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Why Don’t Women Download?

In my corner of the world, the more accurate question should be, “Why don’t women buy mp3s?”

Because the smart chicks download for free. And win their mp3 players playing competitive touchscreen bar games.

The Guardian investigates, “Why is it that only 4% of legally downloaded music is being bought by women?” and actually includes this answer:

It does concern me that women don’t seem to take as much of an interest in music as men: I think a lot of female artists suffer for that.

This coming from a lady DJ who goes by JoJo de Freq.

Amanda, rev your engines.

via Culture Kitchen’s side o’ links.

Guilt-Free Download

I love Iron & Wine, composed of one solitary man named Sam Beam. He makes quiet, understated folk-blues porch rock music: slinky, sensual, lovely.

If memory serves me correctly (alas, my internet connection does not love me and will not let me confirm this information) Beam also doubles as a film professor in Florida. His catalog reflects this with his mature and mysterious music that references great literature and mythologies.

Iron & Wine – Woman King
Right click, “Save As” and be sure to rename the file.


My playlist for Mixmania! is going to be a bit odd. I picked out songs that I adore that are also unobtrusive and inoffensive (both of which my favorite music is often not) and they’re ready to go. To someone else’s house. Because I have yet to fix my CD burner. Praise the lord for portable drives.

My songs for Mixmania! are (not in this particular order because I can’t burn the CD myself):
1) Grizzly Bear – Fix It
2) The Detroit Cobras – Won’t You Dance With Me
3) Need New Body – Show Me Your Heart
4) Saturday Looks Good To Me – Alcohol
5) Le Tigre – Fake French
6) My Morning Jacket – O Is The One That Is Real
7) Songs: Ohia – Two Blue Lights
8) Mr. Airplane Man – Travelin’
9) Sufjan Stevens – Niagara Falls
10) Smoke City – Underwater Love
11) Grenadine – Hell Over Hickory Dew
12) M. Ward – Here Comes The Sun Again
13) Belle and Sebastian – Your Cover’s Blown
14) Donovan – Get Thy Bearings
15) Summer At Shatter Creek – Ever Changing Mood
16) Nellie McKay – David
17) Danielson Familie – Cutest Little Dragon
18) Sean Lennon – Bathtub
19) Jens Lekman – The Wrong Hands

One or two might get dropped, again because it isn’t yet burned, so we’ll see what happens. I’m stoked about my CD.

Read More…Read More…

Stupid Book Thingie

I was really hoping that no one would pass me this game, but since someone (who shall remain nameless) did, I feel an obligation to complete it. This would be so much easier with music, I must say. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book I didn’t like.

In the interest of killing this little game, I’m morphing it.

You’re stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, which book do you want to be?
I’m on fire; I’m burning; I don’t care what book I am. What’s most important is what we’re listening to: Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire, of course.

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?
I had a huge crush on King Alobar from Jitterbug Perfume, but that probably has everything to do with the psychadelic sex scenes in Tom Robbins’ books.

When I was younger I had a mad crush on Chris Cornell. And Jim Morrison. To my parents’ dismay, I plastered my walls with pictures of them (and Courtney Love, pre-plastic surgery).

The last book you bought is?
I can’t remember the last book I bought since I’ve been given so many. However, the last CDs I bought were Madvillain’s Madvillainy and the newest Reverend Horton Heat, Revival (not so good). Again, I have far more CDs given to me than I buy.

What are you currently reading?
A little bit of everything. On my nightstand sits Teaching as a Subversive Activity and Will in the World. Both were given to me by others. In my Skully bag, the bag I fill up when I go a-walkin’, is The Dirty Havana Trilogy by Pedro Juan Gutierrez, and How the Dead Live by Will Self.

However, the most important item in my walking bag is the mp3 player. What am I listening to? Biz Markie, Peaches, Das EFX (“They Want EFX” also doubles as my cell phone ringer), Sister Nancy, Slick Rick, Belle and Sebastian, and Donovan. You have to have a good variety depending on your walkin’ mood, whether you’re getting whooped at by college boys, splashed by passing cars, or doing what I generally do, scoping out other people’s flowers (and perhaps picking them).

Five books you would take to a deserted island:
The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie;
Aloud: Voices from the Nuyorican Cafe, an anthology of contemporary slam poetry;
Written on the Body by Jeanette Winterson, introduced to me by Dr. B. in a gender lit course;
Derrick Jensen’s Culture of Make Believe, because even though I ripped on him, he is still a wonderful writer;
and a blank journal I could keep with the pen I snuck onto the island.

Music that would make it onto a desert island with me would be a slew of homemade CDs and my solar powered, shoulder-sittin’ jambox. I have no loyalties, only songs I love shamelessly.

Who are you going to pass this stick to (3 persons) and why?
Dr. B., whose answers will be about knitting books, Queen Kim of Twins and Procrastination, and Mr. Capanzzi, who I haven’t heard from in awhile.


Nina Simone is one of my favorite artists. When Ethan was a baby, I would regularly take him on long drives listening to Nina while he cooed along with her in the backseat, his little arms waving in the air to the sound of her soulful, androgynous voice.

This installment of Feministe downloads consists on my favorite songs by Nina Simone.

Feeling Good
Birds in the sky / You know how I feel / Sun in the sky / You know how I feel … It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day / It’s a new life for me / And I’m feelin’ good

Funkier Than a Mosquito’s Tweeter
Nina calls out a man acting out of line, among other things. Awesome song with great bongo percussion.

I Get Along Without You Very Well
Yes she does. Unless it’s spring, or anything else that reminds her of her lover.

Bonus download, Sister Nancy’s “No No No.” As soon as it gets warm around here the reggae comes out. If it isn’t warm where you are, bring it on with this slow jam.

Baby Mama

Feministing highlights this mother-blaming USA Today article on Fantasia “American Idol (I Broke My Shoe)” Barrino’s new single “Baby Mama.”

Vanessa says:

Barrino won the ridiculously popular karaoke contest last year, and felt it was appropriate to give single mothers — like herself — their own personal anthem in her new album, Free Yourself. Yet the song, while quickly climbing up the Billboard R&B chart, has (unsurprisingly) received more criticism than praise.

For example, this article in USA Today scrutinizes the song. The author gives numerous statistics on single-parent households as her proof, claiming that the media shouldn’t be portraying a woman’s “poor choice” as a “badge of honor.” (In the song, Fantasia says single mothers should have one.)

The song brings up a number of different issues that many single mothers have to deal with, including the shittiness of the welfare system and struggles with employment. I may just be a sucker, but I started tearing up when I heard the song for the first time. Single mothers are stigmatized enough as deviants, continuously shamed for their own “poor choices” and blamed for their economic struggle. The general theme of the song seems to totally subvert that idea. To me, this song is quite due.

Speaking as a single mother, I don’t need any badge of honor.

I get two primary responses when others speak to my single parenthood. The first is quite like the one portrayed by the author of the USA Today article. You made poor choices, they say. Is the daddy still around? My choice not to marry, though it was offered to me, was in the end a good one for everyone involved. Yet my single status is, for some, a reflection of poor morals and lack of character.

This is all projection. I don’t believe a whit of it, even if it is taxing at times to feel the initial compulsion to prove something or someone wrong. But shit, I’m busy. There’s laundry to do. Is it bath night? Damn paper due tomorrow. Not enough time to worry about someone else’s dearth of insight.

The other response I get, which is nearly as tiresome, is faux awe. I don’t know how you do it! It must be so hard!

Again, I’m busy. The litterbox needs emptying. I want to write about something. It’s time to read a book to the boy. I don’t think about how hard or not hard my job is as a single parent unless I slow down long enough to reflect on the lack of funds and manpower around the household. This is the way things are. If I don’t take care of these responsibilities, no one else will, so I’d best get on with it and find some time for myself along the way.

The song subverts the memes apparent in the first reaction listed above: Single mothers do pay the bills, do go to school, do hold jobs, and do raise thoughtful and responsible children. Some of us do it virtually by ourselves and the rest of us rely on a complicated network of friends, family, and structural resources to get by. But success stories aren’t controversial and sexy. You don’t hear about us very often.

Instead you’ll find a load of tripe about how chicks who get “knocked up” must “pay the consequences” for such “poor choices,” like our children are nothing but a negative consequence and couldn’t possibly bring joy or laughter to our lives despite the various hardships. In some cases, you’ll find that single motherhood is regarded as un-American (as is, apparently, the use of an American dialect known as AAVE).

As a single mother I don’t believe I need any badge of honor, but I can do without the proselytizing and admonishment, thank you very much. There is enough of that in the mainstream media, and criticism of single parenthood, especially teen parenthood, is often couched in satire or other brands of humor that, obviously, rarely brings the funny. In the meantime the rest of the media puts on the scare show and ignores that family structures apart from the heterosexual couplings, 2.5 children, white picket fence, and yappy dog, can be and are valuable. Laudable, even.

The article says,

Indeed, women should not selfishly allow the desire to procreate overshadow their ability to care for a child. We must be committed to giving our children fathers who are responsible, supportive and present.

Some of us didn’t get pregnant out of desire, but of circumstance. We have no guarantee that any father (or mother) we choose for our children will be responsible, supportive, or present. A wedding ring doesn’t do much to change that risk either.

Sometimes relationships don’t work. Sometimes people leave for good reasons. Single parenthood is not disastrous. Research “confirming” that single parenthood is disastrous seeks to validate assertions of immoral behavior instead of exploring the evidence, evidence showing that poverty is the primary reason that single parents experience more “failure” in their parenting, than the lack of a second adult figure in the home. Simply stated, two paychecks bring more opportunity to children than one paycheck, but marriage alone does not guarantee economic stability.

Of course my situation is not ideal. But chances are, your parents’ marriage wasn’t ideal, your marriage isn’t ideal, and your children’s marriage won’t be ideal either. Ideal is “a hypothetical construct made up of the salient features or elements of a social phenomenon, or generalized concept, in order to facilitate comparison and classification of what is found in operation.” In other words, ideal is hypothetical, sibling to perfect. If fresh two-parent families prove to follow the statistical model, about 50% of them will find themselves single parents as well. Whether or not this is a disaster depends on your worldview.

Instead of shaming single parents for the audacity to have children, remember that we all got here in myriad ways, none of which are so easily characterized in a list of statistics devoid of subjectivity or context printed in USA Today.

The song “Baby Mama” is downloadable via BearShare and is, in my opinion, mediocre R&B. Nonetheless, thanks to Fantasia for the thought.

Related Reading:
Drive-By Mothering and Parent As Outsider
I Was a Teen Mom
Defining Family
Third Wave Agenda’s “Single moms making ‘poor choices’

Rock To Rock To

Right click, save as, and hear what I’m listening to as I avoid studying.

Peaches – Operate
I can’t believe that Peaches, queen of the crotch, is featured on the Mean Girls soundtrack. Imagine all the parents of teenage girls freaking out when their daughters bring home a Peaches CD. Here’s to being subversive and controversial.

Lady Sovereign – Random
J-Lo’s got a body/but you can’t see mine ’cause I wear my trousers baggy.
I believe I found this song on a music blog, probably FluxBlog. Lady Sovereign has an interesting voice and pulls off the British hip hop, pseudo-reggae thing well. Making fun of the differences between British and Dirty South pronunciations is my favorite bit of this song.

American Analog Set – Know By Heart
This band is new to me. I like them because they are so chill and melodic. They remind me of Belle and Sebastian wedded to Sean Lennon.

Belle and Sebastian – The Stars of Track and Field
Featured in one of the most un-PC ways in the movie “Pumpkin.” This group perfectly rounds out my collection of quiet music appropriate for my study session. That I have abandoned. In lieu of blogging.