One day, my senior year of college, I noticed that all the artists I listened to were male. ”Well,” I said, “This is just because I am a weird [special special special] girl, and not too many girls like the music I like, and thus not enough girls make the music I like, so the ones who do make it just aren’t that good. So. Of course I only listen to male artists. It just happened that way.” Now, mind you, I had made absolutely zero effort to seek out female artists before concluding that they either didn’t exist or were mediocre. I just knew.
When I finally decided to make an effort to seek out female artists, my world exploded. I had spent years listening to dudemusic, bending over backwards to empathize with their point of view and growing to love them and trying to ignore the parts that made me feel uncomfortable. Listening to music by women was incredible because the artists clearly viewed me as a valid part of their audience. There was no need for empathy gymnastics on my part because the artists were already bending towards me. Sure, I still have to do some work to focus and grow towards them but it was not a one-way relationship.
The effort to seek out female artists, writers, musicians has ceased to be an effort on my part. It feels natural now. I also realize that women have always been making excellent things, I just didn’t know how to find them.
A friend of mine recently sent me some music by some acoustic guitar virtuoso sensitiveman and I could not engage with it. I listened to it and I thought, “I don’t know, do I really want to spend all this effort on this? To have another poor Townes van Zandt facsimile to listen to? How many more of those do I need?”
I am not trying to write off all the male artists who have had a profound impact on me, whom I continue to adore and listen to regularly. My point is I have been (without realizing it) starving for female voices and female art for most of my life, and I’m not going to apologize for prioritizing that hunger.