When we first thought about doing this issue, it was going to be a “women in music” issue. Then, my feminist tendencies kicked in, and I thought “That’s not equal, we’ll have to do a men’s issue next.” Then my editor’s voice took hold and said “We don’t have the timeframe for that.” Which made me think, why not combine them?
And so, the Gender Issue was born.
Publishing a gender issue is risky. What will people say? Do we acknowledge the genders as man vs woman, or should we call it a gender continuum? Who are we to challenge the gender binary? Are we even using the term “gender binary” properly?!
But ultimately, it’s that kind of fear, a fear of being critiqued for discussing gender—that may indeed be hindering progress to equality. It’s my personal belief that only by bringing everyone together, and encouraging discussion, will we ever come close to an understanding—and it’s only through understanding that we’ll reach equality.
This issue asks questions, explores themes, and highlights injustices surrounding gender. But what it does not purport to do is to have all the answers. This is an ongoing exploration, likely a lifelong pursuit, to understand each other, to be understood, and to work towards a more balanced treatment of the genders.
Of course if this were the sex issue (not the Playboy kind) we’d be likely less concerned about offending people. Sex being the expression of genes, it’s hard to argue with x and y chromosomes. But gender? Society is fickle, humans are complex, and categorizing them is generally a bad idea.
The media’s attempts at categorizing artists that challenge the gender status quo borders on rude. What do looks have to do with musical abilities, really? For example, LP has been described as “alienated and androgynous…refuse(s) to wear shiny slinky outfits” by the pedigreed folks at The Washington Post. We speak to the incredibly talented, cool, kind and sexy (might I add) musician in the article “The new LP from LP is BIG INDIE Defined.”
Meaghan Smith points out a similar oddity of the business when it comes to gendered awards, like Best Female and Best Male categories in our chat with her “How Meaghan Smith Broke The Best New Artist Curse.”
Another leading lady puncturing preconceptions around gender is Laura Jane Grace, of Against Me!. Read about how she sings the Transgender Dysphoria Blues in “Against Me! sing the blues and it’s life changing.”
In this issue, we introduce the “Give A Damn” seal. Consider it a “If you read anything, read this” type of marker. The inaugural seal of giving a damn goes to the Ladies of the Canyon who redirect their limelight onto the female aboriginal women in Canada who have gone missing (“Ladies of the Canyon Talk People of The Sun”).
We also get first-hand advice on how to date a musician (“So, You Wanna’ Date a Rockstar? 5 Musicians Offer Advice”); we take a look at the women running the punk world (“Who Run The Punk World? Girls.”), and we chat to the First Lady of the Guitar, Liona Boyd (“The Return of Canadian Guitar Legend, Liona Boyd”).
So, before you get your knickers in a knot and start calling us terms only women’s studies majors would understand, take a breath, and take a look around: Are you scaring off your peers from talking about this issue? Maybe gear this sexteen wheeler down to a discussion we can all take part in, because we can only reach a balance if everyone is on the teeter board.
Emily Kennedy | Founding Editor
emily at damnmag dot com