Gender, Music, and Identity

Amanda responded to my riff on the Guardian article regarding women and downloading, and an interesting discussion on how men and women define themselves by their artistic taste ensues.


It is no secret I am a music nerd. Luckily I’m also dating a music nerd. We discover and share new music all the time, even making claims to “his” band or “my” band as per who discovered what first. The last long-term boyfriend I had didn’t like my music much at all and, believe it or not, I sometimes took it personally. I’m one of those people who is in part defined by my artistic taste. I appreciate opposing points of view, but if someone straight insults what I consider “my” music, I am truly offended.

I can’t believe I just admitted that.

I don’t feel this way at all over my other artistic bents though, and you can rip on any book, movie, or show I like — leave my music alone. Conversely, the current boyfriend is just as insulted if I get overly critical about a movie he shows me. I’m not a big movie fan, to say the least, but I do trust his judgment (except when he made me watch “The Specials” — I’ll never do that again).

And like Amanda, I was a completist once as well, but discovered that I like a whole rash of music, even the bad stuff.

I don’t try and impress passersby with my musical tastes, but if you’re a friend and spend even a bit of time with me, you will get exposed to a mess of musical styles. Just like I take pride in being able to select a book that a non-reader will like, I do take some pride in exposing music that mere dabblers can really get into.

It must be the thirteen years of piano lessons that did this to me. I can’t think of anything or anyone else that would have influenced this adoration for the art form.

17 comments for “Gender, Music, and Identity

  1. May 15, 2005 at 2:34 pm

    “It is no secret I am a music nerd. Luckily I’m also dating a music nerd. We discover and share new music all the time, even making claims to “his” band or “my” band as per who discovered what first. The last long-term boyfriend I had didn’t like my music much at all and, believe it or not, I sometimes took it personally. I’m one of those people who is in part defined by my artistic taste. I appreciate opposing points of view, but if someone straight insults what I consider “my” music, I am truly offended.”

    I’m the same way. Although I’m also that way with movies. And certain shows. Like if you think Carnivale is stupid or something, I’ll have nothing to do with you. You don’t have to get it, just understand that it’s brilliant. Or else. Also, you must love Invader Zim. If you haven’t seen Invader Zim then remedy that and love it.

  2. May 15, 2005 at 4:27 pm

    The ten best words in the English language for this sort of situation: “I haven’t heard (seen) that; I’ll have to check it out.” A wonderful lie to use when you have seen/heard it and know that it sucks eggs.

  3. preznit giv me turkee
    May 15, 2005 at 5:07 pm

    except when he made me watch “The Specials” — I’ll never do that again

    well, they did have a few good songs, but both the Beat and the Selecter were much better

  4. May 15, 2005 at 5:59 pm

    OMG. Pack rat/completist/nutjob. I am sooooo busted! It’s scary….I not only related to High Fidelity, but I also related to the scene in “Diner” when the newlyweds had their argument about the music collection. I could pretty much outfit my own radio station. I take road trips specifically to scour secondhand record stores. And no trip anywhere is complete without digging through the crates at the local music shops!

    My experience has been that fellow music nerds who happen to be male react to female music nerds the same way they react to women beating them at arm wrestling, or being able to open the pickle jar when they can’t. Once they think a female contender is around, some verbal sparring just has to take place….which I don’t mind. ;-)

  5. Quisp
    May 15, 2005 at 8:58 pm

    That’s funny, La Lubu, because I was in fact thinking of both Diner (that specific set of scenes with Shrevie and wife) and High Fidelity. Naturally, the guys in those two movies are archtypal superheroes or Gods of our so-called ilk.

    Although many of my friends are female music geeks, your comment about the arm-wrestling reminded me of the worst-ever attempted fix-up where I tried to fix up two of my closest friends who had identical ultra-obsessive tastes in music. I thought I was going to have to witness them kill each other as they fought over Star Trek, Beatles and Python minutae.

  6. May 16, 2005 at 12:22 am

    As you know, I’m also musically obsessive but books/literature are the deal breaker with me. We don’t have to share the same taste but definitely MUST share a passion for books.

  7. May 16, 2005 at 12:35 am

    I hate it when people buy books and read the first chapter or two just to have something to talk about or show off.

    Or when someone hasn’t read a book cover to cover in years.

    That’s a dating make or break for me.

  8. May 16, 2005 at 7:52 am

    I don’t think I’m a music nerd, mainly because I tend to listen to music not many other people are into. I don’t listen to much rock or pop. I like industrial, trance, techno, dream, and new age. I like house, like “Basement Jaxx”, and some trip-hop, like “Lamb”.

    We used to drive our kids crazy by playing our old LPs of seventies music. They couldn’t stand the “old fogey” stuff. “Queen” drove them crazy. When I’m mad at my son, I’ll play songs from the musical “Chicago.” He’ll do what I tell him just to turn that off.

  9. May 16, 2005 at 9:53 am

    Bwa ha ha!! I’ll have to remember that strategy Trish, when my daughter gets to be that age. Right now, she’s pretty much an uppity blues woman, and gets pissed if we’re driving somewhere, and I don’t let the song in the cd player finish out when we reach our destination. She likes a little hip-hop, a little rock and roll, but she seriously digs the blues. I thought she was going to tear my head off when I shut the ignition off during Katie Webster’s “Pussycat Moan”. It might be a struggle to find stuff that she hates, but that I can tolerate, though.

  10. May 16, 2005 at 1:52 pm

    Every person I’ve ever dated has had a passion for music, and has introduced me to new styles and forms, which now are styles I love, so that each relationship enriched my music collection and understanding of music.

    It’s funny, because I certainly can’t say the same for books, even though literature is also a passion of mine– my partner is the only person who’s shared that– maybe that’s partially why we ended up together?

  11. Quisp
    May 16, 2005 at 4:12 pm

    But have you combined your libraries yet?

  12. May 16, 2005 at 5:45 pm

    Quisp, thanks to the glory of mp3s, we’re working on it.

  13. Quisp
    May 16, 2005 at 6:53 pm

    Actually I was responding intra-comments to Jackie and her books. There’s a pretty great essay by Anne Fadiman on the topic of co-mingling libraries and how much harder than, say, getting married, it is. I forget the name of the essay but it’s in her book Ex Libris, which is full of other great readerly stuff, like her rumination on the two kinds of book lovers, which she dubs (I think) “carnal” and “sacred.” [referring to the way different people physically treat their books, e.g. do you write in them or not, rip pages out of them or not, ever throw out a book or not, dog-ear a page, etc.].

    Combining mp3 libraries is more like cross-breeding or something, isn’t it? You’re bringing a new hard-drive into the world, while the original DNA is preserved in the parents. I can feel my own metaphor crumbling right in front of me. Oh well.

  14. May 16, 2005 at 7:08 pm

    With metaphors like that (crumbling, that is), you should have a blog. ;)

  15. Quisp
    May 16, 2005 at 7:52 pm

    especially since you have pretty much just given me the title of it.

  16. May 17, 2005 at 7:02 am

    When my lovely ex-wife and I split up almost 8 years ago, we had no problem figuring out which books were whose (feminism & literary theory — hers; linguistics & philosophy — mine; poetry & important literature– hers; cheesy mysteries & thrillers — mine) but the music collection never really got divided up to anyone’s satisfaction. We still swap from time to time.

  17. May 18, 2005 at 9:43 am

    I’m a huge music nerd, and so are many of my friends. We have an unspoken agreement: We speak no evil of other people’s favorite music, and in return, if someone says your favorite music of the moment isn’t really their thing, we try our hardest not to be offended. Yes, it was hard when Deyna told me she didn’t really care for Mission of Burma, especially knowing that she’d rather listen to Led Zeppelin. I mean, honestly, what is that? But she kindly said nothing mean about them, and that’s all one can really ask.

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