Every morning I do drop-off with my three-year-old daughter goes the same way. Except this morning. Most days, we’ve just left her brother’s school and she wants to listen to music on the short drive. I turn on the radio and she asks, “Is that lady music?” by which she means, “Is that a woman singing?”
We have SiriusXM, so I have access to a bajillion channels. It’s like the cable of the radio world – more channels than you know what to do with, and never the right thing on. I flip through channel after channel desperately hoping for a woman – any woman – to be singing. I don’t know how many times I’ve prayed for Bette Midler, sure she’s a long shot, but she seems to show up when you least expect her.
It’s only a ten-minute drive and we spend most of it channel flipping. Or I get tired and lie to her and try to convince her that some high falsetto is actually a woman. I don’t think she’s buys it.
Today she didn’t ask for “lady music”. She did, however, veto every song with a man in it, so it was the channel flipping scenario it is most mornings. Except, I sensed a fatigue, and not just one brought on by not enough sleep and too much sugar for breakfast. It was a weariness with our song selections and our frenzied radio ritual. I felt it too. I opted for some Neko Case on my iPhone and that at least stopped the incessant switching.
The whole incident left me frustrated in a hard-to-pin-down-way. There is plenty of arguably good music on the radio (plenty not-so-good as well). So, why, then, this feeling of malaise of not being able to find any “lady music” during a 10-minute window in the morning. And then I realized it might have had something to do with the other part of the ritual. The part wherein I say, “No, that’s Bruce Springsteen. He’s a man. Elvis Presley is a dude. Jimmy Buffett, too. Oh, wait, here’s the ‘Venus’ channel. Oh, but that’s a man singing. Why don’t we try opera?”
I checked SiriusXM’s line-up and they have 24 channels dedicated to male singers/performers or a particular male host*. They have ONE channel described as airing female hosts, SiriusXMStars, which features Ellen DeGeneres, Jenny McCarthy, and Dr. Laura. So, these ladies don’t even get their own channel. They have to share. And I’ll be honest, I don’t know what the Venus channel has to do with women. It does air some songs by women, but just as often, it’s got solely dudes or duets.
Is this really the biggest issue in the world? Maybe not. Climate change sure scares the sh*t out of me. But, when I came into work, a friend had shared this article in praise of women giving more f*cks and taking some needed action. And just yesterday, I was treated to news of success in a movement to get Black Widow merchandise based on a petition and tweets. So, I’ve decided to start a petition as well. (Please sign it.)
I did a little research this morning and was not particularly surprised, though quite pissed off, to see how some of the popular female performers compare with their male counterparts who are featured on SiriusXM. Channel 4 is Pitbull’s Globalization channel featuring world beats. He’s earned a respectable combined 3 Billboard/Latin Billboard awards. I’ve earned precisely zero.
And while Shakira is more pop-focused, she actually is from another country, which might be helpful for a World Beats channel. Moreover, she’s earned 30 Billboard/Latin Billboard awards and a combined 12 Grammy/Latin Grammy awards. But, yeah, by all means, lets give it to Pitbull.
And, sure, Pearl Jam, Jimmy Buffett, the Grateful Dead, and Bruce Springsteen are all great. But do they all need their own channels? What about Beyonce, who has 20 Grammy awards, just as many Bruce (and more than a few of those others mentioned)? How about Alison Kraus who ranks at #2 in number of total Grammys earned (shared with Quincy Jones) and who also holds the #2 space for total number of Grammys by a group (with Union Station)? What about the Dixie Chicks, who have 13 Grammys, or Alicia Keys, who has 15? Aretha Franklin who has 18? Is that enough? What about Adele or Lady Gaga or, I hate to say it, Taylor Swift? Dolly Parton, anyone?
When you look at the “comedy” offerings, you’ve got Howard Stern, Jamie Foxx, George Carlin, and Jeff Foxworthy/Larry the Cable Guy. A little humor for every kind of bro. But I don’t see any of these guys being asked to host the Emmys. Why not Tina Fey and Amy Poehler? Or Amy Schumer, who is everywhere these days?
This says nothing of the playlist choices made on any given station not devoted to a particular artist.
There isn’t a dearth of female talent out there. It’s EVERYWHERE. Just like women. What exactly does it take for us to rank?
I am tired of spending those precious ten minutes with my daughter in the morning feeling demoralized and marginalized and, frankly, like we don’t have something of value to offer the world aside from cute knitted crafts on Etsy, or a few tears and love in the lab if Tim Hunt is to be believed. As the highest wage earner in my household, you can better believe I’ll have something to say about whether or not we renew our subscriptions.
So, SiriusXM, how about making a little space on stage for some lady music?
*I decided not to even include the EXPANSIVE number of sports stations and their male hosts.