Monday, 22 July 2013

Gender Inbalance: it just won't go away

An article in the New York Times is generating debate about the nagging issue of gender imbalance among composers. The issue just won't go away and, as I discovered while researching Women of Note, composers have many different responses.

In the article below American composer Kristin Kuster describes how her perspective on feminism has changed.

I found it interesting that the statistics for women are much more dire in the US. We have a higher percentage of women composers in Australia and they are better represented in university departments. Something to celebrate? Read on and enter the debate for yourself:


Taking Off My Pants

 by Kristin Kuster, The New York Times
July 17 2013 
The Season of My Denial and Evasion lasted nearly two decades — from the age of 18 to 36. During this season, I wore pants for premieres of my music, while performing as a pianist and teaching, for all important composerly things. I hated the “What’s it like to be a woman composer” question at pre-concert talks, on panels and in interviews. If I couldn’t evade this question, I rattled off something dismissive: How could I possibly know any different? That’s like asking me what if I had grown up in Alaska. I refused to enter any competitions exclusively for female composers or to have my music presented at women-only concerts.
I learned this attitude. I learned it from a handful of female composers 5 to 10 years my senior. They believed that talking about our gender in relation to our work would perpetuate the distinction between male and female composers, and therefore pave right over all the ground we had gained in our efforts to break through the gender normative white-male hegemony that is this field.
O.K. I agreed, and for years I perpetuated a non-perpetuation of gender distinction. Today, I vehemently disagree with the notion that if we stop talking about something, it ceases to exist. Today, I believe we must cast a spotlight on facts and evidence that illuminate the gender imbalance of composers with visibly active presences in our field.

read the rest of the article here

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