Friday Genius Ten “Unpretty” Edition

By Amanda Marcotte
Friday, April 23, 2010 13:41 EDT
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Silvana has an interesting follow-up to the explosion of anger following her hilarious rant on Dude Music. As follow-ups go—especially those that address a wave of men getting angry when they experience even a sliver of what many to most women consider a normal part of our everyday lives—this one is true to form: serious, thoughtful, kind-hearted. For the men angrily demanding legalistic definitions of Dude Music, she comes closer, basically talking about the way that B and C level musical acts get taken more seriously if they’re male-dominated than A level acts that center the female voice/experience. As I noted to her at the time, this is such a major issue that often fans will rewrite the artistic history male musicians/bands to discount the influence women had on them. For instance, the influence that female musicians had on singers like Joey Ramone, Kurt Cobain, or Mick Jagger is often pointedly ignored. And nothing creates more angst than a male musician of some stature who actually marries someone who does more than stand behind him smacking a tambourine.

Beyond just the problem of women having to be twice as good to be taken half as seriously, you also have the pretty conundrum. Silvana has a long and fascinating explanation of this that you should read, but basically there’s a conflict between the expectation of “prettiness”—passivity, conformity, sweetness—and the demands of rock music. I’d argue hip-hop faces the same problem. Obviously, all this stuff is on a scale, as is most sexism. Some people are super-sexist, and tend to be hostile across the board to female musicians. Increasingly, though, it’s not that women are shut out completely. It’s just that their talents and contributions are routinely minimized, and often it’s so subtle that people who don’t think of themselves as sexist contribute to the problem.

Today’s Genius Ten is based off the comments, which immediately went to Yoko Ono as one of history’s greatest monsters, i.e. woman who broke the prettiness rule in flagrant ways, and somehow still managed to get the love and admiration of John Lennon. Yoko is a real hero to me, because she really knows how to handle the haters.

Original song: “Walking On Thin Ice” by Yoko Ono

1) “Nipple to the Bottle”—Grace Jones
2) “Bright Young Things”—Pet Shop Boys
3) “I Heard It Through The Grapevine”—The Slits
4) “I’ll Keep It With Mine”—Nico
5) “Ex Lion Tamer”—Wire
6) “Declare Independence”—Bjork
7) “Evil”—Ladytron
8) “Wheel Me Out”—Was (Not Was)
9) “Got To Have Loving”—Don Ray
10) “Busy Doing Nothing”—Love Is All

Videos and cat pics below the fold.
It’s probably hard to believe this is the same band that did “Walk the Dinosaur”, but it is! Nothing against that song, of course. Just way different.

Here’s Dusty’s blue phase:

Molly’s paw:

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
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