Thursday, 11 June 2009

Luke Janklow in Vogue

I read Vogue. Phew, it feels good to get that out. Although it always frustrates me, I buy it each month for my fix of couture and Tim Walker photography. I find that because it's so beautiful, I can avoid the women-hating articles. Being a music-loving feminist though, I felt compelled to read an article about the way men and women experience music differently. I knew I was going to be annoyed and I was right. Luke Janklow's article, 'Food of love?' left me with a bitter taste in my mouth.

The argument of said article can be reduced to: 'Men have a very visceral reaction to music' where 'Women respond to the melody, the story, the beauty'. What Janklow is really saying here when you scratch the surface is, 'men experience music in a deeper, more important way than women.' They experience it physically, primitively where women experience it at the obvious surface level of pretty tunes and sad lyrics. I hope I'm not alone in taking umbrage at this assumption (which seems to be based purely on the different musical tastes held by him and his wife.) I also hope I'm not alone (as a woman) in my love of shouty, stompy, raw music. I really don't think that I am.

My favourite thing to do when alone is to stomp, stomp, stomp to my favourite songs and believe me, there's nothing beautiful about it when I get going. The soundtrack for this apparently male behaviour is usually growly, shouty, filthy and frankly ugly. Garage rock, Riot Grrrl and anything else dirty and loud always provokes a physical reaction from me especially when I'm getting dressed. At these moments when I'm in a partial state of undress (personal favourite: tights/vest/mega-heels combo) I'm not thinking about the beautiful story that the lyrics are telling as Mr. Janklow would assume. I'm not really thinking much of anything to be honest. I'm just stomping. (Although sometimes it occurs to me about how gosh-darn sexy I look doing it.) And it doesn't just happen in my room either, I flail about in clubs and get goose-bumps at gigs and I don't have any control over any of it. I know I'm not alone in this. I see women throwing themselves about on dance floors with abandon whenever I go out. They're not thinking, 'These lyrics are so moving. And the melody? So beautiful!' They're thinking '??#!!£@??!' All of these women are experiencing music in the visceral way that Janklow attributes to men.

I just don't understand how this article slipped through the editorial net with it's outdated, easy assumptions about gender. How can somebody write and believe such nonsense in 2008 when we're confronted with images of gender subversion on a daily basis? It's probably more comfortable to think that we fit into neat little gender labeled boxes. More comfortable for somebody who's frightened to think that perhaps women aren't ethereal beings, devoid of physicality and who's too scared to confront the fact that he wants to wear his wife's knickers to work.

(For legal reasons, I have no proof that Mr. Janklow wants to wear his wife's knickers to work.)