August 25, 2015 · 5:02 pm
“There’s been a lot of discussion about the title—in part because I wanted it to be provocative, I wanted there to be a conversation because there are dozens of women who should have collections by now and the roadblocks and arguments about why those books seemingly cannot exist are ridiculous. We are in a golden age for women in cultural criticism right now, but we are told again and again that somehow, we don’t meet the criteria of publishable. That only Chuck Klosterman gets to be in the clubhouse. And that was and is frustrating”
I love this quote from Jessica Hopper in the current issue of Pop Matters, in an interview by the wonderful David Chiu. She’s talking about her book The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic, of course. I also noticed for the first time today that six years ago, Jesssica wrote a great comment about Rock She Wrote (which David also nicely shouts out in this story) for Amazon. It’s still up. (Though please don’t purchase that Plexus edition of the book; it’s an illegal import. Buy a used one from a mom and pop bookstore instead, please. And yes, we are trying to get it back into print.)
June 18, 2015 · 10:20 am
Since it’s quoted in today’s New York Times review of Jessica Hopper’s book, for today’s Throw-Back Thursday, I’m posting “The Feminine Critique,” the 1992 Village Voice article that became the launching pad for Rock She Wrote: Women Write About Rock, Pop and Rap, the collection Ann Powers and I coedited 20 years ago. Back then, the Times paid it no attention whatsoever. Today, Dwight Garner highlights it as “an excellent anthology.” Ah, the life of a pioneer. At least this work is being honored while Ann and I are still alive. Sometimes, survival is the best strategy. I’m posting the slightly rewritten version that was the intro to the book.
June 17, 2015 · 6:07 pm
Dwight Garner nicely cites Rock She Wrote — even quoting Karen Durbin from my “The Feminine Critique” intro — in his New York Times review of Jessica Hopper’s book. You know, maybe it’s time for Ann Powers and I to put this collection back into print ….
May 26, 2015 · 5:42 pm
Twenty-three years ago The Village Voice published an article called “The Feminine Critique: The Secret History of Women and Rock Journalism.” It was the detailed result of more than a year’s worth of research I conducted, looking for my predecessors and my peers, interviewing such incredible critics as Ellen Willis, Danyel Smith, Ann Powers, Carola Dibbell, Karen Schoemer, Patricia Kennealy-Morrison, etc. The article became the basis for my first book, Rock She Wrote: Women Write About Rock, Pop, and Rap, coedited by the inestimable Powers. That book is suddenly in the spotlight, thanks to Pitchfork editor Jessica Hopper’s generous namecheck of it in the dedication to her pointedly titled anthology The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic. Anwen Crawford also mentions our book in her New Yorker piece today, and even manages to include my name, unlike another recent lame article I won’t deign to mention. (You don’t say my name, I won’t say yours.) Crawford’s article goes over so much of the same terrain as “The Feminine Critique,” I wanted to laugh and cry. Finally, this issue is getting the mainstream spotlight it deserves. Sadly, it remains an issue.
I took a lot of shit when my article came out. The (male) rock crit establishment didn’t appreciate it. I was blacklisted by at least one major music magazine. Critics whose work I deeply admired made belittling comments. I felt like a whistleblower. On the one hand, “The Feminist Critique” led to my book-publishing career. On the other, to this day, I think I was forever cast as the Feminist Troublemaker, my career tainted as I was just getting out of the gate. Something writer Leslie Berman told me back then still haunts me: “The only reason that those of us who stopped doing criticism may feel bitter or uncomfortable about it has something to do with the fact that men had a different way of stopping. They were able to stop and recognize it as a choice, as a career move.”
I hope and pray that Crawford and Hopper don’t have to go through what Berman and I did. I’m glad they’re acknowledging the women who came before them. I write a lot about women pioneers, because I feel they are too often under-appreciated. I must be getting old, because I feel like one of them now. I’m glad to see the incredible settlements our progeny are building. And yet, I feel a little sad, looking out from my dusty door frame, just grateful when they remember to say my name.
Oh, and about that title: Willis and Ellen Sander both had collections of their writing published during their lifetimes, though Willis’s included the important political journalism she did after she grew out of rock criticism. Patricia has self-published her work; I highly recommend you check it out.
Filed under Press, Queens of Noise
Tagged as Ann Powers, Anwen Crawford, criticism, Danyel Smith, Ellen Sander, ellen willis, Jessica Hopper, journalism, Karen Schoemer, New Yorker, Patricia Kennealy-Morrison, rock, The Feminine Critique, women, women rock critic