Over at Hay Ladies!, Andrea Grimes describes the experience of seeing some friendly acquaintances in a band rush to gendered attacks of a woman who writes about music for the Dallas Observer. The critic said that she wasn’t into the band’s live performances, and was quickly decried as a bitch/ugly/fat/whatever who just needs to get laid.
You know, I’ve received plenty of hostile, ad hominem comments in response to music reviews these past few years. I’ve been called stupid, and a douchebag, and an image-obsessed hipster (I totally am!), and had my ability to properly process the experience of watching some dudes playing four chords called into question, etc, etc. People get really offended when you have a different take from theirs on an experience that you’ve shared!
But I’ve never been called fat for having an opinion. Even when getting accused of Engaging In Rampant Hipsterism (fines up to $5,000 and 9 months in hipster jail!) for saying that I merely really enjoyed that Mumford & Sons concert that changed some other guy’s life, it’s still about what I wrote, and how stupid my opinions clearly are. It’s not about how if I weren’t too ugly to get laid, I’d probably not have written that mean review of the Pixies show.
But I get that this is a subtle distinction, which is why I am commenting on it, even though Andrea said her piece very well. They’re both ad hominem attacks that attempt to accuse the author — dude or lady — of being personally unworthy of reviewing music. But those ad hominem attacks toward me are about how I shouldn’t be writing about music because I’m stupid. The ones toward the critic at the Dallas Observer are about how she shouldn’t be writing about music because she’s a woman. (Note: “she’s a fat bitch needs to get laid” is the same as “she’s a woman,” for these purposes — no knowledge of her weight or sexual availability needed!)
And there’s already plenty of stigma against women who write about music. They already are operating in an extreme minority, they already have to prove an “of course that person knows everything there is to know about Joy Division”-ness that I’m able to convey just by wearing my plastic glasses and plaid shirt (which makes it harder for them to get work from male editors and taken seriously by dude bands), and they already get judged by their appearance when there’s an actual picture of them. So how about cutting a lady like Dembling a break and call her a hipster instead of a bitch?