The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

I’ve been a fan (and acquaintance) of Karan Casey for many years. For many reasons, I felt the urge to repost Karan’s recent Facebook message - particularly for the trad musicians and fans that aren’t on social media. She raises an important issues, and relates to a post a year ago here on the mustard https://thesession.org/discussions/40232. Karan has invited the reposting of this message and urged coversations to be had, so I thought it appropriate to submit it here.

P.S. Some of her ideas are in the very initial stages of development, but that’s what I like about the post. It’s an invitation to the community. The conclusion also spoke to me.

————————- Original Facebook post by Karan Casey ——————————
“I am my own Muse.” Frida Kahlo
Hi all,
Happy New Year.
So as some of you know I took the plunge the other night at a gig in Liberty Hall and spoke out about
how what it is like to be a woman in Irish traditional and folk music. I was the only woman performing out of 16 artists. The rest were men. I have to say I was kind of terrified beforehand but so proud of myself afterward.
The response from the audience and since has been just overwhelming. So it seems that many of us, women and men, are aware of this situation and actually want to do something concrete about it.

Anyway in the heel of the hunt I announced that I would be organising a festival and a series of conferences
around the country celebrating women in traditional and folk music. I asked for help. I need to follow up on this now! I am hoping and thinking that ye might like to help? Since last weekend I have been having A LOT of very intense conversations with many of the women and men who would like to see a sea change.

I believe that one of the greatest strength within the traditional musical community and by extension the folk world lies in community action. We won’t achieve long lasting, deep change without working from the ground up. I would like to avoid tokenistic measures. We need to keep the pressure on. There is plenty of talk out in the air at the minute, it is in the zeitgeist.

What do ye think?
Some of the initial ideas; Writing, singing, playing a creative response to all of this? Organise a day of musical events raising money and awareness around women’s issues in folk music that can be used to finance and support long term objectives and change. Advocate for properly paid gigs around the country celebrating women and organised on a local scale? And then to have bigger gigs in the various cities, Limerick, Cork, Galway, Belfast, Derry and Dublin? The folks at Liberty Hall said they would like to help out so that is perhaps a possibility? The other notion was to have a series of talks where women and men could get together and try to tease out these issues? Maybe in the colleges as they could cater for talks and gigs? Mentoring schemes?
And approaching and meeting with the various festival directors, arts council folk, IMRO, and venue operators… etc. Fighting for gender balanced committees and decision making.

Also this Sunday 28th, I will be up in Dublin. There is a meeting in Jury’s Hotel Lobby, opposite Christ Church at 12, noon. It is just a start. We are OPEN to all ideas, particularly creative ones. And of course stressing ALL genders are welcome and we celebrate diversity as always.

I do think for us to achieve anything though that we need a focussed and thought out plan. What do we actually want to achieve?

For myself to be very clear, I am not looking for a favour here and I am eminently qualified to have this conversation. I have seen it all and have had enough.

Lads ye need to shape up. Ye need to cop on and stop ignoring the needs and rights and musical opinions of women as your fellow workers. I am advocating for equality for women performers, I am stressing that the gross injustice in the lack of a gender balance needs to swept aside and a radical overview of how we actually root out inequality needs to be addressed.

Thank you to everyone who came up to me and supported me after the gig, it meant a lot to me.
Thank you also for offering to help, here is your chance to do just that!! Thank you for all the supportive emails over the past few days, I can’t manage them all now so am handing over to a committee! If you would like to offer your services in any way you can, please do.

Please share this, head off and organise a gig, play a tune, more importantly throw away those hoovers and sit down, or if you are lucky enough to have a small child in the house, sit down with them have a cup of tea and a chat and sing a song with them. Teach them that this creative space and world we live in is worth fighting and singing for, that in the world of the imagination everything is possible.

Keep up the hearts.
Karan

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

A very heartfelt good on ye to Karan Casey! I’ll look forward to following how this develops, it’s inspiring me to think of ways to contribute meself.

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

You should maybe check out with Rachel Newton and Jenn Butterworth, who have been saying much the same things about how it is for Scottish women working as trad musicians. Rachel’s article was in The Scotsman newspaper about a year ago, and she also arranged a conference to discuss these issues: will post the link tomorrow.

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

It’s long past due. Women deserve an equal place with men across the spectrum. Anyone who doesn’t recognise the importantce of equality are just being selfish. It’s as simple as that. Karan Casey is grand.
I have the utmost respect for her. Hopefully the mustard appreciates the significance of gender equality.

Thank you, Ms. Casey!

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Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

Wow, this is extraordinary. Er, well, I certainly hope it is. Other countries chip in here - is this the norm over your way?

I wouldn’t go so far as to claim we have arrived at gender parity in venues and festivals over here in Australia, but a cursory glance at festival performer lists shows plenty of diversity, in all senses - age, gender, cultural background, etc. You certainly couldn’t get away with anything like 1 female in 16 acts!

I’d be interested to hear a defence from industry sources over there. We might be unlikely to believe it, but it might help identify the central problem that needs attention…..

"There just aren’t any women performers" isn’t going to cut it. We know better.

"This is a meritocracy - there just are not enough talented women performers". Equally absurd. We know better.

"Audiences don’t want women performers". Fine, if true. Just prove it.

"Women performers don’t approach us." Possible skerrick of truth there, but also a convenient circular argument- if at first they don’t succeed, why keep banging their heads on your door?

Other? Please specify….

Anyone in a position to find out and report back? Always better to direct your energy than dissipate it fighting imaginary foes.

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

I must say I have difficulty to understand where is the lack of equality, can someone explain it, is this restricted to the professional side of Irish Music (which I know very little about), I don’t see a lack of equality in mainstream Irish music, the normal stuff.

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

@Theirlandais - Yes, I suppose Karan’s perspective is certainly from the professional side of the music industry. She is speaking from a very specialized perspective - I do not think she’s insinuating that women are second-class citizens in the traditional music community (as in, we don’t have enough session leaders, etc). It’s a broad criticism of the lack of women at the upper tiers of the tradition. Maybe it’s a music industry/business problem more so than and ITM one, but they are inherently linked.

And she’s not wrong! Many of the ‘supergroups’ are male dominated or all male. Female performers in super groups have traditionally contributed as singers, more so than being put on centre stage for their instrumental music-making. Is it a case of the exceptions (Cherish the Ladies, The Outside Track, London Lasses), prove the rule?

One of the things I love about Karan’s post is that she is speaking from her own perspective -rather than attempting to tell the world all/most women feel within the ITM community. She had probably spent years on stages where she was the only woman; Her role is also a feminine on that stage – providing lovely, sweet, beautiful, rich songs in between more fast-paced instrumental sets. People subconsciously or actually expect a particular type of performance from her.

@Terry McGee - I don’t think Karan is a declaration to fight particular ‘foes’ more so the system of beliefs that subconsciously permeate society. This is certainly more difficult to address, which is why she seems to be reaching out for ideas on how to tackle the issue. I think the idea of consciously caving a space to celebrate women performers is a huge step forward. Young girls who see women dominating on stages will grow up thinking this is normal behavior (emulating their idols and all that). Change won’t happen by merely speaking about these issues and certainly not by attacking particular individuals or groups even who have played a role in forming, supporting, and sanctioning the system.

Something that I identify with: it is VERY difficult to balance being a mother and professional musician. Although I’m reading this message as a subtext since I’m also acquaintances with her.

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

are Muireann nic Aomhlibh, Julie Fowlis, Cathy Jordan , Sharon Shannon, Mhaire ni Maonaigh all exceptions to the rule ? but maybe as a male I shouldnt be commenting……………..

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

> I must say I have difficulty to understand where is the lack of equality, can someone explain it

Repurposing a comment that has been made elsewhere, if women do not feel comfortable talking to you about the problem, then you may well *be* the problem.

> Julie Fowlis

Julie is a damned fine instrumentalist, as good as any professionals making a living on the Scottish "scene", and it says a great deal she has to market herself as a singer to make a living.

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Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

Looking at oppression of women is important- but harmful if it takes away from also tackling the oppression of social class - something which also leads to disadvantage and mistreatment in the world of music and beyond.

If intersectionality ignores class (the single biggest mark of mistreatment and disadvantage) then it is problematic- usually leading to middle class members of disadvantaged groups reaping the benefits.

Hence why firms like Coca-Cola, etc etc are so passionately behind forms of intersectionality that ignore the continued horror of how groups take advantage of our brutal class systems.

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

If you look at lets say the fleadh winners (I have no other data to go on), there is definitely a strong representation of Women at the top end of the scale in terms of quality and equality…

If you take the equal opportunity employer eg the fiddle, you get 9 out of the last 18 winners are women, if you take the accordion you get 3 out of the last 18 winners are women, do we then conclude that women are not equally represented on the accordion and therefore there is a lack of equality for women accordion players, or do we say that there are other prevailing circumstances that create the imbalance.

now lets move the argument into the pub scene, I can almost guarantee that you walk into any evening time session in a pub anywhere in the world and on average it will have 75% men or more. Is that because there isn’t an equal opportunity for Women to play or are there other prevailing circumstances.

now extrapolate the thought process to the professional music scene….
Are we really talking about a lack of equality, just because two things aren’t equal it doesn’t always mean that there is a lack of equality

There aren’t that many black (non)professional Irish traditional musicians, so is Irish traditional music racist as well as sexiest ?

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

I don’t think that the claim is that it is sexist - just that it’s clearly easier for men to succeed and the tradition (assuming men and women are of equal ability in general - which I’m fairly sure they pretty much are).

The same goes for non-whites. The difference being that there are roughly 50% women in the populations that offer ITM opportunities.

It’s harder to say if it’s easier in ITM to succeed if you’re white (I’d be surprised if it wasn’t) - because we’d have to differentiate for the percentage of ethnic minorities with ITM opportunities.

It’s clear when it comes to gender though - men find it easier to succeed, and this (presumably) is not because they are intrinsically better at music.

Again - i’d say that class dominates though… as with the rest of our society.

I know that in Scotland, for example, there are children who cannot afford to go to the Feis (learning opportunities similar to Comhaltas) because they are born into families with lower incomes.

I expect this is common elsewhere- in Ireland and the US…

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

"Julie is a damned fine instrumentalist, as good as any professionals making a living on the Scottish "scene", and it says a great deal she has to market herself as a singer to make a living."

but men do the same…. singing is just more popular ….. just like fast music is more popular
to people who don’t have much involvement in it or knowledge of it, therefore to make a living people play fast, people sing, men and women.

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

"It’s clear when it comes to gender though - men find it easier to succeed, and this (presumably) is not because they are intrinsically better at music."

I think we can agree that there is no difference in the quality of the music (between men and women, I don’t think anyone would suggest otherwise).

Lets say the statement at the top of this post is a valid statement, and I believe it probably is valid, what are the reason for it being valid ?

Men find it easier to succeed because …

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

@Christy Taylor - I didn’t mean to suggest there are no professional women musicians, just that most stage/professionals performances are a male dominated sphere. Years ago I read Helen O’Shea’s book that basically called out the session as a performance context that marginalises women and I whole heartedly disagree. I, for one (and only for one) feel empowered playing in pub sessions - despite the occcasional drunken comments/cheesy pick up lines when all I’m trying to do is play a few tunes.
Also, Nothing in this thread suggests this is a conversation for women to be having. Quite the contrary, the OP on Facebook calls for discussions and action involving men and women.

@Theirlandais - you are kind of proving Karan’s point. You are quite correct all-Ireland winner (at least the past decade or so) have been fairly evenly split between males and females. I know in many CCE branches and clubs I work with there is actually a female dominated presence under-18s learning and playing ITM. This is not translating into what we see often on stage and media performances. An alien observing all Professional exhibitions of ITM would not see the gender balance that does exist on the ground. So Karan is asking what is this about? And what should be done about it? I don’t recall suggestions that we all are ‘sexists’. It seems to be something more subtle, bubbling under the surface for so many years not properly addressed.

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

@Therelandais - I see what you mean for sure; ‘Equality’ isn’t spot on for the phenomenon that Karan has identified. I’m no feminist theory scholar! I know what she’s saying though and certificate agree there is room for improvement/evolution in our beloved tradition.

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

The context seems to be something to do with professional muscians. As a punter it’s hard to know what to think - other than that Karan Casey’s post it well written and I guess she has a point. What do audiences want? What do promoters *think* audiences want?

There was this discussion https://thesession.org/discussions/40232 about a newspaper article published a year and one day ago.

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

Interesting discussion.

[PDF]Singing my way to Social Justice [Karan Casey] - Voices: A World Forum for Music …
https://voices.no/index.php/voices/article/download/928/829

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Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

Hello, I’m reading and listening my way through Karan’s article which I posted in the PDF link above.
I highly recommend anyone interested in this discussion thread also check it out.

Spoiler alert!

The article has links to videos of Karan singing. This one struck home with me, so I’m posting the link; even though it is near the end of the paper. https://soundcloud.com/karan-casey/whos-going-to-build-your-wall-not-me


Cheers!

“And so to conclude and to finish my rhyme
I hope you’ll excuse me for wasting your time”

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Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

Thanks trish santer, for The Scotsman article by Rachel Newton. It certainly tells the same tale as Karan, but set in Scotland. 3 females in 39, or 7.6%, pretty similar to Karan’s Dublin experience of 1 in 16, a yet-to-be-beaten 6.3%!

(Hmmm, our band Ballyhooley wouldn’t get far over there. We’re "burdened down" with a clearly unacceptable female preponderance of 4/7, or 57%, not too far from the 51% of the general population! In our defence, I could possibly argue that the three of us probably outweigh the four of them!)

We need to keep in mind is that it’s not just the female performers missing out, but the audiences as well. Why would we possibly imagine that audiences prefer such a one-sided view of the music?

Perhaps the reason why our folk festivals display far better balance is the number of women in the top end of the organisations. If we pick the National Folk Festival (Canberra) as an example, we find that the President and Vice President are both women, with a male as Secretary. The rest of the committee is made up of 5 blokes and one woman. The core staff, including the Program & Festival Director, are all women (with the possible exception of Kim, the IT manager). Yet we don’t see a festival embarrassingly biased in favour of women - we see a festival whose published "Core Values" include "Inclusiveness – openness to diverse participation, respecting personal contribution and effort". And that’s our experience of the festival.

A bit of that might go down well over your way!

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

Theirlandais: Men find it easier to succeed because …

… of our unshakeable self-confidence. We’re legendary, and we’re prepared to put that in writing.

Remember writer Sarah Hagi’s famous tweet: "God, give me the confidence of a mediocre white dude".

Go to a festival website and look at the performer bios. It’s easy to spot the ones written by men.
"Achingly handsome, and arguably one of the world’s finest flute-makers, Terry McGee…"

Why stuff like that convinces venue owners is perhaps the bigger mystery.

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

Thanks Terry for your thoughtful commentary! and for being awesome in general: At first I thought, McGee - what a common name —- Then, nope that is him! My first flute was one of your keyless. A friend of mine in Ireland made me a keyed flute a number of years back with larger holes, but I cannot part with your flute! I don’t have the heart to sell it second-hand because it’s such a gem. Thanks for the insights and quality instruments.

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

Not quite sure what the problem is. There’s loads of women involved in playing Irish trad music, playing and tutoring/ teaching.

I think Karan’s probably referring to the professional performance Irish trad industry and the relative numbers of the genders there. But that’s a completely different kettle of fish, is reflective of many other industries. It’s another manifestation of the age old ‘battle of the sexes’. But little to do with the overall position of Irish women in playing trad I would have thought.

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Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

For what it’s worth, the latest ITM festival I attented had Trí-Tones, Dervish and Altan as main acts (on their respective evenings). And the sessions were balanced as always.

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

"It’s easy to spot the ones written by men."

We’re probably looking at different bios - but I don’t see this difference at all. Not remotely. To elaborate: I’ve seen plenty of female auto-bios. that are chock full of self-praise. Disclaimer: I’m not in Ireland, looking at Irish festival line-ups.

Another aspect of this matter, that hasn’t been mentioned: the (im)practicalities of life on the road. Speaking as male who has had a mostly unsuccessful musical career, that mostly unsuccessful musical career has led me into many dubious situations that I wouldn’t expect any female with a sense of self-preservation to let herself into. A simple example: driving hours into nowhere in the middle of the winter for a gig, with no idea where you’ll be spending the night. Is that kind of thing relevant, or is it getting into a whole different area of professional experience?

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

I’m a woman and on numerous occasions while on tour (more than I can even count) I’ve driven in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of the night on the way to the next gig - if we weren’t sleeping on someone’s floor then we were sleeping in the van. I was also the person who booked the gigs, owned the van so was always the driver, and generally got off stage and then took over at the merchandise table. Loved every minute of it too!

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

There is a difference, of course, between "I" and "we" … ! Anyway - I don’t mean to suggest that no women are willing and/or able to deal with that stuff - but I would expect that fewer women than men might be so keen to. Maybe I’m wrong - I was one time before (June 6, 1985. Don’t ask). But even as an older man, I turn down the odd gig that I would have jumped at when I was young and foolish, because I would just as soon avoid the discomfort and the danger.

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

I was visiting someone in hospital recently, where many of the nurses were women and very few male nurses, should we start a petition for equality for "male nurses", or should I ask the question first to find out why ?

There is definitely a 90+% ratio of female nurses to male nurses or maybe even a 16 to 1 ratio at times, but I don’t believe that represents an inequality, men have every chance to be a nurse just as much as women.

The only way to solve a problem, if there is one to solve, is to understand the root cause, just looking at the outcome won’t pinpoint the problem or identify if there is a problem.

If we go back to the fiddle all-ireland champions since 2000, and who have a professional career out of music or at least very active in music gigging.

I know of 2 of the women (Zoe, Tara) and 3 (Fergal, Dylan, Niall) of the men that are in involved with lots of gigs, groups etc… there may be others I just don’t know if they are or not.

I have also been to sessions in London and it’s 90% male, sometimes 100% why is that ?
If you have 90% men at sessions, would you expect a much different ratio in the professional scene.

What I like most about Irish Music is the diversity, all genders and all ages play, talk and mix together (well in ireland that’s my experience), I was in a session recently where a 98 year old man is playing the fiddle next to 14 year old girl, that’s what it’s all about, however outside Ireland it seems to be more male and adult dominated.

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

"I think Karan’s probably referring to the professional performance Irish trad industry and the relative numbers of the genders there. But that’s a completely different kettle of fish, is reflective of many other industries. It’s another manifestation of the age old ‘battle of the sexes’. But little to do with the overall position of Irish women in playing trad I would have thought." Kilcash

Have you read what she has to say, Kilcash? She is speaking about the position of all people involved
in playing trad, women of course though not exclusively.

"I have long argued that I inhabit the voice of the powerless, both male and female, and
in doing so I sing out against oppression. I also recognise the power of the imagination at play here. Honouring the heroes of the past who have fought against British colonialism has been for me a way of speaking out against colonialism today. I see this as the long and time-honoured tradition that
many traditional and folksingers employ. But where does it leave me as a woman? Am I furthering
the myth that men need to go to war for the honour and glory of Ireland and that the
woman’s issues or feminism can wait? Am I continually writing women out of history by singing these songs? Or is the opposite true? How does the fact of my being a woman affect the audience? Are they more receptive to my political opinion because it sounds ‘nice’ or does it wash over them because it sounds ‘nice.’ "

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Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

Where I play, it’s your skill and your shit-talking skill, not your gender, what matters. Ladies 110%.

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

Well I’m an un-talented musician, and when I look at the statistics I see very few un-talented musicians in professional bands. I think I’ll start campaigning for equal rights for the un-talented.

More seriously, I do get ticked off when I see this sort of campaign. Equality is a two sided equation, you can’t have equality FOR women (or any other group) you can only have equality BETWEEN two or more groups. If we want real equality it can only be achieved holistically - we have to educate people that if you are looking for someone to fill a role you should only consider the personal qualities that affect their ability to fill that role and completely ignore everything else, whether that be gender, colour, regional accent or the size of their feet. As soon as you start campaigning for equal rights FOR a particular group you are not asking for equality, but for inequality biased in favour of that particular group, and you are perpetuating the problem by emphasizing the idea that that group is somehow different from the rest of society.

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

@AB, "Does this help answer some of your questions about root causes in healthcare Theirlandais?" yes, but I’m not really trying to get the answers in healthcare, I’m trying to use it as a mecahnism to open the thought process.

one key statement is
"For many years it has been evident that numerous career paths feature a wide gender gap. To combat these inequalities, some organisations have been set up globally, specifically to encourage people to enter work in areas they might feel unsuitable for, or intimidated to enter, due to their gender."

So does the above statement apply to professional careers in Irish Music ?
and if so, why ?, and how do you fix the reasons, if they can be fixed.

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

Mark M said-‘As soon as you start campaigning for equal rights FOR a particular group you are not asking for equality, but for inequality biased in favour of that particular group, and you are perpetuating the problem by emphasizing the idea that that group is somehow different from the rest of society.’
Women and other groups are already considered different. That’s part of the problem. Do you understand the meaning of the word equality? This campaigning is to bring the underpriviledged UP to the level of the priviledged. Not to give them more rights than others. While there is an imbalance, women or other suppressed groups will always be ‘different’ from the rest of society.

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

Slow clap for Michelle Mc.

@ Mark M - Apologies that you get ‘ticked off’ when you see ‘this sort of campaign’. The beautiful part of the situation is, if you don’t agree with the ‘campaign’ you can carry on with your day to day business. Also, while you were probably intending to be thought-provoking and funny(?), your comparison of ‘un-talented’ musicians with professional women performers who want to be BETTER represented on stage is…. weird and (I think) hugely oversimplifies the conversation that we’re having here. I understanding the point your trying to make, but… Would you agree there is a gender issue of some kind? Maybe not? Don’t worry about the specific labels, like ‘equality for’ - Is there a legitimate concern here? Or are some women being oversensitive?

I don’t hear any calls for gender quotas on stage, or demanding that every trad band to have a equal split. So it’s also not a case that one group is calling for their group to be put ahead of another. Karan is highlighting the current situation, as she has witness, and asking what other think, feel, and how to respond.

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

jcawley: No, I can’t ‘just go about my daily business’, because much as I share the aims of these people, I see their campagning as highly counter productive.

If the Civil Rights movement of the 60’s had campagined for equal rights for EVERYONE we would probably now be living in an integrated society where no one paid a blind bit of notice to race. But they didn’t, they campaigned for Black rights, reinforcing the idea that black and white are two different things, albeit different things that have to be treated equally.

We need equality of gendres, of races, of physical abilities, of everyone. But as soon as you start campagning for one specific group you set that group apart from the rest of society and make real equality far harder to achieve. As long as people keep labelling themselves and campaigning on behalf of what they see as ‘their’ sector of society the divisions will remain and there will never be true equality.

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

How realistic is it for people who need to fight for their own rights (as in the case of Black Rights movement and the suffragettes in the early 20th Century) to have the energy, capasity, power, and collateral to argue for equal rights for all marginalized groups while at the same exact time as making an argument for their group? The best orators can and have done this (MLK, Nelson Mandela), but how about the everyday citizen? Progress - in terms of Civil Rights - usually comes down to organized groups focusing/protesting a particular issue (voting, segregation, Jim Crow, mass incarceration), and they gradually furthering their cause battle by battle… But…

Staying focused on the topic (not deviating to politics, possibly derailing this thread from the mustard board): In the case of professional women in ITM, I haven’t heard anyone arguing for exact equal rights (as in exactly in numbers). Karan isn’t saying there should be a quota of 50/50 on stage, even though that wouldn’t be outside of the realms of possibilities; Some concerts it will be 40/60, others will be 60/40, it’s not a big deal! But Karan’s experience is telling her that the situation is more likely to be 1/16 (women/men performers) on a typical night. And as others have pointed out, it is about 50/50ish at the All-Ireland level, so somthing certainly isn’t right. Would you agree? If so, what can we do about it? Just waiting for things to sort themselves out isn’t a solution, it’s a part of the current paradigm.

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

Tell us Mark M. - how is Karan’s campaign going to personally affect you? What detrimental affect will it have on your daily life? I’m guessing none, but do jump in to correct me and provide a list of exactly how your quality of life will suffer because of it. Waiting with baited breathe here…..

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

Mark M: I agree that certain initiatives going in this sort of direction may be counterproductive, but reading the original message, it really does sound quite positive to me in this case. I think increasing awareness and having discussions, as well as promoting gigs is not hurting anyone. Importantly, it is not really penalising anyone for being outside the group of interest (if it is, then very indirectly and in this case, the pros outweigh the cons to me). Unlike scientifically unsupported 50-50 quotas, organising events and discussions does not have a great potential for unfairness or divisionality, yet it can help those involved great;y.

Last, but not least, starting proper discussions and sharing experience may make people understand where the difference is coming from. Nobody is laying blame on conscious discrimination here, I think. Yet, the difference is there and it would be very interesting to know a bit more about its origins. Seeing the response to Karan’s call might be illuminating. Maybe it’s just more women want to stay at home with children (I doubt it would be behind a 1-to-16 balance, but who knows). Maybe there is a systematic problem that will be revealed by going along what she suggests. In the case there is and a large amount of fellow musicians is unhappy as a result of that, I’d be quite interested to hear it. And in this case, I agree with others that her initiative is not really affecting lives of others who do not want to get involved, i.e., it’s not divisive.

Where do you see the potential for causing trouble concretely?

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Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

Sorry, I wasn’t trying to politicise the conversation, just giving some examples from other areas that illustrate the dangers in what you are trying to do.

Ratios make good propoganda, but they aren’t a reliable way to detect bias, there are numerous factors that could account for or contribute to the unbalanced ratio, most of which are about lifestyle choices not bias. Should we be encouraging girls into a music career that might not be their first choice, just so that we can get the ratio more balanced? Of course not (although that’s actually happening with engineering in the UK at the moment). Certainly if there is any identifyable impediment, any obstacle that makes it harder for women to enter the profession than men we should all be fighting that. But an unbalanced ratio isn’t evidence of such an obstacle, it may just be down to lifestyle choices.

If, after thinking about that you still want to try to balance the ratio, then the way to do it is to go into schools and colleges and tell girls how great life on the road is, and encourage them to consider it as a career. If they decide they want to go that way then your ratio will improve, and they will fight against any real bias they might find along the way. But organizing ‘pro-women’ events? All you are doing is emphasizing, or even creating, the idea that male musicians and female musicians are somehow different things, it will do more harm than good. The issue isn’t about making women equal to men, it’s about making everyone equal. If you say you are fighting ‘for women’ men will assume you are fighting against them. If you say you are fighting the same rights for everyone, then everyone will be on your side.

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

triplet upstairs: "Tell us Mark M. - how is Karan’s campaign going to personally affect you?"

It’s not. But I care passionately about fairness and equality. And I hate it when someone perceives a problem and jumps in with a solution that has the exact opposite effect to what they wanted.

Last year my daughter and some of her friends were getting bullied at school. The school’s solution was to set up an LGBT Committee, so that they could ‘stand up for their rights’. Of course, that just made them more isolated and more of a target. The right approach would have been to clamp down on ALL bullying regardless of who the victim is or what the motivation.

And this situation is very similar. The way to get male and female musicians treated the same is to get people to forget that they are male and female and just think of them as musicians. The more you ‘celebrate women’ and organize ‘pro women events’ the more you separate men and women into ‘them and us’ and fuel prejudice and discrimination.

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

I’d like to reiterate a factor that "meself" brought up earlier: life on the road.

In Ye Olden Days, a professional trad musician could make a living from a mix of recorded music sales, concerts, and teaching on the side. In today’s world, one leg of that stool has been kicked out from under. Income from recorded music sales has dropped to a small trickle, for most artists. Bands of all genres are having to tour more heavily than ever to make a living. Concerts are now the means to sell a few CD’s on tables after the show, instead of being the way to promote a major new CD release.

Look at the tour schedule for Lunasa — it’s brutal! No wonder they lost their original fiddler to a more settled life as a country doctor. Even the top bands are trying ways to supplement income with things like cruise ship events (Lunasa) and bus tours with the band (Altan). All involving travel away from home.

It’s not that constant touring is necessarily dangerous, but it’s still stressful, especially later in life. A woman may be energized and excited about touring in her 20’s, but as life moves on it can become harder. Of course there are other societal/cultural factors like child care to consider, where women are still, on average the primary caregivers. Natalie MacMaster may enjoy touring with her young children, or performing while pregnant, but that may not appeal to all women. Women also tend to be the primary caregivers for elderly parents, at a time when one should still be near the peak of stage performing years.

With a 50/50 ratio in the All Ireland, and an even better than 50/50 ratio for women participants in my local pub sessions, I have to think that being forced to tour for enough income, is the main reason for the lower ratio of women on stage. For the cultural reasons mentioned above, men are more "free" to leave home for periods of time on tour.

How to fix this? There is a slowly growing trend for men to be more active as stay-at-home Dads, and taking up more responsibilities for child care in general. It won’t happen overnight, but this may eventually make it easier for women to spend time away from home on tour. Something else that would help, would be some drastic change to the way recorded music is distributed, so performers wouldn’t be forced on the road quite as often. I’m less sanguine about that, because the digital horse has already left the barn.

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

"If you say you are fighting ‘for women’ men will assume you are fighting against them."

… um … as a male, that has never been my reaction. Never. And that doesn’t mean that I automatically support each and every ‘for women’ issue that comes up - it just never occurred to me that "fighting ‘for women’" was fighting against men. No moreso than that fighting for equal rights for Blacks was somehow trying to take something away from Whites - other than unjustified privilege.

As for the topic on hand, specifically: is it possible that many female festival attendees prefer to watch men on stage? This certainly has been a factor at times in the rock music business (I just read Robbie Robertson’s autobiography, and he does not hesitate to allow that his good-looks were at certain points a significant factor in the progress of his career). In other words, are festivals choosing acts on the basis of their drawing power, whatever the reason for it - and what is the reason for it? - rather than for their perceived musical merit?

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

Not just Irish music, of course. I used to be in a rock band, in a trio that was either two-thirds or three-thirds female, depending on line-up. Most gigs had 3 or 4 bands; we were almost always the only women on stage and almost without exception the only ones with instruments. Why? I never figured it out. The other bands often behaved as though we weren’t there, played 40 minute sound-checks leaving us only 5 or 10 minutes for ours. I guess we needed to be more aggressive?
The singer had 2 kids, and her partner, or sometimes mother, would look after them when we had rehearsals and gigs. A woman without a partner or family support would find it very difficult to do either of those time-consuming things. What’s the percentage breakdown of single parents, divided into female/male? That’s probably a major factor. Other factors, like confidence and aggression, are much harder to quantify.
Back in the early 80s, a fellow teenager told me that he didn’t like women in bands because ‘they don’t look right with guitars,’ a comment which I have of course never forgotten, and which certainly affected my confidence at the time. Is there still a vein of that running through our culture?
A lot of questions and very few answers.
No, Karan Casey isn’t trying to make us more equal than men, Mark M. She wants dialogue on these vexing questions, and so should we all.

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Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

You lads really think it is a level playing field and this is a lot of hysterics over nothing? And by the way, the ‘everyone is equal’ schtick is well and good but when you’re trying to solve a specific problem, i.e. Jim Crow laws, you are talking about a group who have been systematically oppressed in legal and social systems, and it’s that group who have to acquire the same rights as people who are white and male. Because not everyone is equal. All the ‘whataboutery’ is a red herring when talking about specific injustices to a specific group.

I posted the discussion about Rachel Newton last year. For those of you who think "this now appears to be morphing into a sexist discussion where a victimhood condition is growing with increasing pace," here are some quotes from the Guardian article to consider.

"Some women in the audience thought [Songs of Separation, a 10 piece female band) played a banging show. I loved their sound, but I didn’t think it was banging. Maybe men and women have different ideas of what banging music is. Maybe men listen to more heavy stuff in their youth and maybe that means our reference points are different. Maybe it’s an animalistic thing. Maybe we want pounding stuff because instinctively we should be out hunting."
-Simon Thoumire

"If a woman straps on an electric guitar, is she genuinely absolutely comfortable when she starts sweating?" -Donald Shaw

These guys really said those gems to a Guardian journalist. If that doesn’t give you some indication of the zeitgeist in the Scottish trad music, I don’t know what does.

For those of you who think the "me too" movement is a lot of whiny women crying victimhood, contemplate why it’s copecetic for male musicians to hit on and grope any cute young woman who shows up at their session, and the more famous they are, the more it’s accepted.

Or how about why a locally well-liked male musician jumped into my car without my permission while I was loading instruments in the boot after a session. For more than half an hour, he flat-out refused to leave the back seat, insisting he come to my flat with me, even though I resorted to umambigious language when civility got me nowhere, like ‘Get the f — out of my car." No mixed messages there. He didn’t shift until I threatened to call the police.

I told this story to a few mutual acquaintances in the trad scene. Do you think they cared? They laughed and said, "Oh, well, that’s X. A bit of a lovable rogue." Uh, no… this kind of behaviour is not okay. It’s never okay, regardless of anyone’s gender, but the power differentiation between him, a large, strong male, and me, a 5’4 female, the vulnerability I felt, flipped me out.

That kind of crap isn’t limited to the music scene — obviously — but the late nights, the drink, the bars, it’s a recipe for some men to behave like that, and unless there’s such a seismic cultural shift to where treating women like powerless sexual objects is no longer as accepted as it is now, then it will continue.

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

Theirlandais, here is the link Karan Casey included as a footnote in her paper for University of Limerick.
https://inequality.org/facts/global-inequality/

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Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

Mark M, the reason that civil action has tended to be driven by groups, collectives, movements etc with specific agenda, as opposed to global demands such as "equality for everyone, everywhere," is a matter of practicality: fomenting (non-violent) social change is difficult enough to achieve incrementally, piece by piece, issue by issue; expecting everything everywhere isn’t feasible. It’s a noble ideal but with little practical efficacy in reality. Power is not ceded, it must be taken. Social change tends to be very slow, incremental - those in power aren’t particularly interested in all of a sudden sharing all the wealth, power, and access in the world anytime soon. Afraid the approach of "all equality, everywhere" is a bit of a platitude. Social, cultural, political, economic institutions are too complex to effect major change, short of epochal events that occur infrequently. Realize, it’s a dialectic: there are forces working to counter all oppositional efforts.

Think, would laborers in the centuries before us demand workers rights, but at the same time demand equality everywhere before their civil action was ended?

It’s a long, hard, slow, endless fight (for egalitarianism). We have to do it one small, slow step at a time, and through whatever effective means exist.

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Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

My American husband points out that Bluegrass is worse. Wow, is that a boy zone.

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Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

DrSilverSpear, thank you for posting about the player who assaulted you. I hope you’re not silenced by those who laughed it off and failed to appreciate the power differential. Nothing lovable about someone you know trying to take advantage of you, especially when you’re the one who is more vulnerable.

Ben

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Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

Did I miss something? I don’t think she said anyone "assaulted" her, did she?

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

"If the civil rights movement of the 60s had campaigned for equal rights for EVERYONE we would probably now be living in an integrated society…"

This is a bit polyannish. Rather than a lack of vision and tactical efficacy on the part of activists/organizers, I’d lay the problem - lack of integration - with complex sociocpolitical dynamics - establishment power bases, political and economic institutions, many varied forces and systems of oppression. There is great impetus and arsenal behind maintaining the status quo.

I’m completely sympathetic to these issues, but in just saying - "we don’t have perfect unity/world egalitarianism/world peace because we were preoccupied with discrete labor rights, women’s rights, minority rights, etc" is over simplifying. We are still, now, fighting for these same rights and have yet to attain even these. Taking it all on at once - while very much warranted - poses strategic and tactical challenges. MLK tried to expand the discussion of minority rights issues to broader moral/human rights aspects. I’m all for connecting the dots to the root of the problem. But I think it has to be done one step at a time, where it CAN be done.

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Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

The issues raised by Karan Casey and Rachel Newton seem to be the same or have strong parallels. However, as presented here (which may or may not be fair) and in the onward links to her writings Karan Casey’s approach seems very different.

Karen Casey and her ‘supporters’ here seem to look mainly outward to the inequalties suffered by women elsewhere and onwards to any other group that is not being treated fairly.

Rachel Newton sparked a debate within a particular ‘industry sector’ that had been going on (some of it publicly accessible - see the Facebook discussion linked in DrSS’s previous discussion) for some months before it reached the newspapers. The discussion seems to have kept its focus on that industry sector with references to the wider world mainly for context.

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

"Honouring the heroes of the past who have fought against British colonialism has been for me a way of speaking out against colonialism today. I see this as the long and time-honoured tradition that many traditional and folksingers employ."

No AB, I didn’t read this anywhere in the opening post? So I don’t know where you got it from and presume it’s not partic relevant to the discussion at hand.

Regardless I have little time for that ‘four green fields’ ballad singing aspect of Irish trad. It’s very simplistic.

Karan’s main issue seems to lie with people who wish to make a living out of Irish trad and particularly in performance. Again I don’t give much of a toss about that aspect of Irish trad. It has little to do with the amateur folk tradition and more to do with monetising the music.

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Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

Catty,

I don’t think it is oversimplifying, it is just a top down approach - you look at the big picture first, then focus down on the detail. Starting from the detail and hoping you’ll eventually work upwards is like shovelling water - every time you achieve something for one group another group gets slid in as the new victims. And yes, we can’t take it all on at once, but there are things that the individual campaigns can do that help the big picture as well as their own cause. All it takes is a slight re-focusing of the campaign - instead of saying you are camaigning FOR the minority group you say that you are campaigning AGAINST the injustice: instead of saying "The BBC should pay it’s women reporters equally" you say "The BBC shoulod pay its reporters equally across the board", instad of saying "We want access to public buildings for wheelchair users" you say "We want access to public buildings for everyone". That way you are not fuelling the divisionist thinking that spawns prejudice and discrimination. That approach also wins a lot more support for your individual cause - when you say you are campaigning FOR a particular minority it implies it’s that minority against the rest of the world, when you say you are campaigning AGAINST an injustice it implies that the world is on your side, against whoever is causing the injustice.

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

Mark M - While I don’t agree with your reasoning (I think insinuating that the Civil Rights movement caused Black Americans to separate their group further from mainstream America is hugely problematic and oversimplistic), your contribution here has been articulate, very clear, and interesting. I would ask again, what do you think the next course of action should be?

Kilcash - your point about commercialism in ITM is well made. I too am more concerned about women’s experience at the ground level, for this is far more important! In this regard, I do not (personally) feel there are many glass-ceilings to break; as mentioned before, All-Ireland metal holders and (to a lesser extent) session players have enjoyed a much more balanced gender representation. In my day to day existence as a traditional musician, I almost never contemplate gender issues. I, for one, feel quite secure and comfortable. I find this conversation interesting because it is a very specific sector of our beloved musical genre/culture.

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

Would that the real world worked that way, Mark. But it doesn’t. For a start, marginalised groups are already othered, in discourse, in cultural practices, and often in law. A social campaign demanding "justice for everyone" sounds warm and fuzzy, but is nothing more than useless rhetoric because the succesful ones attack specific unjustices. Campaigning for everyone’s rights to access public buildings is meaningless. So what? Campaigning for wheelchair users rights to access public buildings addresses a specific problem, wheelchair users already being a discreet group who can’t access buildings with stairs.

I think this idea that campaigning ‘for’ a minority implies that it’s the minority against the rest of the world, and therefore fuels more discrimination, is something that might be in Mark’s head, but it’s been pushed to quell the voices demanding equal rights for a minority. One of the reasons people are flinching at Mark’s arguments. While I doubt Mark is a racist, those same arguments have been used by thoe who are privileged by the status quo and don’t want change. Like the ‘all lives matter’ stuff that came out in response to Black Lives Matter. It’s belabouring the obvious — of course they do — but it was also deployed to silence people demanding police reform, because while all lives do indeed matter, not all lives are at the same risk of being shot by the police.

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

I think it makes a difference whether someone is mounting a broad public campaign or trying to bring about change in a limited context.

Usually the situation itself results in a group being identified (e.g. female professional traditional musicians in Scotland/Ireland). In that situation, if the aim is to bring about change for that group, what is the problem with following Mark’s line of reasoning and emphasising that "this inequality is not fair" rather than linking the argument to other inequalities.

Also I think one has to acknowledge that the commercial world is not fair.

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

Maybe there isn’t that much difference in opinion? I think "justice for all" should not be dysfunctional in an ideal world (but as Dr. SilverSpear points out, it often is). Also, ideally, promoting rights of minority shouldn’t affect the majority and shouldn’t be discriminatory. Well, some methods aiming for improved success of minority are discriminatory/unfair - all the "ideal" is like ideal gas - it does not exist. But the bad side-effects can be usually avoided,
or attempted to (assuring justice is truly served equally on one hand, or, on the other one, using generally nondiscriminatory promotion of a subgroup; i.e., not at direct cost of rights/opportunities to the complement).

I think that when implementing Mark’s broad-justice approach (Mark, please correct me if I’m wrong), one would identify a group/groups (women, here) that appears to be disadvantaged in a particular context. Then, generating broad justice would mean increasing the opportunities of that group, thus kind of transforming it into the other approach?

I don’t think it’s realistic to try to achieve justice/equal opportunities for everyone without looking at subproblems and/or subgroups?

Of course, taking steps to fix the issues is another thing. Oftentimes it’s ethically difficult doing systemic changes from top, as rigorous support may be lacking (i.e., how much is personal choice versus discrimination, what role is played by historical context which may bring self-censorship, etc.). Without such support, I personally would be very wary of ordering people to do stuff to correct something.
However - in this case, we have a bottom-to-up approach where people want to do something of their own will, without pushing others around, boycotting events that are not 50/50 etc. etc. The rhetoric sounds very sensible and reasonable to me. Surely that shouldn’t be judged harshly? Yes, if the "conflict" gets too heated, it is possible that even such activity migth result in reverse -ism, but I think it’s also about the other side (men, in this case) with regards to how much heat will be generated.
But I agree, Mark, with the point on phrasing things as improving equality rather than promoting a group - that surely plays a role and while DrSS is likewise right in that people shouldn’t interpret "for X" immediately as "against everything aside from X", since some cases are like that, people may take the mental shortcut and be more wary of such a thing happening.

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Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

its maybe unfair to single out trad music [or rock or country for that matter] when the recent Harvey Weinstein scandal, BBC gender pay gap and Dorchester Presidents Club revelations prove that gender
equality in society is still a long way off. We may have progressed some since the Suffragettes but theres a long way to go yet, folks.

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

I think that if you ‘don’t give much of a toss’ about the professional end of Irish music then you don’t really need to take part in the discussion, since that seems to be what Karan Casey is most concerned with. Some people choose to be professional musicians, which means they have to ‘monetise’ what they do, that’s how it works. And it’s bloody hard. Why so few women do it is worthy of examination.

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Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

What can be overlooked in the "don’t care about the professional side" approach is that the professional side acts as a window to the music in general. So, if passers-by see only blokes, or white people, or black people, or old people, or whatever on show, they might come away thinking "nice noise, but clearly not something I could do". Put in reverse and into the context of this discussion, there’s the expression associated with breaking down gender barriers in STEM fields: "Girl can see, girl can do". So I do think it’s important to the ongoing development of the music that the public face is welcoming to all.

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

There is perhaps a difference between 1) those bands who are all or mainly female (e.g. The Outside Track, The Shee - of which Rachel Newton is a member), 2) those who happen to have a female lead player/singer fronting a mainly otherwise male band (as in Christy’s list - such as Danu, Altan, Dervish,) - and 3)those ladies who are primarily known as solo artists and function very well as such, but maybe feel compelled by commercial or other sources to put together a band of well-known accompanists: which inevitably puts the price up for those of us who have to commission them. I think those (Primarily soloists - or solo + single accompanist) - in the latter category perhaps have the hardest job, while that does not seem the same for a solo male, or male + single accompanist.
In my days of festival organising, we did try to keep a gender balance between headline artist and support, try not to have an all male or all female concert. However, at the end of the day, it was who suited that concert best, regardless of gender: we did also try to give support slots to those who had previously helped the festival in other ways. While I can’t remember all the artists and bands straight off the top of my head right now, I’m pretty sure that a wee bit of research into past festival programmes would prove that point. And I think we have done our bit, maybe more than most, to include and promote female artists and bands.

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

> All it takes is a slight re-focusing of the campaign

This is the logic that says "rich and poor are equally forbidden to sleep in the streets".

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Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

Dr SS, I can assure you it does work, and it’s a very powerful negotiating tool. But I don’t think you quite understood what I am trying to say, I’m not saying you should broaden the range of victims you are fighting for, I’m saying you should shift your focus from who the victims are to what the injustice is.

If you work somewhere where women are paid less than men, If you go in saying "We want equal pay for women" some men will object, on the grounds that men are stronger, don’t have babies etc. etc. But if you go in saying "We want equal pay for everyone who does the same job" without even mentioning gender, it’s much harder for anyone to object to that. Do it the first way and it appears that you are speaking for the minority (in this case women) against the rest of the workforce. Do it the second way and it appears that you are speaking for the whole workforce against the injustice.

In the wheelchair case, campaigning for access for everyone isn’t senseless: if the campaign works it will have exactly the same effect and ramps will be installed, but it will be done because wheelchair users are part of everyone, not an isolated victim group who need special treatment.

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

"maybe feel compelled by commercial or other sources to put together a band of well-known accompanists: which inevitably puts the price up for those of us who have to commission them. I think those (Primarily soloists - or solo + single accompanist) - in the latter category perhaps have the hardest job, while that does not seem the same for a solo male, or male + single accompanist."

Would you care to elaborate? Specifically: why is it harder for a woman soloist or with accompanist?

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

"I don’t think she said anyone "assaulted" her, did she?"

No, DrSilverSpear did not say she was assaulted. I did. Because I see the situation she described as one in which she is absolutely right in threatening to call the police. Even though nothing was mentioned about ‘physical’ assault, or even physical contact, it was the "threat" of assault which justified her doing whatever she deemed necessary to get him out of her car and let her be. This level of assault (in my opinion) is indicated in the description of his total disregard for her for at least a half-hour while she was very clear about everything, "locally well-liked male musician jumped into my car without my permission while I was loading instruments in the boot after a session. For more than half an hour, he flat-out refused to leave the back seat, insisting he come to my flat with me, even though I resorted to umambigious language when civility got me nowhere, like ‘Get the f — out of my car." No mixed messages there."

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Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

MarkM, I doubt you will agree with my take on your response to DrSilverSpear but it looks exactly like mansplaining to me.

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Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

Okay - so he didn’t assault her. Just wanted to clarify that.

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

Not physically. However the threat of assault is still reason to call the police. She clearly felt threatened.

Meself, what would you have done if the guy jumped in your backseat and refused to get out until you drove him to your flat?

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Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

…. I can’t see it makes much difference what I would have done.

Anyway: of course she felt threatened, and had reason to call the police. She just wasn’t assaulted, that’s all. I don’t really have anything to add to that.

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

Cheers!

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Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

"Regardless I have little time for that ‘four green fields’ ballad singing aspect of Irish trad. It’s very simplistic."

I don’t know where you got that from, Kilcash. But you are correct, the quote I posted in my question to you was neither from the OP nor Karan Casey’s recent Facebook post. However if you are interested in reading the paper (somehow I doubt you are) which she wrote about 10 months ago here is the link.

[PDF]Singing my way to Social Justice [Karan Casey] - Voices: A World Forum for Music …
https://voices.no/index.php/voices/article/download/928/829

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Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

I’d say it was a type of assault - a psychological assault, if you like. Most of the stuff in the Harvey Weinstein saga doesn’t involve contact or violence. Mostly involves Weinstein asking/begging/pressuring women to do things like watch him have a shower, or let him watch them have a shower. (Read Selma Hayek’s account in the New York Times, it’s toe-curling.)
A quick google finds this, from the Quebecois National Health Institute:

‘“Sexual assault is a sexual act, *with our without physical contact*, committed by an individual without the consent of the victim… …an act that subjects another person to the perpetrator’s desires through an abuse of power, the use of force or coercion, or implicit or explicit threats. Sexual assault violates the victim’s fundamental rights, including the right to physical and psychological integrity and security of the person (p. 22).’
https://www.inspq.qc.ca/en/sexual-assault/understanding/what-is-it

You may point out that he didn’t ‘commit a sexual act’ as such, but what he did (like Weinstein) was make his sexual demands/intent very clear and resisted the woman’s refusal, bodily (and matching most of the criteria in that Canadian definition). While it might seem trivial (nobody got hurt, he eventually gave up, etc) there are real repercussions from that kind of power-play. The woman might avoid the sessions this guy leads (a major blow if they’re the main, or best, sessions in her area), might be less inclined to trust musical mentors who appear friendly and helpful, might feel less confident about going to sessions on her own, accepting lifts to/from gigs, etc. It’s amazing how an incident like that can alter your feelings about a scenario, confidence, trust etc.

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Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

Nell, I agree; it was assault. Thank you for responding.

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Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

Spot on, Nell!

(Um, if the colloquialism isn’t transparent, meaning: "I concur completely with your analysis".)

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

Okay - I don’t think it matters much if I don’t think that anything that does not involve physical touch can correctly be termed an ‘assault’; people will use words the way they want, and words will mean whatever people want them to mean. I’ve lost enough of those battles to know when I’m beat! So, have at ‘er (meaning, "Carry on with your customary enthusiasm").

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

> I can assure you it does work

Can you give an example of a serious social injustice that has been addressed in this way?

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Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

Don’t know Nell.. the professional performance aspect of the music is but one small recent strand of a largely amateur tradition. When you do something for a job as opposed to just a hobby, then it’s a different ballgame and different rules apply. Lots of people fulfill awkward roles and jobs in life, but they just get on with it and don’t moan about inequities, perceived or otherwise. The compromises that need to be made just go with the territory. People whether men and/or women, can’t have it all in life. And that’s about it.

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Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

Calum, it is happening all the time, watch Today in Parliament. "Does my honorable friend agree that everyone has the right to … ?" From that point on the opponent is on the back foot, because if they want to say that women don’t have a right to it then they are going to have to identify women as being a separate group, making themselves look discriminatory. If you had opened with "Does my honorable friend agree that women have the right to … ?" you’ve already identified women as being a separate group who can be treated differently.

If you were asking about campaigns rather than issues, look at ‘Sport For All’. Do you think that campaign would have been even half as effective if it had been ‘Sport for Girls’, or Sport for the Disabled’, or ‘Sport for the Elderly’?

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

Hmmm, you’re going to have to spell it out for me, I’m afraid, Kilcash.

I can see that if I wanted my boy-band to get up in a gig-environment awash with boy-bands as has been described, I’d be up against some pretty stiff competition. And so I might come to your conclusion - alas, I can’t have it all in life - and go back to my day job.

But if I wanted my girl-band to get up in the gig-environment awash with boy-bands as has been described, I should surely be much encouraged. Here I’m offering a product with a difference.

Where am I going wrong?

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

I don’t know Mark, The Special Olympics was pretty effective for advocating people with disabilities to have opportunities to play and participate in sport…. I don’t see where that possibly could be construed as setting the disability rights movement back or impeeding on able-bodied athletes.

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

Mark M, I see your point about the language which is used, and ‘Sport For All’ is a good positive example. But it would have been weird and disingenuous for the Civil Rights movement never to mention that it was, specifically, the injustices against black people which they were fighting.
‘Everyone should have the right to eat at the counter in Woolworths! Whether they be old, young, tall, short, white, blue, green, or *cough* black!’
I don’t see that it’s useful or necessary to describe access for the disabled as ‘access for all!’, because everyone who is ambulatory already has access. I don’t need to demand a ramp in order to gain ‘equal access’, my access is already more than equal, because I have functioning legs. I can join disabled people in pushing for *more* ramps, though. A non-disabled person might go about life quite unaware of the difficulties faced, until it’s brought to their attention. Bringing attention to a problem is what the Civil Rights movement did, and the Suffragettes, and now, in a less world-shattering way, Karan Casey… It’s not hard to grasp.

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Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

Meself, it’s true that we’ve generally thought of ‘assault’ as a physical attack, but as you so wisely assert, words can change their current usage. It used to be considered impossible for a husband to rape his wife, whereas now it seems bizarre that we ever thought that way, even though the law didn’t change until 1991, in the UK.
Interestingly, on etymonline:
"…assault (n.)
late 14c., earlier asaut (c. 1200), "physical attack (on a person), sudden violent onslaught (on a place)," from Old French asaut, assaut "an attack, an assault, attacking forces" (12c.), from Vulgar Latin *adsaltus "attack, assault," from ad "to" (see ad-) + Latin saltus "a leap," from salire "to leap, spring"… … In law by 1580s; historically, assault includes menacing words or actions coupled with present means to effect them; battery is an actual blow."
So in fact we’ve had the non-physical usage for over 400 years, and ‘menacing words or actions coupled with present means to effect them’ is exactly what the man in the car is guilty of.

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Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

"If you had opened with "Does my honorable friend agree that women have the right to … ?" you’ve already identified women as being a separate group who can be treated differently."

But that’s the point….they already a are identified as a separate group and treated differently. And the sad reality of human history is that disadvantaged groups haven’t gained the rights enjoyed by the majority by saying, "Do my honorable friends agree that everyone has voting rights?" Well, sure, everyone except for women, blacks, etc. etc….. That didn’t work in the segregated South of the United States, it didn’t work in apartheid South Africa, and doesn’t tend to work anywhere else where one particular group enjoys certain advantages in politically oppressing and ‘othering’ another group. Humans don’t play that nice. The protesters sitting in at Alabama cafes weren’t fighting for ‘everyone’s’ right to sit in at cafes — people who were not black already had those rights.

Sure, talking about ‘everyone’ being equal was a part of the rhetoric, but Jim Crow singled out one group, and that group was fighting back. The people who battled against Civil Rights didn’t do so because the African-American community identified themselves as a separate group (no, the US government had done a pretty good job of that) that was ‘against’ them, and too bad the civil rights protesters didn’t use language like ‘civil rights for all (well, some did) ‘; they fought it because the current system suited them, economically, socially — meaning outright racism — and didn’t want change.


It is also seems an absurd argument — that being ‘for’ disabled access implies you are ‘against’ access for the able-bodied. I am sure no one ever who installed a disabled loo thought that.

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

Nell, it might seem wierd or disengenious for the the Civil Rights Movement to call for equality for all, but I have no doubt it would have been very much more effective. And whilst I’m sure that the arguement would have come very quickly down to black/white, by taking the starting point of everyone you do two things: first of all if the opposition want to make it a black/white issue they are going to have to come out and say so, and thus expose themselves as racist. But if you start out fighting for black rights you’ve given them a head start, you’ve already established that black and white are different groups that can be treated differently, it’s just about how you treat one of those groups. I think that despite all the good they have done, the Civil Rights Movement also bear some responsibility for the fact that much of our society still see black and white as separate entities, not just part of a whole. But probably more importantly, ‘equality for all’ makes it everybody’s problem. If you just want black rights that’s nothing to do with me because I’m white.

As for wheelchair ramps, that was a real example of how we tackled the Tory majority some years ago. If we had gone in asking for wheelchair ramps there would have been a lot of objections on the grounds that it would be expensive and only benfit a very few people. But by starting with the principle of ‘access for all’ first and getting them to agree that was a good idea, when we mentioned that wheelchair users were currently excluded by the lack of ramps they couldn’t object without contradicting themselves.

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

DrSS, Given that the struggles are still going on 50 or 100 years later, do you really see Civil Rights and Women’s Sufferage as successful campaigns? Interestingly, amongst your examples the one real success story is the end of apartheid. After years of the ANC fighting for ‘black rights’ and achieving absolutely nothing, success only came when Mandella changed the message from ‘black rights’ to ‘let’s all live together in harmony’, shifting the focus from ‘black’ to ‘all’.

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

I think we’ve gone back and forth with this line of questioning for long enough. Maybe the thread should move on? There are LOADS of other related issues that are relevant. Mark isn’t going to (and nor should he feel the need to) change his opinion on this matter. Another reason to move on: There isn’t much to say back to the premise - ‘the Civil Rights Movement also bear some responsibility for the fact that much of our society still see black and white as separate entities’. Like it really was semantics that caused the current crisis in race relations in the USA and internationally! Are we really ok with this thought process? - Gandi focused too much on Indian people, totally marginalizing his people to the British population; If only MLK had the foresight to call for the equality for all!; If only Nelson Mandela could have put aside the limited worries about his people’s plight to incorporate a more broad dedication to equality!

While dissenting views are HIGHLY encouraged (and part of the fun and whole purpose), I’m conscious that people who don’t share the concerns raised by Karan are dominating this thread. The conversation has been more about questioning the premise, experiences and concerns rasied, rather than constructive actions for the future. It is in this context that I pose a new question: For those who do feel there is room to improve in the VERY specific area of stage performers of ITM - what would you like to see happening?

(Feel free to keep on debating civil rights campaigns as ‘not effective’ in furthering equality, but it is a topic I’m quite tired of…).

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

Amen to that, jcawley.

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Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

If the right honourable gentleman would wish to contribute further in this new capacity, we humbly await for more forthright discourse on the matter at hand. I humbly relinquish the floor to you!

(Edited to say: not joking, despite the fancy talk. Sarcasm is a tricky beast via text).

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

On a (sort of) related topic - If anyone is in Cork City on March 11th we’re having our annual International Women’s Day Session in Charlie’s Pub from 3-6pm (men welcome, as long as we start with Women of the House or Maid Behind the Bar).

The International Men’s Day session will have to take place on the 18th November, seeming that it falls on a Monday this year. (Same rules apply: You have to start with Man of the House…)

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

At the session last night I was the only woman among ten men. The average age was about sixty. Maybe ‘younger’ sessions are different?

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

I’ve really nothing to offer here other than a desire to express my unequivocal solidarity with women on this and every other issue.

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

jcawley: For those who do feel there is room to improve in the VERY specific area of stage performers of ITM - what would you like to see happening?

I think the broad nature of the problem has been well established in the discussions above, but I’m not convinced we have established the root cause. Is it conservatism, misogyny, competitiveness, economics, complacency, timidity, lack of leadership, fear of the unknown, some or all of the above, or what?

And if change is needed (which seems self-evident), what would those changes look like, and who should be taking responsibility for making them?

Theories, anyone? Not looking at this stage for a "worked solution" (unless someone happens to have one convenient). A conversation-starter will be fine.

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

Yes Terry! Thank you. I’m not sure what to do myself - thus the birth of this thread. Frank conversations are happening, brainstorming and planning) is currently underway, here in Cork anyways.

I have this lingering feeling that doing nothing is no longer comfortable. So doing something- even if it’s not efficient as Mark has argued - is better than doing nothing, inadvertently sanctioning the current state of affairs. This ‘oh well’ attitude isn’t working for me (and others).

Someone above pointed out that it isn’t fair to single out ITM because all sectors (other musical genres, music industry in general, academia, acting, publishing, etc) have their own issues of gender inequality. Totally true, I agree! This is the whole point: The small niggling issues of gender permeate multiple life sectors - we are not prohibited to vote, to study, to peruse careers. But so many times have I though to myself the past few years, god this might be easier if…

I can do VERY little to personally help shrink the gender pay gap, or inspire a new gender of girls to pursue STEM subjects, for example. But I feel I can do this; it’s a small nod. An attempt to postivitly contribute to the little, lovely microcosm that is Irish traditional music.

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

Also, in my mind, this is an issue of gender equality - not ‘Women’s Rights’ as such. (Oh my, it seems that Mark M’s reasoning is pouring out of me. He’s onto something alright, although I sharply still question his reasoning on many specifics, see above). I would consider myself an advocate for gender equality. Some poster above raised the issue of the lack of professional male dancers, for instance (lack of male nurses, too), and to me, this all falls under the same umbrella of gender equality. The same push, call to action should apply there as well. I’ve had several discussions with friends (like Nic Gareiss, who has done great work on the subject) about the imbalance in the (modern day) dancing tradition. To me, this is a very open subject matter, which can be vague, but also has the power to affect broad aspects of the music culture.

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

"So doing something- even if it’s not efficient, is better than doing nothing" in this complicated environment, with so many variables, perhaps you’re right.

Have you thought about starting with a well thought out survey for anyone that plays Irish Music, all genders, asking them have they ever considered taking up the music as a profession and then developing the questions from there, why’s, why not and the why did you stop etc.., you could extend it to attending session (which seems to have a problem looking at the stats) this may help home in on the diverse set of issues that are out there, if there are any geographies, conditions, age grouping that amplify the issues etc…. and removes a bit of the emotion from exercise where you just take the facts of the survey (it’s just data, telling a story), afterwards rather than trying to solve everything, pick one or two of common points and look at what needs to happen to start solving them, small steps if you like. The Survey questions would need to be good and balanced, take input from all viewpoints to develop the survey.

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

Evidence-based approach?! I like it, excellent suggestion. There a few like minded musicians/researchers I know of who might spearhead this. Thanks theirlandais.

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

AB- less than a constructive suggestion, but uplifting and entertaining none the less!

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

Surely the whole issue that you raise is in general terms, a function of society itself. For myself, I’m not sure what ‘gender equality’ is or what it might look like. Again speaking in very general terms, it seems to me that women tend to have certain skills, strengths and traits that exceed those of men. And men have certain skills, strengths and traits that exceed those of women. With a generous overlap in the middle. Together women and men make for a stronger whole, whether in terms of society or as individual families. Both genders are to be admired and celebrated but they can never be interchangeable and if they were, then life would be far poorer for it.

Applying that to music, I think it simply means that we must all find our own individual places within, taking into account our personalities, aptitudes, economic position and gender.

But then, maybe I’m just old fashioned 🙂 Not that there’s anything wrong with the collective wisdom of generations.

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Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

I might add that when I express that view above to our 23 yr old daughter, she just dismisses it out of hand. And maybe my wife and I were once entirely of that mind. Children, family and life though have a way of modifying perspectives.

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Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

I don’t think that Simon Thoumire holding an opinion that there may be such a thing as intrinsic maleness - nor that Donald Shaw thinking women may feel uncomfortable in some situations - are the real problems.

As a fan of intersectionality, I see that more and more the “calling out” culture - whereby someone’s words are held up as unacceptable and as harmful as oppression - is counterproductive to the cause.

People holding up others words and interpreting them as unambiguous examples of polarized sexism etc. is not so useful.

People holding opinions is not so dangerous…

A clearer understanding of what people say is important - bringing them into the fold.

Simon Thoumire, for example, is a firm supporter of women in Scottish Trad - and to paint him as part of the problem (and not part of the solution) is counterproductive at best or disengenuous at worst.

Him grappling for the reasons why there is an imbalance is not a problem - but is part of his, and others, efforts to address the problems.

Likewise, casting out Donald Shaw as a problematic sexist may seem like scoring one for the team and liberation. But Donald points (maybe is a sloppy way) to an issue that is a reality - gender differences exist - whether they are a natural phenomenon or not. He highlights this - not to belittle women (this is a terrible misrepresentation of his words) but instead to attempt to figure out why there are differences in representation among women in certain types of trad. He wants to address this issue - and sharing his words as if he is happy to write off women as inferior or silly is just a dishonest thing to do.

The culture of public shaming of people - by interpreting their words in the worst way possible - is a counterproductive method to make things better. It is one of the biggest enemies of intersectionality.

Simon Thoumire and Donald Shaw are allies in the promotion of women in trad music in Scotland - not horrific sexists who should be publicly shamed.

Understanding and benefit of the doubt are the ways forward - not calling out and public shaming of people who are, to all intents and purposes, trying to make things better.

Re: Karan Casey’s call to action!

Glad to hear you were uplifted by the clips, jcawley, because that is what I was going for; nothing constructive or suggestive from my end.

This is a good topic. It’s great to see it happening on the Mustard. There is much to be learnt from opening a dialogue, hearing what everyone thinks, the variety of things each of us expect, even questions about what the topic is. Thank you, Karan Casey!

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Re: Gender equality.

Gender equality is simple. It’s about overcoming a culture’s accepted blindspots. One gender benefits in ways another does not. The gender which does not benefit (or otherwise suffers) strives to change the imbalance.
It’s par for the course ~ the group which has the advantage is either unaware (or ignores) the difficulty of peoples who are not allowed all the privileges which come with being in the select group.
The fact that historically marginalised people have acted to improve their lot is reason to
celebrate their attempt to live comfortably as equals; not to feel threatened by their self-awareness,
their relentless call to action, or emphasising the importance of their life.
Telling them to wait in nothing new. Why must they wait?

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Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

"Gender equality is simple. It’s about overcoming a culture’s accepted blindspots. "

and you honestly think that’s simple.

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

That’s just waffle AB.

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Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

Thank you, Kilcash. Good to know my response was unacceptable to you.

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Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

I am fascinated by this discussion and happy to see when there is actually meaningful insight. Over 30 years, promoting and securing gigs for Irish musicians, I can definitely say there is unseen /unrealized bias in the system. Without exception, women were offered less pay for the same gigs as men. As if it took less time to learn their skill ?

One publican –in a moment of accidental honesty– once confided that he sold more DRINK when his performers were men, and had better listeners when the performers were women. And that’s all I have to say about that –except to say, that when money is involved, internal prejudices –even the irrational–have an influence. This man knew it was wrong, but he also believed it was his reality, and he was’t ready to change. Especially when the drink companies directly influenced what he would pay musicians.

Things will only change for us when people with platforms get involved. In one example of helping to restore voices, I know Gearoid OhAllmhurain focuses significant attention on generations of women performers, composers and carriers of tradition.
In his "Flowing Tides–History and Memory in an Irish Soundscape", women grace the cover, which is rare enough. He also speaks frequently in praise of women who are pivotal in promoting traditional music around the world in their role as radio hosts– Joan Hanrahan, Paula Carroll, Aine Hensey, Kathleen Biggins, Neansaí Ní Choisdealbha to name just a few.

Nice review in the Irish Times this morning on Flowing Tides.
https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/mapping-the-evolution-of-clare-s-musical-tradition-1.3376459

–Cecilia McDonnell, Celtic Crossings

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

On "…overcoming a culture’s blindspots" - no small feat.

C. Wright Mills observed: The failure to make knowledge and artistic expression relevant to human reality (a dominant trait of mainstream consumer society) has resulted in the public being unable to "see the roots of his/her own biases and frustrations, nor think clearly about him/her self, nor for that matter about anything else."

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Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

"Things will only change for us when people with platforms get involved. "
Why wait ?- create your own platforms.

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Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

"Things will only change for us when people with platforms get involved. " - I agree, which is why it is so important that Karan is speaking out (and others of course). The stage is certainly a platform! I don’t think we necessarily need TDs and the like. A grassroots swell would be far more effective anyways.

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

What are TDs?

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Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

As this thread comes to it’s inevitable slowdown, I would just like to take a moment to publicly thank all the various contributions made here, including:

1). the many related, thought-provoking articles, links, and videos.
2). words of support/solidarity
3). personal stories and experiences shared by various members
4). practical suggestions moving forward, including research strategies and links to other similar movements.
5). and the vigorous debate on the core features of the phenomenon that Karan has brought to light. In a way, it was this proportion of the thread which provided the most critical thought processes and honest discourse between commentators. While sometimes veering off topic, the debate certainly made me think differently (for one).

Lastly, Thanks goes to Jeremy for supporting this online forum and trying to cultivate an arena where people can have civil but very vigorous debates. The value of this (particular in light of our current socio-political climate, cannot be overestimated. Diversity of opinions, free speech, and open exchange are the signs (and ingredients?) of a health society.

Just to contextualize this post for possible future readers: Not all commentators were civil, unfortunately. I am aware of at least one post (which was promptly removed by Jeremy) that could be considered angry, bullish, and uncivil. Personally when I read the comment (mostly directed at me), I thought the poster was silly and irrational, and wasn’t too bothered by it (literally lol). But I could certainly see why others would deem it inappropriate to a website for Irish traditional music lovers. Part of me wish it stayed online - so girls and boys 50 years from now knew what we were up against.

But it is certainly more positive that anthropologists combing the online message board archives will stumble upon something like Karan’s post. Some may think her message is over the top, making a mountain out of a mole hill, or irrelevant to the ‘amatuer’ musicians on the ground. Regardless, with the perspective of time, I think Karan will be remembered for her dedication to fairness, equality, and making our little trad music world more fun for everyone. Her heart is certainly in the right place, fortunately for us!

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

A TD is a Teachta Dála, a member of the Irish Dáil, which is their legislative body. It’s the equivalent of an MP in the UK or a member of Congress in the US.

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

Thank you, bigsciota.

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Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

Sorry AB I only saw question now!

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

"I don’t think that Simon Thoumire holding an opinion that there may be such a thing as intrinsic maleness - nor that Donald Shaw thinking women may feel uncomfortable in some situations - are the real problems.

As a fan of intersectionality, I see that more and more the “calling out” culture - whereby someone’s words are held up as unacceptable and as harmful as oppression - is counterproductive to the cause.

People holding up others words and interpreting them as unambiguous examples of polarized sexism etc. is not so useful."

"Likewise, casting out Donald Shaw as a problematic sexist may seem like scoring one for the team and liberation. But Donald points (maybe is a sloppy way) to an issue that is a reality - gender differences exist - whether they are a natural phenomenon or not. He highlights this - not to belittle women (this is a terrible misrepresentation of his words) but instead to attempt to figure out why there are differences in representation among women in certain types of trad. He wants to address this issue - and sharing his words as if he is happy to write off women as inferior or silly is just a dishonest thing to do.

The culture of public shaming of people - by interpreting their words in the worst way possible - is a counterproductive method to make things better. It is one of the biggest enemies of intersectionality."

Well, first of all, don’t say dumb things to a journalist is usually a good rule of thumb if you don’t want your words repeated. On the other hand, it seems like a pretty good way to get elected as the President of the United States, but nevermind……

Secondly, I was using those quotes to show how underlying bias about gender stereotypes infiltrates culture, making that glass ceiling look far away. I’ve never met Simon or Donald, but I am sure they are lovely guys and not jerks towards fellow female performers. That wasn’t the point. The point is that when they were asked by the reporter to explain why female musicians were not headlining Celtic Connections, they came up with a lot of bullsh $$ t about women not wanting to get sweaty, not playing "banging," animalistic music, etc. etc. As I read that, I thought, give me a break… women can be great athletes, — even historically male sports like climbing, mountaineering, boxing, football (soccer) — women play rock, metal, they give birth to children… Those guys didn’t think about that. Why would they? I guess as a man, Choons’ first reaction wasn’t "Oy, excuse me!" It was a muddled stereotype that illustrated their fundamental presuppositions; where they go in their heads when suddenly asked the question by a journalist.

As long as the people putting together big events like Celtic Connections feel at some level that women are soft lilies whose assumed role is playing gently flowing tunes and soothing Gaelic song, while presuming that women don’t want to play the aggressive, sweaty stuff, because it just isn’t feminine, all of this is going around in circles.

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

Fair point!

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

@DrSS. It’s a fair comment. One test as to whether it is "going round in circles" is whether or not there has been any sign of change in the year since you opened that discussion on the subject.

I can’t remember which, but the TV coverage of one event put on by one of those two guys opened with a stage full of women instrumentalists (and I remembered the discussion). Was that a token gesture or a sign, if not of change, at least of awareness or maybe support?

I think this idea of ‘a platform’ only has limited use. It has for the events that have some private sector sponsorship or public sector arts funding support. Those organisation are putting their money in and can be persuaded to require that organisers try to level up what may be a tilted playing field.

But when it comes down to filling enough seats to cover costs, or Celtic Crossings’ publican selling enough drink to make the business viable, the unfair commercial world comes into play. That could be a big venue needing to make a profit for its shareholders or a village hall committee trying to get to break even at the end of the year. Is there a bigger market for what male performers tend to do or are we not being given the choice? Karan Casey says "Lads ye need to shape up. Ye need to cop on …". How about "Come on girls, lets show these promoters that we can fill seats"?

Re: The Frida Kahlo of Irish traditional music: Karan Casey’s call to action on the subject of Women in ITM

AB - You could almost photoshop a fiddle into that pic!