Why These 50 Women Still Rock

The author responds to comments on her 50 Women Who Rock Seattle story that ran last week.

Anytime you write a “list,” you know some people will be upset. After being told to “burn in hell” on multiple occasions for my opinions on pressing world issues like Eggs Benedict, I’ve learned quickly to stand my ground. That being said, I have to admit I was a bit jarred by some of the reactions to my “Women Who Rock” article.

My goal for the piece was to showcase a current sampling of diverse local voices working in a variety of facets in the music industry paired with an eclectic mix of musicians. I also wanted to lay out a blueprint for young women who may be curious about getting into the business or hadn’t considered it as a career option and let them know about certain obstacles they might face. I hoped it was written in the spirit of the Women Who Rock EMP exhibit and in hopes some 12 year old girl would start to tell people she want to be a production coordinator when she grows up. Multiple times I went out of my way to state it was just the tip of Seattle’s estrogen iceberg and that these were accomplished people who just happened to be women. It was never intended to be a Forbes List, a Maxim List, an “All Time Greatest List,” or even ranked. No one was assessed for their wealth, cup size, or made to be “better” than anyone else.

Since moving to Seattle in 1996, I’ve had several women who mentored me along the way and had the pleasure of working at One Reel in the late ‘90s heyday when the head of every major department (including production) was female. It’s proven to be a city where if you work hard, you can work in the music business despite gender politics. There were many women, some of who contacted me directly—which I appreciated—and others who took to the internet—which I did not appreciate as much—who felt slighted to be left out of my piece. What I gauged from their reactions was that we should have been celebrating each other more, not less, this whole time.

Gretta Harley’s recent musical These Streets glaringly pointed out the problems with female competition in the Seattle music scene that still exist today. I understand a lot of women here feel they are not getting the recognition they deserve, but saying you’re more deserving than someone else—which is what some women implied and others flat out said—isn’t helping anything but your own ego. Maybe if Seattle women in music had taken the time once a year to acknowledge themselves since the Emerald City became a musical Mecca, the love would have gotten equally spread around, but I can’t go back to 1989 (I was in North Dakota, in 9th grade anyhow) and change that, and it could never be represented in 2500 words or less now.

What surprised me most was how quickly people wanted to make this piece divisive, whether by pitting women against each other, negating its necessity, or comprising lists of their own. To those folks, I would like to say: You are entitled to your opinion, but know you are gleaning attention towards yourself for someone else’s work—perhaps because you thought women are an easy target or, in the case of other media folks, you didn’t have the foresight to estimate the impact an article of this nature would make.

I am very happy, however, that this piece sparked many conversations regarding modern feminism and welcome the debates and opinions of other women on the subject. I understand the arguments regarding gender neutrality, and yes, I still support women supporting other women. It is a directly feminist action, not a neutral one. America’s foremost feminist publication, Ms. Magazine, acknowledges the achievements of women via lists made by other women. If it’s okay in the house that Gloria built, it’s okay by me.

The more we keep talking about these issues, the closer we get to solving them; until the day you walk into a club and assume the young woman standing by the stage is the person in charge and not someone’s girlfriend, or I can review a rock show at 11 p.m. and not have one person (of either gender) snidely ask me where my kid is (a question I’ve rarely, if ever, heard posed to male colleagues with children), I’ll be glad to have made and would make this “list” again.

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