Gender-free? No way.

I have been working on an attempt to express that my lyrics and other writing is almost certainly patriarchal, imperialist, racist, and sexist - at the very least - in subtext, because how would I be able to tell?

The process started with my thinking off-handedly that, at least in my current round of songwriting (the Orange/Pepper album and the dinosaur song), the songs were basically "gender-free" - that is, it would not matter if they were sung by a male, female, or unidentifiable voice. (There may be a slight exception in "Strung Out" with the line including "help, help me sister", but the topic of the song is also ambiguous enough that that might not matter.)

In a similar sense I might also think of them as being race-free. Perhaps even age-tolerant - in that, in my thoughts, "anyone could have written them".

But there is a larger reality, which on at least two counts discounts these claims. One is that I am writing as a white, cishet male living in the (materially) richest nation the Earth has ever seen. How can I tell if that shows up all over what I produce?

Also, perhaps more or perhaps less importantly, is the issue of content. That I do not feel the need to tell "my story", that I can engage in imaginations unpinned, free-associations, and often quite abstract topics and perspectives, shows that I do not have to - and have never had to - fight to be free. I don't get up each day having to figure out just how to simply live my life.

If I did I'd be writing about that.

As I said to someone recently, the very fact that I think this topic is "political science" shows just how deeply embedded I am in this privilege. For everyone else, it is life-or-death.

5/23/21

Postscript

I'm still a racist. Probably always will be. How about you?
I might be somewhat less of a sexist. But I am still a sexist, too.

I can work to change these things, as I have spent a lifetime trying, but all I can hope to accomplish is reducing the amount of them I perpetuate in the world.

7/5/21

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printed 30 January 2023
© Huw Powell