Why “Women in Rock” issues are an insult


One reason I don’t read print music magazines anymore is their lack of coverage of female musicians. All year round, they focus on boys in bands, or male MCs with male producers putting together their beats. Once in a while, they’ll throw in some photos or an interview with someone like Courtney Love or another spectacle they deem interesting enough.

The rest of the women are banned to the Women in Rock issues.

I dread seeing those three words together. “Women in Rock” insinuates that somehow females creating music is a subgenre; that they can’t possibly compete with rock music as a whole, which is apparently something completely male. (Also, these are very often the only times women are even allowed on the cover.)

Rock itself is misconstrued, as it used to mean “music” in a general sense when really it is not inclusive at all. (Is it a shock that so many music magazines are run by men? Hardly.)

Rolling Stone is the number-one offender in the WIR cliché. Not only do they put out these issues regularly, but they’ve also published books and released albums with the title. (What, no “Men in Rock?” books? Apparently that would be impossible because there’re just too many men to be included; not like women, who can be summed up in a matter of pages.)

Is it really too much to ask that women who make music be treated with the same respect as men who do the same? Are Tegan and Sara only cover-worthy when the issue is prefaced with the “Women in Rock” warning for anyone expecting a magazine to have the same male-focused stories and reviews as readers have come to expect?

Considering print media has ignored women’s eye-rolling at this trend, and continues to put out these special issues, it’s another reason to be thankful for the internet. Music blog Idolator is run by a woman, and AOL’s Spinner is also edited by a female (who happens to be an out lesbian), as is the all-around pop cultural critique site PopMatters.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that these are some of the most popular and best-written music blogs on the Web. In fact, I think it’s probably a sign that not only are women more in tune with what women want, but also what readers are looking for from music writers. Is it any wonder people think print is dead?