Inspired by Cate Burlington‘s sad-yet-hilarious post from 2015 called Actual words my coworkers have said to me, a woman in tech, I decided to contribute my own facepalm-worthy list (with commentary) of actual things that have been said (or in one case, written) to me, a female composer, by men. Have some of your own stories to share? Add them in the comments.
“Do you think women are really smart enough to write music? I mean, doing math I can understand, but composition is, like, really, really hard.” Damn. Differential equations are totally doable, but double counterpoint…girl, don’t even try!
“There is always something wrong with music by women, except for String Quartet 1931 by Ruth Crawford Seeger. That one’s actually really good.” Really? And what’s wrong with music by women, exactly? “I can’t put my finger on it, but I know there’s something wrong.”
“I think it must be really hard for women to write music. They’re under so much pressure to be pretty.” Oh, god! The pressure…the terrible, terrible pressure! I can barely think, the urge to look at myself in the mirror and decide whether I’m pretty enough is so…overwhelming!
“YOU wrote that?” I know, right? How could I possibly have the upper-body strength, the masculine will, and the sheer hand-eye coordination to get those dots on the page?!
“I think it’s great that you’re going to school to become a composer. But just remember, when you get married, it’ll be your husband’s career that will be more important.” Oh, what a relief! I was worried for a second there that I was going to have to support myself. Thank god I can leave that to the man of the house!
“I think it would be really hard to play music by a good-looking woman. I’d be so distracted all the time.” Wait, I’ve got it! You could ban her from rehearsals and the performance so you can keep your head in the game.
“The world has plenty of male composers. Compose something with a feminine touch or that sounds feminine instead of trying to write some masculine multi-movement symphony.” Oh, sorry. I’ve been working too hard at writing music with rippling biceps and rock-hard abs…I’ll definitely put more soft curves and mystical allure into my next piece.