Smelling The Glove

Here’s an old riddle. Stop me if you’ve heard it.

A man and his son are in a car accident. The man is killed and the boy, seriously injured, is rushed to hospital. The surgeon takes one look at the boy and says, ‘I can’t operate, that’s my son.’ Who is the surgeon?

You’d think the answer would be obvious, but no. Some of the answers I’ve heard include the following.

The child is adopted and the surgeon is the natural father.

The dead man is the grandfather.

The boy is one of twins, separated at birth and adopted by different families, and this is not the surgeon’s son, but the boy’s twin brother.

The surgeon and the dead man are partners in a same-sex relationship.

You get the picture. In case there are any of you who haven’t worked it out, the surgeon is the boy’s mother. One of my friends didn’t get that, and his wife is a doctor.

My reason for writing this is that I am occasionally asked who are the musicians who play the music for me on my tracks. Some actually ask who are the *guys* who play for me. Well, the answer is that on my solo projects, no one but me is involved. I write it, play it, produce it, and mix it. Someone else will master it, as I have no experience in that area. The person who eventually masters it could well turn out to be a woman, and I expect that in her day she will have been asked who were the men who operated the equipment for her.

So why is it that even now some people can’t seem to comprehend that women in music sometimes do more than just sing? I have no answers, just plenty of anecdotes to illustrate that this still goes on, such as these:

When I went to buy my first synth, accompanied by my husband, the shop assistant suggested that I make them all a nice cup of tea while the men talked business.

A while ago, I collaborated on a track for a project that shall remain nameless and was an unmitigated disaster from start to finish. I was supposed to have final approval of the mix, but all correspondence was addressed solely to my husband despite his repeatedly informing them that they should deal directly with me.

There are more, but after a while they all blur into one ill-informed, patronising, repetitive tale; all of which are perfectly summed up by the scene in Father Ted where they steadfastly refuse to believe that the woman with Father Jack’s will is actually a solicitor herself.

To compound matters, I’ve just searched Google for ‘sexism female musicians’. The first hit is for ‘Sexiest Female Singer Ever’.

Here’s something I will never understand. If one is the solely credited person on a piece of work, why do some still feel the need to ask who made the music? Is the assumption that there had to be men involved? Or is there just something about me that makes some people find it impossible to believe that I could do that?

All these questions are rhetorical, by the way. The first person to say that it’s because I’ve got blonde hair, or am married to a respected musician will go directly to jail without collecting the £200.

I’ve even been asked whether it was me who took my self-portrait photograph, or whether I just held a camera and was photographed by someone else. And that was asked by a woman.

As I said, I have no answers, just a deep disappointment in people who refuse to look beyond ‘traditional’ roles and imagine that women can’t operate a computer, make a record, or train as a plumber, and probably also balk at the idea of men working in areas that have always been associated with women.

Anyway, for the moment I’m still reeling that despite this being 2010, some are still living in the Dark Ages.
And if you need me, I’ll be in the kitchen, where I belong; on all fours, smelling the glove.

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By SJB