Tag Archives: rock

The Feminine Critique Redux

IMG_6304Twenty-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

Girl Power: Queens Excerpt at RBP

The phenomenal rock archives Rock’s Backpages is featuring an excerpt from Queens of Noise this week, along with some other tasty Runaways-related morsels from their library. RBP was an extraordinary resource for me in my own work on the book. Founder and author Barney Hoskyns is THE authority on West Coast rock (although he’s a Brit). It’s an honor to be in their company.


Girl Power: The Birth of the Runaways. By Evelyn McDonnell : Articles, reviews and interviews from Rock’s Backpages..

via Girl Power: The Birth of the Runaways. By Evelyn McDonnell : Articles, reviews and interviews from Rock’s Backpages..

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Filed under Evelyn's articles, Press, Queens of Noise

See "The Runaways"

There are precious few movies about women rockers: The Girl Can’t Help It, What’s Love Got To Do With It, The Rose, Dreamgirls, Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains. This paucity is just one of the reasons that Floria Sigismondi’s The Runaways — which opens nationwide today — is so important. The first-time film director hones right in on the feminist issues of the Runaways’ story — sexism, sexploitation, girl love, etc.  It’s also just a really fun, raunchy roll through the LA glam/pre-punk scene. Kristen Stewart as Joan Jett and Dakota Fanning as Cherie Currie have a hot kiss to the Stooges’ “I Just Wanna Be Your Dog.” What else do you want?

Of course, while that titillating scene generated a lot of publicity heat for the film, it might also have kept the hoped-for Twifans away. As has been reported elsewhere, the planned wide release of the film has been scaled back to art houses after disappointing turnout at its initial foray into major cities. This isn’t really a big surprise and is probably where the R-rated movie should have started anyway. Rock films rarely make big bank. Unfortunately, The Runaways is now tainted with a cloud of disappointed expectations. All the more reason you should see it. Support girl love, as the Riot Grrrls used to say.

I have serious issues with the film as a historical document. But as a feature film, it’s pretty great. It shouldn’t be called The Runaways, as it leaves out the stories of band members Sandy West, Lita Ford, Jackie Fox, Vicki Blue, Kari Chrome, etc. But if it were called The Cherie and Joan Show Starring Kim Fowley, I’d retract my reservations and completely endorse it.

I talk about the film, my LA Weekly story on Sandy West, and other matters on this weeks Podlicks podcast. Listen, and then go find your local art house this weekend and do rock and women a favor.

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Angry Women in Rock Redux

I love this quote from Joan Jett in the Guardian:

Joan Jett would go even further than that: she thinks a new revolution is on its way. “I think we’re coming back to that fertile ground where people have had enough of the way things are, I can feel it. Those girls are out there, in every city, banging around – and when they find their outlet, it’s going to be just like it was for me.” Jett’s voice is defiant, strong, and celebratory. “A new generation picking up guitars and drums and saying, ‘I’m here! Let’s go!'”

Full article, including Kristin Hersh, Kathleen Hanna, and others, here.

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Filed under Populism