STILL A WAY TO GO

It’s been a lean time at Lonely Keyboards this year.  Same over at Vinyl Connection, though I’ve managed to create the illusion of activity by raiding the ‘work in progress’ folder and cobbling together a few thin ideas. But not much, and not much satisfaction.

Today I spent quite a while toying with the idea of writing a Vinyl Connection post on a female artist, it being International Women’s Day and all. But why do that today? Isn’t it a bit patronising to roll out this post as something special? There’s disquiet in featuring a musician based on gender, and discomfort in ignoring something this important: the right to—no, the requirement for—equity, fairness and respect.

The avalanche of disclosure of the opposites of those rights—inequity, unfairness, disrespect—makes it uncomfortable to speak… and even more uncomfortable to stay silent. What’s a bloke aspiring to decency to do? Oh, poor me, privileged middle-aged white guy living in comfort and safety. Boo hoo. Awkward feelings. But my (female) partner sent me a text, devoid of irony (I think!) wishing me Happy International Women’s Day. Sent it to our son, too. I like that; there’s something joining about her inclusion. Something blokes could maybe learn from.

So I listened to some Suzanne Ciani, pioneer of electronic music, and ran some ideas in my head. But didn’t type.

Sat down with a lunchtime sandwich and recalled I had watched only a quarter of the highly regarded documentary on backing singers, Twenty Feet From Stardom (trailer here). Resumed from place last stopped and instantly became engrossed; challenged, moved, outraged, more. Why haven’t I heard of Lisa Fischer? Why doesn’t everyone know Lisa Fischer?

You could say the same for every other woman featured in the film. All gave (and continue giving) their all to the artists they support. Wish I was that generous.

Afterwards, pottered around Vinyl Connection. Changed the banner, noticed I’m one click away from 1200 followers. A lie based on rolling followers from another social media platform into the count, but I’m vain enough to swell a little. Hey, look at my following. Fans! I’m front of stage, hanging cool at the mic. Ah, fan-tasy, you minx. (Yes, I know. That was purposeful irony).

I noticed a new follower had come through. Someone called Rich. Financial boast or name?

Even though I don’t automatically follow those who subscribe to my blogs, I usually check them out. Both interest and courtesy. Mostly it’s a quick assay of content and (if I’m being honest here) writing style. But in the aftermath of the massive surge at Lonely Keyboards after being featured on ‘Discover’ I also sometimes remove and block followers. That’s rare, but has been relatively straightforward. For example, here is a gambling/betting site in Arabic. No thanks. Here is one preaching religion using the time-dishonoured weapons of shame and fear. No thanks.

Mostly I just let it go. Each to their own, I reckon. And following my blog doesn’t award you anything much, as far as I can see.

So I checked out Rich’s blog. It’s a blog by a man, aimed at men. About lots of things that men are interested in, apparently. Looking good, getting rich, keeping your woman in her place. I felt queasy after just reading the post titles. The only one I could bring myself to open was ‘How to deal with a fussy girlfriend’. I won’t pollute your day with any further description of this shallow, misogynist, regressive, hateful shit. As I type, I can feel my eyes burning with tears and my gut clenching with rage.

Part of the anger, the despair, is about how this sequence unfolded today. But that’s every day for many—maybe most—women in the world. Equity, fairness, respect. Still a way to go, then.

Perhaps I’ll post on Suzanne Ciani soon. Her music is interesting and overlooked (surprise!). But not now. Right now I’m off to delete Vinyl Connection’s latest follower. Happy International Women’s Day, Rich, you poor, poor excuse for a man.

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