‘Women in music’ vs. ‘musicians in music’: The Neko Case debate

May 28, 2014
photo: Women in Music blog full(Photo: Courtesy of the artists)

Not one to be shy on Twitter, she fired off with a string of tweets about sexism concluding that it's not only Playboy.com who is responsible, but insists "everyone still does it, WOMEN do it."

As a female who is guilty of this, I would say that yes, it's true. I find myself guilty of contextualizing Case in a similar way, as I am a storyteller on the radio who wants to paint a picture of who you will hear. When I do it I don't think of it as a bad thing. For me, it's empowering. But I absolutely respect and understand where she is coming from.  

Her rant brings up the important issue about how we view female musicians. Would it be so bad to compare her to a male musician instead of only to women? I think Case is worthy of comparisons to Conor Oberst and Jeff Tweedy, but I've never really thought about it before because that's not the way I tell her story on the radio.

But I also don't simply compare her to just Fiona Apple or Lucinda Williams either (as the Playboy.com article did). I have always thought of Case as her own person, a musician whose storytelling is uniquely her own. And, on the flipside, she's a member of the supergroup The New Pornographers.   

As someone who has told Case's story on the radio for almost 15 years, I remember back to 2003 when she was voted by Playboy.com readers the "Sexiest Babe of Indie Rock." She did not want to be defined as such.

In light of all this, I must say that this year there have been some musicians that are the same gender as myself who have been inspiring me to want to start a band, or at least try my hand at writing songs. Quite a few of these musicians have been speaking out with opinions similar to Case's point lately, and their thoughts are certainly worth a read

Gender aside, here are 10 music videos featuring musicians in music who make me want to create something important this year:

So, is the term "Women in Music" a bad thing? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!

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