Axewomen a go go… for a change: Venus Zine takes on Rolling Stone at its own game

// 24 September 2008

This is a bit of an old story now, from March…

Fed up with those glossy music mag cover stories hailing ‘The best guitarists of all time’, and specifically fed up with the lack of women in said lists, Venus decided to get their own panel of ‘experts’ together and compile their own list, this time, of the ‘Greatest Female Guitarists Of All Time.’ You can read the piece here.

Personally, I’d like to see someone do a female drummers list, but I don’t think drummers per se get done as often as guitarists. Ego’s must come into it or something…

Comments From You

Hazel // Posted 25 September 2008 at 11:26 am

They could have made it 48 if they hadn’t missed Wendy Melvoin and Annie Clark aka St Vincent.

Whitney // Posted 29 October 2008 at 1:45 am

I think having a separate list for female guitarists just because they didn’t make the original list is a bit sexist…. It just happens to be that most of the best guitarists out there are male. It’s kind of like women complaining that there should be an easier test of physical fitness for female firefighters because there aren’t enough of them. There are certainly some talented female guitarist out there, but it just seems a bit hindering to me to lump them into a group. That’s saying as a female guitarist, you can only be on an all-female list.

Sarah // Posted 29 October 2008 at 1:02 pm

I imagine the argument is that women guitarists are more likely to be overlooked, not because they aren’t as good, but because people still have stereotypical beliefs about women in certain roles, which influence their judgement. There’s a reason symphony orchestras have ‘blind’ auditions. When the judges know the musician is female, they tend to view the performance more negatively, particularly for traditionally male-associated instruments. Even when the judges don’t realise they’re making a sexist distinction. Our preconceptions and prejudices influence us even when we don’t realise it, even when we try not to let them. That’s how the placebo effect works, for example, and why medical trials are also blinded. Our brains are complex things!

Same with all-woman literary prizes like the Orange prize. I’m not sure how it applies to fiction, but certainly there’s been some interesting studies showing that academic papers are peer-reviewed less favourably when there’s a woman’s name attached (compared to exactly the same paper with a man’s name, or with the name removed or gender neutral).

You can’t ‘blind’ a real-world survey like this in the same way, so presumably the all-women list is an attempt to redress the balance in another way.

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