Monday, March 9, 2009

The Sex Revolts by Simon Reynolds and Joy Press

Ok, so I found this book at the library and I was super excited about because it's basically a combination of my two favorite things, punk histories and gender theory, and it's co-written by Simon Reynolds who wrote one of my favorite books Rip it up and Start again so yeah. This book bills itself as gender theory in rock and roll and it's divided into three parts, two about dudes (basically) and one part about ladies. First of all, this book is flamingly hetero-normative which was kind of frustrating. Anyway.

The first part "rebel misogynies" mainly talks about the rebel stereotype, breaking it down into a bunch of sub-rebels I guess. I really liked this part of the book. It covers hyper-masculinity, boastfulness, wanderlust, drugs, warriors, the absence, fear of and marginalisation of women, making connections from beat poets to the rolling stones to 60's garage rock to nick cave. LOTS of talk about oedipal stuff. It was interesting to read about the roles of women in rock through the context of rebel misogyny, as in these are the roles that women play in the music of these dudes.

The second part was more about psychedelic music and "the rebel" tiring of his ways and wanting to return to the womb (serious, SO much of this books ideas are based on oedipal things, however there is absolutely NO reference to the electra complex) At first this part was kind of interesting, but I felt like it quickly devolved into just a really long record review of can and my bloody valentine. It's weird to be reading theory when you can tell which bands the writer is super into and which things they're not. So overall, second part, whatevers.

The third part, which in the intro of the book was basically billed as the female theory part was HORRID. It spends a lot of time talking about female musicians not idolizing females so their music is in turn not female. This theory is stupid. I don't even wanna explain why. It brushes over riot grrrl in a short chapter, basically saying that the content was feminist but the music wasn't female, just a rip off of sixties garage rock, in turn being a ripoff of boy music, so it doesn't really matter. It did have some interesting things to say about the raincoats, and it did give them the crown of "true female music", so that was good, I guess, even though I don't really get or like the idea of "true female music". Basically this part of the book spent a lot of time being like "girls are just ripping off boys" and "girls want to be boys" and past that there wasn't a lot of ideas or theories, or even decent explanations and examples of said theories, just like kind of talking down, then it kind of just turned into a boner fest for suzanne vega, and throwing muses (serious, like two chapters worth on throwing muses). It was written in a way that it was part hugely long dumb record review and part sitting around being like "girls haven't gotten it"

so, in conclusion first part: yes! second part: eh... third part: fuck you.

1 comment:

kanako said...

that's a bummer that dude doesn't get it. I guess I'm into the fact that he was exploring machismo and making some headway there... and also it dose not surprise me that his interpretation of women in punk is fucked up. WHEN is this dude gonna get it? Unfortunate. xx