Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Rant Warning: This Posting May Damage Your Health

Well, I suppose I'm wondering when I'm going to lose my job.
Not being a Science, Mathematics or Business lecturer, the fees for potential students on the courses I teach on are going to rocket.
Some young people will decide not to be educated in particular ways, the ways that teach them to question what is around them and try to make things more interesting. We call it culture.
Yesterday I did a lecture for students at the University of the West about technology bias; men tend to operate machinery: a 'skill', and women not: an unskill. And this causes a difference in their earning power.
Angela McRobbie notices this in pop music; of course there a lots of very rich and famous female vocalists, but at grassroots level they are often seen as disposable and replaceable 'unskilled workers'.
Really, I was talking to the students about how I would go about researching a presentation about hip hop producers and the women who sing on the recordings.
And remember Amy Winehouse texting Mark Ronson?
It's common for women to walk into a studio with a song they have written, and the (male) producer makes a backing track for it because he has technical knowhow that she doesn't, and then claims half the song-writing royalty.
Of course, this can happen to men too.
But a student of mine around ten years ago did a fantastic piece of research called Why Men Twiddle Knobs and Women Don't that involved finding out what male and female students learned about music technology in their schools. I do not have to tell you the results.
'We need you', whispered a female student on the way out of my lecture. There had been a lot of grumpy-young-man challenging during the talk, and I don't think anyone had yet articulated to her the unwritten and unchallenged rules of music production.
It's not just me they need, of course. I think every young adult should be educated beyond school: I value Science (McDad was a scientist), Maths and Business, but there need to be people who are educated in other disciplines for society to 'work' properly. There is something sinister in those who place no value on the imagination.
In the 1980s when the Tories were up to their tricks, their activities seemed like an attempt to emulate the school history-book Middle Ages when merchants traded across the seas, nobles sat in their castles counting their doubloons, and serfs scurried about being paid groats for doing everything else that the others couldn't be bothered to do.
So for the second time in my life, I contemplate becoming a cleaner.
Are the smug toffs at the top blaming the bankers, who caused this financial meltdown?
Nope, they have scarcely been mentioned!


Anonymous said...

I need to challenge your statement about women not operating machinery.

Theres washing machines, dishwashers, tumble driers, hoovers......

I'll get my coat... :)


Anonymous said...

I'm afraid I have to get my husband to do that as the knob on our washing machine is broken and we can't afford to replace it since I lost my job in Round One of the recession. He uses mole-grips x 2 and manipulates the dial to its correct position.

daisychubb1979 said...

I use a launderette. I tend to observe that, unfortunately, it is the men who conform to stereotype by expecting the women who work there to do it all for them. Not always, but often enough for it to be noticeable. The women who work there are the type to take no shit though, so the men still have to do it themselves.

flittersniffer said...

My other half only started to use a washing machine aged 49, when I absolutely insisted he learn. Up till then he kept repeating that it was "outside his sphere of competence".

The battle continues in the vegetable arena, however. I sent him out for a courgette and he brought back a very long cucumber.

Helen McCookerybook said...

Funny what objects of discussion washing machines are!
I used to use them as an illustration in music lectures.
And that long cucumber....