejones
Jul. 14th, 2009 03:24 am (UTC)
Agreed!
paulhaines
Jul. 13th, 2009 01:33 pm (UTC)
I've got about 3000 albums or so. The worst investment of money my mother can name. (She doesn't know about the 100s of porn mags - now ceased - or my newfound illicit and expensive collection of discarded circumcision trophies...)

And I'd been thinking about listing my favourite female artists, current and past. I know my record collection is heavily weighted with male artists, but that's also because there are more male artists. Which also means there are more shit male artists than female artists. Etc. And unfortunately a lot of female artists these days are heavily marketed as soft-porn.

I also don't know what made the JJJ Hot 100 list of all time, but I would be thinking most of the mofuggas that voted on that list, don't really know much about music. Not really. It's Triple J for fuck's sake. The McDonalds of alternative music. And these mofuggas are YOUNG.

And seeing my upcoming Wives novella is a seething cesspool of sexism and racism, I was thinking it would be fun to list the women I'm into. Musically speaking of course.
purrdence
Jul. 13th, 2009 01:57 pm (UTC)
I also don't know what made the JJJ Hot 100 list of all time

http://www.abc.net.au/triplej/hottest100_alltime/countdown/cd_list.htm
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(Anonymous)
Jul. 13th, 2009 11:10 pm (UTC)
Contemplative
I don't really have a lot to say about Triple J, because it's not a merit-based station, anyway. To me, a station which plays bad music purely because it's Australian is just as bad as a coldly calculating commercial station which plays bad music purely because it's done well on an American chart!

But for getting angry about sexism and the holocaust, I know where you're coming from.

I think I'm naturally quite empathic; I get easily angry about a lot of things. When I found out that falun gong members are used as involuntary live heart transplant donors in China, I had nightmares about it and I cried. When I read about female genital mutilation of babies in West Africa, my hands actually trembled as I changed my baby girl's nappy, just thinking about the process. I know a lot of people who don't watch the news because they find it too heartbreaking, but I think it's our duty to periodically confront ourselves with our own ignorance and evil - to remind ourselves how much work we still have to do.

And there's a lot of work still to do on the feminist front.

I feel able to face it with equanimity because Australia is so much further along the road than most other countries.

Women in Lebanon have the vote and can flit around in bikinis if they want, but their husbands have the power to stop them leaving the country.

Women in Syria can go to school, but not wear tight-fitting jeans.

Women in Saudi have the right to own property, but not drive a car.

Women in Pakistan get thrown on their husbands funeral pyres and burnt alive, or get gang raped by police as punishment for being raped.

So, on that scale, I feel pretty lucky.

Of course, there are places like Sweden that are further down the road than us, and that's awesome, it's a snapshot of us 20 years into the future, and I'm pretty sure if you looked at a Swedish Best 100 songs of all time, it would be more gender balanced.

But some things just take time. People make Muslim assumptions about me just like they make Jewish assumptions about you, and I find myself saying, quite often, that you have to give things time. Islam was started 600 years after Christianity, and if you think making women wear veils in the 21st century is bad, what do you think nuns wear, and what was the Spanish Inquisition up to 600 years ago?

But I guess if you're not angry, you're probably not going to be as active in the fight for change. So it's kinda good that you're angry ;)

Thoraiya
krazykitkat
Jul. 13th, 2009 11:11 pm (UTC)
Letter in today's SMH:

Triple J poll not on song

Your report mentions that only one Australian artist made it into the top 20 of Triple J's Hottest 100 of all time, but not that there is not one female-fronted artist in the list, barring guest vocalists ("Smells like old times at Triple J", smh.com.au, July 13). This lack of women is particularly striking in light of the fact that nine female-fronted acts made the list in 1989 and four in 1998. Where were songs by Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin, Blondie, P.J. Harvey and Bjork?

Emma Hart Marrickville
girliejones
Jul. 14th, 2009 03:21 am (UTC)
Great letter - thanks for the quote.
berryblade
Jul. 14th, 2009 04:09 am (UTC)
I loved
This post.

And as a musician, who happens to have a vagina (and expects to get treated with the same level/ratio of respect:cynacism) I found this JJJ "hottest" 100 to be wholly uninspired, unimaginative and contrived. As so many people have pointed out - HEAPS of female bands and artists.

My parents tried to tell me last night that the reason why there were less bands with women in them as the list went backwards was because there were less female musicians back then! I couldn't believe it, and usually my folks are at the fore-front of bitchin'.

I can't believe JJJ are trying to argue it down to "it's what the listeners wanted" - if the listeners have no respect or 'need' for women musicians, well, that's just fuckin' scary isn't it? And says something about both the station and those who listen to it.

Now I boycott triple j. I'd rather listen to iPod which is a sanctuary for women in music - of all kinds, and not just rock & roll.

If there was a kudos button on lj (maybe there is? it's been so long since I used this account) I'd hit like, ten.
girliejones
Jul. 19th, 2009 05:58 am (UTC)
Re: I loved
Hey thanks so much for this!!
ms_maas
Jul. 17th, 2009 12:45 am (UTC)
Hi there,

In response to JJJ's Hottest 100 being dominated by male artists, I've set up a Twitter account to collate a female-focussed Hottest 100. It's @Hottest100Women. If this is an idea you are interested in, or support, I'd love it if you could write about it on your blog. If not, I totally understand :)

The way I intend to run the poll, is to ask people to write posts with @Hottest100Women or #Hottest100Women in the post, nominating the songs that get their votes. Then I can collate all the votes (after I get some meaningful number), and find out what the #Hottest100Women songs are, and publish the results through Twitter.

Thanks for your time, hope you're having a great day :)
-Naomi/@Hottest100Women/@naomieve/ms_maas
girliejones
Jul. 20th, 2009 04:24 am (UTC)
Finally blogged it, sorry for the delay!
( 122 comments — Leave a comment )

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