Monday, February 20, 2012

Microaggressions and VH1's 100 Greatest Women in Music

I'm a big fan of the site Microaggressions: the term coined by psychiatrist Chester M. Pierce to mean those "brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults toward people of other races." (source ) The site extends to those indignities committed against gender and sexual orientation, too, and watching VH1's 100 Greatest Women in Rock, I couldn't help but tally them up.

Granted, a pop culture show on a mainstream cable network isn't the best place for nuanced discussion on the kind of sexism that's woven so deeply into society that it becomes invisible, but some things are just blatantly obvious, like the need to how "sexy" each performer is. But this one annoys me to no end:

"Kim Deal, blah, blah, blah, AND she was in the Pixies."

(You can also substitute Meg White or Kim Gordon and their respective bands.)

Here's what's wrong with this. If the tables were turned and we were talking about Frank Black, no one would say "AND he was in the Pixies," as if his being in the Pixies were some huge accomplishment irrespective of his talent. Of course he was in the Pixies. Most inveterate indie rock fans would consider him THE PIXIES, but read for subtext, it sounds as if Kim Deal was allowed to be in the band, rather than be a part of it. Kim Deal's greatest accomplishment isn't her guitar or songwriting skills, but her permission to enter the boy's club.

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